Friday, April 28, 2006

What Does the Bible Say about Homosexuality?

The Bible has much to say about homosexuality and its utter sinfulness. Before discussing the passages directly related to homosexuality there are two foundational truths that need to be unpacked. First of all, according to Genesis 1:27 gender is a gift from God. God made human beings both male and female. He made them to be sexually compatible. Our sexuality is a gift from God. Secondly, God founded the institution of marriage in Genesis 2:24-25. These verses teach that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s design. Any relationship that seeks to alter this design is rebellious and sinful. Furthermore, God designed sex to be enjoyed only in a marriage relationship. Therefore any sexual relationship outside the bonds of marriage is sinful, including homosexuality.

The first recorded instance of homosexuality in the Bible is in Genesis 19. This passage describes God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. It should be stated up-front that the people of Sodom were guilty of other sins besides homosexuality. This doesn’t alter the fact their homosexual behavior was debauched and immoral, and worthy of God’s judgment.

In answer to Abraham’s prayer in Genesis 18, God sent to angels to rescue Lot and his family from the coming judgment. The angels came into the city and Lot invited them into his home. In Genesis 19:5 the men of the city demand that Lot turn over his guests so that they could have sex with them. Lot responded by offering his virgin daughters to these perverts. They in turn threatened to rape Lot. Then the angels intervened by blinding the perverts. Amazingly, they continued to look for the door to get in Lot’s home. God destroyed the cities the next morning.

God’s anger at Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin of homosexuality is obvious. The biblical revisionists would disagree. They base their arguments on Ezekiel 16:46-59. Revisionists use this text to say that Sodom’s real sin was neglecting the poor. Other revisionists say the issue was pride. They claim that the crowd was not demanding sex but wanting to know the divine presence. In essence, they wanted to rise above the divine in an act of pride. They base this argument on a faulty interpretation of the Hebrew word yada. Yada does mean to know but it is also a word that is used to describe sexual intimacy. Five out of the ten times this word is used in Genesis it is used to describe a sexual relationship. For example, in Genesis 4:1, the Bible says Adam knew Eve and she became pregnant. The problem with these arguments is they are based on a false dichotomy. Sodom was guilty of all these sins not either or!

The revisionists also conveniently ignore the context of the Ezekiel passage. In verse 43, Ezekiel uses the term lewdness, which is the Hebrew word zimma. This word is used in another passage that clearly forbids homosexuality, Leviticus 18:22. In this passage zimma is translated abomination and refers to deliberate sexual sin.

Jude 7 also teaches that sexual immorality was a major reason for the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. This passage says they went after strange flesh and indulged in gross immorality. The revisionists respond by claiming the cities were judged for rape and not homosexuality. This doesn’t explain why God’s judgment fell on the entire area and not just the guilty. In addition, the text doesn’t teach that homosexual sex would have been okay if it was consensual.

Another revisionist argument is that Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of breaking ancient hospitality codes. Some say it was the city that broke the code while others blame Lot. The first argument says the men just wanted to rough Lot’s guests up, not rape them. The second argument says that Lot failed to properly introduce his guests to the city leaders. When they came to Lot’s door, they just wanted a proper introduction. Again this argument is based on a misunderstanding of the Hebrew word yada. This word is clearly being used to describe a sexual relationship in this verse. If the men didn’t have sex on their mind, why did Lot offer them his virgin daughters? The revisionist view would also make God unjust and less than omniscient. If you believe the revisionists, God misunderstood what they men really wanted from Lot and mistakenly judged the city.

In addition to Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 clearly condemn and forbid homosexual behavior. In fact, one passage declares homosexuality a capital offense. The revisionists say that if we embrace these Scriptures then we must favor capital punishment for homosexuals. This is because they fail to understand the differences between the ceremonial, civil and moral law in the OT

Some revisionists claim these passages only condemn homosexuality in pagan worship. This argument won’t hold water because they fail to recognize the context of the passage. Other sinful behaviors like incest and child sacrifice are mentioned in the context. Would these acts be okay if they are not a part of pagan worship? Of course not.

Some Revisionists say this passage is concerned only with ritual purity and not right and wrong. This argument is based on an exegetical fallacy with the Hebrew word to’ebah. We must remember that a word’s meaning is determined by its context. When the revisionists try to limit to’ebah’s meaning to ritual impurity, they are conveniently ignoring the fact its meaning includes any behavior that is morally detestable.

Judges 19-20 is another passage that speaks to homosexuality in the OT. It has some interesting similarities with the Genesis 19 passage. A man who is a guest in another’s home becomes the object of some homosexuals’ wanton desires. They demanded that the man come out and satisfy their perverted lusts. He responded by tossing them his concubine. They raped her until morning and she died a short time later. In anger, the man cut his concubine in pieces and sent them to the tribes of Judah. The tribes of Israel confronted the tribe of Benjamin because the perverts were from this tribe. Benjamin refused to hand over the guilty party. The other tribes responded by nearly destroying Benjamin in a civil war. This all happened in a period when “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Clearly the tribes of Israel viewed sexual perversion, including homosexuality, much differently than the revisionists.

The New Testament also has much to say about homosexuality. Romans 1:18-32, I Corinthians 6:9-11, and I Timothy 1:9-11 all address the issue. In Romans, Paul condemns moral chaos, pagan worship and radical autonomy. He specifically addresses male and female homosexuality and makes it quite clear this behavior is deserving of God’s wrath. The revisionists claim Paul is not taking about people they conveniently claim are “constitutionally” homosexuals. This simply means they were born homosexuals. Instead, they claim Paul was addressing people who are “constitutionally” heterosexual participating in homosexuality. The problem is the revisionists have no proof to back up their contention. No where in the Scriptures does it say God created people to be homosexual! Science hasn’t proven this contention either.

Other revisionists argue that Jesus never personally said homosexuality was wrong. Since Jesus is greater than Paul, he must be right and Paul is wrong. The problem with this logic is that Jesus never mentioned many things that are wrong. For instance, Jesus never expressly forbids beating our wives. Yet virtually no one would claim that beating our wives is acceptable behavior. In addition Jesus clearly recognized the inspiration and authority of the OT Scriptures. Furthermore, it’s a false dichotomy to say that we must choose between Paul and the Scriptures.

I Corinthian 6:9-11 is a vice list weighted with sexual sins. Paul uses two important words that revisionists dispute in this passage. The first word is malakoi and the second is arsenokoitai. Malakoi, meaning soft, refers to the passive partner in a homosexual relationship. Arsenokoitai is made up of two words, male and intercourse refers to the active partner in a homosexual relationship. Interestingly this word is a compound of two words found in the Septuagint passages of Leviticus 18:22, 20:13. Revisionists claim these words can have other meanings. This is true, but a word’s meaning is always determined by its context. Paul has already used the words in this list for sexual immorality among heterosexuals. If these words refer to heterosexual sin then Paul is being redundant. Furthermore, the fact these two words are coupled together strengthen the argument they refer to homosexual behavior.

The important truth we get from I Corinthian 6:9-11 is that homosexuals can be saved and transformed by the gospel! This is not a popular message in our politically correct society.

Our last New Testament passage is I Timothy 1:9-11. In this text the apostle Paul makes it clear that some lifestyle behaviors are ungodly, unholy and rebellious. He declares that these behaviors are in violation of God’s moral law. The Apostle includes homosexuality in this list.

In short, the Bible makes clear that homosexuality is sin and a violation of God’s design for sex and marriage. Furthermore, God takes sexual sin very seriously and He will judge it. Praise God that through His glorious gospel He can transform the homosexual just like he does the fornicator, adulterer, and sinners every ilk!

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