homosexuality in the bible

Yesterday, a lesbian friend told me “The bible clearly states in black and white that homosexuality is a sin. Period.” …..So i asked her where it says that.

Before becoming iris, i studied Theology at a Catholic college, i was briefly on track to become a nun, i dissected the Bible using it’s original languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, and again with it’s translation to French (which was later translated to English). While people are free to believe whatever they want, it is NOT clearly stated in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. Maybe it is a sin, maybe it’s not (i don’t think so but hey, that’s my opinion). But why do people think it is so clearly a sin? Because of translation issues & poor interpretation, mostly.

These are the verses she and her friends gave me to support how cut and dry their argument was. Following each verse is my response. You can find these verses and various translations of them here.

Timothy 1:10
“for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine ” (NIV)

The word that translated to homosexual in Timothy 1:10 is arsenokoiati, and the translation is highly debated, in large part because this was not a word used to mean homosexual until this writing by Paul. (note: there were words that were common and translated to a range of things including sexual acts between men, or between women, but these words were not used).

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers normen who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (NIV)

This verse says that says that malakoi will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but malakoi has also been translated to male prostitutes, effeminate men, perverts, and the self-indulgent. (Even the NJB, the version of the Bible that is commonly used in the Catholic Church, translates malakoi to self-indulgent, not to homosexuals or men who have sex with men).

1 Corinthians 7:2
“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” (NIV)

Paul states that people are best off being celibate, but if they are going to have sex then they should get married. He goes on to say that married couples should never deny each other sex. The argument that it is against homosexuality comes from the wording that each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. However, there no such thing as a recognized marriage between the same sex at the time this was written, so it would not make sense for the author to say that a man should have a husband. This is an example of a verse that needs to be taken in context of the chapter and the era to be best understood.

P.S. If the statements in this chapter are to be taken as literal fact, if a husband raped his wife she would be at fault, for denying him sex to begin with.

Jude 1:7 
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, 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.” (KJV)

The reference to strange flesh is most commonly interpreted to mean sex with angels, not between men. This is apparent from the link back to the story of Sodom & Gomorrah (which was about inhospility and sexuality with angels, not about homosexualty), and is supported in the word choice: the Greek word, heteras, was used, which means different, instead of the word homoios, which means the same.

And finally, the most commonly used verse to argue that homosexuality is a sin:

Leviticus 18:22

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (ESV)

Leviticus was written for a specific sect, and includes many other things that we would view as being unrealistic, and definitely not sinful, to do today, such as saying that eating or even touching hares and pigs (11:6-8) or crab, shrimp, or lobster (11:10-12) makes you unclean. Here are a few other things prohibited, sinful, punishable by death, etc. in Leviticus: Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11). Failing to include salt in offerings to God (2:13). Eating fat (3:17). Eating blood (3:17). Moses tells his sons if they mess up their hair or tear up their clothes they will die (10:6). Drinking alcohol in holy places (this was specified as a permanent rule, which makes me worry about Catholics) (10:9). Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4). Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5). Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19). Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9) or picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10). Mixing fabrics in clothing, or planting different seeds in the same field (19:19). Trimming your beard (19:27). Getting tattoos (19:28). Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32). Working on the Sabbath (23:3).

Why did i take the time to share this? Because this holiday season, the internet is overloaded with controversy over statements made by some guy from Duck Dynasty, gay marriage is legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and there are many people, even gay people, who believe that the Bible states clearly as fact that homosexuality is a sin….and maybe, just maybe, someone will read this and their feelings of guilt will dissolve….or maybe someone will share this information with others and healthy dialogue will occur about facts versus opinions. Maybe i am just wanting to show off what i know, since leaving the Church i rarely get to talk about such things. In the end, the reason i wrote about this here doesn’t matter — because the woman who sparked this accepted that the Bible does not directly say that being gay is a sin, and as a gay Christian woman that might make her life just a little easier.

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28 thoughts on “homosexuality in the bible

  1. This is wonderful. I am Catholic, and I am friends with many gay people. What I find hard to imagine is my gay friends who have been together for 15 years in a monogamous relationship going to God, and having God tell them they are awful for being committed to each other and in love. That is not the merciful, loving God I know. Our new Pope has made me so happy with his anti hate statements. Perhaps now some others will get their head out of their ass and realize that everyone sins, and you shouldn’t judge someone for sinning differently than you. IF it is a sin.

    • Romans 1 does talk about homosexuality. However, the point of Romans 1 is made in Romans 2. To summarize, people should not condemn others who do what they believe is sinful.
      i will try to put together a more thorough response to this specific verse, i am a bit rushed at the moment but didn’t want to go without responding. However, the important thing (to me) is that Romans 1 was written so that in Romans 2 the point could be made to not judge one another.

  2. Pingback: homosexuality in the bible | PrincessPains Book Blog

  3. I’m impartial either way and I have my on religious views that have evolved far from the bible. but in retrospect the bible references homosexuality. 10 times and the one that wasn’t in this “blog” that noone can refute is Romans 1 18-32 in any language it is almost word for word the same. I’m in no way condemning or condoning…. but it says what it says

    • Romans 1 does talk about homosexuality. However, the point of Romans 1 is made in Romans 2. To summarize, people should not condemn others who do what they believe is sinful.

      i will try to put together a more thorough response to this specific verse, i am a bit rushed at the moment but didn’t want to go without responding. However, the important thing (to me) is that Romans 1 was written so that in Romans 2 the point could be made to not judge one another.

  4. Now to put that into the light it needs to be in; the bible references economic justice and the laws governing the accumalation and redistribution of wealth at least 1,016 times

  5. you’re forgetting the purpouse of the family, think about that and figure out if homosexuality is a sin or not. Try also not to interpretate texts as you wish.. Did you knew that one of the reasons why God destroyed Sodoma and Gomora was homosexuality?

    • The purpose of family is to love and support each other. If it was purely procreation, it would be sinful to decide to adopt children instead of having biological children if both husband and wife were physically capable. It would be sinful to decide to limit the number of children you have by any means. Arguably, it would be sinful to not have sex daily with your spouse in hopes of back to back pregnancies from the first day of marriage until the first day of menopause.

      Where does the Bible talk about marriage? A LOT of places. Here are some:

      Genesis 2:24 talks about man + woman = marriage. Abraham, Gideon, Nahor, Jacob, Eliphaz, Calob, Manassah, and Belshazzar had concubines along with their wives. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Lamech, Jacob, Ashur, and Elkanah had 2 wives. Esau and Rehaboam had 3 wives. Abijah had 14 wives. Genesis 38:6-10 says that a widower who had not borne a son was required to marry her brother in law. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says that a virgin who is raped must marry her rapist (but the rapist must pay her father 50 shekels of silver for his loss of property).

      i am asking you to consider looking at direct translation of words as opposed to interpretations of words..sooooo i think we are asking each other to do the same thing (try not to interpret texts as you wish).

      It is rare that even “anti-gay” Theologians use Sodom and Gomorrah as an argument against homosexuality. The general consensus is that it was a story about being inhospitable, some say it is regarding rape. The Bible says:

      Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. —Ezekiel 16:49-50 (NIV)

  6. Gretchen, to answer your question about Romans: There was a myth circulating at that time that if a man had sex with one of the male prostitutes that solicited around the temple, they would sire a male heir the next time they had sex with their wives. Paul was saying it was not true so don’t do it. After many watered down translations to the King James version and beyond it was paraphrased down to being a blanket condemnation of homosexuality in general.

    Alexandru: if you go back to the original texts you will discover that, like Iris wrote, Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of the townsfolk being inhospitable to God’s angels not because of homosexuality. Homosexuality existed long before that incident and 1000s of years since and God has not destroyed civilization, has he? Unfortunately, the reason there are over 10,000 different denominations of the Christian church (including the Catholic church in the mix) is because Christian factions ALL have their interpretations of the scripture. You’d think if God had a message and the Bible was it, He would have made things much clearer and precise! Jesus spoke in parables and was angered when his followers didn’t understand them. Maybe he shouldn’t have taught in parables?

    Thanks for the article, Iris!

    • There were a few reasons i left, that are basically summed up by saying i did not agree with many teachings that i was required to believe in order to be considered Catholic. for example, my views of (and practice of) masturbation. i felt no guilt for it, in fact i believe it is very healthy, and i could not accept the Eucharist without confessing it, which was a false confession — i could not confess to having done something wrong that i truly did not and do not believe is wrong.

      So rather than lie, pretend i found it wrong, force myself to feel guilt, hate myself for not hating those things and not wanting to change them, i decided to leave. i left out of respect for the Catholic Church, their beliefs, their requirements. i did not want to call myself something that i really wasn’t.

      That’s why i left the Catholic Church specifically. i wound up becoming a leader at a non-denominational Christian church after that, although i am no longer involved in any church.

      • Do you still see scripture as God-inspired and authoritative in your life? Or did it lose significance in your life when you left the church?

      • i still view it with importance to my life. specifically, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

        However, i don’t have a firm grasp on God as a singular entity at the moment, so i can’t say that i necessarily see the Bible as God inspired in the way i feel it is being asked. In one sense — yes. i feel that God in whatever form God is has inspired scripture, and has inspired this writing, in that i believe “God” is love and love is the greatest commandment and he scripture states that love is the greatest commandment. Do i believe other writings were inspired by “God”……?….Yes. Do i believe “God” inspired my bad jokes that make my friends laugh, or a stranger to hug me when i’m feeling blue, or another stranger to ask before touching me in even the most nonsexual of ways so as to avoid causing me any discomfort? Yes. Because….love.

        Soooooo yes, and no.

      • I ask these questions about church and your stance on scripture to set up the next question.

        I respect your approach to scripture, and you seem quite learned and experienced in the book, both objectively and spiritually.

        Which makes me curious to your position to leave The Church. Not just the Catholic Church or evangelical church; THE church. Christ’s church. His bride, the church. How do you interpret scripture in those regards?

        If we are to love as Christ loved, but yet abandon that which Christ loved and illustrated as his bride, is it possible we’ll miss out on a big part of the picture?

        I obviously don’t know your story, but your comment near the end intrigued me when you specifically clarified that you left The Church.

  7. Sorry, your lesbian friend is correct. Romans 2:2-3 makes it quite clear, and you obviously left it out for this reason: “But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

    Gods judgement is against the things listed in Romans 1, point blank. I agree with this statement that the world is full of hypocrites condemning homosexuals while claiming to be Christian as they violate nearly every other commandment of God in the process, but you simply cannot reconcile Christianity and homosexuality (or any other kind of sexuality besides wedded congress between a man and woman for that matter) and I’m not sure why you’re bothering to try.

    • i did not talk about Romans in the original writing, because the writing came from specific verses used by my friend when she was making her argument. i do, however, address it in comments when questioned about it (as i will do here). In Romans 1, Paul is talking about things the Gentiles were doing that the Jewish people found sinful, and Romans 2 is saying that they Jewish people should not judge the Gentiles for doing those things.

      Marriage between one man and one woman is only one type of marriage in the Bible. Genesis 2:24 talks about man + woman = marriage. Abraham, Gideon, Nahor, Jacob, Eliphaz, Calob, Manassah, and Belshazzar had concubines along with their wives. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Lamech, Jacob, Ashur, and Elkanah had 2 wives. Esau and Rehaboam had 3 wives. Abijah had 14 wives. Genesis 38:6-10 says that a widower who had not borne a son was required to marry her brother in law. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says that a virgin who is raped must marry her rapist (but the rapist must pay her father 50 shekels of silver for his loss of property).

      What commandments were giving by Jesus? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV)

      So why did i bother to write this? My biggest goal in sharing this is to help reduce the guilt some people feel for their own sexuality. If there is one homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, whateversexual person who thinks that they are committing an evil with love, i hope reading this helps.

  8. Lots of things are at work here. Don’t judge others or you will be judged in turn. God gave us the ability to have children in a union of families. When you refuse to have children they never live to find love, they never have grandchildren, the good things they could have done are killed by your actions and so are they. Men have a responsibility. Women can’t control when they ovulate. Men specificly make a decision about what they do with their sperm. If they create and leave it in a place where it dies then they are deliberately destroying the human life they were designed to make. They are destroying a loving family, they had the responsibility to become a father. It is not hard to see what God was trying to do when he gave us free will. From God on down through his Son to the family create Life, Love and a long happy union. Other actions create sad people and death. Can you not love without destroying the life that a person not born should have inherited from you? We can do something that Angles can’t. God gave life to the first man and woman. They in turn gave life to other people. Mothers and fathers naturally love each other in an extended family. Destroy the relationships and you have a multitude of problems in our modern lifestyle. Now you should see why you read the things in the bible to do with sexuality. Things that kill people and destroy families are an abomination. God tries to make things better. Many of us decide to work for pain and destruction that destroys people from the inside out.

  9. Romans 1:22-28
    “22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. ”

    I can understand trying to improves anothers image of themselves but I find that the bible very plainly states very negative positions against homosexuaity.

    • Did groups in the Bible, and authors of it who were parts of those groups, have negative stances against homosexuality? YES.

      Does the Bible state directly that homosexuality is a sin? No. What is the difference? The difference between the MANY things different groups said should and shouldn’t be done (read: Leviticus, for one), and the commandments or sins recognized by God, are distinguished by decree of something as sin, commandment against it, and/or/especially* Jesus declaring that He was against it. In Romans 1, Paul is talking about things the Gentiles were doing that the Jewish people found sinful, and Romans 2 is saying that they Jewish people should not judge the Gentiles for doing those things. This is a verse that should be taken in context of chapter, and chapter taken in context of book.

      *Homosexuality does not contradict the commandments of loving the Lord your God with all your heart or loving your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:27-29). So it is not in any way a violation of the commandments set forth by Jesus. Many other things, such as murder and adultery, “break those laws.” But homosexual relations do not, and are not explicitly addressed by Jesus. So whether they were considered sinful by a specific group or not doesn’t mean they are actually considered sinful in the Bible. If this is something you feel passionately about, i recommend taking the time to dissect passages first by word, then verse, then chapter, then book, then testament, then complete Bible. It’s often referred to as an “exegesis.”

      • I would agree if not for the fact that it directly says in the passege I quoted that God gave them over to sinful lust. That states very plainly that the act was a sin. Also that Leviticus is a list of laws that are sunful if and more often than not where punishable by death.

        My question is what you consider “God’s law” and how you determin that.

      • What is the direct quote, and if possible please provide the words used for sinful lust in their original language (which i believe is Greek). i ask because there is a lot of debate over interpretation of this verse and that is what i’m trying to avoid…simply taking things at face value. and honestly, i don’t know off the top of my head the Greek behind these verses…and i’m tired, i can look it up for myself later if i’m asking too much 🙂

        God’s law? i go off of what Jesus taught, said, and did….because that is what He said to do.

  10. Thank you. In 500 AC the liturgie was written for gay person. Since all propertie stayed with the person and not the “male”, it has been used up to the 1800 to marry royelies to be able to have a queen. In 900 AC the liturgie was written for man and woman. Here all propertie went to the man. The document is in the library of the Vatican.

  11. Pingback: 76 Things Banned In Leviticus | inagape

  12. I found this very informative. I went to several different Christian High Schools when growing up. The biggest lesson that I learned sophomore year before I came out was that God loves me no matter what and that the old testament should be used for historical purposes. The new testament and Jesus’ sacrifice are the laying down of a new foundation and what we should live by. Jesus never says anything about homosexuality but accepts and loves everyone for who they are. So Love and acceptance are the what we should be doing.

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