What Does The Bible Say about Homosexuality?
1. What is the Biblical position on Homosexuality?
All teaching and practice must align itself with the Bible, since it is God’s Word. (II Timothy 3:16) There are a multitude of opinions based on “tradition,” “reason” and “experience.” The Church, however, subordinates tradition, reason and experience to Scripture. From a Christian perspective, all “truth” is valid, only to the extent that it conforms to the Word of God. Let’s look at what the Scripture states regarding homosexual behavior.
A. Leviticus 18:22
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
A1 “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants,” (Leviticus 18:34-25).
B. Leviticus 20:10-16
10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. 13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 14 If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you. 15 If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16 If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
Among the sexual sins punishable by death, incest, adultery, bestiality and homosexuality are all placed in the same category. Judaism unambiguously prohibited homosexuality based on the “holiness code” given by the LORD in Leviticus. Judaism was unequivocal in its stance toward homosexual relations; they were an abomination. There is not one syllable in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that condones homosexual practice. On the contrary it is universally and unambiguously condemned.
This is a valid point. For example Leviticus 19:19 states, “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.”
Which commandments remain valid for the Church today and which are obsolete? Attempts have been made to distinguish “ritual laws” from “moral laws” in the Old Testament. Ritual laws (dietary, circumcision, and a number of “outward” laws) were those laws which served the purpose to distinguish Israel from her pagan neighbors in appearance and form. These were laws that were specific to Israel and not to the nations. Moral laws-such as sexual sins were said to be timeless (and applied to Israel and the nations) and therefore applied to the new covenant as well. There is substantial weight in these distinctions, however, there is no clear systematization and distinction of “ritual” vs. “moral.” For this reason the New Testament must be analyzed.
C. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
As seen from the above text, the New Testament explicitly upholds the sexual laws that were mandated for God’s people in the Old Testament. This removes the apparent ambiguity regarding which Levitical sexual laws remain valid for the Church today. The New Testament consistently affirms the sexual laws found in the Torah. The above text explicitly demonstrates the Biblical teaching that homosexuality is considered sinful, in both old and new covenants.
This is repeated in 1 Timothy 1:9-10, “understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
The Greek words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai” are translated “men who practice homosexuality” in the above texts. It has been convincingly demonstrated by New Testament Pauline scholars such as Richard Hays (Hays 1996, 382) and Robin Scroggs (Scroggs 1983, 106-108) that these words are direct derivatives of Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 above (see mishkav zakur – “lying with a male.” (The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) of Lev. 20:13 states, “Whoever lies with a man as with a woman (meta arsenoskoiten gynaikos), they have both done an abomination. “This the idiom from which the noun arsenokoitai was coined. Therefore, Paul’s use of the term presupposes and reaffirms the Holiness Code’s condemnation of homosexual acts. Richard Hays, 1994, 7)
Modern translations (ESV, NIV, NKJV, NASB, HCSB, NLT, RSV (1952)) translate these words accordingly. The NRSV translates the Greek words as “male prostitutes” for “malakoi,” and “sodomites” for “arsenokoitai.”
Furthermore in these passages the Greek word “porneia” translated “sexually immoral” includes all forms of sexually deviant behavior. The frame of reference for sexually deviant behavior was the Scripture, where “sexual immorality” consisted of all sexual relationships outside of the marriage between a husband (man) and wife (woman). (Leviticus 18:6-30) Prohibitions against “porneia” (sexual immorality or fornication) appear in the New Testament at least 25 times, often from the mouth of Jesus. (Mark 7:21)
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 or 1 Timothy 1:10 Paul is not debating whether homosexuality is sinful behavior, anymore than he is debating whether idolatry, drunkenness, thievery or adultery are sinful. Paul is simply stating that such behavior (which unequivocally includes homosexuality) is inconsistent with the new life in the Messiah Jesus. He warns the church that people who practice such behavior will not enter the Kingdom of God. It is also clear that some in the church had practiced homosexuality in their former lives ie., before entering the new life in Christ. Therefore all persons can potentially be redeemed from homosexuality, as they can from any number of spiritual vices.
D. Romans 1:18-27. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
In this passage Paul demonstrates the consequences of God (1:24,26,28) permitting mankind to follow his own desires and passions.
Mankind’s unchecked desires are “para physin” or “contrary to nature.” Therefore God’s punishment is essentially letting mankind’s “unnatural” desires run their course. That both women and men would exchange natural (kata physin) relationships for those contrary to nature (para physin) is ample evidence for Paul that “God’s wrath is revealed.” (1:18)
Thankfully, the “gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) God’s wrath can be averted by the power of the cross which has the ability to replace our “debased mind” (Romans 1:28) with the “mind of Christ,” (Philippians 2:5) whose desires conform to the will and purpose of God-kata physin.
D1. Counter Argument to Romans 1.24-26 – Homosexuality is ‘natural’ for some.
A common modern argument in favor of homosexual behavior is that it is indeed ‘natural’ for some, i.e. some people are born with a homosexual predisposition. This logic produces a morality based on personal predisposition or what is personally ‘natural.’ If am ‘naturally’ attracted to the same sex it must therefore be good. Christian teaching is not at variance with humankind being ‘naturally’ predisposed toward attitudes and behaviors which are inherently wrong. So what if I am naturally selfish, violent or predisposed to addiction or adultery or pedophilia? Does that ‘natural inclination’ therefore make it a ‘good’ thing? The Bible teaches that every person’s nature is corrupt and must be regenerated by God. Therefore Christ. Thus all men are born naturally into a multitude of vice ~ as Christians we trust God to produce in us a NEW ‘natural’ which is a product of the New Birth in Christ. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. The old is passed, behold the new is come.” (2 Cor. 5.17) This is why Jesus says that to enter the Kingdom of God a person must be “born again.” (John 3:3)
2. Jesus never spoke about Homosexuality directly.
Some people have argued that since Jesus never directly confronted the topic of homosexuality he therefore tacitly condoned it. This is an argument from silence. There are at least 3 objections to this rationale.
A. Jesus never directly addresses bestiality or pedophilia. This absence does not argue for their tacit inclusion into the lifestyle of the redeemed.
B. Jesus directly confronts “porneia” (Matthew 15:19) (often translated either fornication or sexual immorality) which included all sexual behavior outside of the bond of marriage between one man and one woman. So in fact Jesus does speak to homosexual practice directly. Please bear in mind that first century Judaism universally acknowledged homosexual behavior to be sinful as it did adultery and all other relationships outside of the bond of heterosexual marriage.
C. Jesus’ purpose is not to set aside the Law of Moses.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20
“The Law of Christ” was in many regards more “difficult” than the Law of Moses since Jesus commanded obedience to the Law’s original intent. Whereas murder was “liable for judgment” (Matthew 5:21) in the Law, now “anger is liable for judgment.” (Matthew 5:22) and “hell-fire.” Whereas adultery was prohibited in the Law, now “lustful intent” is condemned, since it is indeed the source of adulterous behavior. In sum, the Messiah did not come to lay aside the Law, but to fulfill its original purpose.
3. “Homosexual is “natural” for some. God wouldn’t want to prohibit a person’s “natural inclination.”
First, in our discussion of Romans 1:24-26 above, we saw that homosexual behavior was not natural, but was in fact, “contrary to nature.” At the same time, because God has permitted man to follow his “debased” inclinations-homosexual behavior may appear “natural” in our fallen world. This is precisely why the current conventional wisdom to follow one’s own prescription for happiness is a recipe for destruction. Oftentimes our “natural” inclinations for happiness are in fact inclinations for corruption. Scripture teaches that we are not free to sin, but are in fact “slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:17)
Regardless of one’s inclinations, our guide to what is “natural” and “good” is Scripture. It is worth noting, that God’s aversion to “evil” behavior flows from the knowledge that sin is a force that destroys the creatures of God. God’s desire is that his creatures not be destroyed by sin but set free from its corrupting power.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
3.a “If Paul had encountered monogamous, consensual same-sex relationships he would have endorsed them. Paul only condemns exploitative relationships.”
First of all if you read Romans 1:27 Paul states unequivocally that the relationship in question is between two consenting men, “men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.” Paul does not have in mind exploitation of any kind. Second, there were contemporary, 1st Century examples of non-exploitative homosexual relationships that were well known in Greco-Roman culture. Robert Gagnon, the preeminent scholar on homosexual practice and the Bible, in his essay, A Book Not To Be Embraced cites Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium and the speech of Callicratidas in the pseudo-Lucianic Affairs of the Heart as two worthy examples that were known in the 1st Century Greco-Roman world, which depict consensual homosexual practice. Philo of Alexandria (25BC-50AD) comments on Plato’s Symposium – which was well known in the 1st Century . Gagnon cites other primary source materials (including Plutarch – AD 45-120) which demonstrate that homosexuality existed in a consensual context in the Apostle Paul’s contemporary context.
In sum, Paul in Romans 1:27 clearly refers to homosexual practice between two consenting individuals. Second, as one would expect, there were examples of consensual non-exploitative homosexual relationships in Paul’s time and culture. Therefore Paul was aware of consensual homosexual practice – and he clearly forbids it – in all of its forms.
4. Christians are prohibited from “judging others.”
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
Some Christians believe that to declare homosexual behavior as sinful amounts to Pharisaical judgmentalism. The two texts above are often cited to support this idea.
First, In John 8:7, Pharisees (Religious leaders) bring a woman caught in the act of adultery. When Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” Do we believe Jesus was promoting a type of amoralism- “To each his own,” as we might say? Was Jesus indifferent toward sin? Did Jesus permit such behavior since, “no-one is perfect”? The answer to this question is found in the last verse of this narrative, which is less often cited, “and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11b) Jesus addressed two problems in this narrative, the error of adultery as well as that of hypocrisy. Jesus clearly was not advocating a “laissez faire” approach to Christianity. Jesus didn’t condone either the hypocrisy of the Pharisees or the adultery of the woman. Jesus confronted both issues.
It is true that Jesus warns of the natural human temptation to be unduly concerned with the sins of others, without having the same concern for one’s own vices. Indeed we are warned against hypocritical judgment. It is for this reason that Jesus says, “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:4-5. In sum, the above passages do not present a Jesus indifferent to sinful behavior. Neither do they present a mandate for Christians to remain silent in the face of sin. Jesus plainly confronts both sin and sinner, but warns against hypocrisy in doing so.
5. Jesus accepted the social outcast of his day (lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, etc) Jesus therefore accepts the Homosexual lifestyle.
Jesus’ ministry gives us the correct definition of “acceptance.” First, Jesus did spend a significant amount of time with “social outcasts.” This is evident to anyone who reads the gospels.
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Luke 7:34
Jesus was often criticized for his close association with “sinners.” The question for the Church is, “What was the purpose of the association?” Did Jesus touch the leper and leave him leprous? Did Jesus visit the adulterer, prostitute, greedy, self-righteous and tax-collector and affirm their respective captivity? No. In each case Jesus confronted the bondage issue, and invited freedom. The results were varied. In some cases the “sinners” recognized their captivity and were set free (Samaritan Woman, John 4; Zacchaeus, Luke 19). In other cases the sinner left carrying his chains (Rich Young Man, Mark 10:17-31). The point is clear: Jesus’ association with “sinners” was motivated out of a desire to see redemption; it was not an association that affirmed vice.
6. Can I be ‘Gay’ and Christian?
There are many people who sincerely believe that their human identity is inextricably bound up in their sexuality. Scripture challenges that idea. Our primary identity as Christians is in our union with Christ (Ephesians 2:6). “Christ is your life.” (Colossians 3:4) As followers, we are all required to lay down our ‘self’ at the cross and ‘follow.’ (Mark 8:34) Our sexual attractions do not form the basis of our human identity – Christ forms that basis and all must be subject to him. Our identity is a product of what God says about us in His Word. That is not deny or to hide from our attractions – especially those that are clearly not a part of the Kingdom. All Christians have attractions and desires which do not conform to our new nature in Christ. Scripture calls these “deceitful desires,” which form part of our old nature. (Ephesians 4:22) These are the sins that “beset” or “entangle;” sins which we are admonished to “lay aside.” (Hebrews 12:1) If you are a Christian and have same sex attraction first you need to agree with God’s Word that this is not an attraction from the Father. Do not be tempted (as many have unfortunately and unwisely done) to create a ‘god’ who will condone your feelings, thoughts, attractions and actions. Agree with God and His Word – which is given to us to redeem us from bondage. Only God can define reality. Temptation is a part of the life of the disciple (Matthew 6:13) and can be resisted through God’s faithfulness to His children (1 Corinthians 10:13) Acting out on our temptations is a different story. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (above) makes it clear, however, that people can be deceived into thinking that practicing homosexual behavior is compatible with the Christian life. It is not (in any form), and people who practice homosexual behavior (like heterosexual promiscuity) will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Scripture simply doesn’t conceive of any possible scenario for homosexual behavior or identity.
In sum, the canon of Scripture is unequivocal in its presentation of homosexual behavior as a part of human depravity. There can be no honest biblical interpretation that affirms this behavior in any form. There is not one syllable of Scripture that condones or supports homosexual behavior. Homosexual practice like any other deviant behavior is not irreversible. Though the Scripture teaches that we are all born into iniquity-the Scripture equally teaches that the power of the gospel is mightier than the power of sin and its multitude of manifestations.
The church would do well to have a closer association with “sinners.” Too often Churches have not become salt and light to their respective communities, but have become social clubs of like minded “religious people.” If Christians are not socializing with the lepers and tax-collectors of the 21st Century, then we have lost our calling. The body of Christ should seek out and love homosexuals, listening carefully to their pain, struggles and same sex attractions, and lead them to freedom that comes through faith and repentance in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.”
Charles Wesley, 1739
(to commemorate the first anniversary of his conversion)
The Bible generally teaches against any sexual relations except between husband and wife. The Bible specifically mentions sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex as among the forbidden acts. Homosexual acts are mentioned in seven Bible passages: 1
- 2 refer to rape (Genesis 19:5, Judges 19:22)
- 3 refer to intercourse between men (Leviticus 18:21-22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:27)
- 1 refers to intercourse between women (Romans 1:26)
- 1 refers to prostitution and possibly pederasty (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
- 1 is general in nature (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
The first mention in the Bible is in Genesis 19:1-13. The wicked men of Sodom attempted a homosexual rape of two messengers from God who had come to visit Lot. As a result of this and other widespread wickedness, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in a storm of fire and brimstone.
The next two mentions are in Leviticus
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. (NKJ, Leviticus 18:22)
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. (NKJ, Leviticus 20:13)
Life was harsh in early Old Testament times. The Old Testament prescribed the death penalty for the crimes of murder, attacking or cursing a parent, kidnapping, failure to confine a dangerous animal resulting in death, witchcraft and sorcery, sex with an animal, doing work on the Sabbath, incest, adultery, homosexual acts, prostitution by a priest’s daughter, blasphemy, false prophecy, perjury in capital cases and false claim of a woman’s virginity at the time of marriage.
It must be emphasized that, according to the New Testament, we are no longer under the harsh Old Testament Law (John 1:16-17, Romans 8:1-3, 1 Corinthians 9:20-21). The concern with punishment is now secondary to Jesus’ message of repentance and redemption. Both reward and punishment are seen as properly taking place in eternity, rather than in this life.
In the Old Testament, homosexual activity was strongly associated with the idolatrous practices of the pagan nations surrounding Israel. In fact, the word “abomination,” used in both mentions of homosexual acts in Leviticus, is a translation of the Hebrew word tow’ ebah which means something morally disgusting, but it also has a strong implication of idolatry2. Thus, some Bible scholars believe the condemnations in Leviticus are more a condemnation of the idolatry than of the homosexual acts themselves3,4. However, that interpretation is not certain.
Related article: What Does the Bible Say About the Old Testament Law?
Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, but He did condemn all forms of sexual immorality:
What comes out of you is what defiles you. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile you. (TNIV, Mark 7:20-23)
The apostle Paul, in one of his letters to the Corinthians, wrote the verses most often quoted on this subject:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11)
These verses have been translated in many different ways. The word translated here as “male prostitute” is the Greek word malakos which literally means “soft to the touch.” However, it was used metaphorically to refer to a catamite (a boy kept for sexual relations with a man) or to a male prostitute in general. The word translated here as “homosexual offender” is the Greek word arsenokoites which means a sodomite, a person who engages in any kind of unnatural sex, but especially homosexual intercourse5. Some believe this use of arsenokoites referred specifically to the men who kept catamites6, but that is not certain.
There are two other New Testament mentions of homosexual acts, in Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10. In this passage from Romans, again in the context of idolatry, Paul mentions women who “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” This is the only mention of lesbian acts:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator– who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (NIV, Romans 1:25-27)
Interpretation and Questions
As with many Bible topics, there are uncertainties and different opinions about how the Biblical evidence should be interpreted. The challenge of accurate interpretation is to determine what message was originally intended, how it was understood by people of that time, and how the lesson should be applied in our own time. That involves a lot of specialized knowledge of the original Biblical languages as well as the culture and issues of those times. The Bible often speaks of sexual matters in euphemistic and vague terms, and there is a lack of understanding of how Biblical-era people used and understood those terms.
Prejudices, fears and misconceptions about homosexuality are deeply rooted in our culture. The subject evokes strong emotions which may hinder understanding it from a Biblical perspective. Many common beliefs and attitudes about homosexuality actually have their origins in our cultural traditions rather than in the Bible. The Bible prohibits homosexual intercourse but does not treat it as one of the major sins. There are only 7 Bible passages on this topic, and it is not one of the major sins mentioned in the Ten Commandments or by Jesus. (In comparison, the sin of hatred is mentioned 21 times, lying and false testimony 30, greed, avarice and covetousness 40, theft 42, adultery 52, murder 57, self-righteousness 79, and idolatry 169 times.) When read in context, a majority of the Bible passages refer to specific homosexual practices which violate other important Bible prohibitions such as idolatry, rape, prostitution or pederasty.
The traditional interpretation of Bible teachings is that homosexual acts of all kinds are serious sins. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary has a concise statement of traditional views:7
Homosexual behavior is prohibited in Scripture (Leviticus 20:13) and was a major cause of the divine judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:4-5, 12-13). The apostle Paul listed homosexuals among “the unrighteous” who would not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9), and declared that God’s wrath stands against such behavior, whether practiced by men or women (Romans 1:26-27).
D. H. Field, writing in the New Bible Dictionary, has a more detailed and nuanced analysis:4
The Bible says nothing specifically about the homosexual condition (despite the rather misleading RSV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9), but its condemnations of homosexual conduct are explicit. The scope of these strictures must, however, be carefully determined. Too often they have been used as tools of a homophobic polemic which has claimed too much.
The exegesis of the Sodom and Gibeah stories (Genesis19, Judges 19) is a good case in point. … On both occasions the sin condemned was attempted homosexual rape, not a caring homosexual relationship between consenting partners.
The force of the other OT references to homosexuality is similarly limited by the context in which they are set. … Viewed strictly within their context, then, these OT condemnations apply to homosexual activity conducted in the course of idolatry, but not necessarily more widely than that
Regarding New Testament passages about homosexuality, all of which are attributed to the apostle Paul, Field writes:
It seems beyond reasonable doubt that Paul intended to condemn homosexual conduct (but not homosexual people) in the most general and theologically broad terms he knew. His three scattered references fit together in an impressive way as an expression of God’s will as he saw it.
But in recent years, a number of questions and issues have been raised which challenge traditional interpretations. For example, Presbyterian theologian Mark Achtemeier argues against the traditional view of homosexuality in his book, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, An Evangelical’s Change of Heart:8
This book is the story of a change of heart. In the middle 1990s, I was a conservative church activist working hard to defend the “traditional” teaching of my own Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that was condemning homosexual practice. In the fall of 1996, I published an article supporting traditionalist efforts to keep openly gay and lesbian people from serving in positions of ordained church leadership. Those efforts proved successful, and the result was a constitutional ban on gay ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), beginning in the summer of 1997. The passage of fourteen years found me working to repeal the ban on gay ordination I had once helped put in place.
Achtemeier uses the story of a young seminarian named Kristi (not her real name) to illustrate the problems with traditional interpretations:
What kind of God were we dealing with, I wondered, if the traditional condemnations of homosexuality were faithful and accurate reflections of the divine will? That would mean that God places Kristi and others like her in a situation from which there is no escape. They have absolutely no ability to wish or pray or choose their way out of their same-sex attraction, yet God condemns them unless they can change it. God further adds to the difficulty of the situation by withholding the gifts and calling that would make lifelong celibacy a realistic possibility.
… That was a distressing picture to contemplate, but fortunately I realized it was a picture that stood in utter contradiction to the portrait of God painted by Scripture. If the Bible and Christian proclamation are true and if Jesus really is God-with-us, then the clearest picture we have of what God is really like is Jesus himself. And there was absolutely nothing in Jesus’ life or ministry that even remotely resembled the kind of gratuitous cruelty that would bring someone into existence only for the purpose of breaking or condemning them. To the contrary: Jesus’ love and compassion broke through all the traditional barriers of his age, reaching out to embrace even his own enemies (Luke 23:34). Jesus spoke about God’s heart rejoicing when the wandering find their way home (Luke 15) and about God’s desire that no one be lost (Matt. 18:14). None of this fit with the picture of a God who would cruelly leave no path to grace for people like Kristi.
Achtemeier concludes that traditional condemnations of homosexual acts are based on a fragmentary reading of the Bible that is inconsistent with overall Bible teachings:
At the beginning of this journey, described in chapter 1, I had found strong reasons for doubting whether the church’s traditional condemnations of homosexuality were in line with the will of God. Now I found myself considering how it was possible for those teachings to be mistaken, even though they seemed to be based on a reasonably straightforward reading of individual passages taken from the Bible. I found strong evidence, both in the history of the church and in the testimony of the New Testament, supporting the conclusion that this fragment approach to interpreting biblical Law is unreliable and highly prone to error. These findings lent further credibility to my initial strong suspicions that the traditional condemnations were contrary to the will and plan of God.
… The predecessor denominations of my own Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) split over the issue of slavery in the mid 1800s. Going back and reading about that history, one discovers that the pro-slavery churches were defending their positions by appeal to the Bible! Isolated fragments, pulled out and interpreted apart from the overall witness of the Scripture, led those devout southern Presbyterians to conclude that their pro-slavery cause was blessed by God. Another such episode, which extends into more recent times, saw well-intentioned Christians appealing to isolated scriptural fragments as they argued to keep women in subordinate roles within both church and society. The fragment method clearly has a long and sad history of providing “biblical” justification for teachings that we can recognize in hindsight as contrary to the will of God. SOURCE
Where does the Bible say that Homosexuality is a sin?
The Bible establishes upfront God’s basic design for marriage and human sexuality, and the biblical authors make clear that anything outside of that God-designed union of man and woman in permanent matrimony is sinful. Thus, even if homosexuality went entirely unmentioned in the Bible, the clear sexual ethic that runs through the Scriptures from beginning to end would exclude homosexual practice and make it clear that such acts are sinful. The Bible does go further and explicitly identifies homosexuality as a sin in several places, so this is not merely an inference or deduction, but the focus throughout Scripture is on a positive picture of a specific design for sex between a man and a woman within a committed marriage as God’s design which we cannot step outside without sin.
Marriage and Sexuality
Sexual morality is an important topic throughout the Bible, and its basis was established in creation itself. At the beginning of Genesis we are told:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” (Genesis 1:26-28).
So, God made humanity uniquely in His own image. He granted them a special purpose and position of governance, giving them dominion over the earth and all its fullness. He made them male and female and bid them to be fruitful and multiply, thus ordaining and blessing sexuality as a positive good, a procreative act between men and women. This theme is developed more in the second chapter:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed,” (Genesis 2:24-25).
Father and mother. Husband and wife. Two becoming one flesh. Naked without shame. This is God’s beautiful design for marriage and sexuality. Indeed, the very story of Genesis 2 communicates this wonderfully. Eve made from the rib of Adam, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. A woman and man literally a part of one another. Man is incomplete and imperfect without woman. The woman is made from man as is God’s ultimate gift to man. The two are equally made in the image of God and share dominion over creation, yet each is distinct and completes the other. Together they can make life and complete the purpose God has for humanity. This is God’s design, and it is a masterpiece of beauty. To reject it and conceive of our own sexual vision is to blaspheme the designer and profane the gift. This is the standard that runs through all of Scripture and the foundation for biblical sexual morality.
Jesus Himself reminded people of this. When they challenged Him on divorce, He did more than just tell them the right answer to the question. He reminded them that God established sex and marriage long before Moses and that the standard goes back to the beginning.
“Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate,’” (Matthew 19:3-6).
Some try to object that since Jesus was addressing a question about divorce, the logic He uses here must, therefore, be restricted only to that question. That somehow the overtly stated supremacy and standard of what God designed in marriage from the beginning can have no other implications, but this is absurd. If a mother warns her son not to touch the stove because it is way too hot and things that hot will burn you, it is perfectly legitimate for him to deduce that he should also keep his hands back from fire for the same reason. If things that hot burn you, then it doesn’t apply only to stoves. If the basis of Marriage and sexuality is what God joined together in the beginning, the implications are clear and broad. A man, if he is to be sexually active, must marry a woman and be sacredly devoted to her. The conclusion of the conversation is telling:
“The disciples said to Him, ‘If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.’ But He said to them, ‘Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it,” (Matthew 19:10-12).
Wholly devoted marriage to a woman or complete chastity is the only options a man has. Anything else is sin. As Paul notes:
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God,” (1 Thessalonians 4).
All of this, of necessity, rules out homosexuality.
God’s Moral Law and Homosexuality
In the law of Moses, there are very explicit statements about the immorality and sinfulness of homosexuality. For example, we read:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination,” (Leviticus 18:22).
This is not simply one of the distinctive holiness commands by which Israel was to set themselves apart from other nations as a special people, like dietary laws and such. This is a moral law by which all nations are judged before God. The list of primarily sexual sins in Leviticus 18 that contains this command ends with the statement:
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants,” (Leviticus 18:34-25).
The nations were not punished for eating pork, wearing mixed fabric, or even working on the Sabbath. Such commands were distinctive to maintaining Israel as a sacred people. The nations were judged, however, for breaking universal moral laws of God like sexual immorality, including homosexuality. Now, some have suggested that this is meant specifically to address ancient homosexual temple prostitution as it related to the worship of false gods, but that is not how Leviticus treats it. Note in chapter 20 we read again:
“If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them,” (Leviticus 20:13).
But this is not in a section about cultic practices. Note the verses just before:
“If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. If there is a man who lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. If there is a man who lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed incest, their bloodguiltiness is upon them,” (Leviticus 20:10-12)
And just after:
“If there is a man who marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality; both he and they shall be burned with fire, so that there will be no immorality in your midst,” (Leviticus 20:14).
This is about consensual, interpersonal, sexual acts. It’s not about idolatry. A man is not to have sex with another man for the same reason he is not to commit adultery or incest. And again, we are told that the other nations were judged for these very things and that this is why God abhorred the Canaanite nations, (Leviticus 20:22-23). Thus, the precepts against homosexuality (and all sexual immorality) are not limited to Old Testament Israel. They are a standard by which God judges all the peoples of the world.
The New Testament and Homosexuality
The standard does not change in the New Testament. The New Covenant writings uphold the same clear sexual morality for the same reasons, and they explicitly point out Homosexuality as a sinful deviation from it. To the church in Rome, Paul takes the issue, again, right back to the beginning.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen,” (Romans 1:18-25).
Creation, the fall, the dawn of human sinfulness, and the origin of our idolatries and immorality are all first summarized. What is the result?
“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,” (Romans 1:26-28).
Homosexuality is cited as an example of the depths of human sinfulness when we reject God and His standard. Indeed, part of what makes homosexuality sinful is that it is “unnatural,” i.e. opposed to the obvious design of men and women. God has a purpose for human sexuality, and this is not it! Elsewhere in the New Testament, homosexuality is listed among other sins from which Christians are to repent and turn from in coming to Christ:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted,” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).
So, while homosexuality is not a primary focus for most of the Bible, it is plainly identified in several places as a sin. What’s more, it is a clear violation of the specific, positive sexual ethic that is a major focus throughout Scripture. SOURCE
What about Transvestites, Transgender and Transsexual People?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV – Transvestites, Transgender and Transsexual
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Leviticus 19:28 ESV – Transsexual
You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.
Deuteronomy 14:1 ESV – Transsexual
“You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead.
Proverbs 8:36 ESV – Transsexual
But he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”
Philippians 3:2 ESV – Transsexual
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV – Transsexual
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ESV – Transsexual
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Genesis 1:27 ESV – You are perfect, just the way you are without mutilating yourself
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Deuteronomy 22:5 NIB – Transvestites
woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this. (NIV,)
TEMPTATION AND STRENGTH AND CONTROL OF ONESELF, THOUGHT MIND SPIRIT AND BODY
Psalm 109:2-5 ESV
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Psalm 6:8-9 ESV
Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Psalm 55:22 ESV
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Proverbs 20:30 ESV
Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.
Philippians 4:12-14 ESV
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
2 Samuel 22:4 ESV
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
John 16:33 ESV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Isaiah 43:4 ESV
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
Psalm 23:1-6 ESV
A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. …
John 3:16-17 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Mark 5:5 ESV
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Romans 12:1 ESV
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Psalm 35:4 ESV
Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me!
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Romans 8:31 ESV
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 5:8 ESV
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Luke 1:37 ESV
For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Psalm 147:3 ESV
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Colossians 3:23 ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men
Philippians 4:6 ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 8:32 ESV
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Matthew 19:26 ESV
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Psalm 34:17 ESV
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Revelation 3:20 ESV
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
James 4:7 ESV
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 2:26 ESV
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Galatians 6:7 ESV
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.