Quick Answer – The “labels” of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Homosexual and so forth have all come into our language much more recently and are not mentioned anywhere in the original languages of the Holy Scriptures. There are passages that condemn same-sex rape, prostitution and idol worship. We fully recognize this and are in agreement with the Word of God that these actions are destructive and anyone who partakes in these sins without true repentance will not inherit eternal life.
Detailed Answer -
We could go the long, in-depth route here giving a dissertation of the lengthy, philosophic controversy, but, there’s no reason to go the “wordy” route with a bunch of “Thee’s, Thou’s and Thine’s” and clutter God’s simple truths with religious rhetoric. Nevertheless we shouldn’t just try to find the Cliff’s Notes on Scripture either. We hope that this article is a good balance.
Understanding the Scriptures does not begin with church tradition and dogma but with the Biblical texts themselves. People misunderstand and misquote the Scriptures for several reasons – one main one – they don’t read the Bible for themselves. They swallow any form of “truth” that sounds reasonable to them and then spew it out in ignorance. Another explanation is that if they do read the Word – they don’t “understand” it.
Knowing what the Bible not only says but means is important so that you do not allow anyone to dictate your walk with Christ or get you off track. When you stand before the Lord – you will stand before Him alone. You, only, will be accountable for your actions. It’s a serious responsibility to be a Christian. So dig into the Bible for yourself and challenge your heart to find the truth – not YOUR truth but God’s truth for you. The Word says to seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.
That all being said – Let’s dig into the Word of God to see His viewpoint on homosexuality.
Did you know that the words “homosexual” and “homosexuality” do not appear in the Bible – at least they are absent from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Those “labels” were added in the late 19th century. The authors of the Bible had little or no comprehension of same-sex, committed relationships. Their languages used back then had no words for these concepts. The idea of sexual orientation was not a part of human thinking during Biblical culture.
However the controversy happens because out of over 30,000 verses in the Bible there are two writers that mention same-sex acts in six different passages and they are condemned every time. These passages are crucial to our understanding of how we should view sex and how we should treat others.
So let’s not just “read” these passages – Let’s really understand them.
Understanding Scripture requires a few steps. It is essential to learn how the Biblical authors expressed themselves during the time of their writings and how things related in terms of their culture. Look behind the scenes. Ask questions like: Who wrote the Scripture and who was he writing to? What is the main topic? When was it written and what was the culture of the day? Why was it written? Looking behind the scenes will help you understand why God even wanted these things recorded and how they can apply to us today.
So the first passage that addresses same-sex acts is in the first book of the Bible – Genesis.
1st Passage: Genesis 19 Specifically 1-11 Take time out to read it >
Now look behind the scenes >
From: Moses – who had been born a Hebrew slave, became a pampered Egyptian prince, a murderer, and then a desert tribesman who led the Nation of Israel out of slavery. You might have heard of him from the Ten Commandments or the parting of the Red Sea.
To: Genesis is a part of what’s called the “Pentateuch” which is a fancy name for the first five books of the Old Testament. In the Jewish faith it would be called the “Torah.” This is a Hebrew history book written for the Jewish people covering from the creation story through the Nation of Israel preparing for their exile as told in the following book Exodus.
Re: Moses wrote this book wanting to remind the Nation of Israel where they came from so that they could understand where they were going. Through stories of many people who loved and quarreled, believed and doubted, married and had children, experience sin, consequence and grace, Moses traces their roots to a single family and even back to the foundation of the planet.
This passage tells the story of God holding the people of Sodom accountable and it very clearly shows the consequences of their rebellion and persistent sinful lives.
Common Misunderstanding: God destroyed the city of Sodom because of homosexuality.
Truth: The men of the city of Sodom wanted to commit a brutal, homosexual gang rape. We simply cannot condemn a sexual orientation because of a rape. There is a heterosexual rape described in the Judges 19:1-30. Shall we condemn heterosexuality because of that rape? This passage clearly teaches us that rape is evil and certainly not an acceptable form of God’s idea of sex.
Now look behind the scenes >
From: By the time he wrote Leviticus, Moses’ attitude toward God had moved from ignorance and terror to fascination and love. He had tried being a brave freedom fighter on his own terms and had ended up committing murder – oops. When those utopian fantasies were far behind him and he only wanted to be left alone to raise sheep for his father-in-law. God sent him to be his people’s great liberator but this time on God’s terms.
To: Leviticus (when translated means “The LORD spoke”) is the 3rd book of the Pentateuch, and is also known by the name it is given by Jewish rabbis, “the Priest’s Manual.” Moses was writing to the people of Israel and specifically their priests.
Re: Leviticus is a narrative pause in the story of the Israelites on their way, saved out of Egypt, settling in the land of Canaan. God literally sets in place a very detailed moral standard of do’s and don’ts for His people. Magic was popular in their day. Casting spells was a common thing in their culture. In Canaan, where the Israelites were heading, things were even more heathen (sinful). Canaanite gods liked having orgies that included male-male sexual idol worship and they also liked having children sacrificed to them. This book would become a direct guide for God’s people challenging them to live a life of holiness.
These two scriptures Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 are explicitly against sex between two men for the sake of idol worship. They are also just a glimpse of a very detailed, very long list of laws found in the Levitical Law which also contains approximately 600 other laws like “don’t get tattoos, don’t sacrifice your children to false gods, don’t have sex with a close relative or animals, and don’t trim your beard.” While these things might seem like silly rules, God wasn’t being nit-picky. He wanted His children to be holy and set apart from the heathen people of Canaan and not to fall into their idol worshipping ways.
So why don’t we keep all of these holy laws? That’s just it – they were laws set in place for a certain people in a certain cultural situation. These were a people without a government at that time. Thousands of years later – our culture has changed completely and so have our laws. For instance, our laws today say that you shouldn’t have multiple wives; that tattoos are legal for those over 18; and that it’s okay to be homosexual. Also as the New Testament shows us, Jesus came to fulfill the law and to sum up the entire law in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Galatians 5:13-14 (New International Version)
13. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Common Misunderstanding: All male-male sex is condemned by God.
Truth: These men were celebrating their false gods and worshiping them with promiscuous sexual acts. These passages clearly teach us to be set apart and be different from the world. We should live holy lives before God and not have male-male sex for idol worship.
Those are the three areas in the Old Testament that address same sex sinful acts. Let’s look into the New Testament.