The Bible and Homosexuality

I hear many conservative anti-gay Christians announce,

We believe what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

No, you believe what your pastor says the Bible says about homosexuality.

With the “gay issue”, many (most?) conservative anti-gay Christians walk around with blinders. They refuse to seek God on the matter. They leave it in the hands of man, and more specifically heterosexual men to interpret a few passages. Too often their leaders interpret the passages based on bias, not on a careful search for truth.

We provide ourselves with reasonable filters when looking at certain passages–

Women should be silent in church with their heads covered.
Slaves must obey masters.

We look at these passages and account for vast differences of culture and history. We can also understand how some men in power used these very passages to silence women and enslave men, women and children from Africa.

Yet with the passages that seem to speak against people lesbians, gays and bisexuals, most throw away reasonable considerations and filters. I have not doubt that the people preaching against homosexuality would still have a problem even without the scriptures.

As queer people, we face the same anti-gay spirit in the world that we face in the church. In fact, just as the worldly, unenlightened, ungodly view of women and people of color entered the church and got mixed up in that old time religion, the insistence that gays are wrong and must change entered the church from the world, not from God.

Yes, Some Bible passages speak against certain sex acts that include homosexual activity, just as the Bible judges harshly and often certain heterosexual acts and practices.

Jesus, who says nothing specifically about homosexuality, condemns heterosexual sin. Does that mean all heterosexual sexual expression is wrong? Throw out the straight baby with the murky incestuous, idolatrous, polygamist bathwater?

No, even though we see many more examples of heterosexual immorality in the Bible, we know that that immorality stands in stark contrast to loving, loyal partnerships between a man and a woman. The same is true of same-sex sexual activity.

Some passages of the Bible condemn homosexual lust, rape, abuse and idolatrous activities–as it should–but does NOT condemn two women or two men loving each other, creating a home and family, and being intimate with each other in sexual and non-sexual ways.

But these words will not convince most people who claim a literal view of the Bible because fear soaks the mind and keeps them, as it kept me, from looking deeply into these matters. A spirit of fear often fills and surrounds the anti-gay folks, especially as they begin to consider these issues in a new light.

Some Christians buttress themselves against what they consider to be doctrines of demons designed to undermine one’s very faith in Jesus. Think of our dear friend, Marvin, and the many ways he has sought to control what he hears out of fear that he will be “attacked by the enemy”.

But for those who believe the words of the Bible, the scriptures states that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.

Too often the church operates under the spirit of fear, hatred and oppression. But the writer of 1 Corinthians proclaims that we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

God has freely given the heterosexual church the gift of transgender lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to minister with them and to them. The church cries out for blessing and revival while turning away the very people God sends as part of that blessing and revival.

I am sure many people can counter this post with scripture and arguments and opinions. I prefer that you spend time in prayer and quiet asking God for Light and understanding, humbly coming before God knowing that you might just have it wrong, as we so often do.

Trust in God with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to God,
and God will make your paths straight.

This post has 23 Comments

  1. Joe G. on November 15, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    great post and clear summary of how to approach glbt (and typical, traditional conservative Christian objections) from an inclusive perspective. Thanks, boobie!

    Have you shared this with Marvin yet?

  2. Elliot on November 15, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    I agree. Terrific post, Peterson. 😀

  3. KJ on November 15, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    I would be lying if I said that it does not hurt when fellow believers have more confidence in what they believe the Bible says than they have in their fellow believer whose story suggests that their understanding may not be accurate. And then, how sad for them that their own understanding becomes more important than the very breath of the Spirit.

  4. Jerry Maneker on November 16, 2006 at 12:23 am

    This is a wonderful post, Peterson! It highlights the choice every professing Christian has to make: believe the people who selectively and erroneously use the Bible as a club to malign others, or believe our God of grace who welcomes ALL of His children to feast at His Table.

  5. Joel on November 16, 2006 at 6:30 am

    Wow, definitely printing this one out for future reference. Could you go into more detail about the gifts GLBT folks bring to churches. (Aside from the decoration and musical talent, hehe.)

  6. Journeyman on November 16, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    Unbelievably provoking–and encouraging–for me. Your comments about a spirit of fear drive right through several layers of my skin. I have my own spirit of fear about my sexual orientation, and that continues to give me all kinds of fits.

    Thanks for such a clear yet gentle post.

  7. Scott on November 16, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    Thank you…the timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect.

    Fear has been ever present in my life as I am reconciling my relationship with God, my boyfriend, my father, and myself.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom that help keep me going. God’s love shines brightly through your life.


  8. Scotmagicman on November 17, 2006 at 9:14 am

    Thank you, Peterson, for writing this so clearly. I totally agree with you. We all need to promote this message. Then after that we can stop beng sidetracked and get on with the real job of what being a Christian in the world is all about.

  9. Anonymous on November 18, 2006 at 9:48 am

    Hello my gay bro’s and sisters I’m linda I am 40 yrs old and was born a lesbian i only have 1 question for all the bible says being gay is an abomination is that forgivable or not?

  10. Peterson Toscano on November 18, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    linda, actually the Bible never says that “being” gay is an abomination. That is what the world says and what Christians tianted by the world say.

    Now if someone should sin as a lesbian or gay (be it lying, lusting, disloyalty to a partner, etc), of course we can always seek forgiveness from the parties we have wronged including God.

    This notion that people with same-sex attractions are flawed, sinful and sick is a flawed, sinful and sick notion that comes from an oppressive world, not from a loving God.

    For Christians we are told to test the spirits to see if they are from God. Homophobia and the rejection of same-gender loving people is not of God, but of the world.

    Like my Christian friend, Bob Painter, has shared before on this blog, many folks both, straight and gay, have to stop being conformed to the pattern of this homophobic, heterosexist world and be instead be transformed by the renewing their minds.

    Then they can begin to grasp God’s will for lgbt people.

  11. Kenn Chaplin on November 22, 2006 at 5:08 am

    Well said, brother!

    Kenn in Toronto

  12. BigPoppa on December 13, 2006 at 3:55 am

    “Some passages of the Bible condemn homosexual lust, rape, abuse and idolatrous activities–as it should–but does NOT condemn two women or two men loving each other, creating a home and family, and being intimate with each other in sexual and non-sexual ways.”

    Ok, explain how Leviticus 18:22 does not SPECIFICALLY condem same sex intercourse.

    Here is the passage from the KJV.

    “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

    and from the NKJV

    “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”

    Keep in mind now that in these passages, God is speaking to Moses.

    Just a few more from different translations

    The Living Bible

    “Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.”

    Young’s Literal Translation

    “And with a male thou dost not lie as one lieth with a woman; abomination it is.”

    New Revised Standard Version

    “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

    In your post you say that the Bible does not condem 2 males or 2 females being intimate with each other in sexual ways.

    How can you say that with any kind of certainty after reading Leviticus 18:22? Please explain.

  13. Peterson Toscano on December 13, 2006 at 9:52 am

    BigPoppa, thanks for your comment. I won’t go into a lot of detail answering your question. There are many others who could do a much better job at it (see links below). But a few quick words.

    If you want to know more, see the links. I do not feel the need to defend myself, but some further explanation might be helpful. I am not interested in a debate. That is not the purpose of this blog.

    1. Hebrew is an ancient language with a limited vocabulary. One Hebrew word can stand for a dozen different things. Rape, Intercourse, Lovemaking are very different things and we have multiple ways of saying this in English, but not in ancient Hebrew. I do not believe that the Levitical text condemns every instance of same-sex intercourse, but speaks to specific acts and practices well-known to the culture of the time.

    2. If Christians follow parts of the Levitical law, then they should follow all of them. Even if the law condemns same-sex love (which it does not), Jesus came to abolish the law. Why do many Christians eat shrimp? That too is an abomination.

    3. The Living Bible is a more of a paraphrase than an actual translation.

    If you want to know more about this topic, check out the links below. This blog is not a debate forum, so I will not add more to what I have said.

    What the Bible Says about Homosexuality
    Biblical References to Homosexuality
    Wrath and the gay question: on not being afraid, and its ecclesial shape
    “But the Bible says…”? A Catholic reading of Romans 1

  14. bridger777 on January 17, 2007 at 7:56 am

    As a heterosexual that has over the last few month study this issue for once in my life, my views have changed from “Homosexuality is a Sin” to separating sexual orientation from activities.

    So for example, Leviticus 18:22, is to be taken from a heterosexual viewpoint. So the question to ask about this verse is:

    Why is a heterosexual man having sex with another man.

    For sure, it is not for procreation or for pleasure as part of that very special relationship we all want, “marriage”.

    It was with a temple prostitute from another religion that surrounded Israel at the time that Leviticus was given or it was rape that was very common when one army defeated another.

    I think that if you apply this same technique to the other clobber passages in the Bible, those scripture may become a blessing to the gay Christian instead of being a stumbling block for so many.

    My thoughts may be radical, but I think that we are still allowing the anti-gay Christian thought processes to control the discussions. Their thought processes are incorrect because they are combining orientation with activities. I think what I have said about in the Leviticus example shows a valid thought process since it separates orientation from activities.

    So, how out-of-wack am I?

  15. ebrownieboy on June 19, 2007 at 6:23 am

    Hi I am a homosexual and I know this post is like last year but I cant help to reply; its a topic being brought up in my theology class:

    Do homosexuals make up excuses to accept homosexuality? And are most homosexuals liberals? Its hard to pin point religion to this subject because everybody has a different religon using the same bible. All I can say is that I dont like being confused and I dont think God would not want me to be confused. Does that last statement make me a liberal or an conservative?
    🙂 Love yah

  16. Alan Mihai on August 22, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I don’t think we as homosexuals make excuses for being homosexuals. What we are doing, for almost the first time in our history, is question what religion has said about us. The history of the Church is not a stagnic one. Beliefs grow, understand grows, our world changes and we adapt to the those changes without compromising Christ’s true message.
    So too, now, the Christian community is faced with how to deal with homosexuality. Is the faith community that claims to follow the teachings and examples of Christ loving it’s gay neighbor as itself? Is the Church truely “catholic” meaning “embracing all” or is it still a straight man’s club?

    On my blog, I discuss the ex-gay agenda and homosexuality in general through an Orthodox Catholic view.

  17. Anonymous on September 13, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Ask yourself this before you use leviticus against homosexuals.
    WHy does this not target lesbianism? Did it not exist?
    Or was it there no reason to ban this?

    You can find more points to your ‘truth’ in youtube. Search Responding to Pro-gay theology(its an anti-gay view). ANd also search “Gay Bomb debate” and Romans 1 Finalized(pro-gay view). Try not being biased, gets us nowhere.
    Many fellow christians that find themselves in the ‘predicament’ when they acknowledge their SSA question the ‘absolute truth’ and search if that’s the unequivical truth or if theres something more that might be missing. This is what many call as ‘the struggle’, imo.

  18. DATmafia on October 30, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I understand what this post is trying to say-in part it states don’t follow blindly-always a good thing. But-unless you aren’t reading the same Bible when it says “For a man to lie with another man is an abomination…” I take it as it reads-for a man to lie with another is wrong. It doesn’t say having the attraction or the temptation to do that is wrong-Acting on it is. If you want to argue the point passages like that can be re-interpreted to not mean what they state but something else thats fine. Only God knows your heart. Not your fake church friends or the leaders. You cannot fool or hide from God. Say whatever you like about the Bible and all the different ways you can re-engineer it’s face value printed words. It has a long history of people trying to say it says one thing and means another. Even Thomas Jefferson tried rewriting the Bible to better suit his view of it when he created the Jeffersonian Bible. I think fear and a lack of personal responsibility is the real reason people hem and haw over what God says in the Bible about homosexuality. The Bible has said it’s wrong to Act out homosexual feelings since it’s creation. Only the modern theologians have attempted to try and rewrite the homosexuality parts of the Bible because they are hard to accept. I don’t hear any other passages of concern to anyone in this debate-JUST the passages that deal with homosexuality. I find that a bit odd- according to that outlook you think that 99.9% of the Bible is legit-just not the parts that say homosexuality is wrong. No where does it say in the Bible that if you struggle with same sex attractions you can’t get into heaven. It also doesn’t state that if you have same sex attractions you must marry and have children. God simply asks you give that burden to Him just like any other. If you chose to believe it says anything other than what it does means you don’t want to follow the Bible and you should go and live a life without religious burden instead of trying to convince people God actually meant something else when it comes to homosexuality and the printed word in the Bible. I don’t hear anyone disputing what John 3:16 means.
    Thank You.

  19. Peterson Toscano on October 30, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    datmafia, actually John 3:16 and even the whole book of John is hotly contested by Biblical scholars who question if many of the words ascribed to Jesus are really his words. Most Christians have no idea about the history of the Bible, the process by which the various books and letters were chosen and the means by which they were copied through the years resulting in more textual errors than verses.

    Bart D Erhman has written an excellent resource in his book, “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” The comes from a fundamentalist and Evangelical background (studied at Moody then Wheaton before going to Yale) and writes simply and clearly. Misquoting Jesus

    I am a Christian and seek to maintain a close relationship with God, and I find no problems with being gay and being a Christian. Although some written and web sources have helped me better understand the scriptures and see how they were erroneously misinterpreted to uphold the prejudice and discrimination of those people who stand opposed to same-sex orientation, I have found for me that the most convincing understanding came when I sat silently in prayer and held the issue out before God. This brought me insight into how people have used the Bible to oppress and discriminate.

    Here is a good example. For a couple of hundred years virtually every white Christian in the American colonies felt that it was completely sanctioned by the Bible to own human beings from African and force them into slave labor. Ministers preached this from the pulpit and had scriptures to back it up. They held a sinful and worldly view of these black people. This was not a conviction of the Holy Spirit, rather a means of gaining profit from oppressing others. Now today we think it is outrageous to think of owning slaves and we marvel that they had it so wrong back then. What has changed? The scriptures have not changed, but people grew to understand that the scriptures were used to support an evil and cruel industry.

    Similarly I believe some people hold a bias against a homosexual expression of sexuality and coupling. This “conviction” does not arise from the scriptures or the Holy Spirit. Rather it runs rampant in the world among millions of people who could care less about God or holiness. They feel repulsed by gay people. This same worldly revulsion has infiltrated the Church so that Christian folks hold the same beliefs and values as the anti-gay, often hateful and fearful people in the world. The Church conveniently has scriptures that they say supports that bias (even though in the history of the Jewish faith and the Christian faith these same scriptures were interpreted differently by the early Church Fathers and the Rabbis. The Church has been influenced by the world and we are now in the process of undoing this damage.

    Romans 12 talks about how we need to no longer conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then we can begin to understand God’s will. The Church needs to renew its mind in regards to lesbians and gays. The Church needs to seek God about this matter and not lean on their own understanding, an understanding tainted by the world.

    Over at the Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg) web site we have tons of web resources. Some of these may prove helpful for you.
    I have found useful articles at the following:

    Courage UK

    Gay Christian Survivors

    There are plenty more, but that might be a good place to start.

  20. wep601 on March 15, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Thank you so much for this post! What a comfort, and assurance… I hope it may help the next time my son’s father (used to be married to him a million yrs. ago) sends me another “you’re an abomination” email.
    Thank you again! Wendy

  21. Lewis on March 16, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Hey there, I couldn’t have said it better. I’m often amazed (amused?) at what I used to believe. What I listened to. The sermons I absorbed. And, you’re right…it was the Pastor’s remarks that I concluded were the gospel truth. Not the actual scripture. As I’m sure you are, I am so happy that my faith is stronger and more clear than ever today. This is seriously an issue that is close to my heart and life. Hope to see you around.

  22. Anonymous on April 12, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Hi..All of my life I have grown up believing that homosexuality is not only a sin, but an Abomination! The bible does clearly state those two statements. But what many Christians are forgetting is that we are all born sinful and unclean. I have been guilty of breaking every commandment, if not by action, by thought at one point or other in my life. There is no possibility of us being flawless and without sin. God knew that, which is why he gave us Christ. Jesus is what makes us acceptable to God. Not our actions. Jesus said, “You without sin, throw the first stone”. If we all lived by this, we wouldn’t even be having this debate. God bless. Michelle

  23. Anonymous on April 12, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Peterson Toscano needs prayer

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