Jude 1:7, Homosexuality and the Bible, Part II of VIII

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

//Yesterday, I introduced a week-long series on the topic of homosexuality within the Bible. It actually shouldn’t take that long … we have only two places in the Bible which speak against homosexuality: The Holiness Code of Leviticus, and the letter of Paul to the Romans. While conservative Christians sometimes reference other verses, responsible scholarship points out that they are not really about homosexuality at all. Today’s verse is often referenced in such a manner, but it really doesn’t say anything about homosexuality, does it? As it turns out, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah actually had nothing to do with homosexuality at all … see here. Various references in the Bible about sexual perversions do not specify homosexuality. It is purely in the mind of the reader that homosexuality is thought to be one of those “sexual perversions,” because the Bible doesn’t say this at all.

We as Christians today no longer observe the Old Testament law. Surely none of us dare to speak for God, deciding which O.T. laws should be upheld and which should not, now that Jesus has brought a newer, higher, law. We eat pork; we wear cotton-blend clothing; we allow hunchbacks in our holy places; we don’t strain every drop of blood from our meat. Normally, then, we wouldn’t think twice about refusing to uphold the prohibition against homosexual relations in Leviticus. But then there’s that darn letter of Paul to the Romans.

Yet millions of Christians are saying they can no longer read this letter as instruction to label honest and loving homosexual relations as sinful. I’d like to discuss this topic over several more posts, introducing five respectful questions which, in my opinion, should leave an honest Christian in doubt over whether God really condemns homosexuality. And if there is doubt, it’s surely better to err on the side of compassion. Here are the next five days’ topics:

1. Could we be reading the one N.T. reference to homosexuality wrong?

2. Why does Paul then contradict his teachings on this topic, in this same letter to the Romans?

3. Did Paul mean for us to take this anti-gay teaching (1) literally, (2) in our day today, and (3) as the words of Jesus?

4. Most Christians understand that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, but could his actions actually show approval?

5. Given the doubt these topics should introduce, does the vast preponderance of teachings about compassion and acceptance toward the marginalized outweigh the two passages in scripture that seem to teach against homosexuality?

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3 Comments

  1. Good post Lee. My question is, is “homosexuality” the right term to ask about, in regards to the Bible? I mean, and I am no expert here, isn’t the idea of sexuality or sexual orientation somewhat modern. Would the Bible have any idea of “being homosexual”? So even if the Bible condemned specific acts between same gender people, it has not condemned “homosexuality”, has it. Which leads to the differentiation some Christians make today, that simple same-sex attraction is not a sin but lust (as per Jesus in Matt 5) and acting on attraction is.

    (And sorry I always comment and never check back to see if you replied and what you said :)

  2. Lee Harmon

    I think that’s more likely true of older Israel, Dave. It’s a heated argument, but maybe putting the law code in writing, during the time of exile, was a turning point. Maybe wanton sexual relations in Babylon turned the stomach of Israel’s “purity keepers”, ha. I’d enjoy hearing your research.

  3. Hey, I came back to see your reply. I don’t really have any research. That would be an interesting topic though – how has the idea of sexuality changed over the ages.

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