The Bible and Homosexuality
My purposes for this article:
1. To help Camp Creek understand what the Bible teaches us about sexuality, homosexuality in particular.
2. To help Camp Creek have an informed conversation with those that disagree with us.
Our Supreme Court just legalized same-sex marriage. This creates for Christians that rely on God's Word for our instruction, for our guidance and for our way of life a great challenge.
Before I get into the Bible's understanding of sexuality and some of the new interpretations around the passages dealing with same-sex relationships I want to make a few statements.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
With that being said I am going to take the remainder of this article to focus on God's Word. We are going to take a look at a few passages that deal with homosexuality. I want to help us become familiar with the passages and how to properly interpret them.
In the Beginning – The Genesis Passages
Some argue that the Bible only mentions homosexuality only a few times, that is wrong. The Bible may not mention the word homosexual, that word was not a part of the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic language proper, but the practice was and the descriptive terms leave no room for doubt to someone who is truly trying to understand God's word.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Nowhere in these passages are the words Homosexual mentioned yet in these verses God gives the foundation for sexuality, marriage and the family. God created a man and a woman. A man and a woman then leave their (man and woman) parents to come together for the purpose of marriage and family.
The Law – The Leviticus Passages
Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.
This is as plain a statement as can be, but it is complicated by its placement in the Old Testament Law.
Leviticus 11:9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. 10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. 12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
In these two passages you have God telling the children of Israel that homosexuality is an abomination and you have God telling the children of Israel that eating any fish without scales is also an abomination!
So is homosexuality an abomination or not? Is eating shrimp an abomination or not? How do we answer this and other questions like it from the Old Testament?
It is important to understand that there are three types of laws in the Old Testament:
Under the New Covenant, the ceremonial laws were abolished, since Jesus Christ Himself negated the need for the sacrificial system. The Civil laws were intended for the nation of Israel in that particular time and setting. The Moral laws remain timeless and permanent.
The Moral Laws
These are the laws that were given to the nation of Israel to teach them what pleases and displeases God. The Ten Commandments are the greatest examples of them.
Now the question becomes how do we discern between the laws. How do we know if the laws given in the Old Testament were only for the nation of Israel for that period of time. The answer is simply are the laws repeated or reinforced in other areas of scripture?
For example nine of the ten commandments are restated or reaffirmed in the New Testament. The only one that is not is, keep the Sabbath!
When Christ came and presented Himself as the sacrifice, once and for all, for all our sins the Old Testament ceremonial laws ceased to be needed. They were there to point us to the perfect sacrifice which is Christ.
Hebrews 9:8 ...that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
The Civil Laws
God gave the nation of Israel specific laws that were for that nation and that nation alone. They were God's unique nation. These laws will be the unique dietary laws, grooming laws, civil and criminal laws that were unique to the nation of Israel for God's purpose for His people for that time. We are not the nation of Israel living in the time between slavery in Egypt and the coming of Christ.
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. ...20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 18:23-33 – Abraham intercedes on the behalf of Sodom. God determines not to destroy Sodom if 10 righteous can be found.
Genesis 19:1-11 – The story of Sodom and Gomorrah's fall.
Remember, my desire as we are studying this issue is to help you discuss the Biblical truth with Christians that read the same Bible as we do yet come to a different conclusion. Christians that try to say the Bible does not speak to a homosexual lifestyle as we know it will try to say that this passage condemns the Sodomites for their inhospitable ways.
“Basically the issue lies in the meaning of the word that is translated as “know.” יָדַע -yād̠aʿ: A verb meaning to know, to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience, to confess, to consider, to know people relationally, to know how, to be skillful, to be made known, to make oneself known, to make to know.
The simple meaning, to know, is its most common translation out of the eight hundred or more uses. One of the primary uses means to know relationally and experientially: it refers to knowing or not knowing persons (Gen. 29:5; Ex. 1:8) personally or by reputation (Job 19:13). The word also refers to knowing a person sexually (Gen. 4:1; 19:5; 1 Ki. 1:4).” Complete Word Study Dictionary, The - The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament.
"God punished the people of Sodom and Gibeah for breaching the rules of hospitality, not for threatening homosexual assault."
It is true that a breach of hospitality was gravely serious in that culture, but this argument does not bear close scrutiny. Much of the discussion here centers on the exact meaning of the men's demands to bring out the visitors so they could "know" them (Gen 19:5).
D. S. Bailey, in his widely quoted book Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, argues that the men of Sodom and Gibeah asked "to know" (Hebrew yād̠a) the men in the sense of "to become acquainted with." This Hebrew word occurs 943 times in the Old Testament. In only a few cases does it refer to sexual intercourse, and then always to heterosexuality.” Coming Out of Homosexuality: New Freedom for Men & Women.
There is a major problem with this argument: the response to the men's demands strongly supports a connotation of sexual violence. Lot protests,
Genesis 19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
rāʾaʾ is a verb with the predominant sense of "to act wickedly," "be wicked, bad or evil" throughout most of its nearly one hundred occurrences, as well as associated nuances such as "harm" or "punish."
This answer seems inappropriate to protest a breach of hospitality, as opposed to rape; they certainly make no sense if the men merely wanted to become familiar with the visitors.
Furthermore, Lot uses the same word, (know), in his next statement,
Genesis 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man.
Obviously the implication is sexual.
"Bailey's interpretations have been extremely influential... despite the fact that most biblical commentators do not agree with him," says Ronald M. Springett, professor of religion at Southern College in Collegedale, Tennessee. "Most scholars consider his interpretation to be ingenious but unconvincing since it fails to do justice to the immediate context.” Other biblical passages list the sins of Sodom, but don't mention homosexuality. Some verses mention sins like arrogance, unconcern for the poor, and encouraging evildoers, but other passages link Sodom with sexual immorality, perversion and “filthy lives of lawless men.” God judged the city for a wide variety of sins, including homosexuality.” Coming Out of Homosexuality: New Freedom for Men & Women.
Jeremiah 23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
2 Peter 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
“The tragic fact about many false teachers is that they are successful-people listen to them and follow them and their shameful ways (aselgeis), which Peter also used in 1 Peter 4:3 ["debauchery"]; 2 Peter 2:7 ["filthy"]; v. 18 ["lustful"]). (Cf. aselgeia in Rom. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; Jude 4.) It refers to debased sexually immoral practices.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.
Lot lived in Sodom and apparently was a man of some importance there, for when the angels went to take Lot from the city, they found him sitting in the gateway of the city, where city officials met. "Licentiousness" means open and excessive indulgence in sexual sins. Licentious people have no sense of shame or restraint. Life Application Bible Commentary - Life Application Bible Commentary – 1 & 2 Peter and Jude.
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, 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.
Fornication - ekporneuō is a rare verb found only in Jude 7, referring to the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah who had "given themselves over to sexual immorality." Porneuō is a verb found eight times meaning "to practice, indulge in immorality" in a sexual sense... Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts.
Going after strange flesh, Marg., other. The reference seems to be to the peculiar sin which, from the name Sodom, has been called sodomy. Comp. Romans 1:27. The meaning of the phrase going after is, that they were greatly addicted to this vice. The word strange, or other, refers to that which is contrary to nature. Doddridge, however, explains it, "going after strange and detestable gratifications of their pampered and indulged flesh." Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical.
Jesus did not mention Homosexual behavior, so therefore He must approve!
Jesus gave us His understanding of Marriage in Matthew. In this passage He refers back to Genesis and reinforces the truth of one man with one woman for life.
Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 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? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Jesus is a part of the Godhead, He is eternal. When we let the world try to put more emphasis on the particular's of what Jesus says verses the rest of God's Word we lesson the eternalness of Jesus. Jesus was there when Moses wrote Leviticus. Jesus was there when Sodom and Gomorrah fell and He did not object. Jesus was there when Paul wrote Romans. The Bible is God's complete revelation and the Gospels, even though they give us the earthly life story of Jesus, are only a part of a complete revelation.
"Natural" is the important word here—Paul uses it in verse 27, and the opposite term, "unnatural," in verse 26—because it explains why this stage is a further step along the downward moral path.
Let me elaborate on that statement. Fornication and adultery (which are in view in verse 24) are not "unnatural" sins, for they are not against nature. Of course, they are true sins, for they break the moral law of God. They result in "impurity" and in the "degrading" of our bodies, as Paul says. But they are not unnatural. On the contrary, they are in one sense quite natural. They are accomplished by using one's body in a natural way. Not so with homosexuality! Homosexuality is "unnatural," and it is accomplished by using one's body in an unnatural way, that is, against nature. In the first case, we may well need the Bible to tell us that fornication is wrong. The popular song asks, "How can it be wrong when it seems so right?" But in the case of homosexuality we do not even need this special revelation. A look at one's sexual apparatus should convince anyone that practices of this kind are not normal. They were not meant to be. Boice Expositional Commentary - An Expositional Commentary – Romans, Volume 1: Justification by Faith (Romans 1-4).
List of Resources, Websites and that might help.
www.afa.net – This is the site for the American Family Association and they have several articles and helpful information.
www.probe.org – This is a Christian Apologetic s (Defense) site which has articles on this and other issues.
www.genesiscounseling.org – This is a counseling site that provides resources in an effort to “reclaim Godly sexuality.”
Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity , Joe Dallas, Harvest House Publishers, 2003.
When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to do When a Loved One Says They're Gay , Joe Dallas, Harvest House Publishers, 2004.
Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality , Micheal L. Brown, Frontline, 2014.
YouTube Video, Search for: Ravi Zacharias, Acceptance of Homosexuality in Christianity-Ravi Zacharias Answers Question:settled! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx7ALlEtg2c