A Bible Study – Homosexuality References and Alleged Condemnations in the Bible

A Bible Study

Homosexuality References and Alleged Condemnations in the Bible

September 2013

By Jamie Maletic

 

 

Introduction

 

In light of the recent court rulings that have legalized gay marriage in California, I decided to revisit the Bible’s verses on homosexuality and also do some research on the subject.  Unfortunately, I have people that are close to me that are uncomfortable with gay marriage because of their Christian beliefs.  To some, there is an assumption that if you’re gay, you must not be Christian. George Barna, a conservative Christian author and researcher, conducted a survey in the U. S. that found gays having a Christian affiliation were more numerous than had been presumed. For the record, I also consider myself Christian. The following is my breakdown of the areas of the Bible in the Old and New Testaments that reference homosexuality.  Anything written in quotes is taken directly from the original King James Version of the Bible (which I believe everyone should read and interpret for themselves). 

 

Also, there is a Bible that has been used by people close to me called the “Life Application Bible”.  It was transcribed by a group of theologians. This Bible includes notes at the bottom of each page explaining some, not all, of the verses.  I’ve notated in this study which verses included explanatory notes and which didn’t, which is interesting.  Also, some of the words and phrases in the “Life Application Bible” are completely different from the original King James Version.  In my opinion, it’s Bibles and/or teachings like this that steer Christians in the wrong direction regarding the morality of homosexuality in the Bible.

 

One could argue that some heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using certain Bible passages as justification for applying standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, yet at the same time they accept for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the same passages that they do routinely commit.

 

Homosexuality is briefly mentioned in 6-7 of the Bible’s 31,173 verses.  While overall the Bible is nearly silent on homosexuality, a great deal of its content has to do with how a Christian should behave.  Throughout it, the Bible insists on fairness, equity, love and the rejection of legalism over compassion.  

“…and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13: 8-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Testament

 

 

 

Leviticus

 

Leviticus is probably the most often referenced book in the Bible that is used to condemn homosexuality.  I went through it in both the KJV and the Life Application Bible and here are my findings. (Chapters not referenced here were not pertinent to this particular Bible study.)

 

Leviticus 3:17

“It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings that ye eat neither fat nor blood.” -

It sounds rather funny, but to me this means one cannot eat blood sausage, or possibly even hamburger meat, which consists of blood and fat.  This verse is not explained in the “Life Application Bible”.

 

Leviticus 5:2

“Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him: he also shall be unclean and guilty.” -

Anything deemed “unclean”, shall not be touched, period.  This verse is also not explained in the “Life Application Bible”

 

Leviticus 5:5

“And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing.” -

Touching any kind of animal or insect that is “unclean” is a sin.  If you do this, you must do the following as explained in verses 6-13:

Bring to church a lamb, goat, turtledove, or 2 pigeons (in which the priest will “wring” off their heads) to be sacrificed in a specific way detailed in these verses.

The “Life Application Bible” explains these verses to mean that it is still vital to confess sin, but we no longer need to sacrifice animals because of Christ’s death on the cross.  Nonetheless, pretty heavy, specific rules here – rules that are ignored today, *except* for those allegedly pertaining to homosexuality. 

 

Leviticus Chapter 7

This chapter contains lots of rules pertaining to leavened and unleavened bread, and what foods can touch other foods. (Jewish customs?)  Many Christians think Jews are silly for doing this sort of thing, but it is in the Bible.

 

Leviticus Chapter 11

Verse 2: “These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 3 – Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts that ye shall eat.”

Examples are mentioned of what not to eat in verses 4-7.  They include camel, coney (type of rabbit), hare and swine (pork).  All are considered unclean.

Verse 9: “These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters; whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. 10- And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination to you. 11- they shall even be an abomination unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcasses in abomination. 12- Whatsoever hath no fins not scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”

Verses 13-31 Goes over various insects you can eat, and those you can’t.

 

So, no eating  camel, coney (rabbit), hare, swine (pork), crustaceans, octopus, shrimp, lobster, crab – anything without fins and scales.  All are listed as abominations. Even having their carcasses are an abomination.

It’s interesting what the LA Bible translated these verses to mean.  It says God wanted the people to be totally separated from those things that he had forbidden. It also glosses over the pure subject matter of the verses saying, “God says we are to separate ourselves completely from all sin and tempting situations.”  Nothing mentioned at all as to why these detailed eating rules are not taken seriously today.  Interesting, considering that they are clearly listed as abominations. 

 

Leviticus Chapter 12

This chapter speaks of women after they have their babies and how long they are “unclean” after giving birth.  Also discusses the sacrificial animals that must be brought to the church after the woman is “clean” again.  Circumcision must be done on the 8th day.

The “Life Application Bible” glosses over these rules too, saying that the term unclean “probably meant due to body emissions and secretions that occur during and after childbirth.  Therefore this made the woman unprepared to enter the pure surroundings of the Tabernacle.” Nothing was noted regarding the 8th day circumcision rule.

 

Leviticus Chapter 13 and 14

Extensively talks about leprosy and the rules of cleanliness/uncleanliness regarding it. The LA Bible basically explains that leprosy was one of the most feared diseases of the Bible times. It also explains that “leprosy is often used in the Bible as an illustration of sin because sin is contagious and destructive and leads to separation.”  Chapter 14 also talks about leprosy in regards to how to cleanse lepers and their houses.

The LA Bible explains that these laws regarding leprosy were given for the people’s health and protection.  Fair enough, I say.  Leprosy, or what was thought to be leprosy was a huge problem at that time. At. That. Time.  Is it out of the question to consider that some of the Bible’s writings pertained to things that were going on at that time? 

The following is what the “Life Application Bible” has to say:

“Does this mean we are to follow the Old Testament health and dietary restrictions?  In general, the basic principles of health and cleanliness are just as applicable for us today as they were then.  But it would be legalistic, if not wrong, to adhere to each specific restriction today.”

(“Legalistic” definition: strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code, as of religion or morality.)

It goes on to say, “Some of these regulations were intended to mark the Israelites as different from the wicked people around them.  Others were given to prevent God’s people from becoming involved in pagan religious practices, one of the most serious problems of the day.”  -

As I suggested, we should consider what was going on at the time the Bible was written.  Unfortunately though, the Life Application Bible only seems to agree with that idea if it pertains to food restrictions, and not consensual homosexual relationships.

 

Leviticus Chapter 15

This chapter covers the uncleanliness of discharge from wounds and how to address that.  And, in verse 10: “And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.”  -

So, after masturbation, or in any case of semen spillage, you must shower evidently. 

Verse 18 explains that if a woman was present while this occurred, she too is unclean and must bathe as well. She and he must also bathe after sexual intercourse.  Verses 19-33 cover unclean situations regarding menstruation, and all the rules and regulations i.e. sexual intercourse during menstruation. In fact, a woman is deemed “unclean” until the seventh day after her period stops. Animal sacrifices are included.

The Life Application Bible explains all this to mean that God simply wants us to be physically and spiritually clean in our sexual relations.  Now why is it that certain things are just explained away as God’s suggestions for hygiene while others are taken so literally and seriously?  The verses in these chapters are very detailed and specific, yet most of them are totally ignored by many Christians today. 

 

 

Leviticus Chapter 18*

This chapter includes the infamous “homosexuality” verse.  It’s one sentence.  It says, rather simply,

“22- Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.”

The rest of the chapter covers other abominations like bestiality, having sex with a woman that is menstruating, lying with your neighbor’s wife, and in detail, incest and seeing the nakedness of family members.  The near last verse of the chapter says, “29- For whosoever shall commit ANY of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.”

The LA Bible explains, “Several abominations, or wicked things, are listed here.1) marrying close relatives, 2) having sex with someone else’s wife, 3) burning children, 4) homosexuality, 5) sex with animals.  These practices were quite common to pagan religions and it is easy to see why God dealt harshly with those who began to follow them.  Such practices are not only a source of disease; more important, they are extremely disruptive to family and social life.  They reveal a low regard for the value of oneself and of others.  Society today takes some of these practices lightly, even trying to make them acceptable.  But they are sins in God’s eyes.  If you consider them acceptable, you are not judging by God’s standards.”

Ok, a couple things here.  The LA Bible left out the abominations of seeing your relatives naked and having sex with a woman who is menstruating.  Why aren’t these mentioned?  They were listed with the other abominations, and actually in greater detail. The LA Bible comments that the abominations (that they listed) “reveal a low regard for the value of oneself and others.”  How does a consensual, committed same-sex relationship reveal a low regard for the value of oneself?   It said such practices were quite common to pagan religions at that time.  Is it out of the question to consider that homosexuality was mentioned with all of the other abominations because it was part of what sounds like social chaos at the time?  Do we really honestly think that when mentioned with all the others, that the Bible was necessarily condemning consensual, loving, homosexual relationships?

Another comment from the LA Bible – “If you consider them acceptable, you are not judging my God’s standards.”  The (real) Bible points out numerous times not to judge others, so this sentence is ridiculous.

 

Leviticus Chapter 19

Verse 16- “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord.”

18- “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.”

19-“Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee.”  

26- “Ye shall not eat anything with the blood, neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.”

27- “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.”

28- “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

 

37- “Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.”

 

Amazingly, but not surprisingly, the Life Application Bible did not explain ANY of the above verses.  As I mentioned before, it’s interesting what it chooses to deem important enough to explain or elaborate on.  This is what those verses mean to me:

 

Verse 16 – Do not gossip. Do not hate your neighbor.

Verse 18- Don’t hold grudges against anyone, love your neighbor as yourself.

Verse 19- Do not let cows of different kinds or breeds roam together.  Do not mix seeds when planting.  Do not mix types of material when wearing an outfit.

Verse 26- Do not eat anything that still shows blood, do not partake in magic or wizardly things.  Do not observe times. (Does this mean celebrating birthdays and holidays? Is this where Jehovah Witnesses get their philosophies?)

Verse 27- Do not cut your hair (at least in a certain, unexplained way) or groom your beard.

Verse 28- Do not get tattooed.

 

Again, most of the above condemnations are completely ignored or found to be not as important by many Christians. 

 

 

Leviticus Chapter 20

Verse 8- “And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you.”  Verses 9-27 lists statutes with their penalties:

-         Cursing your parents; death

-         Seeing your relatives naked; be separated from others

-         Adultery; death

-         A man lying with mankind as he lies with a woman; death

-         A man who is with his wife’s mother sexually; burn both with fire

-         Bestiality; death

-         Incest; death

-         If a man has sex with a woman while she’s menstruating; both shall be cut off from other people.

-         Anyone who practices or seeks witchcraft; death.

-         It’s also reiterates the importance of not consuming things deemed “Unclean” that were listed in Chapter 11.

The Life Application Bible explains and more importantly, admits that the detestable sexual acts listed were very common in the heathen nations of Canaan, and that their religions were rampant with sex goddesses, temple prostitution, and other sins. Again, we’re talking about chaotic, unabashed, sexual acts that were evidently running rampant at that time.  I honestly do not believe this was meant to include mutual, consenting adult homosexual relationships, given the context and time in history that it was written in.

 

Leviticus Chapters 21-22

These chapters cover all the rules for priests and for sacrificing rituals.  Talks about any kind of maimed, handicapped, flat-nosed person, anyone with a broken foot or hand, crooked spine, dwarfs, any kind of blemish on the face – are not allowed to make offerings.  It also briefly touches on the subject of slavery, which is indicative of the time this chapter was written.  As we all know, slavery has since been abolished.

 

 

Leviticus Chapter 23

This chapter talks about rules of the feasts of the Sabbaths, when to celebrate, and when to have mandatory rests.

 

 

 

Leviticus Chapter 24

This chapter covers the punishment for blasphemy/cursing God. (The guilty person must be stoned to death).  All murderers are to be executed.  Anyone who kills another man’s animal must replace it. The penalty for injuring anyone is to be injured in the exact same way, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, etc.

 

The LA Bible has nothing to say about these rules. They skipped this chapter entirely.  Interesting, isn’t it?

 I hate to point out the obvious, but what would happen in today’s society if we followed these rules of God?  Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth?  There’d be 5 times as many wars as we’ve already had if these types of laws were enforced.  Stoned to death for taking the Lord’s name in vain?  Albeit wrong to do so, public stoning for it is a bit much.  I think any sane, logical person would agree with that.

 

 

(Stay with me here – as I’m sure at this point you’re thinking to yourself, “but this is the Old Testament.  I have a point to all this.)

 

 

Leviticus Chapter 25

Talks about the rules of owning a slave, including when you can release them back to their families. (“Unto the year of Jubilee” – which was only every 50 years) 

The Life Application Bible says the Bible “does not condone slavery, but it recognizes its existence.”  However, we all know that slavery was and is, wrong.  The LA Bible goes on to explain that God’s laws offered many guidelines for treating slaves properly.  I disagree with this explanation, as there is a distinct difference in the Bible between a “slave” and a “hired servant”, with the hired servant being treated better. (Verse 53)

 

 

Leviticus Chapters 26-27

This chapter goes over all the punishments for disobeying the statutes. The words are very angry. Some of the punishments include eating the flesh of your own sons and daughters, plagues, tuberculosis, destroying places of worship, taking away crops and fruit bearing trees, creating fear, etc. 

 

In practice, most Christians do not follow the dictates of the Old Testament.  If they did, polygamy would be legal, and things like tattoos, wearing mixed fabrics, and eating pork and shrimp would be forbidden. Brides who weren’t found to be virgins would be stoned to death, as well as anyone guilty of adultery.

Clearly, we no longer follow any such laws.  Therefore, using the passages in Leviticus to condemn all homosexual acts would be hypocritical.

 

 

 

 

The New Testament

 

 

 

Many Christians will argue, “but homosexuality is condemned in the NEW TESTAMENT!”  Well, let’s look into that.

 

According to my research, there are 3 mentions of homosexuality in the New Testament: Corinthians 6:9-10

1 Timothy 1:9-10

Romans 1: 26-27

 

The following are the above verses as they are written in the King James Bible.

 

Corinthians 6:9-10

“Know 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.  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

1 Timothy 1:9-11

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for the sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and mothers, for manslayers.  For 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; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

 

 

Romans 1:26-27

“For this cause God gave them up unto rile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another: men with men working that which is unseemingly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was met.”

 

The Corinthians verses read differently in the LA Bible, which reads, “Don’t fool yourselves. Those who live immoral lives, who are idol worshipers, adulterers or homosexuals – will have no share in His Kingdom.”  (So “effeminate = homosexual?  I know many men who are effeminate that are heterosexual.  So I think this translation is hardly a lock.)

But let’s go ahead and take “effeminate” to mean homosexual.  Along with homosexuality, Paul also condemns drunkenness, lying and lust.  Christians usually accept as inevitable that any given Christian will occasionally drink too much, lust or tell a lie.  They understand that circumstances and normal human weakness is taken into consideration before condemning any transgression.  Christians evaluate the degree of sin, or even whether or not a real sin has occurred, by looking at both the harm caused by the sin, and the intent of the sinner.

 

They do, that is, for all sins except homosexuality.

 

Virtually any degree of homosexual “transgression” gets treated by some Christians as an absolute sin deserving absolute punishment.  They draw no moral distinction between the homosexual gang rape in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the orgies to which Paul refers to in his letter to the Romans, the wild sexual abandon Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and consensual homosexual sex between loving and committed partners.

 

Heterosexual Christians are being unfair and hypocritical by using these passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality (and penalty) to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are never tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality (and applying no real penalty) for those sins listed in the passages they routinely commit. 

 

There is no demonstrable harm arising from sex within a committed homosexual relationship, but there is significant harm arising from discrimination and condemnation against gay persons.

 

 

 

The Timothy passage translation in the “Life Application Bible” is simply ridiculous. It says, “But they were not made for us, whom God has saved; they are for sinners who hate God, have rebellious hearts, curse and swear, attack their fathers and mothers, and murder.  Yes, these laws are made to identify as sinners all who are immoral and impure: homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, and all others who do things that contradict the glorious Good News of our blessed God, whose messenger I am.”

Homosexuality is not directly referenced in these verses in the KJV, but the LA Bible had inserted it in along the likes of kidnappers, liars, murderers, etc.  Even IF these Timothy verses read to some as including homosexuals, they would have to admit that in the context of the verse that it was most likely talking about perversion and NOT people in a committed, loving relationship.

 

Lastly, the Romans verses.  The LA Bible predictably notates these verses as a blatant condemnation of homosexuality.  But if you read the verses as they were written in the King James Version, Paul is speaking in past tense, likely referencing the hedonistic and perverted behaviors by the people mentioned in Leviticus.  As explained previously, these people had no respect for themselves, God, or each other and they were doing all sorts of vile things.  (Referred to as the Heathen nations of Canaan, at the time)

 

I am not alone in my thoughts on this subject.  Through my research, I’ve discovered that several theologians have studied this and came up with more or less the same conclusion:  The Bible, and Jesus Himself for that matter, does not condemn homosexuality in a monogamous, loving relationship.  The only time it is referenced as negative is when it is referenced with non-consensual sexual acts, like rape or when people had blatant disregard for themselves or others, regardless of the sexual orientation. 

 

An example of this would be the story of Lot in Judges 19.  Along with Leviticus, many Christians that condemn homosexuality use this story as well as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) to back their claims against it.  But many interpreters find these stories to condemn the violent rape of guests, rather than homosexuality, but the passages have historically been interpreted within Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality due to the interpretation that the men of Sodom wished to rape the angels who retrieved Lot.  However, rape is rape.  It’s wrong, regardless of sexual orientation.

 

In these NT passages, Paul condemns the coercive, excessive and predatory same-sex activity practiced by the Romans – and would have condemned the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

 

Christians’ understanding and practice of the New Testament have naturally and inevitably evolved along with society and culture changes in history, yet they have always selectively followed the dictates of the NT.  This is why Christian women no longer feel morally obligated to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut (1 Corinthians 16: 3-9), to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church (1 Corinthians 14: 34-35).  It’s also why the Bible is no longer used to justify the cruel institution of slavery, or to deny women the right to vote. Just as those thoughts and understandings of the NT changed and grew, today it is becoming increasingly clear that the three NT passages that allegedly condemn homosexuality, when understood in their historical context, DO NOT condemn it.

 

It cannot be stated enough that it is easy to condemn something that some people find personally revolting or that they don’t understand. 

 

Evidently, in the times that the New Testament was written, the Roman conquerors of the region frequently and openly engaged in homosexual acts between older men and boys, and between men and their slaves.  These acts of non-consensual sex were considered normal and socially acceptable.  But they were morally repulsive to Paul, as today they would be to everyone – gay and straight.

 

One of the most, if not the most authoritative dictionaries of our time is the Oxford Classical Dictionary (third edition, revised 2003).  This is what it said in its section about homosexuality as it was practiced in the time of Paul:

 

“…the sexual penetration of male prostitutes or slaves by conventionally masculine elite men, who might purchase slaves expressly for that purpose, was not considered morally problematic.”

This is the societal context in which Paul wrote of homosexual acts, and it is this context that Christians should bring to their understanding and interpretation of the three NT passages.  Paul understandably condemned the same-sexual activity he saw around him, who wouldn’t?  It was coercive; it was without constraint; it involved older men and boys.  As a moral man, Paul was revolted by these acts – as, certainly, he would have been by the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

 

The concept of a person having a homosexual lifestyle did not exist at the time the Bible was written.

 

It’s important in our reading of the New Testament’s three passages to understand that while of course Paul knew about sex acts that took place between persons of the same gender, he had no concept whatsoever of homosexual persons.  Virtually no one in Paul’s time was “out”; no one lived, or identified socially as a homosexual.

 

This is the opening of the Oxford Classical Dictionary’s article on homosexuality:

 

“No Greek or Latin word corresponds to the modern term ‘homosexuality’, and ancient Mediterranean society did not in practice treat homosexuality as a socially operating category of personal or public life.  Sexual relations between people of the same sex did occur, but they were not systematically distinguished or conceptualized as such, much less were they thought to represent a single, homogeneous phenomenon in contradistinction to sexual relations between persons of different sexes… The application of ‘homosexuality’ in a substantive or normative sense to sexual expression in classical antiquity is not advised.”

 

We can be sure that Paul was not writing to, or about, gay people, because he simply could not have been, any more than he could have written about smart phones or iPads. We do not know what Paul might write or say today about gay people.  All we know is that in the New Testament he wrote about promiscuous, predatory, non-consensual same-sex acts.  If we are to read the Bible, then we must take its text as is.  It does condemn homosexual (and heterosexual) sex that is excessive, exploitive and outside of marriage.  It does not, however, address the state of homosexuality itself – much less the subject of homosexual acts between a married gay couple.  Christians therefore have no Bible-based moral justification for themselves when they condemn such acts.

There was no concept of gay marriage or gay relationships when the Bible was written.

 

 

 

The Bible record of Jesus’ words is worth fact-checking, as we determine how we will follow Him.

What did Jesus Himself say about homosexuality? Nothing.   He had plenty to say about other things though.

The following are direct words from Jesus as per the King James Version of the Bible:

 

Matthew 5:11 – “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

 

Matthew 19:16-19 – “ And behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And He said unto him, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments.  He saith unto Him, Which?  Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness.  Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

 

Speaking of adultery, Jesus himself was very specific about it and what he considered adultery to be.  For example:

 

Matthew 5:27-28 – “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” 

 

Also regarding adultery,

 

Matthew 5:31-32 – (Jesus’ words) “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

 

The first passage is well-known (but often ignored) sin, lust.  However in the latter verse (31-32) Jesus clearly states that he is against divorce and remarrying someone who has been divorced.  But as we know, this is done all the time in Christian marriages.  When people divorce because, “things just didn’t work out” it’s not nearly as frowned upon as homosexual relationships.  Hypocritical to say the least, as Jesus himself is condemning this.  This condemnation is repeated in several books of the NT.

 

Again, I honestly believe homosexuality is easily condemned by some Christians because they are unfamiliar with having feelings of love towards the same sex.  They don’t understand it- those feelings are foreign to them. But not understanding or being personally repelled by something doesn’t make it or validate it to be a sin.  It’s very easy for people to mistake their instinctive reaction against something as a moral reaction to it.  It may feel to a straight Christian that their instinctive negative reaction to homosexual sex arises out of the Bible. Many Christians pair their personal feelings with the Bible passages, solidifying their beliefs against homosexuality.  But all of us view the Bible though the lens of out own experiences and prejudices, and we need to take care that that does not distort our vision of understanding God’s word.

 

While writing this study, it occurred to me that there are Christians who are strictly against celebrating Halloween, as they see it as a celebration of Satan.  They can even reference specific passages in the Bible to support their claims.  The severity of this belief can range though, as one pastor wrote that it was ok to let your kids trick-or-treat, as long as they don’t dress as a devil or demonic character.

 

So maybe the question isn’t where we draw the line on all of these subjects, but really how the Bible, the TRUE, unaltered King James Version, is comprehended individually, allowing the reader to come up with their own conclusions on what the Lord wants and doesn’t want us to do. 

 

In Matthew 23:23, Jesus scolded the Pharisees for being sticklers about the law but neglecting these “weightier matters”.  Perhaps there’s something to be learned there.  Consensual, monogamous homosexual relationships that don’t interfere or hurt anyone else are NOT weightier matters.  Adultery, rape, lying, stealing etc – all sins that Jesus DID mentioned himself, hurt other people and are likely the “weightier matters” he was speaking of.

 

A theory exists that the mention of eunuchs in the Bible could be a reference to homosexuals.

The mention is in Matthew chapter 19.  Jesus is first discussing His condemnation of divorce.  Then He says, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

 

Definition of the word “Eunuch”:

A eunuch (/ˈjuːnək/; Greek: Ευνούχος) is a man who (by the common definition of the term) may have been castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences. Less commonly, in translations of ancient texts, “eunuch” may refer to a man who is not castrated but who is impotent, celibate, or otherwise not inclined to marry and procreate.”

 

Taking the above definition into consideration, Jesus could have been speaking of people otherwise not inclined to marry or procreate (homosexuals?) when He said, “which were so born from their mother’s womb”.  This conclusion is debatable, and I’m not even sure about what I personally think it means.  But it’s definitely interesting and perhaps deserves some thought on the possibility.

 

Another theory worth mentioning is that there are some Christians who support gays that believe that some Biblical passages have been mistranslated or that these passages do not refer to homosexual orientation as currently understood.  Liberal Christian scholars, like conservative Christian scholars, accept earlier versions of the texts that make up the Bible in Hebrew or Greek.  However, within these early texts there are many terms that modern scholars have interpreted differently from previous generations of scholars.  There are concerns with copying errors, forgery, and biases among the translators of later Bibles.  They consider some verses such as those they say support slavery or the inferior treatment of women as not being valid today, and against the will of God in the present context of the Bible. 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

The Bible isn’t a rulebook, and Christians cannot lift out of its context any passage from the Bible, and still hope to have a clear understanding of that passage.  It’s important to understand that even the most fundamentalist Christian groups do not take the Bible wholly literally.  The New Testament is 2,000 years old.  Its cultural contexts, along with its translation, are always taken into consideration by any Christian serious about understanding it.

 

Compassion for others is the fundamental cornerstone of Christianity; the Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith.  What Christian can possibly choose between the two?

In my opinion, the answer is that no Christian is called upon to make that choice.  Having to choose between the words of the Bible and full equality for gay and lesbian people is not something that God would ask or expect his followers to do.

 

We should read the passages of the Bible where homosexuality is mentioned with the same care we would any other passage of the book.

 

If there is no clearly stated directive in the Bible to marginalize, separate from, and/or ostracize gay people, then Christians continuing to do so are wrong.  Banning their participation in the sacrament of marriage damages the bonds between gays and their straight family members, which weakens the comforts and spiritual fruits of family life for both gays and their families.

 

 

Taken together all of the evidence – the social context in which the Bible was written, the lack of the very concept of gay people in Paul’s time, the inability of gay people to marry, the unfairness of how the New Testament passages are interpreted between a majority and minority population, the injustice of the punishment for being gay in being excluded from God’s church and equal human love, respect and treatment, shows that choosing to condemn and exclude gay people based on the Bible is morally wrong.

 

 

 

 

Although I have read the entire book, I by no means know everything there is to know about the Bible.  I don’t think anyone does.  What I do know for certain though, is the only way to everlasting life with God is through Jesus.  I accepted Jesus into my heart around the age of 7, and He has been there ever since.

John 3:16 – “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

 

The following are Jesus’ words that I find especially comforting as a homosexual woman:

Luke 6:21-22 – “Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled.  Blessed are ye that weep now; for ye shall laugh.  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast your name out as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.”

 

I also love the following passage.  In fact, I had it read aloud during my wedding ceremony:

1 John 4:16-19- “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.  God is love; and he that dwelleth in love  dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We love him, because he first loved us.”

References

 

  1. Mark Allen Powell, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (HarperCollins 2011)
  2. Religion Dispatches magazine, Candace Chellew-Hodge
  3. “The Bible and Homosexuality” SisterFriends Together. Grace Unfolding Ministries.  Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  4. “What the Bible says about slavery” Religioustolerance.org. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  5. ReligiousTolerance.org
  6. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality; by Jack Rogers
  7. Quoted in Chellow-Hodge, Candace.  New Poll Shows Gays and Lesbians Believe in God.  Retrieved 2009-6-27.
  8. John and CatherineShore, “UNFAIR: Why the ‘Christian’ View of Gays Doesn’t Work”.
  9. “Life Application Bible – The Living Bible”, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Youth For Christ/USA, Second Printing, September 1988.
  10. “Holy Bible – King James Version”, Thomas Nelson Publishers, copyright 1970. (Translated out of the original tongues and with previous translations diligently

       compared and revised)