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The Bible on homosexuality

Hi! I’m wondering if it really is so easy to say that homosexuality is wrong, according to the Bible?
Firstly, Jesus never mentions that homosexuality is a sin.
Additionally, homosexuality is mentioned in other places in the New Testament, but often in a list of lots of other sinful acts. So it’s difficult to understand clearly in which context Paul means it is wrong that ‘men lie with men’.
At that time it was quite normal for well-to-do men to have sex with slave boys. This is clearly an imbalance in the balance of power in a relationship, and isn’t the framework God meant for sex to have. If homosexuality is never mentioned in context, how can we then know what was meant?
Furthermore, in many places it says ‘adultery’, which isn’t a synonym for homosexuality as it includes many other things. This is why I think that these verses don’t point directly to homosexuality.
I think that everything that is mentioned in the Old Testament regarding homosexuality is irrelevant. After all, we still eat prawns even though they are forbidden according to the Old Testament.
One of the arguments that many people use is from the Creation story, Genesis 2:18–24.
This is a story about a man and a woman, but it doesn’t say that it can’t be a man and a man. At the same time we need to think about what the Creation story is trying to tell us. Is it meant to be interpreted literally? If we just take the main idea behind it, that God created the world and us in His image, then I don’t think we can draw other conclusions from it.
There are other verses I could mention, but this is quite long already. I have a Christian friend who is homosexual, and we often discuss this subject. :-) I wonder if the thoughts I have are actually rational?

Hi and thanks for your question. You make several good points.

We want to point out three things.

1.    When we talk about sin and going against God’s will, we talk about the act and not the feelings of same-sex attraction. That’s the first thing we want to point out. We all have lots of emotions, and can be attracted to many things, but giving in to temptation is something else.

2.     It is true that there are no verses in the Bible where Jesus preaches against homosexual relationships, but Jesus does say to His disciples that ‘Whoever listens to you listens to Me; whoever rejects you rejects Me; but whoever rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me’ (Luke 10:16).

This shows that Jesus recognised what the disciples said and what they wrote. Furthermore, Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus, telling them that they are ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone’ (Ephesians 2:20). This also shows that our faith builds on what Jesus, the apostles and the prophets said and taught. We can also see that Jesus constantly refers to what the prophets wrote in the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t write off the Old Testament, instead He fulfilled what was written there (Matthew 5:17).

3.     Is a homosexual relationship sin? As you write, it is true that homosexual relationships are often included in a list of many sins. One of these is 1 Timothy 1:9–10. Here we read that ‘lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practising homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine …’ This shows that practising homosexuailty is not different or worse than other sins. It is sin on a level with other sins. We see here that the sexually immoral and practising homosexuals are equal. Both are sin and both are against God’s will. Sexual immorality (fornication) means having sex with someone without being married. You can read more about this in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 and Romans 1:26–27.

You are quite correct in writing that in the Roman Empire older men used slave boys for sexual gratification. This is obviously quite different from a sexual relationship between two men or two women who love each other. In the Roman Empire there were also same-sex sexual relationships between partners of the same social standing. There are archaeological finds from graves with pictures of two men or two women who loved each other, and historical evidence from erotic love poems written at this time. These are historical sources apart from the Bible.

Note how Paul describes this in Romans: ‘Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual 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 shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error’ (Romans 1:26–27). So, they ‘were inflamed with lust for one another’. Paul would not have written this if he were referring to the abuse of slave boys.

If you would like to read more on this topic, we recommend the book Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask) by Sam Allberry, available on amazon.com


Good luck as you study the Bible more!


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