Homosexuality in the Bible: What's the Deal?

A discussion of what the bible says regarding homosexuality.

Introduction

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Paul Fris
People are often lead away from God by their sin because no one wants to be told they are in the wrong, especially about something they enjoy. I have seen many cases where a friend tells a friend they are in a bad relationship and that person becomes angry because that's not what they want to hear. They want their friend to be supportive and be happy for them, but that doesn't make the friend's assertion false. We are that way with God. We don't like to think of ourselves as sinners or our actions as "evil," and we like to think that we know right from wrong, good and bad. Most people are trying to be what they think is a good person. Even with those we think are doing wrong, many of them believe they are doing right (if they thought it was wrong they wouldn't do it).

Since the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage (and probably a bit before then) the major debate between Christians has been on homosexuality: is it or is it not a sin? There are those who would have you believe it is the worst sin in the Bible, ignoring the fact that if you break one commandment you break them all (i.e. there is no "worst" sin). Others would have ordained ministers performing the ceremony and declaring that what God has called sin is not sin.

For a long time, it was an issue most of us didn't care about. We didn't have to think about wether we thought it was right or wrong because no one was really talking about it. Now with the influx of homosexual relationships in the media, celebrities (friend, families, and coworkers, as well) coming out, and the government passing laws, we can't idly sit by; we have to choose a side.
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Christ vs. the World

In the current climate of the world, you cannot "win" by rejecting the LBGT community. Almost every television show I've watched in the past year has had a gay character, most for no reason but to support the LGBT community. If you air a show that does not show homosexuality—and in a positive light—your show will probably not be successful. If you speak out against homosexuality, you are called a bigot, regardless of what you say or how you phrase it. If you do not support it (say refuse to bake a same-sex wedding cake) you will be sued and put out of business. Presidential candidates who actually want to win will tread lightly or outright lie to keep the LGBT community happy. Both President Obama and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have asked people to deny God, ignore His Word, and accept something —homosexuality in President Obama's case and abortion in Mrs. Clinton's.[5][6][7][8][9] It's obvious that the world wants you to accept homosexuality.

Neither President Obama nor Mrs. Clinton cite any scriptural evidence to argue that Christians should accept behavior that they (and the world) are deeming acceptable; they simply want you to drop your beliefs because some segment of the population has decided something should be acceptable. The issue for these people isn't about whether it is or isn't a sin—they don't care what God said—they want you to follow "the times" and man's ideas. Despite claiming to be Christian, as both Mrs. Clinton and President Obama do, many people don't want to hear what God said on the issue because they want to proceed as they are. Note that homosexuality is not the only thing people are accepting, fighting to accept or have accepted despite God's stance against it.

Is it a Sin?

That brings me to the question of the sin itself. We answer to the Father in Heaven; if God says its a sin, it's a sin and if God says it isn't a sin, then it's not. The following 6 verses are what God said about homosexuality:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22 KJV
5And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Genesis 19:5-6
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13 KJV
26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. Romans 1:26-27
9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 KJV
8But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 1 Timothy 8-10 KJV

It seems fairly obvious what God's stance on homosexuality is, but there are those who have come up with rebuttals to why they think these passages are not what they seem. If you have read my post "God's Voice" you know that I'm about to say, the devil quotes scripture too, and he is ready to make you to see God's Word in a context that allows you to do what you want to do, regardless of what God wants. We can't look at these scriptures with the hope of proving our stance (regardless of what side of the fence you stand upon); we are to read what God says with a open mind and come to the same conclusion as God. So, let's talk about these verses and the arguments against them to see what God really meant.[4]

Genesis 19

Genesis 19 is the first mentioning of homosexuality in the Bible and occurs in the story surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom (the namesake of sodomy) and Gomorrah probably rank the highest in giving homosexuality a bad reputation. Most people tell the story such that the emphasis is on people's sin of homosexuality, which leads to their ultimate destruction. Those negating the common stance that Genesis 19 condemns homosexuality suggest that Ezekiel 16:49 is more truthful of the people's crime. They go on to argue that the exchange in Genesis 19:5-6 (shown above), which is clearly a reference to homosexual behavior, is actually misinterpreted; that it is not their homosexuality but the aspect of gang rape that is being condemned. Is this true?

I can agree that homosexuality was not the only sin running rampant in Sodom and Gomorrah. Like today, it was merely one of many condemned actions that were taking place and accepted in the city. However, I think the idea that the gang rape is the crime being highlighted in Genesis 19:5-6 is false. Here's why this is a faulty interpretation:
  • Men approach Lot's house calling for Lot to send out the angels (who are disguised as men) so that they "may know" them. We all agree that "may know" is a euphemism for sex. However, asking for people to appear for the explicit purpose of sex is not the same as rape. What we see is a desire expressed, but it can't be considered an attempt at rape until they begin trying to barge into Lot's house and take the men. Lot condemns their action as wicked before this, which implies that merely asking for sex from the men is problematic.
  • Further, Lot doesn't simply shoo them away nor does he accuse them of rape or condemn rape. When Dinah is raped in Genesis 34, her brothers are so enraged they slaughter an entire city, why wouldn't Lot speak out against rape if that was the crime at hand. Lot's response would have been "they don't want to have sex with you, go away" if his concern was rape, but he doesn't mention rape or how the angels feel about the situation at all. Lot simply condemns the behavior—of which all we've been told is that they asked for the men to come out for sexual purposes—as wicked.
  • After condemning the behavior as wicked, Lot's "solution" is to given the men his virgin daughters (I'll discuss this issue and all that goes with it in my post on Lot's character). If the act condemned is rape, how is it ok to rape two virgin girls but not ok to rape two virgin (because Angels don't have sex anyway) men? Lot pleads with them, suggesting they can do whatever they want with his daughters and he reasons that its better for them to do these things to the daughters than the visiting men.
  • The issue is clearly specific to the men wanting the angels who are disguised as men. A more logical argument would be that the sin was in wanting having sex with angels, but even then, Lot never identifies the men as angels and the men in question had no way of knowing their true identity until they were being punished. If their angelic nature was the problem, Lot's response would have been "they are not men, but angels; you can't know them." Their status as angels is irrelevant in the conversation until they begin smiting people, which means it wasn't the source of the problem.
  • Further, if you continue reading Ezekiel 16:49-50, God continues the list of actions that brought His wrath upon Sodom, in which He states they "committed abomination before [Him]." Homosexuality is listed as an abomination throughout other passages in the Bible.
Another source suggests the encounter has nothing to do with sex at all.[11] This person suggests that "know" didn't actually mean sex and that the people wanted to kick the foreigners out of town (kind of like Donald Trump wants to get rid of immigrants). This person suggests Lot was poking fun at the mob by offering up his daughters. I don't think the tone of the passage supports this interpretation, though I think the logic is less faulty than the one made above. Also the Hebrew word translated to "know" is the same word used earlier to say Adam "knew" his wife and she conceived. Thus, it's highly probable that know does means sex.

Yet another source tries to claim that since all the men of the city were there it couldn't be homosexuality because surely everyone wasn't homosexual. This is also a faulty premise. The source doesn't consider that some of the men could have been bisexual. Further, in comparing the ancient city of Sodom to the modern city of Los Angeles, the author neglects that this may have been the only place in the ancient near east were one could openly engage in this kind of behavior and not be killed. It may have been an exclusive gay community (perhaps a large scale gay club). This author also ignores the fact that just because others were there doesn't mean they all wanted to have a go with the men. Some may have come along for a show of force, others to be nosy (lets face it, if you saw a large group of men closing in on one person's house, you'd be curious as to what was up too), and some may have begrudged Lot. In Leviticus and Numbers we learn that God doesn't take kindly to people watching sin and allowing it to continue. Some of the men may have been punished for homosexuality, while others may have been punished for not standing with Lot; remember after Lot said their behavior was wicked, no one said "yeah, guys, let's go home."

Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13

These two passages are the most outright and explicit declarations of homosexuality being condemned. You can't misinterpret "do not lie with a man the way you lie with a woman." I have yet to see anyone claim these two verses mean anything other than what they simply state. Instead, people argue they are no longer valid. This is where people start to dig out everything in Leviticus to prove that if these things are acceptable, so too, is homosexuality. Are they right? Is this an out-dated and invalid command?

In a separate post, I discuss Old Testament Law & Today, because people seem to be greatly confused about the laws laid out in the Old Testament and how they effect us today. Many argue that we are not bound by the law anymore because Christ "did away" with the law. For this reason many Christians eat unclean foods such as pork or shellfish, engage in premarital sex, and file for divorce for reasons other than adultery. Yet, if you ask a Christian if the 10 Commandments are still valid they will likely say yes. This is the point where Christians get accused of picking and choosing. I've seen many suggest (in sarcasm) that women be stoned for premarital sex if we're going back to the old laws. Some also site Hebrews 8:13 to confirm that these laws don't apply, but this isn't exactly true.

Jesus did not destroy the law; He fulfilled it.[2] What does that mean? The law was not just a set of rules for the people to follow, it served as a marker/identifier of sin (without a law there is no sin, because sin is disobeying the law) and explained how to atone for shortcomings. What Jesus did on the cross was atone for our sins. He didn't die on the cross so that you could lie, cheat, steal, and have sex with any and everyone you meet. God does not change,[10] what He despised during Moses' day, He still despises. That is why Jesus said "if you love Me you will keep My commandments."[13] The difference in the new covenant is not that the law has disappeared (how would sin exist for there to be a sinful world in need of judgement if there was no law?), but that instead of offering our best goat or needing to stone someone for a particular sin, Jesus' blood covers that sin. Thus in Leviticus 20, we don't have to put homosexuals to death because Jesus fulfilled their debt with His blood. The action is still a sin and the people can only be forgiven if they accept Jesus and repent. (Yes, that means the other actions listed there as also being sinful such as eating pork, and premarital sex are also wrong; two wrongs do not make a right.)

I went into great detail on explaining the above point in the post, but since Hebrews 8 was brought up, I will discuss it. They argue that this verse calls the "old covenant" and "old law" obsolete. In this chapter, God talks about the new covenant (which Jesus ushered in). He speaks of the law that is written in our hearts and says the old covenant is ready to vanish. God says that this new covenant is not "according to" the old, but is in the hearts and minds of His people. Does that mean He scrapped the old covenant and changed all the laws? Well if He did, that would make God a liar and the entire Bible would fall apart.
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.Malachai 3:6 KJV
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?Numbers 23:19 KJV

Since God does not lie, and God does not change, if God thought homosexuality was an abomination during Moses' day, He still thinks it is an abomination. Notice that while God may have only let people eat flesh after the flood, He never calls it an abomination before the flood. This was not a change for God, but a change for man (likely because of the damage the flood caused to the Earth's vegetation). So what is God talking about in Hebrews 8?

The covenant is not the law. The Israelites end of the covenant was that they would keep the feasts and perform the sacrifices due to their inability to keep the law. Yes, the law was part of the covenant in that it outlined what behavior they were to strive for, but the law itself was not the covenant. The old covenant was the bloodshed; God would stay with them and redeem them from their sins if they sacrificed blood when they broke the law. The new covenant is that we will accept Jesus as our Savior, and when we repent from breaking the law, His blood will cover our sacrifice. The old covenant of sacrifice started to vanish after Jesus came and completely vanished after the temple was destroyed. God says He will put the law (notice He never says He will change the law) in our hearts and minds because after accepting Jesus we are able to receive the Holy Spirit. The Israelites could not approach God, they had to go through the priests (who may or may not be corrupt). Their law came from the priests, but we get the law directly from God. We can approach (through Jesus) and ask for clarification of the scripture. Instead of keeping His words in a temple that only the chosen can enter, our body becomes the temple and we are worthy to carry His law with us at all times.

Interestingly actor Sir Ian Mckellen, who portrays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Magneto in X-Men, admits to ripping the page with this verse on it out of hotel Bibles—I'm not sure he realizes that simply ripping the page out doesn't change God's Word or that there are multiple verses condemning the lifestyle.[3]

1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10

1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 lists "them that defile themselves with mankind" in the KJV or "homosexuals" in the NIV, as people who are not righteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God (effeminate men are listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9 as well). What is the argument here? People argue that this verse is actually incorrectly translated or misinterpreted. They suggest that these verses are actually talking about people outside of committed, monogamous relationships. The Greek text for 1 Timothy uses the word ἀρσενοκοίταις and 1 Corinthians uses ἀρσενοκοῖται which is translated to "defile themselves with mankind" or "homosexual." μαλακοὶ is translated to effeminate.[12] Strong's translates ἀρσενοκοῖται to mean a male engaging in sexual behavior with a male and μαλακοὶ to mean soft or effeminate.[14][15] This suggests that the translation is spot on. Modern sources are trying to reconcile the desire to accept homosexuality with the Bible and thus are claiming that this is actually meant to only apply to a subset of homosexuality, but there isn't any evidence to suggest this and we've already proven that the previous verses clearly condemn homosexuality.

Romans 1:26-27

Lastly, we have Romans 1:26-27:
26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.Romans 1:26-17 KJV

The author argues that this verse is actually referring to homosexuality between grown men and young boys sometimes through prostitution and as an act of adultery. However, none of this context is found in the verse. Further, why does Paul say *men* with *men*? If he mean pedophilia, why not say children or boys? The people refuting these verses generally try to attack Paul's position by stating Paul "may have had some issues of his own" since he didn't want women to speak in church nor did he approve of long hair in men. This doesn't change what Paul wrote, nor does it suddenly make it ok. Just because we don't see an issue with something—especially since most of us were given a secular education—doesn't mean we are right and the Bible doesn't condemn it. Paul is confirmed as an apostle by Peter in 2 Peter 3:15-16, therefore we have no reason to doubt the legitimacy of his interpretations.[16]

Conclusion

From this we can conclude that these passages do in fact condemn homosexuality as a sin.
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Dealing in Love not Hate

Now that we have confirmed homosexuality to be a sin, the topic that needs addressing is how to proceed in a world that says it isn't. On the issue of sin, God tells us in Matthew 18 how to confront someone who has sinned against us.
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.Matthew 18:15-17 KJV

Notice that God doesn't say spit on, picket, harass, bully, or beat said sinner. If a friend confided in you that they smoked crack over the weekend, you would likely tell them that was an unsafe practice and express disapproval of said action. If they continued this path, you would likely inform another mutual friend to discuss the issue with the person. Lastly, you would bring the issue to a person of greater authority (such as the person's parents). If the situation became worse, you would likely distance yourself from that person. I believe this is how God expects us to handle all sins (notice I said *all* sins there). If a friend confides in you that they are struggling with homosexuality, I believe you are to share the truth of the Word with them. If they are defiant that they will not obey God, I think God expects you to place that person in a position of less influence in your life. I don't think this means you can't speak or spend time with the person, but I think it definitely changes the relationship. For instance, you wouldn't go double dating with this person nor would you accept an invitation to be the best man/maid of honor in the "wedding." Naturally, if you disagree with a behavior that is a big deal to someone, it will put a wedge in your friendship. None of the people I know who lead homosexual lifestyles are close, like BFF, friends, but I treat them like the human beings they are. I'm not better than they are because I have sins I struggle with as well. What keeps us from being close? The fact that I won't compromise my faith for sin, ie. I'm not going to lie to you and say it's ok when it isn't. What keeps us acquainted, cordial, and friendly? Everything I loved about them before, I still love. God is love. Who is going to turn back to God when His followers are spewing out hate? I believe God wants us to stand firm, but that doesn't mean treating people inhumanely or forgetting the things we love about people.
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References

  1. Thomas Nelson Publishers. KJV Study Bible. pg. 1998
  2. Matthew 5:17
  3. Miller, Leslie. "Why gay actor Ian McKellen rips pages out of Bibles". USA Today. November 2009
  4. Simon, Erica W. "There are 6 Scriptures about homosexuality in the Bible. Here's what they really say". Up Worthy. June 2014
  5. The Joe Walsh Program. "Hillary Clinton Says Religious Beliefs About Abortion Have to be Changed". YouTube. April 2015
  6. Examiner. "Obama: Americans need to shift religious views to accept gay marriage". Las Vegas SunTimes. June 2015
  7. The Joe Walsh Program. "Hillary Clinton Says Religious Beliefs About Abortion Have to be Changed". YouTube. April 2015
  8. NicholasPOGM. "Obama demands Christians Deny Jesus!". YouTube. June 2015
  9. "Obama tells Americans to Deny Jesus and Overcome their Religious Views". JewsNews. July 2015
  10. Malachai 3:6 KJV
  11. "How are we to take the fact that Lot offered his daughters for rape?". Biblical Hermeneutics.
  12. German Bible Society. "Greek New Testament". Academic Bible. 2016
  13. John 14:15.
  14. 3120. malakos". Bible Hub. 2016
  15. 733. arsenokoites". Bible Hub. 2016
  16. Keathley, Hampton, IV. "The Authorship of Second Peter". Bible.org. June 2004

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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