Chapter 5

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 homosexuals.

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 of Jesus, 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 verse 17.

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 ho nomos means 'the Law'). It does, however, differ in some ways from Exodus.

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 Law).

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.

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