Historical And Cultural Issues
Many commentators have argued that the references to homosexuality in the New Testament, or the Bible in general, have to be understood in their proper historical context. Indeed, most interpreters come to the text with a preconceived notion of what the Bible has to say about normative sexual behaviors, influencing subsequent interpretations. For example, William Walker says that the very notion of “homosexuality” is essentially a modern concept that would simply have been unintelligible to the New Testament writers. The word “homosexuality” and the concept of sexual orientation as being separate from one’s perceived masculinity or femininity did not take shape until the 19th century. Moreover, although some ancient Romans discussed congenital inclinations to unconventional sexual activities such as homosexuality, this classification fails to correspond to a modern psychological, biological and genetic distinction between homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual orientations. However, according to Gagnon, the concept of homosexual orientation was not wholly unknown in the Greco-Roman milieu. Moreover, he asserts that there is absolutely no evidence that modern orientation theory would have had any impact on Paul changing his strong negative valuation of homosexual practice.
The Old Testament And New Testament Exclusively Speak Of Heterosexual Marriage
God lays the foundation for sexuality and marriage in Gen 1 and 2 when he created man and woman.
Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God describes marriage as one flesh and man and woman No other relationship is described this way in the Bible.
22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Does The Bible Forbid Homosexuality
Gay-friendly clergy tend to use the terms love and acceptance interchangeably, claiming that we must love everyone, because we are all children of God.
It is certainly true that Jesus commanded us to love everyone, but it is not true that we are all children of God.; And it certainly is not true that we must tolerate and accept evil behavior.
Scripture repeatedly refers to children of the Devil:
No one born of God commits sin; for Gods nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.;By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother .
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your fathers desires.; He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies .
Anyone who has seen cursing, blaspheming homosexuals simulating sex at a Gay Pride parade, or has read their hate-filled screeds against the Catholic Church, should have no problem discerning whether they are children of God or spawn of the Devil.
Of course, homosexual persons are to be loved and respected, and homosexual tendencies are not sinful if they are not wanted. But homosexual;activity;is immoral and absolutely anti-biblical.
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Homosexuality In The New Testament: 1 Corinthians : 9
The next New Testament text typically included in our topic is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: 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.
Male prostitutes could refer to men who sold themselves sexually, either in heterosexual or homosexual activity. As translated by the New International Version, the word would not necessarily speak to our subject, as prostitution of any kind is almost universally understood to be immoral.
But the Greek word so translated is more likely a technical term for the passive partner in homosexual activity . And so it may well refer to one who engages in homosexuality, without a necessary connection to prostitution. The activity it describes makes it harder to assert that Paul had no concept of homosexual orientation but meant his words only for heterosexuals who practice homosexual behavior.
A Biblical Defense Of Heterosexuality
Before we talk about how we can share the gospel with members of the LGBT community we must make sure that we have a correct understanding of Biblical sexuality. This is the foundation upon which we stand. That being said, while the sin of homosexuality can stand in the way of the gospel, winning the biblical argument doesnt mean a person will believe in Jesus.
As we look at the Bible it doesnt take long to find out that the sexuality of mankind as a central part of creation. If we read through the account of the creation of Adam and Eve it seems that Moses goes out of his way to show the differences between the sexes and that these differences were good and they were determined by God himself.
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While We Wish To Offer The Dignity And Respect Of Christian Grace To All Persons We Cannot Truly Love Them While Endorsing That Which Is Unbiblical In Their Lives
As intolerant as the next sentence may seem, it is honestly motivated by a sincere desire to speak the truth in love: we can and should pray for those in the homosexual lifestyle to come to repentance and transformation.
After including homosexuality in his list of sins , Paul next told the Corinthians: 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 .
I recognize that some will read this paragraph as bigoted prejudice. However, any of us would want to help those we care about to practice a biblical lifestyle that leads to the fullest abundance of Christs joy . This is the honest motivation behind my suggestion that such intercession is appropriate for the gay people we know and love.
I must offer one last suggestion, a statement that will engender further resistance from many in the gay community:
Genesis 19 And Leviticus
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 is well known. This is where the terms “sodomite” and “sodomy” originate, and it has long been associated with biblical condemnation of male homosexual sex. It is, however, actually about gang-rape.
In this story, the men of Sodom seek to rape two visitors . Their host, Lot, defends them and offers them protection in his house, but offers his virgin daughters to be raped in their place.
It is a deeply problematic and complex story that warrants an article of its own, but what is clear is that sexual violence and rape is harshly condemned, and so God destroys the town with sulphur and fire.
Despite the linguistic history of the word “sodomite”, Genesis 19 has nothing to say about homosexuality or mutually consenting adults of the same gender expressing their desire and love.
Two of the laws of Leviticus seem more pertinent. They call a man lying with another man instead of his wife an “abomination”.
We should note first that the imagined scenario is a married man committing adultery with another male. It is not describing what we would understand to be a sexual orientation.
We might also note the inherent sexism here: women apparently don’t have the same desire or their sexuality is deemed too insignificant to be worthy of comment.
Banned likewise is wearing mixed-fabric clothing, interbreeding animals of different species, tattoos, mocking the blind by putting obstacles in their way, and trimming your beard.
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What Was The New Testament Attitude Toward Slavery
And how does this stance affect our study of the issue of homosexuality?
Slavery in the Roman era was dramatically different from the despicable practice as we know it in American history. If you had been walking through any first-century Roman city, you would not have been able to distinguish between slaves and free. Patterns of work, relationships, or faith were no different between the two. Slaves served not only to do manual labor but also as doctors, nurses, household managers, and intellectuals. They administered funds and cities. They were typically given an excellent education at the expense of their owners so that philosophers and tutors were typically slaves.
Even more amazing to us, it was common for people to sell themselves into slavery to secure such privileges. A person who desired citizenship in the Empire could achieve it by enslaving himself to a citizen, then purchasing his freedom. Slavery was more a process than a condition.
While there is no doubt that many slaves were abused physically, sexually, and socially, it is also true that at least as many were part of the more privileged strata of society. And the total dependence of the Roman economy upon the labor of slaves made it impossible for the Empire to conceive of abolishing this institution. If an economist were to propose that we refuse all goods and services imported from outside America, wed be equally surprised.
Does the New Testament then argue for slavery? Absolutely not.
Why Did The Old Testament Not Decry Slavery In General And Move To Free All Those Enslaved
In many ways, it did.
There were several ways a Hebrew slave could be freed :
- An individual could be purchased and set free .
- A slave permanently injured by his master was to be set free .
- Hebrews were to be held as slaves for no longer than six years .
- And the Jubilee Year, which occurred every forty-nine years, was to free all Israelite slaves .
But still we ask: Why did the Old Testament sanction this practice at all?
In fact, it simply recognized a fact of all ancient civilization. And its rules minimized this evil, protected its victims more fully than did any other society, and provided means for their eventual freedom. But the New Testament would bring Gods word on the subject to much fuller expression.
In the Old Testament era, the primary way persons were enslaved was through capture in war. But in the first century AD, the breeding of slaves swelled their numbers enormously. And large numbers of people sold themselves into slavery as a means of improving their quality of life. Owning and using people as slaves was so commonplace in the Roman Empire that not a single ancient writer is known to have condemned the practice. But all that would begin to change with the advent of the Christian movement.
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What Does The Bible Say About Being Gay
In general, Christians have done a poor job of talking about sexuality, especially when it comes to same-sex orientation. For many, it’s a taboo topic to avoid at all costs. Others speak about it plenty, but they focus solely on truth without any love or grace. What does the Bible really say about being gay? And how should we respond to people who experience same-sex orientation? This study draws on three articlestwo from Christianity Today and one from Her.meneuticsto address these questions in truth and love.
What Does the Bible Say About Sexuality?God’s Word has a high view of sexuality, and it affects everyoneregardless of orientation.
There’s no question that we live in changing times. Many Christians are looking for ways to uphold God’s truth with love and grace. This is especially true as many of us have friends or relatives who are gay. What does the Bible really say about being gay? In this study, we’ll look at what the Bible says about sexuality and what that means for people who experience same-sex orientation. Plus, we’ll explore better ways to talk about sexuality as a whole.
Is Same-Sex Orientation a Sin?How should the church respond to believers who experience same-sex attraction?
Loving Our LGBT NeighborsFollowing Jesus’ example to love people who are different from us.
Homosexuality In The Pauline Epistles
Epistle to the Romans 1:2627 :
For this reason , God gave them up to passions of dishonor; for even their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature, and likewise also the males, having left the natural use of the female, were inflamed by their lust for one another, males with males, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was fitting for their error.
The context is Paul’s mission to the gentiles, the gospel being “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” , followed by a description of pagan idolatry in verses 1:2125. The phrase “passions of dishonor” translates ,‘atimia’ meaning “dishonour, ignominy, disgrace”.In the expressions “natural use” and “contrary to nature”, “nature” translates , i.e. Physis. The term “error” translates , ‘plan’ .
The authenticity of the passage is in doubt; scholars and theologians have proposed its being part of a larger non-Pauline interpolation. Furthermore, many contend 1:18-32 represents not Paul’s own position but his summary of Hellenistic Jewish legalism. Calvin Porter, for example, concludes that “in 2:1-16, as well as through Romans as a whole, Paul, as part of his gentile mission, challenges, argues against, and refutes both the content of the discourse and the practice of using such discourses. If that is the case then the ideas in Rom. 1.18-32 are not Paul’s. They are ideas which obstruct Paul’s gentile mission theology and practice.”
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What Does The Bible Really Say About Homosexuality
Actually, a whole lot less than you might imagine! That may be hard to believe given the fierce rhetoric Christians often employ when talking about homosexuality, but there are really only seven passages in the Bible that refer directly to homosexual behavior, and none of them are associated with Jesus. Compare that to the more than 250 verses on the proper use of wealth or more than 300 on our responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice, and you appreciate quickly that homosexuality was not exactly a major theme of the Bible.
Nevertheless, these seven passages have been poured over by conservative and liberal scholars alike and have occasioned considerable conversation and controversy. In order to review what the Bible actually says about homosexuality, as well as what others are saying about it, I’ll group similar verses below and give a brief summary of the major differences in interpretation. Then, I’ll outline the four most common stances Christians take regarding these biblical passages in general, as these positions greatly influence how one interprets individual verses.
Old Testament Narrative
The Holiness Code of Leviticus
New Testament Ethics
The three passages in question read as follows:
Four Basic Views
The Bible And Homosexuality
There are a number of passages in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that have been interpreted as involving same-sex sexual acts and desires. The passages about homosexuality in the Hebrew Bible start as early as the Torah . Several scriptures in the New Testament also reference homosexuality, including the Gospel in the books of Matthew, Luke, and various letters from Saint Paul to the early churches in Asia Minor.
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How Should I Treat A Gay Or Lesbian Person Should I Shun A Gay Or Lesbian Person
The Bible’s moral teachings are intended to help us live according to God’s will. They are not intended to be used to condemn other people. We are never to take upon ourselves the task of judgment that belongs to God alone ” rel=”nofollow”>Matthew 22:37-40, , , ). Jesus told us to eliminate the sins in our own lives rather than passing judgment or looking down on others. Jesus said that if we judge other people harshly, we will, in turn, be judged harshly:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
James makes it clear that we must treat others with mercy, not with judgment or partiality :
You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Within the Church
Prejudice and Discrimination