The Bible and Homosexuality
The Question: Is the Bible silent, condemning, or supportive of engaging in homosexual activity?
Clarification: This is not an argument concerned with having homosexual tendencies, feelings, or desires towards a member of the same sex. We are only concerned with what the Bible says about actually living a homosexual lifestyle or engaging in homosexual activity. We all have desires that we don’t act on. A heterosexual person may want to have sex before marriage, but even if that person never gets married, it will always be wrong to act on those desires and have sex before marriage.
First, it’s undeniable that males and females are physiologically designed for one another. The male genitalia is made to fit into the female genitalia. Also, this combination is also how God created the ability for human reproduction. When it comes to sexuality, logically, same sex organs do not fit or function together.
Does this mean homosexual practice is necessarily wrong? Not necessarily. So let’s look at the biblical evidence:
Gen. 2:24- “for this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”
Certainly it seems that from the beginning of time, God commanded man and woman to live together and become one flesh. Jesus Himself quotes these verses again in Matthew and Mark. Multiple times the Bible and Jesus explicitly state that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that only within marriage is sex acceptable. This already eliminates the possibility of same sex marriage and behavior.
Before they [the angels visiting Lot to judge the wickedness of Sodom and determine whether or not to spare it] had gone to bed, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them [lit., ‘have intercourse’ or ‘have relations’ or ‘so we may know them’].” Lot went outside to meet them… and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men… .” …And they said, “We’ll treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.
Traditional Position: The men of Sodom were attempting homosexual contact with Lot’s visitors. Sodom was subsequently destroyed for its great wickedness, homosexuality playing a major role in its destruction.
Pro-gay Objection #1: Sodom was destroyed because of the inhospitality of its citizens, not because of homosexuality. This is based upon two assumptions: 1) Lot was violating Sodom’s custom by entertaining guests without the permission of the city’s elders, thus prompting the demand to bring the men out “so we may know them.” 2) The word used yada, “to know” does not necessarily have a sexual connotation, so the men of Sodom had no sexual intentions towards Lot’s visitors.
Response: This doesn’t make sense in light of Lot’s response. He responds, “Don’t do this wicked thing” which could hardly apply to a simple request to get to know his guests. His second response is even more telling: He answered their demands by offering his two virgin daughters- another senseless gesture if the men wanted only social knowledge of his guests.
Also, why, if these men had innocent intentions, was the city destroyed for inhospitality? The complete and utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah would be harsh punishment for inhospitality.
Pro-gay Objection #2: Sodom was destroyed for attempted rape, not homosexuality. This is more common and makes more sense than the inhospitality theory. This means violence, not homosexuality, was being punished when Sodom fell.
Response: Partially true, the men of Sodom were proposing rape, but for such an event to include all the men from every part of the city of Sodom- both young and old, homosexuality must have been commonly practiced. Also, extra-Biblical evidence connects Sodom with homosexual practices:
The second-century BC Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs labels the Sodomites ‘sexually promiscuous’ (Testimony of Benjamin 9:1) and refers to ‘Sodom, which departed from the order of nature’ (Testament of Nephtali 3:4). From the same time period, Jubilees specifies that the Sodomites were ‘polluting themselves and fornicating in their flesh’ (16:5, compare 20:5-6). Both Philo and Josephus plainly name same-sex relations as the characteristic view of Sodom (i.e. “Lot was oppressed by the sensual conduct of lawless men”)
In light of the number of men willing to join the rape, and the many other references to Sodom’s sexual sins, it is likely that the homosexual practice for which they were known was one of the many reasons judgment finally fell upon them.
Leviticus 18:22-23 “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.”
Leviticus 20:13 “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.”
Pro-gay Objection: Leviticus contains outdated ritual laws that we, as freed Christians, no longer need to abide by.
Response: The prohibitions against same-sex intercourse occur in the context of other types of sexual activity that we all agree is wrong, like incest, adultery, and bestiality. Not only this, but the indictment of same-sex intercourse is particularly severe, as suggested by the Hebrew term “to’evah” which means ‘detestable’ and ‘abominable,’ and is considered a capital offense. There are at least 6 more points that I won’t go into here that explain why these particular commands from God’s law apply to us today.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
In this passage, Paul uses homosexuality as indicative of man’s deep seated rebellion against God and God’s proper condemnation of man. This text is a crystal clear condemnation of homosexual behavior in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul right in the middle of his most brilliant discourse on general revelation. Paul is saying that homosexuality is worse because it’s an immoral act based on the perversion of a natural function.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
It is clear here that un-repentant practicing homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God (i.e. go to heaven). The Greek term is “arsenokoites,” which means ‘a sodomite,’ and is made up of the root words “arseno” meaning ‘male’ and “koites” which is where we get the English term ‘coitus’ meaning ‘sexual intercourse.’ People have been trying for years to re-translate and re-interpret the meaning of this word to refer to some version of pedophilia, however, there is no real foundation for this based on the original Greek. I also think that it’s important that we don’t single out homosexuality here and shrug off the other sins listed in these passages. For instance, how many of us have never coveted? We are all guilty of sin, and no sin is worse than another, even if the consequences may be different. The point of this study is to call out sin when we see it, and concerning homosexual behavior, to see it for the sin that the Bible clearly states it is. And don’t forget the next verse… 1 Cor. 6:11 which says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” This shows that God is willing to forgive sinners, including homosexuals, but they must turn from (repent of) their rebellious ways and place faith in Christ alone.
1 Timothy 1:10 “and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…”
Again, this is talking about how God’s Law points out these sins to people and how they are against sound teaching.
There are also a reasonably large number of other texts that explicitly or implicitly indicate opposition to same-sex intercourse, leaving little doubt that such opposition was the consensus position of both Testaments, as well as of the historical communities out of which these texts arose.
This doesn’t even include all the Scripture which talks about God’s proper parameters for Christian marriage, all of which pertains to one male with one female.
The Bible is extremely clear on the subject of homosexual practice. Again, you can even say that having homosexual desires is not wrong. The sin is giving in to these desires and acting on them. This makes the issue of genetics totally irrelevant. Whether you were born that way or whether your desires changed, the issue of ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ doesn’t matter. A tendency toward alcoholism has been linked to genes, but that doesn’t mean becoming an alcoholic is okay.
Yes, God loves us all, and Christians are to love everyone, and do not have the right to condemn others. However, it is akin to blasphemy to say that God and the Bible actually support engaging in homosexual behavior, or even to say that God doesn’t care if you engage in it. To believe this is to be in obvious denial of Truth. Anyone who knowingly engages in sin will have to live with the consequences of those choices, myself included. However, a Christian dare not try to justify his actions or fool himself into believing that God or the Bible actually supports or is even silent on the issue of homosexual practice.
For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend Dr. William Lane Craig’s “A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality” which can be found here: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/practical-issues/a-christian-perspective-on-homosexuality/
Thanks to Joe Mulvihill for source material used in this study.