So What Does the Bible Actually Say About Homosexuality?
In my last blog post, I shared some thoughts about why it is that Christians can’t seem to agree on what the Bible says on the subject of homosexuality.
In this post, we’re going to chat about what it actually does say.
A Good Place to Start
So, is God a wowser? Does He want to put unreasonable shackles on us by restricting something as fundamental to our existence as our sexuality?
I don’t believe so. In fact my starting point is this: God created us; male and female He created us in his own image … with the express purpose of blessing us (Genesis 1:27-30).
He made us, He knows us and He loves us. In fact, He loves us as a father loves his children:
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are … (1 John 1:3)
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:11)
And like any great dad, He wants the best for His children. He wants it so much, that He paid the ultimate price to give us His best:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. (John 3:16).
Anything that falls short of the mark of God’s perfect plan for your life and mine, is called … “sin”. In fact the Greek word used throughout the New Testament for “sin” – hamartia – literally means “to miss the mark”, or as we might put it today … to miss the whole point.
God wants the very best for you and me and He knows what that is, because He made us. That’s my starting point.
But The Bible Says Precious Little About Homosexuality
I’ve often heard people say that the Bible is virtually silent on homosexuality. So why do Christians get so hung up about this?
But that’s simply not true, although it’s easy to see how people come to this wrong conclusion.
There are only a handful of specific references to homosexuality in the bible (click here to see them) – around 15 or less. But “sexual immorality” – that’s huge. Over 100 verses directly relating to the subject and many more that indirectly talk about it (click here to see them).
The words used for sexual immorality in the New Testament are pornos and porneia – from which we derive the word “pornography” still in use today.
Now – here’s the important bit. These words refer very clearly to both heterosexual and homosexual behaviour.
In case you don’t believe me, here are the definitions, straight out of my Greek dictionary:
PORNEIA: Illicit sexual intercourse:
1. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc
2. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
3. sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11
1. a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire
2. a male prostitute
3. a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator
The Bible Doesn’t Discriminate
So the truth is that the Bible doesn’t discriminate between heterosexual immorality and homosexual immorality. It counts both as equally missing the mark of God’s perfect ideal for our lives.
So, a man and a woman sleeping together before being joined in the life-long union of marriage falls just as short of God’s perfect ideal for us, as does homosexual or lesbian behaviour. And for that matter, so does a man looking at a woman in the wrong way:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27,28)
The Bible is totally non-discriminatory in the matter of heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
In fact, from the very beginning until the very end, God’s ideal for man and woman, is that they be joined in an exclusive, intimate, life-long relationship:
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24,25).
That word “clings” literally means “cleaves”. It has the clear connotation of deep intimacy and permanence – something that Jesus elaborated on in Matthew 19:3-6.
Yes, the Bible is largely silent on the polygamy of the Old Testament. We’ll talk about that another time. But it is clear that God’s ideal is for a beautiful, intimate, one-on-one relationship between one man and one woman. That never changes.
A Stark Contrast
And nowhere is the contrast more stark between God’s ideal and the alternatives, than in this Scripture:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4).
There’s God’s ideal – the marriage bed undefiled on the one hand, and sexual immorality (in all its forms) on the other. One is honourable, the other will be judged.
Here it is again even more strongly:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification:that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
The Apostle Paul wrote this particular passage into a society not unlike the one in which we live today. Thessalonica was a racy city – sexual immorality was rife and was considered quite normal. Other religions had temple prostitutes (both male and female) and the immorality that they practiced (both heterosexual and homosexual) was an intrinsic part of their lifestyle.
What Paul was writing 2,000 years ago to the Thessalonican Church, was no less controversial in society at large back then, than it still is in our society today.
Don’t Be Surprised
So, let’s not be surprised when people scream and shout at the Bible and at those who believe in what God has to say through His Word.
Society was so outraged at what Jesus said, that they nailed Him to a Cross. Society was so outraged at what the Apostle Paul said, that they executed him too … and, so far as we know, most if not all of the other Disciples.
In the face of the vocal and often vitriolic rhetoric of some sections of society, the temptation is to capitulate and just go with the flow. It’s much easier that way.
That’s not what I am called to do. With all my heart, I believe that as a Christ-follower, I am called to lovingly yet firmly profess and proclaim God’s best; God’s ideal; God’s glorious plan for the life of every man and woman in this world.
What they do with that … is up to them.
A Personal Postscript
Should anyone feel so led to label me as homophobic … well, I guess that’s their prerogative. But just so that you know, I live in the heart of the gay district of Sydney. Many of the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis, some that I am very close to, are gay or lesbian.
I treat them each with love, dignity and respect. I don’t shove anything down their throat, and I would be greatly surprised if any of them would even think of calling me homophobic.
It is in fact possible to disagree with someone, without tearing each other apart. And my heart remains, as always, to speak the truth in love.
Oh, and by the way, any comments added to this blog post that do not speak with dignity and love, will be removed. We are all made in God’s image, and we have all fallen short of the glory of God.