The Bible - an overview
We can now continue with our Bible study, armed with a few facts that we
need to remember:
* The natural affection, or sexual attraction,
of true homosexuals
is for people of
the same sex, and is normally expressed towards other homosexuals. Like
heterosexuals, they do not choose their sexuality - it is a given part
of their natural make-up and cannot be changed.
* Heterosexualswho engage in same-sex
sexual acts (and there are many if surveys are to be believed) are not
Our purpose is to examine the assertion of those who declare that the Bible
clearly and unequivocally condemns homosexuality. For what I found when
I read the Bible through with open mind and heart, and with a better knowledge
of homosexuality, was something quite different.
It certainly condemns anybody, heterosexual or homosexual, indulging in
any kind of sexual behaviour that exploits, abuses and destroys or undermines
the dignity of those involved.
But does it say anything about the given sexuality that we call homosexuality,
and which we now know is simply the sexual orientation given to homosexuals
to be attracted towards others of the same sex? And in particular, has
it anything to say about the truly loving sexual expression by homosexual
people - male and female - within a committed, faithful, stable relationship?
We are going to examine each Bible reference that has been used against
homosexuals, but only after we have had a brief overview of key parts of
the Bible that are used in order to judge the issue. For it is the contention
of those who see condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible that the word
is plain and unambiguous.
Yet when we look at the homosexuality issue in context, we find that the
situation is quite different, at least where homosexual love is expressed
in a loving, committed, faithful, stable relationship.
Jesus often turned things upside down and he so does in this. It is those
who condemn others who find themselves condemned, (Matt 7: 1-2; Jn 3: 16-17).
We now set out on the first part of a fascinating journey! It begins with
an interesting, indeed astonishing, observation that I made when I read
the Bible through for reference and context on this issue.
I looked at certain key parts of the Bible that contain many of the laws
on which great civilisations have been based. I wanted to see if these
key sections contained anything on homosexuality:
- Was there anything in Exodus and Deuteronomy,
both of which contain the Ten Commandments, the Book of the Covenant, and
many other laws?
- Was there anything in the Gospels
the Living Word?
If homosexuality (like adultery and prostitution) is the big moral issue
in the Bible that some say it is, I certainly expected to find guidance
on the issue here in these great books! I noted each reference to sexual
sin that was to be found there, and this is what I found:
The Book of Exodus
Is there anything among the Ten Commandments, (Exodus
20:1-17) the great laws given by God for an orderly, caring
society? Not a word - but adultery is mentioned in verse 14, and lust in
Is there anything in (Exodus 20:22 - 23:33)
the Book of the Covenant, which is directly associated with the Ten Commandments?
Seduction of a virgin is referred to in 22:16, and bestial sex in 22:19
- otherwise, not a word!
This means there was not a single reference to homosexuality, either directly
or indirectly, in Exodus, this great book of the Law!
The Book of Deuteronomy
This book contains a 'copy of the law' (in Greek to
deuteron means 'the second time', while
nomos means 'the Law'). It does, however, differ in some ways
The Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:6-21
contain the same strictures on adultery in verse 18, and on lust in verse
21 - but still nothing on homosexuality.
The Book of the Covenant in Deuteronomy 12:1 -
26:19; is rather longer here than in Exodus. There are references
to the sexual sins of adultery, lust, fornication, rape and incest in 22:20-30.
Then there is a reference to the male same-sex sin in 23:17, which the
King James Version mistranslates thus:
'There shall be ... no sodomite of the sons of Israel.'
This and similar references in the Books of Kings are examples of where
the King James Version has caused confusion and done considerable damage
to the image of homosexuals.
The Hebrew word qadesh or 'separated ones', which is translated 'sodomite'
in the KJV, actually refers to the male temple prostitutes who were involved
in the hated sexual practices associated with fertility cult worship among
the people of Canaan.
Reliable modern versions of the Bible correct this error. Take a look for
yourself at Deuteronomy 23:17. The NIV, for example, says:
'No Israelite ... is to become a temple prostitute.'
In Deuteronomy 27:11ff we find the
blessings and curses delivered by Moses before the Israelites entered the
Promised Land. Among the curses, he refers to the sexual sins of incest
and bestiality (27:20-23). But there is no mention, here or in any other
part of Deuteronomy, of homosexuality expressed in real love.
The Four Gospels
What about the Gospels? Surely Jesus, the Living Word of God, would have
something to say if homosexuality were sinful and wicked.
Well, Jesus did have things to say about sexual failure and sin, especially
adultery and lust (although he did not take the hard line taken in the
But he said no word about homosexuality - nothing whatsoever!
If my experience of homosexual Christians is anything to go by, Jesus would
have welcomed them as his friends, just as he has led me to do.
A surprising conclusion
It is surely extremely surprising that in key sections of the Bible containing
laws that are the basis of great civilisations - Exodus, Deuteronomy and
the Gospels - there is no mention of homosexuality (by which of course
we mean the given disposition of gay and lesbian people to be attracted
to others of the same sex, and its loving, responsible expression towards
the one who is loved).
Let us now proceed to look in more detail at passages where critics state
that condemnation of homosexuality is either indicated to or implied.