Due to the recent SCOTUS decision in the US this issue has become a hot topic. Because of that I feel obligated to make a post addressing the relevant biblical teachings. In this post I will attempt to prove the dry fact that the Bible does teach Homosexuality is a sin.
Disclaimer: If this is a sin you personally struggle with I would recommend that you reach out to your pastor.
The Bible is actually very clear on the sin of homosexuality, you do not need anything more than a 5th grade education to find out for yourself. That said, there are a number of notable scholars out there trying to confuse people.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim 4:3-4 ESV
My goal in this post will be to review a select number of verses that are abused by those who deny that Homosexuality is a sin. I do not believe it is necessary to cover them all, but if you would like a certain verse addressed that I do not cover in this blog post please drop it in the comments at the bottom.
Sodom and Gomorrah
The first passage that most deniers will abuse is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I am not going to post the whole passage because it is very long. Please click HERE if you want to read through it before continuing.
The most common argument for neutralizing this passage is asserting that it is irrelevant to the topic of homosexuality at all. Critics will assert that the sin being condemned here is gang rape only, and that no other sin is in view. Therefore rendering the passage entirely moot in their eyes.
The problem is that they have the burden of proving that the ONLY sin being condemned is gang rape. A closer look at the text reveals that there were other issues:
“The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.” Gen 19:1-3 ESV
It seems clear to me that Lot’s first reaction was to rescue these men from something that he was aware could or would take place in the town square were they to remain overnight. Furthermore this cannot simply be dismissed as an act of charity as we see Lot insists and “pressed them strongly”. Taken by itself one could assume Lot is just a very kind man, but placed back in the context of the rest of the passage it is logical to presume that Lot felt he was rescuing them from a dire fate.
“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Gen 19:4-5 ESV
The fact that undoes this verse as simply speaking on gang rape is that it clearly implicates all men in the entire city. Obviously this was a community affair, a level of sin that was much broader in scope than any sexual sin we know to this day. Some will argue that “know them” simply refers to hospitality in a social sense. Anyone who has read the books of Moses knows that this is simply not the case. This is a figure of speech used frequently to refer to carnal knowledge, a good cross reference would be Judges 19:22.
Establishing that it was carnal knowledge that they were seeking, how do we know that their desires were directly only at other men? The answer is found here:
“and [Lot] said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.” Gen 19:7-9 ESV
Here we see that the Sodomites were seeking only men. I have seen people raise various objections to this, but what cannot be avoided is among the many sins going on in this passage one of them was that men were seeking carnal knowledge of other men. The very concept of this was so repugnant to Lot that he offered his daughters to be raped instead. It baffles me that Lot would propose such a thing. That said, seeing as how Lot was so protective of these travelers earlier (Gen 19:1-3) it is logical to presume that which he was seeking to protect them from was so evil in his mind that having his daughters raped is preferable.
Furthermore, this nullifies the issue at hand being only gang rape. Had that been Lot’s only concern he would not have offered his daughters to be raped instead. Clearly his main focus was the acts of Sodomy that Lot found to be the primary evil. Does this mean that the Bible teaches Sodomy is worse than rape? I don’t think so, remember this is just Lot’s estimation. That said, when compared to other verses in the Bible it does show that among the many sins the acts and desires of Sodomy were considered evil, and worthy of judgement.
Still, some may argue that all men in the city were acting as a single unit, therefore sodomy gang rape is the only sin in view. The reason we know it cannot ONLY be speaking to gang rape is the following:
“And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.” Gen 19:11 ESV
At the point of blindness every man in the city is removed from the group and turned into an individual. We see that they still persisted as individual units groping to satisfy their sexual passions for those of the same sex. Its rather grotesque in its imagery, but makes the case all on its own that the issue in Sodom was more than bouts of gang rape. At the very least these individuals had desires for the flesh of the same sex, which reveals that it is not just the acts that are condemned as sin but the desires as well.
“just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7 ESV
Instead of saying “unnatural desire” ESV some translations say “strange flesh” NKJV. It is clear with cross referencing this passage to Genesis 19 that the sexual immorality being identified is the pursuit and or fulfillment of homosexual desires.
“if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);” 2 Peter 2:6-8 ESV
Here we get a greater view of what Lot was seeing and hearing in Sodom. Again, I am not denying that there were other sins in the city. Clearly though, among the many sins there was such an abomination that Lot knew that traveling men were in danger. Lot found this danger they were in so repugnant that he was willing to offer his daughters to be raped as the thought of that was preferable to the idea of men being raped. How can sodomy in and of itself not be condemned in these passages?
To argue that Genesis 19 is ONLY speaking to gang rape is fallacious at best and deceptive at worst. Especially when we look at other texts written by Moses.
This is the go to proof-text that most Christians use to define homosexuality as a sin:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Lev 18:22 ESV
I would argue that it is a mistake to use this as the key proof-text. It is very quotable, but since it is part of the old covenant which was made obsolete in many new testament passages. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard atheists argue that Christians pluck Lev 18:22 as being applicable today, yet still eat shell fish (Lev 11:12) and wear mixed clothing (Lev 19:19). Their theology is flawed but it derails the conversation none the less.
Though it is true that the old covenant is obsolete as far as prescriptive laws go (Heb 8:13), it does not follow that Leviticus cannot be used in a scholarly fashion to gain a greater understanding on other texts in the Bible. In some cases, such texts are found in the new testament which is the source of a New Covenant Christian’s prescriptive laws.
What is not questioned though is how ancient Jews interpreted Lev 18:22, all forms of homosexual actions and desires were strictly forbidden.
Paul specifically addresses Homosexuality in 3 different passages. All of these are very obviously condemning it as sin, however I am only going to address one of them as I believe it makes the case for the others all on its own.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11 ESV
This should be the go-to proof text as it is the most clear and specific. Also, it not only lays down the law but offers the gospel in verse 11 “such were some of you”. Washed being by baptism, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and Justified by grace through faith in the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
Some will argue that homosexuality is not identified as sin in this passage. They assert that the word “homosexual” only appears in the newest translations of the Bible and is not found in the original manuscripts.
The word Homosexual is actually a relatively new word in English, this is why you don’t see it in the KJV for example. From the sources I have read, the word first appears in English around the turn of the 20th century. Obviously the word “Homosexual” does not appear in the Greek manuscripts, its an English word and the manuscripts were written in Greek. There is no possible way it could appear in them.
The real questions are, which word was used as the Greek equivalent for Homosexual by Paul, what does that word mean, and how do we know?
The words found in 1 Cor 6:9 that are translated into English as Homosexual are:
Many scholars interpret the above words as referring to both active and passive homosexual acts. Meaning that Paul is specifically calling out both the giving and receiving of homosexual sex. This interpretation hinges on an understanding of the word malakoi that is beyond the scope and purpose of this blog. However, if you want to look into that further I recommend that you review the sources posted at the bottom of the blog.
The word that I want to focus on is “arsenokoitai” because I believe that it is this word that makes the case. I have not seen a single scholar who argues against homosexuality being a sin who was able to refute the argument on the meaning of this word. Each and every one of them fails every single time in each debate I’ve seen.
This is because there are no known ancient sources that predate Pauls use of this word. In fact, it would appear that the fist time the word was ever used at all was when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. Most scholars actually believe that Paul made the word up.
That being the case what did Paul mean by “arsenokoitai”? What is the referent to this word? The only place we see the word being used is in the writings of Paul. However, Paul quoted heavily from the Septuagint in all of his writings. Most believe that though Paul was fluent in Hebrew he chose to quote the Septuagint as that was the Bible used in the Churches he was teaching. For those who do not know, the Septuagint was the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament.
In the Septuagint version of Leviticus 18:22 we see that the words “arseno” and “koitai” and “arseno”.
Koitai: Laying (sexually) with
I don’t think there is any coincidence that the neologism Paul constructs here is from three words in Leviticus that lay-side-by-side. In doing so Paul is condemning as sin the very same act that is condemned in Leviticus. So logically, the word arsenokoitai is actually defined by Leviticus 18:22. Though Leviticus no longer applies prescriptively to new covenant Christians, 1 Corinthians does. So here we have one of many cases in the New Testament where an Apostle, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, uses the authority given to him to re-issue a law from the old covenant into the new.
The meaning of Leviticus 18:22 rings clear from not only logic but its historic interpretation. Thus when we see Paul functionally quoting it in his neologism, it follows that the same intent is imported into 1 Cor 6:9-11.
There can be no mistake, Paul does not want us to be deceived of the sins of sexual immorality. Sin that does include the acts and desires of homosexuality. Sin that we are called to repent of just like any other, and place our trust in Christ.
Responses to what I have posted above will generally stray into the absurd. People will assert that since bestiality isn’t condemned in the new Testament, it must therefore be permissible now.
Problem with that assertion is that other sexual sins such as pedophilia are not condemned anywhere in scripture. The Bible does not lay out every possible sexual infraction nor does it seek to. It does condemn specifically many forms of sexual sin but this does not mean or imply that such sins are limited to those that are called out. Even if my whole argument above were proved to be false the one that follows cannot.
There is only one form of sexual desire or action that the bible ever authorizes, this can be found in Matt 19.
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matt 19:4-6 ESV
This is the only sexual union condoned by God in the Bible. Every other form of sex mentioned in scripture is condemned either specifically or generally with the term “sexual immorality”. Logically the only sexual union blessed must therefore be the only one that is permissible.
Notice that it doesn’t state the reasons for man and woman to become one flesh is the desire to do so. The reason cited for this blessing is simply that they were created male and female. This reason would therefore apply to anyone, even if they are not sexually attracted to each other. This statement may turn some heads but it is perfectly rational to assert from scripture that sexual desire is not the sole reason for marriage and sexual union, but rather the biological correspondence of male to female. This is most clear in the KJV:
“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matt 19:4-6 KJV
Therefore, any sex outside of a monogamous male female marriage is sin. This includes any and all variations outside of the text in question. It is a sin to have or desire sex:
- before marriage,
- outside marriage,
- extra maritally,
- with animals
- with minors
- or any other form of sex not given by Christ in Matt 19:4-6
This is a truth of scripture we simply need to confess and call people to repentance on. It doesn’t mean we should be judgmental or even mean, just honest.
I would recommend to anyone reading to study this topic further. To that end I am providing my sources below:
For a link to “Same Sex Controversy” by Dr. James White please click HERE.
For an online article on this topic please click HERE .
For a YouTube video briefly covering arsenokoitai please click HERE.
For a five hour long YouTube video scholarly covering many Biblical passages on this topic please click HERE.
To hear a testimony given by a former Homosexual please click HERE.