HOMOSEXUALITY AND CHRISTIANITY    

       Recently, in a five to four decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage cannot be legally prohibited between two people of the same sex in any of the 50 states. The U.S. is now the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

      Homosexual behavior and same sex marriage has become a contentious topic in segments of the Christian community.  It has created much controversy and soul searching. Many within the Christian community have accepted homosexual behavior and same sex marriage as acceptable while others condemn it and consider it sin. Since it is the Biblical Scriptures that provide the foundation for Christian religious belief, it is incumbent on the Christian to allow the Scriptures to determine what the Christian response should be to this issue. 

       Therefore, in this essay, I will not present the work of social scientists or other professionals who have opinionated on the issue of homosexual behavior and same sex marriage. I will present a straightforward examination of what the Scriptures have to say about these issues.  I will allow the Scriptures to speak on these issues and simply go to where the evidence takes us.      

       As should be understood, homosexual behavior is sexual activity that occurs between two individuals of the same sex.  When using the term "homosexual," I am referencing both lesbian and gay homosexuality.  The Scriptures that deal with this issue primarily deal with same sex sexual behavior and not so much with the phenomenon of being homosexual. Therefore, I will do the same in this essay.  I will deal with what the Scriptures have to say about same sex sexual relations and not deal in any significant way with the phenomenon of being homosexual.

       In an effort to provide a balanced approach to this issue, I will discuss the Scriptures that pertain to homosexual behavior from both the perspective of those who believe these Scriptures condemn such behavior and from the prospective of those who believe these Scriptures do not condemn homosexual behavior. 


       Can homosexuals behave homosexually and consider themselves to be in compliance with the teaching on sexuality found in the Biblical Scriptures?  Should homosexuality be considered a normal and acceptable sexual orientation and thus have its expression in sexual behavior acceptable?  Why are some people homosexual while most are heterosexual?   Homosexuality has been in evidence throughout recorded history. Why is something, considered by many to be abnormal, such an enduring human trait? 

       Many homosexuals believe God made them homosexual and, therefore, it is perfectly all right to behave homosexually. Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple Computers, recently announced he is gay and said, "I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."   Is Cook's gay sexuality a gift from God?  Did God intend for some humans to be homosexual while the vast majority are heterosexual?  The Scriptures speak to heterosexuality and provide guidelines as to how it is to be expressed and not expressed.  The Scriptures also speak to homosexuality but do not provide guidelines for its expression but instead appear to simply condemn its expression.

       Most homosexuals don’t see their homosexual behavior as something to be condemned.  Many homosexuals are Christians.  While some Christian homosexuals believe expression of their homosexual orientation is sin and fight to suppress their homosexual desires, other Christian homosexuals accept their orientation as normal and have no qualms about expressing their homosexuality by engaging in homosexual relations. They do not consider such behavior to be sin. 

       Many Christian homosexuals, including an increasingly vocal number of homosexuals in positions of leadership in the Christian community, argue that it is perfectly acceptable to behave homosexuality as a Christian. Do the Biblical Scriptures support this view? 

Old Testament Passage:

        The Scriptures show God creating a heterosexual orientation at creation and intending such orientation to be the means whereby life is propagated. 

       Genesis 2:21-24: The LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman, ' for she was taken out of man."  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 

       Genesis 1:27-28:  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth

       Here we find God creating two separate and distinct sexes and instructing them to use their sexuality to increase in number and fill the earth. Genesis 4:1 records that  "Adam  lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain."  Thus we see that sexual intercourse between a human male and female is the pathway to fulfilling God's instruction to be fruitful and fill the earth. This cannot be accomplished through homosexual behavior.  Homosexuals will readily admit this but will conclude that just as God has created diversity of race, He also created diversity of sexuality.  Therefore, some homosexuals will argue that those born heterosexual are responsible for procreating and filling the earth and those born homosexual do not have that responsibility.  Is this what the Scriptures suggest?  

       Sodom and Gomorrah:

       The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in Genesis 18 and 19 is often used by Christians to prove that God is against homosexual behavior..

       Genesis 19:4-7:  Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them. Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing (NIV).  

       This passage appears to give a clear example of homosexual behavior being defined as a wicked thing.  What is the homosexual’s response to this passage?  Defenders of homosexuality have concluded that it is not homosexual activity in and of itself that is being called wicked in this account.  It is the attempted gang rape of the men staying with Lot that is being called wicked.

       It is argued that such attempted gang rape cannot be equated with a loving homosexual relationship.  It is further argued that if you’re going to conclude that homosexuality is wrong because of this example of attempted male rape, then you would have to conclude that heterosexual activity is wrong because of incidents of heterosexual rape. Therefore, it is not the thing (homosexual conduct) but the misuse of the thing (gang rape) that is seen as a wicked thing in Genesis 19. 

       It is also argued that sexual misconduct was not the reason Sodom was destroyed.

       Ezekiel 16:49-50:  Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

       It’s pointed out that nothing here is said about sexual misconduct and you can’t necessarily imply it from the phrase "detestable things" since the Hebrew word translated "detestable" can refer to things other than sexual immorality.  But what about Jude verse 6-7?  Doesn’t this passage clearly show Sodom and Gomorrah to have been judged because of engaging in homosexual behavior?  . 

       Jude 6-7:  And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (NKJV).  

      Proponents of homosexuality point out that a number of Biblical scholars believe that Jude is equating the sexual behavior of the Sodomites with the angels that purportedly had sexual relations with the daughters of men as recorded in Genesis 6.  It’s pointed out that the men of Sodom wanted to have relations with the angels that visited Lot and were, therefore, going after “strange flesh,” much as the angels were going after flesh different from theirs in seeking relations with the daughters of men.  It’s also felt that the “strange flesh" could relate to relations with animals.  

       Homosexual proponents conclude that you can’t prove that Jude is speaking specifically of homosexuality when he speaks of Sodom being destroyed because of sexual immorality and going after strange flesh. This argument is problematical, however, because the Genesis account clearly shows the men of the city came to Lot's house to have sex with the men staying with Lot. There is no indication the men of Sodium knew these men were angels and were seeking to have sex with "strange flesh."   Therefore the homosexual argument in response to the Sodom and Gomorrah event is weak.

       Leviticus 18 and 20:

       In Leviticus 18 we see much instruction as to what was considered acceptable sexual behavior. In verse 22 we read, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”  In Leviticus 20:13 we read "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable."  These appear to be clear and straightforward statements showing same sex sexual relations are seen as detestable.  The Hebrew word translated "detestable" in 20:13 is to-ay-baw and has the general meaning of something morally disgusting or abominable. Many translations render this Hebrew word as "abomination."  So how do proponents of homosexual behavior respond to these passages?

       It is argued these regulations are part of the Old Covenant system, which has been abrogated, and so these regulations are no longer valid.  Related to this argument is the observation that many Old Covenant regulations are no longer kept, so why do Christians arbitrarily pick out the regulation of Leviticus 18 and 20 as being still applicable? 

       In reality, the regulations of Leviticus 18 and 20 are not arbitrarily chosen as still being applicable.  These Old Covenant regulations are reaffirmed in the New Covenant.  The sin lists of Apostle Paul make this very apparent.  Homosexual behavior is included in these sin lists as will be seen.

       It is pointed out by proponents of homosexual behavior that the laws of Leviticus 18 and 20, along with many other Old Covenant regulations, are purity laws that God gave Israel to separate them from the Gentile nations around them.  The claim is that Christ came to do away with such separation under the New Covenant and therefore such laws are abrogated.

       There certainly were purity regulations that served to separate Israel from their Gentile neighbors.  These laws were discarded under the New Covenant so Israelites and Gentiles could dwell together in unity and not be separated by rules that were determined to be inconsequential. 

      It is quite a stretch, however, to conclude that the laws governing sexual conduct in Leviticus have been abrogated since they are seen as applying to both Gentiles and Israelites.  In addition to the prohibition against homosexuality, we also find prohibitions against adultery, fornication and incest in Leviticus 18.  All these forms of behavior are condemned under the New Covenant as well. 

       These sexual conduct laws appear to have a universal application and are certainly not limited to Old Covenant Israel.  Leviticus 18 teaches that it was the violation of these laws that defiled the nations. This clearly shows that these laws had application to all peoples and where not purity laws for Israel only. The Scriptures do not record that the nations were defiled because they didn’t keep the Sabbath, Holy Days, food laws or their failure to wear tassels on their garments.

       Leviticus 18:24, records the Gentile nations surrounding Israel were defiled because of sexual conduct contrary to the prohibitions listed in Leviticus 18. This shows a much wider applicability and permanency of these laws as opposed to others, which became disposable under the New Covenant.

       Leviticus 18:24: Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled

       Breaking these laws regarding sexual relations could not have defiled the nations surrounding Israel unless they applied to those nations. It is apparent that God was simply reconfirming these sexual conduct laws to Israel so they would not repeat the sins that brought down the nations around them.  These were not some kind of new laws just for Israel. This is very strong evidence for the prohibition of homosexual behavior in general and not just certain expressions of homosexuality, such as male rape, as some claim.

         Some advocates of homosexual behavior claim that the sexual prohibitions found in Leviticus had to do with ritualistic uncleanness and are related to prohibitions against participating in heathen idolatrous worship that involved homosexual behavior.

        A review of  Leviticus 18, however, will show that idolatrous worship practices is not what is being addressed here as claimed. While the pro-homosexual Christian contingent goes into a great deal of analysis as to how homosexual practice was part of idolatrous worship, the overall context of Leviticus 18 is all types of sexual behavior.  Moses is addressing the way God wants the Israelites to sexually conduct themselves at all times under all circumstances.

       Even if Moses were addressing idolatrous worship practices, why would one conclude that prohibition against certain types of sexual behavior, including homosexual behavior would be limited to such worship?  I submit that the Christian defenders of the homosexual life style are grasping at straws with these arguments. 

       In the Ten Commandments we find the fifth command saying we should honor our father and mother.  If two homosexuals who are living together choose to acquire children through adoption or surrogate birth, such children cannot honor as father and mother two men or two women. The fifth commandment presupposes a male father and a female mother as parents.

New Testament Passages:

       New Testament Scripture also shows homosexuality to be contrary to what God intends. These prohibitions appear straightforward and self-evident.  Yet, to an increasing number of Christians and Christian leaders, Paul’s teaching in regard to homosexuality is not saying what it appears to say.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes of how the hearts of mankind became darkened and how God, because of this, allowed mankind to engage in sinful desires and reap the penalties associated with such behavior. 

       Romans 1:24: Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

       Romans 1: 26-27: Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 

       Here, as is true of their evaluation of Leviticus 18 and 20, Christian defenders of homosexual behavior go to great lengths to try and demonstrate that Paul is speaking of behavior tied to idolatrous worship practices and is not prohibiting homosexual behavior in a “loving relationship” between same sex couples.  It is also felt that Paul’s depiction of women as exchanging natural relations for unnatural ones pertains not to lesbian activity but to unconventional sexual activity with men.  Clement of Alexandria and Saint Augustine are cited as supporting this position in their writings.

       Let’s consider the arguments presented by defenders of homosexual behavior.  To begin with, there is no Scriptural evidence Paul is discussing homosexual behavior within the context of idolatrous worship practices. Even if it could be shown that this is what Paul was doing, there is no indication Paul is approving such behavior outside of such practices.  Why would he do so?  Paul was trained as a Pharisee and as such would have been very diligent to uphold the primary purpose for sex reveled in the Genesis account of creation, that purpose being propagation of the human race.

       In the cultural backdrop of Judaism, the primary reason for sex was procreation. Sexual acts, which did not work to fulfill this goal, were frowned upon.  This is seen in the writings of Philo and Josephus who were both contemporary with Paul.  Philo specifically condemns men who knowingly marry barren women.  He called them “antagonists of God and enemies of nature."  Similarly, regarding homosexual behavior, Philo says that the active partner was against nature because he "does not procreate."  Clement of Alexandria, saw procreation as the goal of sexual activity.

       It should be noted at this point that while procreation is seen in Scripture as the primary purpose of sexual union, sexual union without procreation as the intended purpose is not prohibited or seen as being of lesser value.  Apostle Paul made it clear in a letter to the Corinthians that a man and a woman were to fulfill each others sexual needs.  It is to be noted that such instruction is directed to heterosexual relations with no hint here or anywhere else in Paul's writings that the same applies to homosexual relations.  

       1 Corinthians 7:2-4: But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each women her own husband.  The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.      

       In chapter six of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul address a number of behaviors that prohibit one from entering the kingdom of God.

       1 Corinthians 6:9-10:  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.            

       The Greek word translated “homosexual offenders” in this passage is arsenokoitees.  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as “one who lies with a male as with a female.”  The Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian Literature is considered the premiere source for how Greek words are to be understood in first century communication. This Lexicon defines arsenokoitees as, “a male homosexual, a male who engages in sexual activity with a person of his own sex, pederast (a male adult that practices anal intercourse with a boy) or sodomite.”

       Pederasty was a common practice within the Greek and Roman societies of the first century AD.  Defenders of homosexual behavior feel that when Paul uses the Greek arsenokoitees, he is not speaking of homosexual activity among consenting adults but is addressing this common practice of sexual activity between adult men and young boys.  It is pointed out that this would be no different than we today condemning sexual activity (homosexual or heterosexual) between an adult and a child which we call being a pedophile.

       It is pointed out that there are other Greek words that Paul could have used that are much more descriptive of adult homosexuality which he did not use.  It is felt that Paul is addressing unlawful heterosexual behavior such as adultery and unlawful homosexual behavior such as pederasty. He is not attacking hetero or homosexual behavior in and of itself.  It is believed the same applies to what Paul wrote to Timothy.   

       1 Timothy 1:8-11:  We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, (arsenotoitees) for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

        Here, as in the passage in 1 Corinthians 6, defenders of homosexual behavior feel that when Paul uses the Greek word arsenotoitees, he is addressing pederasty rather than homosexual behavior in general. It must be pointed out, however, that the translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (the Septuagint) used the Greek arsenotoitees to translate the Hebrew mishkeb (as one lies with) in Leviticus 18:20 and 20:13.  Since Leviticus 18:20 and 20:13 clearly condemn same sex sexual behavior, the use of arsenotoitees to translate miskeb in these passages is indicative of the translators of the Septuagint believing that the Greek arsenotoitees indeed describes same sex sexual relations and, therefore, was the best Greek word to correctly render the intent of Leviticus 18:20 and 20:13. The New English Translation (NET) renders arsenotoitees in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 as "practicing homosexuals." The English Standard Version (ESV) renders arsenotoitees as "men who practice homosexuality."

       In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul said that male prostitutes would not inherit the kingdom of God. The Greek word translated “male prostitutes” in the NIV and effeminate in the KJV is malakos.   It is found in only two other passages in the New Testament and has the basic meaning of soft.  It is found in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 as referring to men who wear soft clothing are found in Kings houses.  The context in Matthew and Luke does not suggest anything immoral or inappropriate. Some Christian writers argue that since the basic meaning of this word is “soft,” we can’t know for sure what Paul meant and therefore we can’t associate Paul’s statement with sexual misconduct.  

       Yet in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses malakos squarely within the context of sexual misconduct. The Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer Greek-English Lexicon shows malakos used in Greek literature outside the Scriptures to mean effeminate and of boys who allow themselves to be misused homosexually. Proponents of homosexual behavior view this as referring only to pederastic behavior.  However, since Paul separates his statement about malakos and arsenotoitees, it would be equivalent to saying the same thing twice if both these Greek words are relating only to pederastic behavior.

Jesus and Homosexual Behavior:

       It is pointed out by defenders of homosexual behavior that there is no record of Christ addressing the issue of homosexual behavior during His ministry.  Because homosexual behavior is seen as a non-issue with Jesus, it is believed it should be a non-issue for Christians and should not be condemned.  

       Homosexual behavior was a non-issue with Jesus because in Judaism it simple wasn’t an issue.  There was nothing to address. Jesus was a Jew and lived under the Old Covenant law during His ministry. The Judaism of Christ's day would have been following the regulations of Leviticus 18 and 20.  While it is true that Jesus did not explicitly address homosexuality or homosexual behavior, he did view marriage as being between a man and a woman.

       Matthew 19:3-6: Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"  "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,'  and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' ?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

       There is no hint in anything Jesus ever said that could be construed as Jesus seeing marriage as anything but an opposite sex union.  The fact Jesus quotes from the creation account is instructive. The creation account clearly sets forth that God made humans male and female and intends for them to become one flesh through sexual union.  There is nothing in all of Scripture that remotely hints of God also intending for humans of the same sex to engage in sexual union.  The very physiology of the male and female body is witness to God's intent for sexual relations to be restricted to humans of opposite sex and not of the same sex. 

       It should be noted that when God determined that the man He created should not be alone; He didn't simply create another man.  He created a Being having a different sexual makeup from that of the man.  While it can be argued that this was for the purpose of procreation, the Genesis account of this event indicates it also was for the purpose of providing Adam with a differentiated partner that would be a contrast to himself and thus provide opportunity for a type of union that would not be possible with someone of the same gender.

       Genesis 2:18: The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."


       It is interesting that we have some in the Christian homosexual community looking at the same Scriptures that have been traditionally used to condemn homosexual behavior as not condemning such behavior at all.  Instead, these Scriptures are seen as simply dealing with unlawful expressions of homosexuality and not condemning homosexual behavior in and of itself. It is argued that the Scriptures deal with unlawful expressions of homosexuality just as they do with unlawful expressions of heterosexuality, such as adultery and fornication.  This is how the leadership of some major Christian denominations justify homosexual practice as acceptable behavior for a Christian.

       So what conclusions can we draw regarding this issue?  Genesis shows God creating male and female to propagate the human race.  In Matthew 19, we see Christ confirming the Genesis account. The Genesis account and its confirmation by Jesus are gender statements.  They point to the union of two people of opposite sex.  Nowhere in Scripture will you find such gender statements pertaining to two people of the same sex. All Scriptural discussion of gender related issues such as marriage, divorce, procreation, adultery and fornication are found in the context of heterosexual relations. 

       On the other hand, all references to same sex relationships are in the context of condemnation.  While it could be argued that Paul is referring to specific types of same sex behavior in his condemnations, Paul gives no hint of supporting homosexual behavior of any kind.  Every statement Paul makes relative to homosexual behavior is to condemn it.  As covered above, when Paul addresses issues of sexual relations, there is no hint of Paul approving same sex sexual relations. Paul sees sexual relations within the context of marriage between a man and a woman with no hint in any of his writings of it being acceptable for two humans of the same sex to engage in sexual relations.  Paul’s understanding and teaching as to proper sexual relations is summed up in comments he made to the Corinthians which I quoted above but bears repeating.

       1 Corinthians 7:2-4: But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each women her own husband.  The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

       As covered above, Leviticus 18 and 20 shows clearly that laws dealing with sexuality were not limited to Israel but applicable to the Gentiles as well.  It was the breaking of such laws that defiled the Gentiles.  The fifth commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. This command presupposes a male and female parent. This instruction is also found in the New Covenant teaching of Paul. 

       Ephesians 6:1-3: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  "Honor your Father and Mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

      Some argue that since homosexuality has been in evidence throughout recorded history it must be something inherent to creation. It is believed God created human homosexuality as He did heterosexuality.  Homosexuals point out that they don't choose to be homosexual. They are homosexual by nature.  This being the case, it is argued that homosexuals should not be condemned for something they have no control over. 

       I agree that homosexuality, in most cases, is not a choice. It is an involuntary orientation. A person doesn't get up one morning and decide they are going to be a homosexual. Instead it is the conscious recognition of a sexual orientation different from the orientation normally associated with one's biological gender. Homosexuality appears to be a response to specific inborn and/or developmental dynamics that occur in some individuals.  It appears homosexuals are most often born with a predisposition toward being homosexual or such predisposition develops early on as they grow and mature.

        There are many theories as to why some become homosexual.  Everything from genetic mutations and hormonal imbalances to social, cultural, developmental, psychological and environmental dynamics have been considered.  Some research has indicted there may be certain inborn traits that result in being born with a homosexual orientation.  The same holds true for being born with a tendency to be an alcoholic or a drug addict.  Nothing conclusive has been identified in any of these areas.  I suspect there are a variety of dynamics involved in becoming a homosexual. 

       However, there is no Scriptural evidence God purposed to make homosexuals anymore than there is evidence He purposed to make pedophiles or any other unconventional sexual orientations.  For God to have purposed to create homosexual orientation would run contrary to His purpose for man.  God instructed man to be fruitful and multiply.  That can’t happen through homosexual activity.  Sexual intercourse between same-sex partners is contrary to the design of the human body. The human male and female body was designed to engage in heterosexual relations. The human body was not designed for homosexual relations. Therefore, homosexual relations are abnormal.  Is being a homosexual abnormal?  

       Before 1973, mental health professionals by and large viewed homosexuality as a mental disorder or disease and classified it as an abnormal orientation. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association concluded homosexuality was not a mental disorder or disease and that it was as normal an orientation as being heterosexual. In defining homosexuality as a normal orientation, tacit recognition and approval is given to same-sex sexual activity being normal.  It is clear from the Scriptures, however, that same-sex sexual activity is clearly condemned and is not considered normal sexual activity.

        When all Scriptural passages relating to sexuality are studied, you will not fine one hint of support for homosexual behavior as being acceptable in God’s sight. It just isn’t there.  All Scriptures that address homosexual behavior place it in a bad light. If the Biblical Scriptures are to be the foundation upon which the Christian belief system is built, homosexual behavior must be considered behavior contrary to what God intends regarding sexuality.

       Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, an associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and considered a top authority on the issue of homosexuality and Christianity has written the following:  "Indeed, every narrative, law, proverb, exhortation, poetry, and metaphor in the pages of Scripture that has anything to do with sexual relations presupposes a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations and marriage."

       Even a top GLBTQ (gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transsexual/queer or questioning) website (www.glbtq.com) recognizes the Bible's prohibition against same-sex relationships. The following statement can be found on this website: "The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same-sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification of age, gender, role, status, consent, or membership in an ethnic community."

        A Christian who has a homosexual orientation must realize that expressing such orientation in sexual behavior is contrary to what is revealed in the Biblical Scriptures. The arguments put forth in defense of homosexual behavior do not stand up to the straightforward teachings found in Scripture regarding this issue.

       Having said all this, I recognize it isn’t easy to reign in a homosexual orientation.  The same intensity of sexual desire experienced by heterosexuals will be present in a homosexual.  Some homosexuals are able to become reoriented.  Most go to their graves as homosexuals.  It must be understood, however, that while it may be true a person does not choose to be a homosexual, a person who is a homosexual can choose to behave or not behave in a homosexual manner.

       It is well recognized that many heterosexuals who call themselves Christian engage in sinful sexual activity such as adultery and fornication.  Some Christian homosexuals may try to justify their homosexual expression because of what goes on in the heterosexual Christian community.  This obviously is not the solution.  The Christian Scriptures are very clear as to what sexual misconduct is.  For example, in the case of heterosexual behavior, adultery and fornication are clearly condemned. In the case of a homosexual behavior, any and all homosexual behavior is seen as sexual misconduct.

       Proponents of homosexual behavior argue that love should be the overriding dynamic in determining what acceptable sexual behavior is. It is argued that homosexual behavior within a loving homosexual relationship is normal and should not be condemned. While two homosexuals may love each other, the expression of such love in sexual activity is still contrary to the will of God as seen in the Scriptural narrative. The Biblical Scriptures clearly show the attribute of love is to be expressed within the context of behavioral perimeters.  The expression of love is not an open ended acceptance of any and all behavior. If this was the case, any behavior could be justified as being done out of love. True love involves having concern for the welfare of the person loved.  Such concern should include wanting such person to conform their behavior to the standards established by God.  As already discussed, sexual standards are clearly established by God and they do not allow for homosexual behavior.  

Same Sex Marriage:

       Same sex marriage has become a big issue.  Recently, several leading political leaders in America who had previously opposed gay and lesbian marriage came out in favor of it after they learned one of their own children was a homosexual. Though both of these political leaders profess to be Christian, they quickly abandoned the Scriptural prohibition against homosexual behavior when faced with this issue in their own families.  While it is a proper expression of the Christian ethic to support and love their homosexual children, it is not a proper expression of the Christian ethic to support same sex marriage for their children which presupposes a form of sexual conduct that is clearly prohibited in the Biblical Scriptures.  

       Former British Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted as saying "marriage was not something that should be denied people because of their sexuality."  In reality, it is sexuality that defines marriage.  By Scriptural standards, marriage is sexual union between two people of opposite sex.  By Scriptural standards, this is how marriage is defined.  It is sexual union between a male and a female.  Nowhere does Scripture define marriage as sexual union between two people of the same sex. Such a definition of marriage is totally foreign to Scripture.  Such a definition of marriage is a virtual oxymoron. Those who support and promote same sex marriage are virtually redefining marriage according to standards not found in Scripture.  While a non-Christian may say "so what," a Christian can't just brush this off and continue to maintain allegiance to the teaching of the Biblical Scriptures which for a Christian provides the foundation for their belief system.  

      In view of this, it is noteworthy that several Christian denominations have approved ordaining homosexuals to serve as clergy within their respective church organizations.  These denominations include the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  These denominations claim to base their Christian belief system on the Biblical Scriptures and yet, in ordaining homosexuals for the ministry, they tacitly sanction sexual behavior that is clearly condemned in the very Scriptures they use to establish their theology.  This appears to be a clear case of cognitive dissonance. The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently voted to allow their clergy to preside over same sex marriages in states where such marriages are legal. With the recent US Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage throughout the country, there will no longer be any restraints as to the performance of such marriages.

       To endorse same sex marriage is to tacitly approve of sexual behavior contrary to Scriptural standards for sexual conduct. Same sex couples argue their civil rights are being violated by denying them the ability to marry.  I agree that if civil government defines marriage as a union between two people regardless of their gender, to deny such union for same sex couples is a violation of their civil rights.  This is basically the argument put forth by the Supreme Court justices that voted in favor of legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states.

       However, if two people of the same gender marry under civil law and proceed to engage in homosexual behavior, they are in violation of the Christian moral ethic. It must be understood that if one is to base ones morality on the Biblical Scriptures, one cannot condone same sex marriage because to do so is to tacitly condone same sex sexual behavior which is condemned in Scripture.  Any same sex couple, who claims to be Christian and honestly and objectively looks at what the Biblical Scriptures teach as to proper sexual behavior, will be forced to see that Scripture teaches that sexual behavior is designed to be between a man and a woman and in so doing defines marriage as between a man and a woman.


       What should be the Christian response to homosexual behavior and the LGBTQ community in general?  In view of the overriding prohibition against homosexual behavior found in the Scriptures, Christians have no choice but to look upon homosexual behavior as a sin if they allow the Scriptures to be their guide to sexual conduct.  The Christian must also recognize that being a homosexual is not sin. A homosexual person should not be condemned for being a homosexual. What must be condemned is sexual activity between two people of the same sex. Such conduct is contrary to what the Scriptures reveal about sexual relations. Many Christian homosexuals fight all their lives to resist homosexual behavior.  This is no different than an alcoholic having to fight the sin of drunkenness.  Being an alcoholic is not sin.  Expressing such alcoholism in drunkenness is a sin by Scriptural standards.

       Can a homosexual be reoriented to become heterosexual?  There are those who work with homosexuals to bring about a reorientation.  There has been limited success using this approach.  Some feel attempts at reorientation do more harm than good and in some cases those using this approach have been prevented by law from this practice. However, it is instructive that Apostle Paul includes homosexuality in a list of behaviors that can be changed. 

       1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. 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.

       Paul writes that some of the Corinthian Christians he was addressing were sexually immoral including being male prostitutes and homosexual offenders. He then indicates that because they have embraced the Gospel message, they have been given the power to change their behavior. The indication is that with help from the Spirit of God, sinful behavior can be changed, including sinful sexual behavior. It is unclear whether Paul is saying that actual sexual orientation is changed or just the expression of that orientation.  

The Bottom Line:

       Christians need to love homosexuals no different than anyone else. Christ loved the women caught in adultery and forgave her. But he also told her to go and sin no more. If a homosexual wants to fellowship with other Christians, it is incumbent on a Christian to accept and love that person. If a practicing homosexual is willing to discuss their sexual orientation and behavior in light of how the Scriptures view sexual behavior and marriage, it is important for a Christian to work with such person to bring about change.  On the other hand, if such person chooses to openly behave homosexually and insists such behavior is acceptable, as a Christian, one could not approve of their behavior.  This would be no different than loving a heterosexual while disapproving of sexual sins they may commit.  We all sin.  We all need to recognize our sin, repent of our sin and forgive each other and be forgiven by God. 

       Homosexuality has become a contentious topic in the Christian community and in American society in general. It is instructive that a 2017 report published by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute showed that approximately two-thirds of white mainline Protestants and white and Hispanic Catholics support same sex marriage. This report also revealed that a majority of Unitarians, Buddhists, Jewish Americans, Hindus, the religiously unaffiliated and a slim majority of Muslims also support same sex marriage. 

       What should be disturbing for Christians is that most narrative that deals with homosexual behavior is devoid of any discussion of what the Biblical Scriptures teach regarding this issue.  Decisions and conclusions regarding homosexuality are simply made on the basis of social, cultural and philosophical considerations.   

       With the present push by homosexuals and the LGBTQ community to have their behavior recognized as acceptable, homosexuality has become a dominant issue for Christians and non-Christians alike.  I trust this essay has provided an honest and straightforward investigation of the Biblical teachings associated with this issue and what the Christian response to this issue should be.   

       For additional insights into the issue of homosexuality, please visit http://www.faithfacts.org/christ-and-the-culture/gay-rights