What The Bible Really Says About Homosexuality
Human sexuality is a complex and often difficult topic to discuss in our world today. The practice of homosexuality has become much more celebrated in western society and it has caused tremendous conversation to be kindled around the shifting morality of our times. Many Christians today begin to wonder what the Bible really says about homosexuality.
Our intent here is to present how the Bible speaks on the very sensitive matter of homosexuality, not to be ammunition for divisive arguments.
Is This An Unforgivable Sin
The practice of homosexuality is not an unforgivable sin. In Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus describes the only unforgivable sin as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy according to Merriam-Webster is being irreverent or showing contempt toward God. While the Bible does describe homosexual practice as an abomination, it is well under the umbrella of forgiveness if the person repents. The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to cleanse us of all sin.
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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Would St Paul Call It Sin If Love Was Involved
Given the approach that Paul took toward the incestuous man in 1 Corinthians 5, St. Paul obviously did not think all adult sexual behavior, motivated by a loving disposition, should be considered morally clean.
As Dr. Gagnon states, if Paul, along with the rest of the leadership of early Christianity, believed that he was following Jesus in viewing same-sex intercourse as the epitome of Gentile sexual uncleanness, then there is little or no chance that Jesus harbored a secret acceptance of such behavior.
Again, keep in mind that NO first-century Jew could have spoken of porneiai without having in mind the list of forbidden sexual offenses in Lev. 18 and 20, particularly incest, adultery, same-sex intercourse and bestiality.
Pauls strong opposition to same-sex intercourse is no more an isolated view of the New Testament than his intense rejection of incest.
Historically speaking, it is the ONLY view.
Every narrative, moral exhortation, and metaphor in the New Testament that has anything to do with human sexuality presumes the sole legitimacy of opposite-sex unions.
The fact that Rom. 1:26 indicts female-female sex undermines the supposition that Paul was concerned only with certain exploitative forms.
In Rom. 1:27 Paul speaks of the mutual gratification of the participants: the males were inflamed with their yearning for one another, males with males
Every kind of homosexual union imaginable existed in Pauls day.
Sex is to be confined to male-female marriage.
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
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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.
What Is The Truth About Homosexuality
The Bible teaches that we are all born into a sin-sick world. Not only are we born into a fallen world because of sin, but we are born with sin natures.
Notice what one of the verses of the famous Ten Commandments says,
Exo 20:5 “You shall not worship them or serve them for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.
The impact of sin is passed down through generations. Everyone has a sin nature and a propensity to sin. Not everyones propensity to sin is the same. Some may have a propensity towards alcoholism. Others may have a propensity towards lying or stealing, and others may have a propensity towards homosexuality.
God didnt make us that way. The entrance of sin into the world and our sin nature are what influence us to lean towards a certain sin. So, some may have a leaning toward homosexuality because of the sin nature and its particular leanings that have been passed down toward them.
Others may have had a traumatic experience, like sexual abuse, that also involved sin that caused them to lean toward homosexuality.
And Jesus came to break the power of sin in our life, no matter what that sin might be. Jesus came to bring a solution to the sin problem, whatever the sin.
But, is it possible for someone to have been born with certain sinful leanings that even include homosexuality? The answer is yes!
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Does The Bible Promote Prejudice
Still, some people would say that the Bible promotes prejudice against homosexuals and that those who adhere to its moral code are intolerant. The Bible was written at a time when people were narrow-minded, they claim. Today we accept people of all races, nationalities, and sexual preferences. To them, rejecting homosexuality is the same as rejecting people of a different skin color. Is that comparison valid? No. Why not?
Because there is a difference between rejecting homosexual conduct and rejecting homosexual people. The Bible tells Christians to be respectful of all kinds of people. But that does not mean that Christians must accept all kinds of conduct.
Consider a comparison: Suppose you view smoking as harmful and even repugnant. What if you have a workmate who is a smoker? Would you be considered narrow-minded just because your view of smoking differs from his? Would the fact that he smokes and you do not smoke automatically mean that you are prejudiced against him? If your workmate were to demand that you change your view of smoking, would that not make him narrow-minded and intolerant?
Jehovahs Witnesses choose to live by the moral code set forth in the Bible. They do not approve of the actions that the Bible prohibits. But they neither mock nor mistreat people whose practices differ from their own.
Why Is There Such A Debate About Homosexuality
If we are going to really understand why there is such a debate about homosexuality in the world today, we must understand not only the positions each side holds, but also why they hold those positions.
First, we need to understand what the homosexual community believes and why they believe that. And they need to understand what Bible-believing Christians believe and why we do. The presuppositions of each side need to be addressed.
The homosexual community believes that their position is a moral alternative: that there is nothing wrong with it, it is just different. The presupposition is that they were born that way, therefore it is who they are it is not simply something that they do, it is their identity. They believe that God made them that way, or genetics made them that way, or even early childhood rendering made them that way, but it is who they are. It is their identity. And therefore it is a natural and normal way of being for them.
So if it is normal and natural and that is just the way that they are made, then when people disagree with that, we really have a civil rights issue on our hands. African-Americans are made different, Hispanics are made different, Asians are made different and we have rules, regulations and laws to protect them. Their thought process is, If I am made differently, then I should have the same civil rights as other minority groups.
That is their position and those are the presuppositions by which they function.
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Leviticus : 13 On Death Punishment For Homosexuality
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.
After God delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh, God created many laws for them to live according to his will.
One of those laws was severe punishment if any man or woman committed the sin of homosexuality. If you are Gay, you shall die.
So, why dont gay men and women die from their sin?
Gods commandment to the Jews in the book of Leviticus instructed death for anyone involved in homosexuality. However, this is not applicable today.
This is because we have been set free from the law of Moses through Christs death. Christs death put away the curse of the law, and we are set free in liberty.
The law is not based on faith on the contrary, it says, The person who does these things will live by them.Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole. Galatians 3: 12, 13.
However, this does not mean we can live in sin. Instead, we must live in ways that please God. If we indulge in homosexuality that does not bring praise to the body of Christ, we fall from his grace of eternal life.
Does The Bible Endorse Homosexuality
I am not gay, have no family members who are, and have no experience with this lifestyle. So who am I to judge? Why dont we just let consenting adults do what they wish so long as no one else is hurt?
Many in our society take this approach to the subject, whatever their own sexual preferences might be. To do otherwise seems to be intolerant and judgmental, two words our postmodern, relativistic society condemns.
On the other hand, believers and those interested in the Christian faith do well to ask what Gods word says to every subject present in our culture. An objective reading of history and Scripture will inform our faith and make it more relevant to our problems and issues. For many paragraphs, weve considered such a survey. Now lets summarize what weve found and ask how it all applies to our lives and relationships.
We have surveyed the seven passages typically cited with regard to this issue.
In Genesis 19, we find the attempt by men in Sodom to have sex with Lots angelic visitors and Gods consequent punishment against the city. While homosexual practice is clearly part of the text, the passage is less clear as to whether Gods judgment is against homosexuality itself or the crowds abusive attempt to commit homosexual rape.
Next, we found Leviticus 18:22, with its clear prohibition against homosexual activity, and Leviticus 20:13, with its prescription of the death penalty for such activity.
Intimacy Identity And Culture
Sam Allberry, a same-sex pastor from England, confronts the pain of being alone, even by choice, on the grounds of obedience to God. Celibacy is made more difficult by the elevation of marital intimacy to a lofty position above all other forms, including friendship.
Allberrys fear is that if someones only choice in life seems to be either unbiblical intimacy or no intimacy, theyre going to end up choosing unbiblical intimacy. And if thats the case, I think the wider church shares responsibility for that.
As Allberry asserts, people within the LGBQT+ community are being denied access to this kind of intimacy, so even those who are keen to follow Gods commands and to please him by their faithful obedience are drawn to other sources for belonging and acceptance.
Jesus never taught his disciples to deny friendship and familial love to anyone. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother .
He also promoted mutually uplifting, godly friendship. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends . The word friend, philos in the Greek, means beloved or dear. I have called you friends, Jesus said to his disciples .
Not everyone accepts forgiveness through Jesus but he offers dignity, love, and truth to everyone. When a gospel-believing person highlights sin in a persons life, the purpose should always be to point that person to Jesus and his saving mercies.
How To Please God Despite Having Same
The Bible says: Dont be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. To kill wrong desires, which lead to wrong actions, you need to control your thinking. If you regularly fill your mind with wholesome thoughts, you can more readily dismiss wrong desires. While you may struggle greatly at first, it can become easier. God promises to help you to be made new in the force actuating your mind.Ephesians 4:22-24.
The same struggle is faced by millions with heterosexual desires who wish to conform to the Bibles standards. For example, those who are single with little prospect of marriage or who are married to a partner who is unable to function sexually choose to control their sexual urges despite any temptations they might face. They are able to live happily, and those with same-sex urges can do so as well if they truly want to please God.Deuteronomy 30:19.
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What Does The Bible Say About Homosexuality
This article is an exploration of the specific passages that mention homosexual behaviour, but its important to remember that Gods blueprint for sexuality is interwoven throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. The passages below need to be set in the wider biblical framework of teaching on sex.
It is a surprise to many people to discover that there are only a handful of passages in the Bible that directly mention same-sex relationships. Yet despite its infrequent mention, where the subject does come up, the Bible has some very important things to say about it. We need to understand them if were to avoid the twin mistakes of homophobia and thinking God is indifferent about how we use our sexuality.
The first two passages that directly mention homosexuality come from the Old Testament, the other three are from the New Testament.