The Bible and Homosexuality
First, a Little Perspective.
From all the hollerin’ and hoopla about homosexuality these days, it would be easy to think the Bible has volumes to say on the subject.
- The Old Testaments prophets must have preached fire and brimstone messages against the rampant “sodomites” of their times.
- Jesus, the Founder of our Faith, probably spent significant time and energy condemning this most heinous of sins.
- Certainly, the controversial and prolific Apostle Paul wrote scathing diatribes, denouncing the damnable practices of homosexuals.
- John, the Beloved disciple who was given a vision of the glories of heaven, must have made condescending mention about the justified absence of such horrific sinners within the Pearly Gates.
- In his letters to young ministers, we have to think that the Apostle Paul gave clear instructions on the importance of persistently and passionately preaching against this sin above all others.
- And most likely Simon Peter, known for his confrontational style and outspoken opinions, informed us that homosexuality is the worst of all sins.
Surprisingly, out of 31,000+ verses in the Bible, there are really only a few passages routinely used by those who want to make a case against homosexuals.
Personal Note: Even as I write that sentence, I can hear the voices—shouts of my conservative Christian background and training—challenging me. How many times does it have to appear in the Bible to be true? If it’s there at all, we should obey it! But my position here is not based on frequency (how many times it occurs), but the clarity of the message…and the amount of attention given to it compared to other topics with more exposure. It’s out of context and out of proportion
We’re talking five.
At the most…seven.
Clarification: The actual number of passages depends on whether we combine both of Leviticus’ “abomination” passages and count Paul’s two texts as one and roll an obscure reference in Jude into the story of Sodom. I generally teach it as five: Genesis 1: 26-27 (2:4-25); Genesis 19:1-29 (with Jude 7); Leviticus 18:22 (with 20:13); Romans 1:26-27; and I Corinthians 6:9-10 (with I Timothy 1:9-11)
How much destruction has been generated by these few verses?
Families have been torn apart; children have been rejected. Lives have been lost, with too many choosing suicide over the torment, guilt and condemnation of any unloving, unforgiving culture. Churches…indeed, entire denominations…have divided over this issue. Pastors have been fired for taking a stand; sincere Christians have been forced to leave their church because they were honest about their sexual orientation.
A few obscure verses.
Here’s the kicker: despite what’s traditionally preached, the original meaning of these passages is not as clear as some would have us believe. They do not provide a blanket denunciation of homosexuality as we understand it today—a sexual orientation, not a behavioral choice. Certainly they don’t condemn a person merely because they are homosexual. Nor do any of the verses rule out the possibility of being both gay and Christian.
On the other hand, the word “love,” in one form or another, is used 400+ times in the Bible, depending on the translation we use. Over and over, without question and leaving no room for misunderstanding, we are told to love. (I’m not talking about the idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin.”)
The command to “love one another” is given to us more than 20 times in the New Testament, which (if my math is correct) is three times more than the number of verses supposedly about homosexuality. Though Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, five times He commanded us to love one another. (cf: John 13:34, 35; 15:12,17) He said love is the Greatest Commandment, and the culmination of all the teaching (“law and prophets”) that came before Him. (cf: Matthew 22:36-40) We are told to love our neighbors and our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44) The Apostle Paul tells us that love is the fulfillment of all the requirement of the Old Covenant law. (cf: Romans 13:8, 10; Galatians 5:14) And he devotes an entire “chapter” to the virtues and eternal nature of love, indicating that regardless of our “good deeds,” if they’re done without love, they are meaningless. (I Corinthians 13) And if all that were not enough, John, the Beloved Apostle, pointedly states that if we don’t love the people we can see, it’s proof that we don’t know God, whom we cannot see. (cf: I John 4:8,20)
As a Christian who happens to be gay (GASP!), I’ve spent years studying this subject.
I offer these pages for your consideration, making no claims that what I share is the only way to understand this subject.
I enjoy having honest, civil discussions, and I welcome your responses, your opinions and your thoughts.
Old Testament passages:
Genesis 19: Revising Sodom
Leviticus: The Holiness Code
Creation Story: "Adam & Eve, not blah, blah, blah"
Jonathan and David: More than Friends?
New Testament passages:
Romans 1: Doin' What Comes...“Naturally?”
I Corinthians 6: No Gays in Heaven?
Healing of Roman Centurion’s Servant Boy: Did Jesus meet a gay couple?
Eunuchs: Was this a cultural understanding of homosexual?