A Christian Perspective
What The Bible Teaches About Homosexuality
HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT WAS “A GRIEVOUS SIN” IN THE DAYS OF THE PATRIARCHS
In Gen 19:24-28 , the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is described. The apostle Peter explains that this unique judgment upon these two cities was to serve as an example:
“and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;” (2 Pe 2:6)
Why was Sodom and Gomorrah chosen to be an example of God’s ultimate judgment upon the ungodly? What were they doing that made them so different from other ungodly cities at that time? Here is what Abraham was told:
“And the LORD said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous,” (Gen 18:20)
What was their “sin” that was “very grievous?” I have heard homosexual theologians try to explain that the sin was their lack of hospitality. Is such the case? Well, consider the text…
“…the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.” (Gen 19:4)
Note first of all that “all the people” from the city are seeking to participate in whatever the “sin” is…
“And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.'” (Gen 19:5)
The word “carnally” is not in the actual Hebrew text, but is supplied by the translators because the word “know” as used here is often a euphemism for sexual relations (e.g., Gen 4:1 ,17). Lot’s reaction to this crowd certainly suggests that is how he understood the crowd’s request…
“So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!” (Gen 19:6-7)
It is apparent that Lot understood their intentions were not honorable.
The next statement by Lot is hard to understand, but maybe it expresses his concept of hospitality in that he was willing to suffer personal loss rather than allow it to happen to his guests…
“See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” (Gen 19:8)
Lot’s amazing offer of his two daughters at least confirms that he understood the crowd’s intentions were sexual in nature. But notice also that Lot explains that his original hospitality to these two strangers (cf. Gen 19:1-3) was precisely to protect from the sort of homosexual rape the crowd was intent on inflicting.
The crowd’s response to Lot’s pleas is also insightful…
“And they said, ‘Stand back!’ Then they said, ‘This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.’ So they pressed hard against Lot, and came near to break down the door.” (Gen 19:9)
Their reaction is somewhat similar to many today who say to those who would dare point out sinful conduct, “Who are you to judge?” People haven’t really changed much, have they? What such people fail to realize, is that when you point out what the Word of God says about certain conduct, YOU are not judging them, it is the WORD OF GOD that is judging them. In return, they themselves are trying to avoid the condemnation of the MESSAGE of God by condemning the MESSENGER!
That homosexuality was the “grievous sin” to which the Lord referred to in Gen 18:20 becomes even more apparent when we consider what is said in the New Testament about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. For example, Jude wrote:
“as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 7)
Notice that Jude describes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as “sexual immorality” and “going after strange flesh”. Nothing about it being a lack of hospitality! Only those desperate to justify their homosexual conduct would fail to see what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah really was.
HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT WAS “A CAPITAL CRIME” UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES
I am grateful that we are no longer under the Law of Moses, with its extremely harsh punishments (though under the New Covenant much harsher punishments for similar crimes unrepented of are simply delayed till the Day of Judgment, cf. He 10:26-31). But as Paul wrote to the Romans:
“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” (Ro 7:12)
He also wrote later that it was “written for our learning” (Ro 15:4).
So what can we learn from the Law about God’s view of homosexual conduct? In Leviticus, we read:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” (Lev 18:22)
Can it be any clearer? Homosexual conduct is “an abomination” to the Lord! Together with “bestiality” (Lev 18:23) it was one of the sins that justified God in giving the land of Canaan to the Israelites, for the previous occupants were guilty of such sins (Lev 18:24-25). Also, the Israelites were warned that if they engaged in the same kind of sins, they too would be “vomited out” of the land (Lev 18:26-30).
More is said later in the book of Leviticus…
“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Lev 20:13)
Again, I stress that according to the New Testament we are not under the Law of Moses; but what we learn here is that while the Law was in effect, without question, homosexuality was clearly a grave offense, even worthy of death!
But what about the New Testament? What does it say?
THE NEW TESTAMENT IS CLEAR IN ITS CONDEMNATION OF HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT
To the church of God which was at Corinth, Paul wrote:
“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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Co 6:9-10 )
In this passage, Paul uses two terms that are translated above as “homosexuals” and “sodomites.” The first term, translated “homosexuals” (“effeminate” in the KJV) is “malakos”, and is defined as:
“effeminate, of a catamite, a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness” (THAYER)
The word translated as “sodomites” (“abusers of themselves with mankind” in the KJV) is arsenokoitai, and is defined as:
[The next verse (1 Co 6:11) gives great hope, however, for anyone trapped in the sin of homosexuality, which we shall examine more closely in a later lesson.]
Paul also uses the word “arsenokoitai” (the generic term for homosexual conduct) as an example of that which is:
“…contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.” (1 Ti 1:10-11 )
Since the “sound doctrine” of the gospel of Christ condemns even sexual relations between unmarried heterosexuals, it should not be hard to understand that sex between unmarried homosexuals is wrong as well! As for “married” homosexuals, the institution of marriage which was begun and defined by God only allows for sex between a man and a woman (cf. Gen 2:24 ; Mt 19:4-6 ).
The “classic” passage which deals with the sin of homosexual conduct is that of Ro 1:18-28 . In this passage, Paul discusses the wrath of God which is directed toward those who do not honor God:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungod- liness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
“because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
“because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools,
“and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.”
How does God express His righteous indignation, short of bringing about the Judgment Day? Paul tells us as he continues:
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Ro 1:24-25)
Rather than bringing about the Judgment Day, or striking them down with a bolt out of the sky, God has expressed His righteous indignation by “giving them up” to moral uncleanness. In other words, those who are not willing to honor God as God are simply allowed to degenerate into moral decay!
To illustrate, Paul continues…
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.” (Ro 1:26)
Here is a strong allusion to lesbianism, where women cease to appreciate that their bodies are naturally designed physically for sex with men and for procreation, and who think of “our bodies, ourselves” solely as instruments of “vile passions” for one another.
In regards to men whom God has “given up” to uncleanness, Paul writes:
“Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Ro 1:27)
In similar fashion, many of those men who have been “given up” by God to uncleanness eventually leave the “natural use of the woman” and turn to other men to fulfill their lustful desires. As Paul reiterates in the next verse:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;” (Ro 1:28)
Three times in this section we find the expression “God gave them up (over)” (Ro 1:24 ,26,28). The point is clear: when people choose to reject God, or to recreate Him in their own image, God “gives them up” to “go their own way.” Unrestrained by God in any way, they gravitate into increasing levels of immorality! For some, it involves hetero-sexual immorality, such as pre-marital sex or adultery. But for others, it includes homosexuality and lesbianism.
And what is the consequence of such behavior? The apostle Paul referred to such people as:
“…receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Ro 1:27 )
An illusion to sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS? We cannot say for certain, but none can dispute that those who are willing to follow God’s Word as to sexual conduct have less to fear about STD’s than those who choose to disregard Him!
God’s basic principles of righteousness have remained constant through out the different periods of Bible history. For example, adultery has always been condemned by God. Likewise, we have seen that homosexuality has been identified as:
- A “grievous sin” in the times of the Patriarchs
- An “abomination” in the Law of Moses
- “Shameful,” indicative of “a debased mind,” and “contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel” of Jesus Christ
I can understand that those who do not believe in God or who do not accept the Bible as the Word of God would strongly disagree with such an evaluation of homosexuality. But I fear that only those with “hardened hearts” would profess to believe the Bible to be God’s Word and still approve of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle that has God’s blessings.
May those who profess to accept the Bible as the last word never hesitate to accept what it says, no matter how “politically incorrect” our society might say it is.