Last time, I told you where I stood on this issue, that I believe the Bible says very little if anything about real same sex attraction and promised that in my next post I would explain the Bible passages for you.
Before I do, a quick lesson on how to interpret the Bible. Once you have your interpretation, we test it with three criteria. First, does my interpretation of a passage line up with the complete teaching of Scripture. Second, when that is not readily clear, does my interpretation line up with the character of God. Third, will my interpretation allow/cause me to hurt the ones He loves. If so you are wrong.
Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 19
There is a belief that God destroyed these cities because of homosexuality. But that’s not the way it happened. The text says that the entire city [all of them] showed up at Lots door to have sex with Lot’s two male visitors [angels]. It seems difficult to imagine everyone in that city was gay. If so, why would Lot offer his daughters in exchange.
This story is not about same sex attraction at all. It’s about gang rape, sexual violence and sadism. Think jailhouse sex: it’s not about same sex attraction but rather intimidation, lust, force, control and abuse of people as sexual objects. It was the same with Sodom and Gomorrah.
As proof, the Bible mentions Sodom twenty other times. Never, in these passages, is Sodom linked to same sex attraction. In Ezekiel, it is connected to pride, gluttony, ease and not helping the poor. In Isaiah, to lack of justice and the abuse of justice. In Ecclesiastes, the issue is pride. In Jude, it is in the context of rape and abuse.
Bottom Line: This story not about same sex attraction at all. Most serious Bible scholars no longer use this as a proof text to condemn same sex attraction.
This is the most complex of the passages used to condemn same sex attraction. As we look at this passage, it is necessary to consider it in its context. The writer is talking about a group of people who ‘knew God but neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him’. Therefore, they began to worship idols which led to homosexual acts etc.
These ‘fertility cults’ were well known to all at the time with the predominant activity was sexual orgies with heterosexual men engaging in homosexual behavior with teen-aged boys.
The point of this passage is not same sex attraction but turning away from God and replacing Him with idols and self gratification. They were abandoning natural desires for their wives for sex with other men. Again, this has nothing to do with legitimate same sex attraction but rather heterosexual people behaving badly after turning away from God.
The key word in this passage is ‘EXCHANGED’. The heterosexuals where exchanging natural desires [both for the opposite sex and knowing God] for unnatural ones [men with men and idol worship]. People with real same sex attraction don’t do this. Same gender sex is their natural. They would only exchange the natural for unnatural when they engage in opposite gender sex.
To gay men and women following Christ today, who do not worship anything other than God, and who have felt romance and attraction to those of the same gender, this condemnation does not apply.
We must understand that real same sex attraction is not a behavioral choice [like the temple worshippers and the people of Sodom] but a more intrinsic attraction that is far deeper than sex.
1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10
This is the only other reference to homosexuality in the New Testament. It hinges on the translation of two key words that are rarely used in the Bible or other ancient texts. I’m sorry, but a short lesson in Greek is necessary. I’ll keep it short.
The first word is ‘arsenokoitai’. It’s a compound word meaning male and/or bed. It can also mean to ‘take forcefully in bed’ usually referring to the male. Most likely has something to do with heterosexual men taking male prostitutes on the side. It can also mean to forcefully take from a woman in bed. Once again, the issue seems to be heterosexual men behaving badly when it comes to sex. It was not Paul’s point to condemn same sex attraction. The issue here is rape and prostitution.
The second word is ‘malakoi’. It literally means ‘softies’. It can refer to soft clothing or pleasant activities such as a warm bath. It can also refer to being soft on what is right or having a lax view of right and wrong. It was often used to refer to very young male prostitutes used by men on the side.
To interpret ‘softies’ as meaning the LGBT community only is nothing more than a laughable, uniformed stereotype. Again, the bigger issue is heterosexuals behaving badly. Are you sensing a trend?
Ah, the big one.
These chapters in Leviticus are a long list of rules given to the Israelites by Moses. Some we still follow, most we don’t. The most famous, ‘Do not lie with a man as one does with a woman.’
The Israelites got these prohibitions to keep them distinct from surrounding nations and cultures. The list includes not shaving, getting tattoos, wearing mixed fabric clothing nor planting two different crops in the same field. These have been typically dismissed as culturally based [were for that time only] and rarely referred to for moral guidance today.
Except for this one. You must ask why.
If this verse must be followed, then they all must be followed. This list was never meant to apply to Christians this side of the cross. When we pick and choose which to follow or ignore we are placing our prejudices above common sense and biblical authority.
Finally, you never see Jesus in the Gospels referring to this issue and thus He doesn’t condemn it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean He approves of it. But He did cut through legalism and religion to show that love and justice are at the core of God’s teaching. And He certainly exposed hypocrisy. Unconditional love and justice characterized the ministry of Jesus. May it also characterize us.
To learn more on this issue:
The Reformation Project: www.reformationproject.org
The Gay Christian Network: https://www.gaychristian.net
The book ‘Epiphany’ by Michael Coren: Available where you normally buy books