What The New Testament Says About Homosexuality
The Fourth R Volume 21-3 May-June 2008
Mainline Christian denominations in this country are bitterly divided over the question of homosexuality. For this reason it is important to ask what light, if any, the New Testament sheds on this controversial issue. Most people apparently assume that the New Testament expresses strong opposition to homosexuality, but this simply is not the case. The six propositions that follow, considered cumulatively, lead to the conclusion that the New Testament does not provide any direct guidance for understanding and making judgments about homosexuality in the modern world.
Proposition 1: Strictly speaking, the New Testament says nothing at all about homosexuality.
Proposition 3: Two of the three passages that possibly refer to homosexuality are simply more-or-less miscellaneous catalogues of behaviors that are regarded as unacceptable, with no particular emphasis placed on any individual item in the list.
Group B is where they putcha if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committinâ your special crime. There was all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly-lookinâ people on the bench there. There was mother rapers . . . father stabbers . . . father rapers . . . Father rapers! sittinâ right there on the bench next to me!
Proposition 4: It may well be that the two lists of unacceptable behaviorsâ1 Corinthians 6:9â10 and 1 Timothy 1:8â11âdo not refer to homosexuality at all.
David Loves Jonathan
What About The Argument That Homosexuality Is Inherited
If this is true, at least for some, how can such activity be wrong?
God made me this way is a typical testimony. A very brief response would be that the connection between genetics and homosexuality is tenuous at best.
Where research has seemed to indicate some physical propensity toward homosexual orientation, others in the field have refuted such a conclusion. It is widely believed that alcoholism can be an inherited genetic propensity, but no one would therefore endorse its practice. While this is a very unfortunate analogy regarding homosexuals, it perhaps illustrates the fact that not every genetic tendency should be endorsed .
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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Bible Verses About Homosexuality
Christians must always start with the Bible in order to hear Gods Word on any subject. His commands are not optional, and he states clearly, You shall not lie with a male as with a woman it is an abomination .
Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God .
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature 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 .
Some Christians suggest that a progressive God would overturn his own commands in a certain social climate, but God does not progress in his thinking his thoughts and commandments are always right.
We know that God does not change his mind, that he is always the same, and this is foundational to our hope and our faith in his Kingdom purposes.
God was, is, and always will be against sexual sin in all of its forms, which include lust for a person who is not ones spouse, sexual affairs, and even emotional affairs.
One must not single out someone who identifies as gay or transgender as a sinner but instead look inward. Ignoring ones own sin by way of deflection does not fool God.
What Do Jehovahs Witnesses Believe
Jehovahs Witnesses believe that the Bibles moral code is the best standard for living, and they choose to abide by that code. This means that Jehovahs Witnesses reject all sexual misconduct, including homosexuality. That is the Witnesses lifestyle choice, and they have a right to it.
Jehovahs Witnesses strive to follow the Golden Rule by treating others the way they themselves would like to be treated
At the same time, Jehovahs Witnesses strive to pursue peace with all people. While they reject homosexual acts, Jehovahs Witnesses do not force their view on others, nor do they participate in homophobic hate crimes or rejoice when they hear of them. Jehovahs Witnesses strive to follow the Golden Rule by treating others the way they themselves would like to be treated.Matthew 7:12.
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Debating Bible Verses On Homosexuality
Two evangelical authors offer conflicting interpretations about well-known passages on homosexuality.Related Article
The debate over gay marriage is not just taking place in the nations courts it is also a subject of intense discussion in the nations churches.
Matthew Vines, an openly gay, evangelical Christian and the author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, has been actively encouraging conservative Christians to re-evaluate their beliefs about homosexuality. He has engaged them in private conversations, in public talks and through the organization he founded, the Reformation Project.
He was recently invited by the Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach, lead pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, Calif,, to talk privately with a small group of evangelical leaders to discuss what the Bible says about gay relationships. Mr. Kaltenbach is the author of the forthcoming book Messy Grace, which is about how he reconciles his conservative Christian convictions with his experience as the child of gay parents.
After the session, they were each asked to interpret some of the most cited verses relating to homosexuality in the Bible.
The Bible Does Have Something To Say About Homosexuality
Dr. CarI Bridges
Much has been written on the homosexual issue, including many books and articles which have appeared over the past few decades. A bibliography published thirteen years ago, dealing only with homosexuality as it impacts the Judeo-Christian tradition, contained 459 entries!1
As one might expect, these writings reflect all kinds of viewpoints. The viewpoint that concerns us here is the claim made by some scholars in recent years that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior.
The Bible doesnt condemn homosexuality, or, The Bible doesnt say anything about homosexuality. To someone who knows Scripture, these statements seem surprising when we hear them. Our tendency is to turn up a passage or two and say, See, it says right here
This response is not good enough. When people claim the Bible has nothing to say about the homosexual issue, they usually do not mean that homosexual behavior is never mentioned in Scripture. Instead, they usually mean one of two things, either that homosexuality as practiced today never appears in Scripture, or that even though the Bible does speak against homosexuality, what the Bible says does not apply to the present situation. We suspect that there may be a third group also, people who do not know much Scripture and really believe the homosexual issue is never discussed there.
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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.
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Romans 1:23 spoke in general of the exchange of Gods glory for figments of human imagining. Verse 25 identifies same-sex practice as a specific example of what happens when Gods truth is exchanged for a lie and when veneration of the creature substitutes for worship of the Creator. So great is Pauls regard for God that he segues here into the first of five doxological exclamations in Romans.2Paul models intuitive and spontaneous praise to God for the excellence and nobility of his good gift of human sexuality!
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What Does The Bible Teach About Same
The Bible defines marriage in Genesis 2:24 as a union between one man and one woman. Jesus Christ upholds this definition of marriage in Matthew 19:5, as does the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:31. Any and all sexual activity which takes place outside of this context is treated as sinful, what Jesus calls sexual immorality in Mark 7:21.
Further to this, same-sex practice is specifically highlighted as sinful a number of times in Scripture. In Gods Law, for example, condemnations of same-sex practice are given in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Further references are made in the New Testament. For example, in Romans 1:24-32, amid echoes to the Genesis creation account, both male and female same-sex practice are treated as sinful. Further references to the sinfulness of same-sex practice can be seen in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.
The Scriptures are, therefore, consistent in their prohibition of same-sex sexual activity, across different periods of salvation history and within different cultural settings. Although the Scriptures are clear on sexual ethics, they also tell us that the prospect of forgiveness and eternal life is held out for anyone who turns from sin and puts their faith in Christ , no matter how they may have fallen short of his good design for sex and marriage.
Insights From Other Bible Scholars
“The homosexuality the New Testament opposes is the pederasty of the Greco-Roman culture the attitudes toward pederasty and, in part, the language used to oppose it are informed by the Jewish background.”Robin Scroggs, Professor of Biblical Theology,Union Theological Seminary, New York City .
“One cannot be absolutely certain that the two key words in I Corinthians 6:9 are meant as references to male homosexual behavior.”Victor Paul Furnish, Professor of New Testament, Perkins Dallas .
“The strongest New Testament argument against homosexual activity is intrinsically immoral has been derived traditionally from Romans 1:26 , where this activity is indicated as para physin. The normal English translation for this has been against nature. Two interpretations can be justified concerning what Paul meant by the phrase. It could refer to the individual pagan, who goes beyond his own sexual appetites in order to indulge in new sexual pleasure. The second possibility is that physis refers to the nature of the chosen people who were forbidden by Levitical law to have homosexual relations.”John J. McNeill, Adjunct Professor of Psychology,Union Theological Seminary, New York City .
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Positive Commands About Sex
Sex is a gift. Before the fall before sin sex was part of the created order. It was good VERY GOOD, wrote Paul Carter. In fact, contrary to cultural ideas about sex propounded during the first century AD, Christianity taught that sex within a marriage should be free, generous and reciprocal.
But God never depicted coital relationships between two men or two women in a positive way. When God made Eve, Adam said this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman .
Does The Bible Say Homosexuality A Sin
Plainly speaking, the Bible tells us that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. It is something that God forbids and has repeatedly stated is outside of His plan for human sexual expression.
However, it is not a sin to have same-sex feelings. The key in this situation is to practice celibacy. Sexuality is a very core part of human existence in fact it is the first command humanity receives from God in Genesis 2:24:
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Along with that command is the idea that sexuality is about reproducing human life. This is not just limited to animal life, but specifically those that bear the holy image of God. That process is sacred and guarded by the covenant of . When we strip the reproductive purpose from our sexuality, all we are doing is making it an act of pleasure and self-satisfaction. At that point, we make sex about the specific act of copulation and not the life of responsibility that should go along with it.
There is much more to sex than the moments of pleasure. If we cannot pledge to God that we are willing to abide by his rules of conduct in our sexuality, then the best thing we can do is to devote ourselves more deeply to our relationship with Him and wait until God clears things up for us.
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Homosexuality In The New Testament: Romans : 26
The first is Romans 1:26-27: 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.
At first reading, Paul seems clearly to consider homosexual activity to be unbiblical. But there is another way to interpret the passage, suggested by those who support homosexuality as a biblical lifestyle.
In their reading, Paul is addressing the issue of heterosexual men and women who choose homosexual activity, which is unnatural for them. If this is true, Pauls statement bears no relevance to those who consider themselves homosexual by innate or natural orientation.
Is such an interpretation the most objective way to read the text?
No, for two reasons.
First, Paul describes homosexual acts themselves as shameful lusts , indecent acts, and perversion . To suggest that his descriptions relate only to the decision to engage in such activity by heterosexuals is to strain the Greek syntax beyond its meaning.
One can conclude that Paul was wrong, that homosexual orientation can be natural and its sexual expression therefore natural relations. But one cannot argue on the basis of this text that homosexuality is biblical, for Pauls scriptural words clearly state the opposite.
The Fallen Human Condition
While Paul can be taken as describing the morals and practices of the Greco-Roman world he has been raised up to evangelize, these verses describe observable human behavior as judged by Gods standards in all places and times. Heinous qualities and deeds such as those Paul describes are not confined to certain eras, geographies, or demographics but are endemic to the fallen human condition.
It should be recalled that Paul is an apostle of the Lord Jesus, who stated similarly: From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person . Paul in this section of Romans is concurring with a view of the human heart that he has not invented.
Jesus spoke of what comes from within. Paul speaks in Romans 1:29 of people being filled with and full of. These respective descriptions amount to the same bleak portrait. Paul speaks first of unrighteousness, the opposite of Gods righteousness to which he has already referred . This unrighteousness could serve as the heading for all of the characteristics and practices that follow.
Human sexuality is a gift not to be squandered.
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