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.
“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.
“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:
“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.