A key battle ground over the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage is the Bible. What does the Bible actually say about Homosexuality? This subject has become a very blurry one in recent days. Though there are explicit Scriptures that identify homosexuality as sin, there are also gay apologists who offer alternative interpretations to these texts seemingly overthrowing traditional interpretations in favor of viewpoints that affirm homosexuality. My desire is to address these issues by honoring the biblical texts and allowing them to determine what our view should be on these extremely important issues. In this blog I offer the traditional view of the main Scriptures that identify homosexuality as a sin, briefly state some of the arguments that gay-affirming theologians use to counter those texts, and then offer responses to those counter arguments.
1) Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
Traditional View: Under the Old Testament moral law, homosexuality, along with adultery (Lev 20:10-12), blasphemy (Levitcus 24:16), idolatry (Exodus 22:20), rebellion (Exodus 21:15) and many other sins were abominable and punishable by death.
Gay Affirming View: These prohibitions no longer apply today for two reasons: 1) Since the prohibition is included with other laws that are not enforced like, “sowing your field with two types of seeds”(Lev 19:19) it doesn’t apply to us today. 2) This passage has to do with idolatry and so the prohibition is not on homosexuality but instead homosexuality in the context of idol worship.
Response: 1) Old Testament laws were broken down into three categories: 1) Civil/Judicial – governed the culture of Israel 2) Ceremonial – governed the customs of Israel 3) Moral – governed the conduct of Israel. The moral laws included Ten Commandments, as well as the prohibitions for adultery, incest, homosexuality, etc. While the ceremonial and civil laws only applied to the nation of Israel, the moral laws were universal laws that applied to all the nations. We know this because God specifically addressed other nations and judged them when they broke His moral laws. The moral laws dealt with issues of righteousness and justice and were based upon God’s character. Just as God’s character is unchanging so are His moral laws. Though the ceremonial and civil laws only had specific application to Israel, the moral laws were applicable to all the nations and are still applicable today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).
2) Leviticus 18 also addresses the issues of incest, bestiality, pedophilia, adultery and child sacrifice. If we apply the same logic that sees homosexuality as being permissible outside of the context of idol worship, then we would also have to affirm these sins outside the context of idol worship. That’s clearly not the intention of the passage.
2) Romans 1:24-27 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 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.
Traditional View: Homosexuality, along with many other sins, is a product of the fallen nature of humanity, stemming from the refusal of people to recognize God for who He is (Rom 1:18-21). Homosexuality is described as against natural relations.
Gay Affirming View: Paul is not describing all homosexuals. Instead he is only describing those who have “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” Meaning he’s only talking about homosexual acts committed by those who are actually heterosexual and not homosexual. These are people who are indulging in homosexual behavior that is not natural to them. Therefore the prohibition is only toward those who are deliberately engaging in homosexual acts in violation of their true heterosexual nature. Homosexuality in general is, therefore, not forbidden.
Response: There is nothing in this passage or in any of Paul’s writings to infer that he makes a distinction between “natural” and “unnatural” homosexuals. Paul instead makes the point that homosexual behavior is unnatural, against the natural course of God’s design, for all men and women.
3) 1Corinthians 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Traditional View: The words translated, “homosexual offenders” in the NIV come from the Greek word “Arsenokoite”. Paul lists homosexuality along with other sins as a practice that will ultimately exclude an individual from the Kingdom of God.
Gay Affirming View: Paul made up the word Arsenkoite to specifically describe male prostitution, which was a common practice that went alongside the idolatry of the day. The fact that he made the word up instead of using one of the standard Greek words for “homosexual” proves he wasn’t talking about homosexuality in general. Paul’s prohibition was not toward homosexuality, it was toward the prostitution that went along with idolatry.
Response: Paul coined over 170 different word in the New Testament. The fact that he coined terms doesn’t change the context or intent of these passages. Scholars note that Paul coined this word directly from the Greek translation of the Old Testament passage for Leviticus 18:22, which as stated above, identifies homosexuality as sin.
4) 1Timothy 1:8-10 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 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 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
Traditional View: Homosexuality is identified in a list of sins that are described as unholy, profane and contrary to sound teaching. As such it is to be avoided along with the other sins mentioned.
Gay Affirming View: This passage is discredited with the same reasoning that is applied to 1 Cor 6:9-10, stating that Paul was not talking about all homosexuals, rather he was addressing the specific practice of male prostitution, because he coined the term Arsenkoite to identify something different than standard homosexuality.
Response: In addition to the reasoning stated above, we must remember that Paul was a first century Jewish rabbi. There is nothing to suggest that he would have departed from the normative position on the Old Testament moral laws, instead we see in the rest of his writings that he continually affirmed them.
I understand that much is at stake in discussing these issues. I don’t take that lightly. I also understand that these explanations are very brief and only able to scratch the surface on these issues. My hope is to offer a starting point for believers to get clarity on these subjects and offer a beacon of truth for those struggling with homosexuality but desiring freedom.
There is freedom in Jesus for all those who will call on His name. Homosexuality is no worse than any other sin. All sin has it’s roots in rebellion toward God and refusal to follow His ways. We all suffer from the same malady; we are all desperately broken in sin and in great need of a Savior. I pray you will turn to Jesus and find His saving, delivering power.