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?


  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.

  4. The following comment, intended for this page, was initially posted to “2 Samuel 1:26, Was King David Gay?” My mistake – sorry! KK

    I was archiving some old postings, and came across this again. At the time, I had been too busy to comment: but as no-one else appears to have picked up on what looks to me like a major flaw in your interpretation, here goes…

    Your article is about Jude 1:7, a NT reference where Jude (not Paul) comments on the ‘sexual immorality and perversion’ of Sodom and Gomorrah as being deserving of God’s judgement. You then comment that ‘it really doesn’t say anything about homosexuality, does it?’ Well then, what is the ‘sexual immorality and perversion’ to which Jude is referring? He must have had something clearly in mind.

    The obvious answer is the famous and graphic Genesis 18:16-19:29 account of the visit of the angels to Lot in the form of 2 men, and the wish of the men of the city to rape them. As others have observed elsewhere, the homosexual overtones of this demand are clear insofar as Lot tries to protect his guests by offering to surrender his daughters instead. This assault was followed by the city’s destruction the very next morning.

    A much less obvious passage – yet the one you seize upon – is a single verse in Ezekiel 16:49 that makes it clear that the fundamental root of Sodom’s sin was their arrogant, selfish and uncaring nature. That’s an important point: but was this the passage that Jude had in mind when he spoke of their ‘sexual immorality and perversion’ (literally, ‘committing fornication, and going after other flesh’)? Pretty obviously not, since the only word in that passage which has any possible direct connection with Jude’s phrase is ‘detestable.’

    You then claim that, ‘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?’ That looks more like a theological smokescreen than responsible scholarship to me.

    The plain fact is that Jude is referring to the ‘sexual immorality and perversion,’ that was committed by the people of Sodom. The context to which he refers specifically includes an act of attempted homosexual rape and the language Jude himself uses indicates strong disapproval of ‘fornication, and going after other flesh.’ So this is another example of NT teaching against homosexuality.

    Having said that, however, it should be made clear that Jude’s concerns in this letter are by no means confined to the issue of sex. Just as the Ezekiel verse makes it clear that there were much deeper roots underlying this particular manifestation of Sodom’s sin, so the rest of the letter is spent dealing with the corrupt motives and attitudes underlying the actions of those who were leading others astray. Those warnings apply to us all; irrespective of sexual orientation.

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