Scripture and Homosexuality

For my last year in Bible college, I had to write a 25+ paper on a topic of my choice.  Part of the requirement was I had to approach the topic from a pastoral perspective, and include a main passage to exegete (a critical explanation or interpretation of a text).  Naturally, I choose the topic of homosexuality; more importantly, how the Church should biblically minister to gays and lesbians.

What follows below (and in future posts) is my research on the scriptures about homosexuality, and the Churches mandate to love GLBT people like Jesus.  I am also adding new information concerning certain passages I wasn’t able to present in my paper due to time and space.  It’s important, I feel, to show both sides of the issue, and I’ve tried to do that in the research that follows.  My conclusions, I’ll argue, are biblical.  My prayer is that you don’t see things my way, but that you see them God’s way.

Prove me wrong.  Investigate these passages of scripture, this issue, yourself – don’t take my word for it.  But in the end, make sure your conclusions glorify God.  As Christians, our mandate is to align our lives to God’s spoken and revealed word.  May you move, then, in the direction of His truth, and not towards opinions that suite and justify your experiences or agenda.

Setting the Stage:

Knowing that this is such a cumbersome topic, this paper is a condensed research on the issues that surround homosexuality and how it relates to the Church.  The overall objective of this paper is to present a solid case, based on scripture, to compel the Church to take positive action in ministering to the gay community.  Long overdue is the time for the Church to awaken to these issues and to respond biblically to them.  No longer can the Body of Christ stand in ignorance.  In the end, where there are many different ways to approach gays and lesbians, there stands but one authentic way to do so: as Jesus ministered, in a balance of truth and grace.  Therefore, the Church must construct a bridge of truth and grace that effectively connects with the gay community by following the examples of Christ’s ministry (John 4 and 8:1-11) and submitting to the call He issued to His followers (Matthew 22, 28), all of which stems from an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 6:11.

In 2003, the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, through the help of the OpusComm Group, took a survey that polled gays about their religious affiliations and practices.  Out of 8, 831 people, 63.7% claim to have an affiliation with a denomination, while only 38% actually participate in some type of church activity.  The four main denominations that gays and lesbians affiliate with are as follows: Catholic 17.6%, Methodist 4.3%, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) 3.8%, and the Episcopal Church 3.8%.  The four main denominations that gays and lesbians participate in are the following: MCC 79.4%, Unitarian 66.7%, Episcopal 57.6%, and the Jewish faith 47.5%.  While the numbers differ between religious practice and affiliation, they bring to light two surprising conclusions: the gay community does have a spiritual hunger, and, because of this hunger, the gay Christian movement is alive and growing.  As the numbers suggest, the issue is not so much whether gays want to attend church, or even desire a relationship with Jesus; the issue is rather, how does the Church respond to such a request?  Pastor and founder of the pro-gay denomination MCC, Troy Perry openly admits, “If the church had really done their missionary work, I don’t think that MCC would have ever existed” (as cited in Dallas, p. 227, emphasis mine).

Almost every gay and lesbian person, whether Christian or non-Christian, knows what the Bible says about, or rather against, homosexuality.  The Big Six, as this paper will refer to these Biblical texts as, are the following Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.  All of these verses refer to male-male sexual encounters, with the exception of Romans 1, which refers to female-female relations too.  Christians have used these six passages to prove, especially to those who live openly gay lives, that homosexual acts are sinful; they go against God’s original intent for mankind.  However, while the message is true, Christians have incorrectly used these passages to drive a wedge between the gay community and the Church.  Likewise, these passages have also been a major dividing wedge between church denominations.  Instead of God’s Word proclaiming truth, that would cause mankind to turn back to God, the Church has used His Word to proclaim a “truth” that keeps mankind from turning to God and, in some cases, drives mankind to walk against God altogether.  Not only has the Word been like a harsh weapon in this sense, but “biblical texts have been used to justify the unjust persecution of [gays and lesbians]” far too many times (Thompson, p. 81).

An attitude arising in the late 1990’s, and in full swing today in the majority of churches worldwide, is expressed well in this statement: “homosexuality has become … the sin set apart as worse than all others” (Hill, p. 339).  Because of this, the message of God’s love, redemption, and freedom has been lost among the angry protests, riots, and heated negativity coming from the conservative right.  The simple message of Jesus has been lost, among man’s narrow-minded theological ideals and tirades.  Though the conservative right-wing of the church has much to apologize for, so does the liberal left-wing of the church.  They have been guilty of presenting nothing more than “feel good” messages to Christians who are in dire need of heart transplants.  The liberal church ignores certain standards in order to appease a pluralistic worldview, in the end offering anything and everything but the truth of the gospel message.  While the ex-gay side argues for change, the pro-gay side argues for tolerance.  While the ex-gay side strives to uphold God’s standards, the pro-gay side strives to re-interpret God’s Word according to today’s culture.  The ex-gay side holds strong to God’s truth, and the pro-gay side holds strong to God’s grace.  Neither side gives in and so there is a major division within the body of Christ.

What both agendas fail to see though is that each side is a vital piece to the overall puzzle, which must come together on a common ground of embracing Christ.  One way of attaining this common ground is to agree that while the Bible does speak out against the practice of homosexuality “… we must separate thoughts and feelings from behavior” (Ludwig, p. 338).  In other words, the Church needs to learn how to value the person apart from the sin.  Another common ground needs to be, even though both sides use scripture (and misuse scripture) for their benefit, “there are only two ways one can neutralize the biblical witness against homosexual behavior: by gross misinterpretation or by moving away from a high view of Scripture” (Jones, p. 204).  Can a Christian truly hold a high view of scripture and at the same time use scripture to wrongly justify sin?  Just the same, can Christians use scripture to condemn sin and yet never offer hope or grace to those in need of it?  In order to biblically minister to gays and lesbians, the Church must correctly use the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:5), and take hold of those who are in need of  being washed with His healing Word (Ephesians 5:26), both of which actions can stem only from His love and grace.

In light of this argument, Ludwig offers great insight: “The ploy of Satan has not changed since the Garden of Eden, for he continues to ask, ‘Did God really say…?’  And we keep answering, ‘Well, maybe not.’  Rather we need to come to God and say, ‘I don’t understand this, but I ask You to help me see this issue as You do.’” (p. 340).  So in taking Ludwig’s sound advice, below are the Big Six passages, with special attention and exegesis being given to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Genesis 19

Leviticus 18:22, 20:13

Romans 1:26-27

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (and 1 Timothy 1:9-10)

What Jesus said and did

Conclusion

_____________________________________

Works Cited (for entire post series)

  • Bartlett, D. L. (1977). A biblical perspective on homosexuality. Foundation: Baptist Journal of History and Theology, April-June, p. 134.
  • Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich (2000). A Greek-english lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, 3rd Ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Burtness, J. H. (Summer 1994). Is orientation the issue? Word & World, 14(3), 233-238. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Dallas, J. (1996). A Strong delusion. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.
  • Demorest, S. (2009). 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 translation. Unpublished work given to author.
  • Earle, R. (1991). 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Word Meanings in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
  • Failinger, M. A. (Summer 1994). Can wrongs be rights? Why a ‘conservative’ might support legal protections for gay and lesbian people. Word & World, 14(3), 270-279. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Gaiser, F. J. (1990). Homosexuality and the Old Testament. Word & World, 10(2), 161-165. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Geiger, T. (2006). The welcoming church: a biblical attitude of welcome to the homosexual in the body of Christ. In D. Longacre (Ed.), The Homosexual debate and the church: a collection of essays (pp. 65-79). Boone, NC: L’Edge Press.
  • Greenlee, J. H. (1985). Scribes, scrolls, and scripture: A Student’s guide to New Testament textual criticism. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  • Greenlee, J. H. (1979). The New Testament and homosexuality. In C. Keysor (Ed.) What you should know about homosexuality, p. 83. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing.
  • Haley, M. (2004). 101 Frequently asked questions about homosexuality. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.
  • Halperin, D. M. (1996). “Homosexuality”. The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth (Eds.). Oxford and NY: The Oxford University Press.
  • Hill, A. (Summer 1994). On Being Christian and homosexual: Living responsibly with what is given. Word & World, 14(3), 339, 341. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Hulme, W. E. (1990). A Pastoral perspective on homosexuality. Word & World, 10(2), 131-139. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Jepsen, G. R. (October 2006). Dale Martin’s ‘arsenokoites and malakos’ tried and found wanting. Currents in Theology and Mission, 33(5). Chicago, IL: Thomas Gale.
  • Jones, J. (2008, July). Status quorum. Christianity Today, 52(7), 16-17. Retrieved November 19, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
  • Jones, S. (1996). The Loving opposition. In D. K. Clark & R. V. Rakestraw (Eds.) Readings in Christian ethics (pp. 203-211). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
  • Jowett, J. H. (1905). The Passion for souls. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap.
  • Kirk, J. (1978). The homosexual crisis in the mainline church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
  • Ludwig, D. (Summer 1994). On being Christian and homosexual: Set free in Christ. Word & World, 14(3), 338, 340. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Mare, W. H. (1976). 1 Corinthians. In F. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s bible commentary (Vol. 10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Martin, D. B. (1996). Arsenokoites and malakos: Meanings and consequences. In R. Brawley (Ed.) Biblical ethics & homosexuality: Listening to scripture (pp. 117-136). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.
  • Moberly, E. (1983). Homosexuality: a new Christian ethic. Cambridge, EG: James Clarke & Co.
  • Moulton, J. H. & Milligan, G. (1997). “Arsenokoites”. Vocabulary of the Greek Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  • Oswalt, J. N. (1979). The Old Testament and homosexuality. In C. Keysor (Ed.) What you should know about homosexuality, p. 54. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing.
  • Payne, L. (1996). The Broken image: Restoring personal wholeness through healing prayer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
  • Riley, M. & Sargent, B. (1995). Unwanted harvest. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  • Rowe, D. C. (1999, 2006). Christian and homosexual: pro-gay theology and unbelief. In D. Longacre (Ed.), The homosexual debate and the church: a collection of essays (pp. 13-22). Boone, NC: L’Edge Press.
  • Sullivan, A. (1995). Virtually normal: an argument about homosexuality. New York: Alfred B. Knopf.
  • Switzer, D. K. (Summer 1994). Now who’s coming to dinner? Pastoral care for family and friends of gay and lesbian people. Word & World, 14(3), 258-269. St. Paul, MN: Luther Seminary.
  • Tenney, M. C. (1976). John. In F. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s bible commentary (Vol. 9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • The Road to healing. Christianity Today, April 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2007, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/april/36.57.html
  • Thompson, C. W. (2004). Loving homosexuals as Jesus would: a fresh Christian approach. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.
  • Van Pelt, R. & Hancock, J. (2005). The Youth workers guide to helping teenagers in crisis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Vine, W. E. (1984). “Yada”. In W.E. Vine, M.F. Unger, W. White (Ed’s.), Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
  • Vine, W. E. (1984). “Planaõ”. In W.E. Vine, M.F. Unger, W. White (Ed’s.), Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
  • Webb, W. J. (2001). Slaves, women, & homosexuals: Exploring the hermeneutics of cultural analysis. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
  • White, M. (1994). Stranger at the gate: To be gay and Christian in America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  • Worthen, A. & Davies, B. (1996, 2002). Someone I love is gay. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
  • Yaconelli, M. (2003). The Core realities of youth ministry, p. 14. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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24 responses to “Scripture and Homosexuality

  1. AMEN!!!! Looking forward to the posts to come, brother! I often struggle to find the words to express my heart’s desire to bridge the gap between the church and the LBGT community. It’s especially difficult as one who has embraced the possibility of change in my own life. I know exactly how it feels to feel condemned in my core identity by the church and in my mind, by God. What’s needed is grace AND truth. Thanks for bringing both to the table!

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  8. Nowadays, it is going on conversations about homosexuality; some are against it and some on behalf of it. The right answer we can find from the word of God (the Bible).

    The Lord Jesus is the Messiah, Redeemer from sins and the Saviour. Jesus’ must fulfilled the whole law of God and believed all what the Old Testament taught, that He could be the Saviour. He did fulfill and believe all the law. In the Old Testament were commandments, which teach that homosexuality is a sin. Because the Lord Jesus had to believe all commandments of the Old Testament, so He also believed that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible teaches that homosexuality was a sin in the order of the Old Covenant and is valid in the order of the New Covenant. Like this way Jesus also believed that homosexuality is a sin, and He also condemned homosexuality by this way.

    For the sake of sodomites’ abomination acts, God destroyed Sodom as Ezekiel 16:49,50 shows for us. Ezekiel uses 16:50 Hebrew word towebah, which is the same Hebrew word in Lev 18:22 (and Lev 20:13) that describes homosexuality as abomination. It is very clear that in Ezekiel 16:50, abomination means homosexuality acts as the reason for destroying of Sodom. Sodomites pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness and hardened hearts towards poor and needy were sins, but destruction came for the sake of homosexuality, and the New Testament confirms this:

    Jude1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    Apostle Paul wrote very clearly that homosexuality (men having sex with other men; women having sex with other women) is a sin. Ro 1:27 is word error, which is in Greek plane, which means error, to deceive, deceit, one led astray from the right way, error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting. In this place, the Bible in the New Testament shows very clearly that same-gender sex is a sin and aberration from the right way. Apostle Paul taught very clearly that homosexuality is unnatural sin.

    Many scientists believe that homosexuality is congenital, a matter and orientation that can’t be changed as heterosexual. Paradoxical is that many scientists don’t believe in God of the Bible, and they proclaim that God of the Bible is not existed. Nevertheless, God of the Bible is capable of change homosexuals individuals to be as heterosexuals.

    Arsenos means male and koiten means bed. Lev 18:22 and 20:13 teach that a man cannot lie (sexual act) with another man as he lies with a woman. The origin of the word arsenokoites means homosexual activity and homosexual. Lev 18:22 and 20:13 prove very clearly that arsenos koitenmeans homosexuality sex, because the Jews scribes translated words’ arsenos koiten to describe men who have sex with another men (homosexuality), which is a sin and against the will of God. Apostle Paul didn’t make up the word arsenokoites, but it was already as the concept in the Old Testament, where it meant homosexuality.

    It is very clear that the words’ arsenos koiten meant homosexuality (man who had sex with another man) to Jews of the Old Covenant era. In the same way arsenokoites meant homosexuality (man who had sex with another man) to Jesus’ disciples in the New Covenant era.

    Jewish philosopher Philo lived in the same time as Jesus Christ and Philo has said that arsenokoites meant shrine prostitute (male temple prostitute), and not homosexual. Some people have made from this a conclusion that the word arsenokoites meant a male temple prostitute. Philo’s interpretation was totally wrong, because the Bible proves this undisputedly and shows that Philo erred.

    Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 doesn’t use temple prostitute word, but words in which is denied that a man can’t lie sexually with another man. Always when the Bible speaks for temple prostitutes, so the Bible uses words gedeshah and gadesh. If Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 told for temple prostitutes, so verses would mention them, but there isn’t, because in those verses, the Bible forbids homosexuality. It is very clear and undisputable in the light of the testimony of the Bible, that arsenokoites means homosexuality.

    According to words of the Lord Jesus, Jesus’ disciples can judge righteous judgement. If somebody is stealing, living in adultery or is lying, so we have the right to say sin as a sin. According to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin and so Jesus’ disciples have the right to say what the Bible teaches. Jesus’ disciple has a right to say that living in sins lead people to eternal damnation. Jesus’ disciple doesn’t judge to damnation, but tells that God shall judge sin maker to hell.

    God loves also gay-people, but not sinful act of homosexuality, and therefore, God calls gay-people repentance and receives salvation by believing in the Lord Jesus. In other words, God loves sinners, but not sins. The gospel and its changing power is meant also for gay-people, because the Lord Jesus can set you free you from your sins.

    I don’t condemn homosexuals, but love them by the love of God. The love of God also holds on from the truth, and therefore, I must say that homosexuality is a sin, it is not condemning, but telling the truth. God has authority to judge, not a man. God judges in His word homosexuality as a sin. I can tell about judgements that what God does, and I don’t condemn, but tell who judge.

    I don’t support discrimination of homosexuals, because they are valuable as my neighbors. However, homosexuality is a sin. It is possible to integrate from homosexuality and get rid of it. The Lord Jesus can save and give freedom to you. I recommend for you to read the Bible, because there God teaches for natural sexuality and salvation by believing in the Lord Jesus.

    Reference: http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/homosexual.html

  9. Heard about you on remedy.fm podcast, interesting story you told in the programme. What kind of therapy did you go through? Would be interesting to know more. Thanks.

    • Hey Tzedaqyal … sorry it’s taken awhile to respond, some events with church have kept me busy. Email me and I would be happy to talk with you about your questions. To give a short answer: I did some counseling and Bible studies through a ministry called Harvest USA (http://harvestusa.org/). Other than that, I didn’t go through any therapy.

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  11. Precisely how long did it acquire you to write “Scripture and Homosexuality | Six:11
    Ministries”? It seems to have plenty of really good advice.
    Appreciate it ,Malcolm

  12. I don’t understand if you think homosexuality is ok or not??????? Sounds like your for it and than again it sounds your against it I guess I’m confused!

    • Thanks for commenting Sherry.
      If you haven’t read the entire series, I would suggest that. You will find that I argue that while the Church needs to love and respect the gay community in authentic friendships, the Church should hold fast to the word of God that same-sex attractions are not God’s mandate.

      Various people deal with same-sex attractions – which the Church can do nothing about. And the only way same-sex couples will listen to the Church is when we authentically befriend them – no matter the outcome of their journey with Christ.

      • This is true , I’m the type I love everyone even my enemies haha we can’t reach anyone unless we show the love of Christ in us. Thank You so very much Sherry Stump

  13. I have a question please. ! Cor 5: 11 tells us not to associate with somebody that calls himself a Christian but is immoral. My son is a Christian but told us 2 months ago that he is gay. He has since then adopted the gay lifestyle. How am I supposed to interpret this verse. I need to show him that I still love him but this verse tells me not to be near him or even eat with him and to kick him out of the house. He is 27 and moved back to us a few months ago as he was lonely.
    I would really appreciate a reply.
    Thank You
    Kobus

    I

    • Hi Kobus – thanks for your great question.

      The passage you are asking about is dealing with a sin that was happening freely within the church. Paul was instructing the church to deal with the sin quickly and to stop overlooking it. However, in 2 Corinthians 2, we find Paul talking about the same situation and how the church needed to restore the person they “kicked out,” because the church was totally ignoring the man.

      While I think we need to be careful at times of our surroundings and circle of influence, I think we are also called to model the attitude and behavior of Christ, who ate with sinners and loved people where they were. For parents, this is the approach I encourage them to take with their children who identify as gay.

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  17. Oh man! This is exactly my thoughts after digging into Gods word on this subject! Thank you so much for posting. It confirms my thoughts on how we should act toward our loved ones who struggle with this strong urge. Blessings and prayers Shawn!

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