The Bible and the Homosexual Lifestyle
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003|
|Is it really true that “loving, committed” partnerships should be accepted, whether it’s two men, two women, or a man and a woman? Doesn’t the Bible only condemn homosexual promiscuity as practiced by ancient cults? Ankerberg and Weldon explain why all the major Bible passages related to homosexuality do condemn homosexual relationships, no matter how “loving” they may be.|
- 1 Is the Christian church increasingly accepting the homosexual lifestyle?
- 2 What is the basic premise underlying the homosexual interpretation of Scripture?
- 3 What are the basic problems of the “cultural conditioning” argument?
- 4 What does the creation account teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
- 5 Five reasons why the creation account is crucial to any scriptural discussion of homosexuality.
- 5.1 First, the acceptance of homosexuality violates the divinely intended order and the essence of human creation itself.
- 5.2 Second, homosexuals cannot obey God’s command to procreate.
- 5.3 Third, homosexuality constitutes a conscious rebellion against the divinely created order.
- 5.4 Fourth, the Bible is saturated with the premises of the creation account.
- 5.5 Fifth, homosexuality distorts the image of God.
- 6 What does the account of Sodom and Gomorrah teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
- 7 What do the Levitical passages teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
- 8 What does Romans 1 teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
- 9 What does 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
- 10 What do 2 Peter 2:1-10 and Jude teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
- 11 Conclusion
- 12 Notes
Is the Christian church increasingly accepting the homosexual lifestyle?
In recent years the Christian homosexual community has challenged the orthodox teaching of the church. In Europe this has been spearheaded by what has been known as the Gay Christian Movement; in America, by Evangelicals Concerned, the Metropolitan Community Churches, and related homosexual groups.
In a November 1989 debate on “The John Ankerberg Show,” Episcopal Bishop John Spong argued that “homosexuality [is] being debated in every major body of Christendom—in every one of them—a hundred years ago it was not debated. It was not debated because it was the general consensus that it was self-evidently evil… it is being debated even in the Southern Baptist Church. It’s being debated today because we are not quite so certain. When you’re not certain, brothers and sisters, don’t condemn.”
But wait a minute. What are the underlying reasons for such a debate? Is it because genuine Christians are really having second thoughts, or rather is it because liberal elements within virtually all denominations are confused morally and have accepted the spurious arguments of the secular sciences and the “Christian” gay community? We think an objective evaluation of the situation leaves no room for doubt.
Granted, even some evangelical Christians are confused on this issue, but this confusion is itself a result of their being misled by false arguments or their own sexual confusion. Among those false arguments are the following, to which we have appended brief responses:
- that homosexuality is too common for society to condemn it (what about rape, adultery and other common practices that are morally wrong?);
- homosexuality is a civil right (a moral wrong can never be a civil right);
- critics of homosexuality are bigots or latent homosexuals suppressing their own fears (how convenient!);
- homosexuality is normal for homosexuals; therefore it is right for homosexuals (the same can be argued for habitual criminals);
- the Christian view of homosexuality is outdated by modern research (to the contrary);
- love is the only real issue (who defines love and its limits? Can sinful behavior be loving?);
- Jesus Himself never condemned homosexuality (not so—Jesus upheld the divine authority of the Old Testament in John 17:17; also cf. Matthew 19:4,5);
- homosexual behavior among animals proves homosexuality is a natural biological/evolutionary condition (not so—regardless, men and women aren’t animals);
- Christians, at least, must distinguish between the promiscuous homosexual act (sinful) and the homosexual condition (not sinful)—therefore monogamous homosexuality is not sinful (not so; see below).
Once confused Christians are given the facts, they return to a biblical position. The few self-proclaimed evangelicals who remain confused on the issue do so not because of biblical teaching, but in spite of it. Their reasons for accepting homosexuality have nothing to do with Scripture but only their own preferences.
Regardless, the mainline churches themselves bear a significant measure of responsibility for the current condition of homosexual acceptance. To the degree that church denominations, congresses, and/or studies have falsely interpreted the Scriptures and actively encouraged homosexuality, they have simultaneously encouraged both sin and God’s judgment upon sin. It is a sad commentary indeed when the very church whose mission is to support life and godliness is at the forefront of promoting sin and death.
What is the basic premise underlying the homosexual interpretation of Scripture?
For homosexuals, the fundamental argument is that when the Bible is understood “properly,” it does not condemn homosexuality in itself. At most, it condemns only homosexual promiscuity—typically related to ancient cultic prostitution. The argument is therefore historical. Because the biblical passages on homosexuality dealt with specific historical situations in the ancient past, they are “culturally conditioned” and no longer relevant for Christian sexual ethics of the present.
What this means is that every biblical reference allegedly condemning homosexuality as sin has been wrongly interpreted by the Church. For almost 3500 years the Jews (and for 2000 years the Christians) have falsely interpreted their own Scriptures, even though, on their surface, these Scriptures are plain in their teachings. Modern homosexuals couldn’t be more satisfied if they had written the entire Bible themselves.
What are the basic problems of the “cultural conditioning” argument?
First, the scriptural rejection of homosexuality is based primarily on the Genesis creation account, which applies to all cultures. This account predates the Mosaic law and Israel’s theocracy, and therefore is not culturally bound.
The scriptural rejection of homosexuality is based squarely on God’s original creation of man as male and female, and on His instituting of heterosexual marriage and the family—something upheld by Jesus (Matthew 19:4,5). Because it is a teaching that transcends culture, it cannot be relegated as obsolete by culture.
Second, what Scripture teaches morally in the Old Testament, it also teaches morally in the New Testament. This uniformity also proves that these Scriptures transcend alleged cultural limitations. Because God’s holy character never changes, His moral law never changes. God is sovereign over culture, not subject to it. Society’s changing values do not change God’s moral law, which is valid for any and every culture regardless of its beliefs.
Indeed, when God wishes to specify that something is temporal or “culturally conditioned,” He does so. For example, the ceremonial aspects of the law of Moses that were instituted in the Old Testament are rescinded in the New Testament. From this we may conclude that if God’s prohibitions against homosexuality were restricted to specific times or practices and no longer relevant, God would certainly have told us so in the New Testament.
Finally, the culture argument backfires. All cultures have placed limits on homosexuality, and no known culture has ever permitted preferential homosexuality for most adults for the major portion of the life cycle.
Some of the most liberal theologians will freely admit the Bible does condemn modern homosexuality. Even some gay theologians have made concessions. For example, “The four verses cited from the New Testament… indicate with no possibility of qualification that homosexual practices were considered by Paul (and the writer of 1 Timothy) to be concrete sins on a par with adultery and murder.” Such admissions do prove that when gay theology teaches these verses do not condemn homosexuality, the burden of proof rests with them. Has the homosexual community established its burden of proof? No! Not for a single Scripture.
What does the creation account teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
The Genesis accounts (Genesis 1:27; 2:18, 21-24) and Matthew 19:4-6 teach that God created mankind in a specific manner (male and female) with specific purposes relative to this (marriage, sexual unity, and procreation implied).
The most proper place to begin a scriptural evaluation of homosexuality is not with the texts that reject it, but with the texts that underlie and support these condemnatory passages. This background approach is something that almost all pro-homosexual writers fail to supply.
Consideration of the creation account is vital for many reasons. To begin with, it is a creation account. Men and women are not the blind products of a chance evolution in which literally nothing is normative and individuals are free to choose their own morality or sexuality. Men are accountable to the God who created them; they are not the products of an impersonal Nature who has no concern whatever with how they live their lives.
Five reasons why the creation account is crucial to any scriptural discussion of homosexuality.
First, the acceptance of homosexuality violates the divinely intended order and the essence of human creation itself.
God declared that it was not good for man to be alone. To remedy this situation, God created a woman as a divine complement and counterpart to maleness. Only man and woman were intended to have intimate sexual fellowship. This means homosexuality distorts and disorders God’s intentions in creation and that the practice of homosexuality contradicts the pattern of heterosexuality at its most basic level. Lifestyle homosexuality both denies and defies the polarities of sex in such a way that even sinful heterosexual behavior such as fornication and adultery cannot.
Second, homosexuals cannot obey God’s command to procreate.
In Genesis 1:28, God commanded Adam and Eve and their descendants to “be fruitful and multiply and fill all the earth.” If Adam had decided to be a homosexual, no one else would ever have been born.
Third, homosexuality constitutes a conscious rebellion against the divinely created order.
According to Romans 1:32 and other Scriptures, homosexuals know that their behavior is sinful. The continued choice to practice such activity is therefore an intentional rebellion against God and the creation order.
Fourth, the Bible is saturated with the premises of the creation account.
Were homosexuality legitimate in any manner, the Scriptures would not assume a heterosexual bias but would include the homosexual option. If God intended man to be bisexual or homosexual, or if He had created man androgynous, the fact of His creating mankind in such a manner would be evident throughout other statements in Scripture relating to the nature of man. But the only standard we find upheld is a heterosexual one.
From the first chapter of Genesis to the book of Revelation the twofold meaning of sexual-genital expression—namely, procreation and union—is clearly manifest…. Yahweh is portrayed as the faithful bridegroom, and Israel, the faithful’s bride, indicating that heterosexual love can be the basis for expressing the mystery of God’s loving the human race…. The author of Ephesians, moreover, reiterates the same revealed truth about human sexuality in the context of the sublime comparison in which the husband is compared with Christ and the wife with the church. When the author wishes to express the love Christ has for his church, he turns to the heterosexual love of husband and wife [Ephesians 5:25, 28].
In other words, all of Scripture is impregnated with premises concerning the properness of heterosexuality; by comparison, homosexuality is conspicuously absent except by condemnation.
Fifth, homosexuality distorts the image of God.
Genesis 1:27 clearly teaches that the image of God comprises both male and female—a complementarity which is eternal and will exist forever. To affirm homosexuality as biblical and normal is to distort the image of God and by implication, to insult the nature and being of God Himself.
In understanding the divine purpose in creation and the fact that creation reflects God’s own Being, we are better able to understand the reasons for the biblical condemnations of modern homosexuality and why they are severe.
What does the account of Sodom and Gomorrah teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
Before [Lot and the angels (who had appeared as men) had retired], all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them [KJV: “that we may know them”].” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing” (Genesis 19:4-7, NIV).
Derrick Sherwin Bailey was the first modern theologian to question the traditional Jewish and Christian understanding concerning Sodom and Gomorrah. He argues the King James translation “to know” is not a reference to sexual intercourse and therefore would argue that the New International translation cited above is a poor translation. He observes that the primary meaning of the Hebrew word yada, “to know,” means to “get acquainted with” or “having knowledge of” and has few sexual connotations. He argues that the word occurs 943 times in the Old Testament and yet is only used a dozen times to refer to sexual intercourse. “Thus it is exceptional to find yada employed in a coital sense.” Further, in those rare cases where it is so employed, it refers only to heterosexual intercourse.
From this perspective, the Sodomites were allegedly angry with Lot for allowing strangers whose good or evil motives were unknown to enter his house. (These were the angels [Genesis 19:1] who appeared in the form of men.) Thus, the townspeople were demanding to “know” only the strangers’ intent and character. (But surely if the people of Sodom were as evil as Scripture teaches, it is doubtful their general wickedness would produce such a moral concern.)
First, word meaning is determined not only by definition and priority but also by general context. It is true that only about a dozen usages of yada in the Bible refer to sexual intercourse. However, in its immediate context (Genesis 19:5) yada can mean nothing other than sexual intercourse. Lot was facing an emergency. He was confused and fearful. He did not know who these angels were, but he was undoubtedly impressed with them. So he rashly offers his daughters to mollify the sexual appetites of the crowd (Genesis 19:8). Acting out of sheer desperation and hopelessness, he proposes a lesser evil (heterosexual rape) in place of a greater evil (homosexual rape).
Otherwise, why would a father offer his daughters to be raped if the Sodomites were merely violating social custom by making an impolite request to evaluate the strangers’ character? The fact that Lot refers to his daughters’ virgin status indicates he understood the sexual content of the request and therefore offered a sexual bribe. Notice also that the men were not interested in the women; they refused Lot’s offer and angrily demanded their lusts be satisfied by what they thought were men (Genesis 19:9). Also, “in verse 8 the same verb [yada] with the negative particle is used to describe Lot’s daughters as having ‘not known’ a man. The verb here obviously means ‘have intercourse with’.” Clearly then, yada refers to sexual intercourse.
Second, additional Scriptures clearly identify the primary sin of Sodom as sexual, and significantly, as perverted sexuality. Second Peter 2:7-10 refers to the behavior of the men of Sodom as the “sensual conduct of unprincipled men” (NASB) and to their “lawless deeds,” noting that God’s judgment is specially reserved for “those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires” (NASB). Jude 7 teaches that “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them… indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh” (NASB).
The term “strange flesh” could imply unnatural acts between men or even of human beings with animals. The inhabitants of Canaan were guilty of both of these sins (Leviticus 18:23-29). This definitely includes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. History and archaeology confirm the same conditions.
Third, Jewish and Christian tradition uniformly testifies that the sin of Sodom was homosexual. For example, one rabbinic commentary notes the Sodomites had an agreement among themselves to sodomize and rob all strangers. Philo, a Jew of Alexandria (25 B.C. to A.D. 45), noted that in Sodom “the men became accustomed to being treated like women.”
After citing numerous early sources in confirmation of this fact (Josephus, Justin Martyr, Methodius of Olympius, etc.), systematic theologian Dr. John Jefferson Davis concludes, “It is clear that both the immediate context of Genesis 19:5 and a long history of both Jewish and Christian interpretation point unmistakably to the true meaning of the text: homosexual practices. Bailey’s misinterpretation of the text, which has become a stock argument in pro-homosexual circles, simply cannot be sustained.”
Finally, modern biblical commentators are in almost universal agreement that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality. To name but a few: Keil and Delitzsch; H.C. Leupold; J.P. Lange, and many others.
In Jude 7 it is specifically stated that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was both a lesson and a divine warning to all men regarding homosexuality. Who will argue that this is not the historical legacy of Sodom and Gomorrah? These are known worldwide as cities on which God visited divine judgment because of their homosexual practices. Even Bailey confesses, “This story has exercised a powerful influence, directly or indirectly, upon the civil and ecclesiastical attitudes to [homosexuality]….” Indeed, if this passage never had reference to homosexuality, how did the term “sodomy” (from Sodom) become a universal synonym for homosexuality?
What do the Levitical passages teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable…. (Lev. 18:22)
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads (Lev. 20:13).
Critics claim that these passages do not condemn homosexuality itself on a moral basis but rather male cultic prostitution or “ritual impurity” associated with Canaanite idolatry. The argument is that because the idolatrous Canaanite religious practices that Leviticus condemns ceased thousands of years ago, they cannot logically apply to “loving, committed homosexual relationships” today. Thus homosexuals argue these verses “are historically interesting but have no contemporary relevance because of their setting in the rules for cultic purification, and because of the lack of clarity in their underlying meaning.”
The problem with such a view is that there is absolutely nothing in the text to substantiate it. First, even Bailey and Bishop John Shelby Spong, both ardent supporters of homosexuality, can see this. Bailey confesses, “It is hardly open to doubt that both the laws in Leviticus relate to ordinary homosexual acts between men, and not to ritual or other acts performed in the name of religion.” Spong also admits that normal homosexual practices are condemned.
Second, when God wants to specifically mention the practices of cultic prostitutes, He does so, as in Deuteronomy 23:17: “No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.” The fact they are not mentioned in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 indicates that God is dealing with homosexuality per se, not with any alleged specific form of Canaanite cultic practice.
Third, the entire context of both Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 is primarily one of morality, not idolatrous worship. Thus, in Leviticus 18:1-5 God informs the Israelites they must not imitate the evil practices of the Canaanites but be careful to obey God’s laws and follow His injunctions. God is driving out the Canaanites not for their idolatry but for their abominable sexual practices. Indeed, the entire remainder of the chapter describes almost all of these evil practices as sexual sins: forbidden sexual relationships among family members, sexual relations during a woman’s menstrual cycle, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality. The remainder of the chapter consists of stringent warnings not to be defiled by such practices. This is why God commands in verse 24: “Do not defile yourself in any of these ways.”
Further, the constant repetition of the themes of defilement and abomination are repeated no less than nine times in the subsequent verses (Leviticus 18:24-29).
These Levitical passages deal with moral concerns, not merely the fact of participation in idolatrous Canaanite rituals. Further, such moral concerns are still relevant for today. This is why Bahnsen argues, “The predominant character of [these sections] is moral, and their content is generally recognized as binding today (e.g., prohibiting incest, adultery, child sacrifice, idolatry, oppression of the poor, slander, hatred, unjust weights and measures)…. The defender of homosexuality must produce a viable criterion for distinguishing between moral and ceremonial laws, or else consistently reject them all.”
Finally, consider the lexical meaning of the Hebrew word translated “abomination” (toebah): “[This word is] used five times in Leviticus 18 [and] is a term of strong disapproval, meaning literally something detestable and hated by God.”
In conclusion, no one can logically maintain that God is not condemning homosexuality per se in these passages.
What does Romans 1 teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:26-27)
Romans 1:26, 27 is the major New Testament text on homosexuality; it also condemns lesbianism. Although its meaning is clear on the surface, homosexuals still argue that Paul was not condemning homosexuality per se but merely the Greek practice of pederasty (sodomy with a boy) or the “unnatural” practice of heterosexuals turning to homosexuality. Thus, when Paul argued homosexuality was “against nature,” he was arguing only that it was against the “nature” of heterosexuals. Homosexuals, far from acting “against nature,” are actually acting in harmony “with nature”—i.e., with their true homosexual/biological nature. The practice becomes sinful only when heterosexuals engage in homosexual activities, because for them it is unnatural. (This is like arguing that rape is moral and natural for rapists, but immoral for non-rapists.) Supposedly, because homosexuals are “born that way” homosexual practice is normal for them. But for those born heterosexual, it is a sin to practice homosexual acts. (If this is so, then what can homosexuals say about all their proselytizing activities directed at heterosexual boys and men?)
In addition, they contend that Paul and the other biblical writers were ignorant of the more “enlightened” scientific/theological view of homosexuality that distinguishes between the homosexual act and the homosexual condition, the latter being something for which homosexuals have no responsibility. But if they aren’t responsible for what they are, how can they be responsible for what their basic nature leads them to do?
If such arguments have any validity whatever, one wonders why a man so erudite and discerning as the apostle Paul never made the fine distinctions cited by homosexuals. Not once does he mention pederasty, nor does he imply that he is referring only to heterosexuals who practice homosexuality. Neither does he distinguish the supposed homosexual act/condition. Paul is plainly condemning homosexuality of itself. The dictionary definitions of the words Paul uses—pathe aschemosune, etc.—clearly refer to sexual activity.
The kinds of homosexual sins listed in Romans are themselves said to be the consequences of an earlier apostasy as well as divine judgment. Paul teaches a logical trend downward:
- Men refuse to accept the intuitive knowledge which God has placed within them concerning Himself (vv. 18-22),
- this results in rebellion against God manifested in idolatry (putting something else in God’s place in our lives, whether self or various idols, v. 23),
- God begins a process of initial judgment or “giving over” to sin (vv. 24, 25),
- this produces, in part, unnatural lusts and perversions (vv. 26, 27), and
- results in a wide variety of additional vices and evils (vv. 28-32)—as homosexual literature and lifestyle demonstrate.
As Bahnsen observes, “In response, God gives them over to impure lusts and the dishonoring of their bodies—specifically, to homosexuality, which in turn stimulates further depravities.” According to Colossians 3:5, greed of any type, including sexual greed, is a form of idolatry. As Dr. Davis comments in an important observation:
It is also significant that in the Pauline analysis homosexual practices derive ultimately not from the social environment, but from the human heart or inner disposition, which is turned away from God, its ultimate good, and turned toward the mutable goods of creation, including the self. The inward and invisible apostasy of the heart eventually becomes visible in false religions and immoral, anti-social behavior. “Idolatry,” notes Ernst Kasemann, “opens the floodgates for vices which destroy society and turn creation back into terrible chaos.”
The specific descriptions by the apostle Paul are also noteworthy. The book of Romans speaks of homosexuals burning in their lusts toward one another. The NASB states, “burned in their desire”: the NIV reads, “were inflamed with lust,” and the Amplified translates, “were set ablaze (burned out, consumed) with lust.”
Even if these verses referred only to pederasty, they would still condemn many homosexuals today because their lust can be so consuming it often leads to child molestation even when that is not the original intent. Consider the following dialogue between the late Roger Montgomery, a former homosexual turned heterosexual, and Dr. John Ankerberg on “The John Ankerberg Show” in late 1989. As Roger explained, many—perhaps a majority—of homosexuals today were molested by an older homosexual as a child or teenager:
Montgomery: I recruited younger people, but it didn’t matter to me. All that mattered to me was my sexual thrill. And it didn’t matter to me how it would affect anyone elses life. And knowing other homosexuals I believe the same thing is true for them. They don’t care how it affects that young person’s life at all…. It’s like an addiction. That’s why most homosexuals disagree or they would violently say, “We’re not recruiters” because they don’t intend to. But that doesn’t negate their responsibility at all because they didn’t intend to. They are still molesting our children.
Ankerberg: What does that say then in our society about the homosexuals trying to pass laws to teach children in the schools or camps or at Sunday schools without any infringement?
Montgomery: They are recruiters. And they’re after your children and my children. And if they are allowed to continue they will achieve their goal.
In other words, sexual addictions of any type can be not only extremely powerful but also extremely corrupting. Because many homosexuals are literally controlled by insatiable lusts, this leads them into routine child molestation even when they never initially intended it.
But as we noted, the book of Romans also teaches that homosexuality can be a consequence of idolatry—forsaking the true God for another (false) god (Colossians 3:5). The idolatry from which the sin of homosexuality and other sins can originate is seen in homosexual literature, especially of militant lesbian feminism and gay theology. For example, consider the following statement by Sally Gearhart in her article “The Miracle of Lesbianism.”
We have been teased, cajoled, flattered, humiliated and even threatened—not to say actually physically coerced—into believing in the eternal, external and exclusive existence of the great father-god, and in the man-made theological fabrications that surround his name. In serving the external god, we have neglected… the woman-god, however she is named, who speaks not from outside but from within us….
Gearhart also refers to the Christian concept of God as something evil and calls for a return to the feminine goddess of witchcraft. Having suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, having abandoned the innate knowledge that God has placed within them, the homosexual or lesbian has been “given over” to his or her sin. This is the process described in Romans.
But worse, the apostle further teaches that homosexuals are “without excuse” because they intuitively realize such acts are wrong and are worthy of death (Romans 1:32). Yet they deliberately suppress such knowledge (Romans 1:18). They not only suppress this knowledge, but in spite of all, they continue their practices and even encourage others to do so, giving their hearty approval (Romans 1:28-32).
Homosexuality involves a willful violation of the fundamental moral law of God, which is known instinctively by all men in all cultures because God Himself has placed such knowledge in the hearts of all men and women. God Himself has been their teacher as to the knowledge of Him, and so there is no possibility of failure here. This is undoubtedly the reason why every culture has condemned homosexuality and why such knowledge must be suppressed in order to be justified.
What does 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Homosexuals have maintained that this passage is either mistranslated or culturally restricted. Some have claimed that the word malakos (translated “male prostitutes”) refers only to a general moral weakness with no specific reference to homosexuality and that arsenokoitai (translated “homosexual offenders”) refers to male prostitutes—and thus once again these verses are not condemning modern “loving” homosexual unions.
But malakoi and arsenokoitai have specific meanings. The former literally means “soft to the touch.” In Greek culture it was used metaphorically for males who partook of the passive role in the homosexual act. The second term, arsenokoitai, also clearly refers to homosexual relationships—specifically, to the person who took the active role in the homosexual act.
In arsenokoitai, arsen refers to a “male” and koitai to “bed”—a word with clear sexual connotations (cf. Hebrews 13:4). In other words, this term refers to males who go to bed with other males. Or in the words of Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, “One who lies with a male as with a female.”
Further, the entire section of 1 Corinthians 6:9ff is highlighted by the word adiaoi—”the unrighteous.” The terms referring to homosexuality are found in connection with additional sexual sins—fornicators (pornoi) and adulterers (moichoin). In other words, the meanings of the words themselves and their context all argue for relevance to homosexual practices today. Unrepentant homosexuality, fornication, and adultery all exclude one from the kingdom of God.
What do 2 Peter 2:1-10 and Jude teach about the homosexual lifestyle?
These passages are replete with references to homosexuality and, by implication, to the Christian homosexual movement as well. The parallels to the passage in Romans are noteworthy. In 2 Peter 2, observe that the context involves “false teachers among you” (i.e., within the church) who will secretly (slyly) introduce “destructive heresies” even denying the Master (Jesus) who bought them. Notice in addition, that many will follow their “sensuality” (NASB, v. 2) or “shameful ways,” and that because of such false teachers the way of truth will be “maligned” or distorted.
Such persons are said to be full of greed and described as those who exploit Christians with “false words” (NASB, v. 3) or “stories.”
So far the passage is applicable to both homosexuals and Christian homosexuals who promote the kinds of arguments we have been considering. Notice also that in this passage it is homosexuality which is directly cited as an illustration of all the above. Sodom and Gomorrah are specifically stated to have been destroyed as “an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter.”
The book of Jude continues to reject homosexuality:
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…. these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and… speak abusively against whatever they do not understand…. these are the very things that destroy them….
These are men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (Jude 7-19).
These words are self-explanatory and require little comment.
We have now examined the major direct scriptural verses relating to homosexuality. The one who claims that the biblical case against homosexuality is based on a few “isolated” and “obscure” proof texts simply does not understand the weight of these Scriptures. Besides the above verses, there are literally scores of additional Scriptures which are applicable to homosexual practices even though the term itself is not used (for example, Romans 6:11-21; 12:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Philippians 1:20; Colossians 3:5-8; Revelation 21:8).
In conclusion, both the Christian church and society do great harm to people—homosexuals and heterosexuals—when they actively promote the cause of homosexuality in America.
- Program 6 of the Bishop John Spong/Dr. Walter Martin Debate on Sexual Ethics (November 1989, The John Ankerberg Show)
- John Weldon, Homosexuality: A Scientific, Biblical and Social Critique (unpublished ms., 1992)
- See “Genetic Linkage and Male Homosexual Orientation: Reasons to be Cautious,” British Medical Journal, August 7, 1993, p. 337; Weldon, Homosexuality.
- Cf. J. D. Unwin, “Monogamy as a Condition of Social Energy,” Hibbet Journal, Vol. 25 (1927), pp. 662-667.
- S. Gearhart and W. R. Johnson (eds.), Loving Women/Loving Men: Gay Liberation in the Church (San Francisco: Glide Publications, 194), p. 40.
- John Stott, “Homosexual Partnerships,” Involvement, Vol. 2, p. 226.
- See John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on Creation vs. Evolution (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1993).
- John F. Harvey, The Homosexual Person (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987), pp. 95-97.
- D. Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (Hamden, CT: Shoe String Press/Archon Books, 1975 [orig. pub. London: Longman Greens & Co., 1955]), p. 3
- Ibid., p. 5.
- Kidner, cited in P. Michael Uklaja, “Homosexuality and the Old Testament,” Bibliotheca Sacra, July-Sept. 1983, p. 261.
- Ibid., p. 262.
- John J. Davis, Evangelical Ethics, Issues Facing the Church Today (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1985), p. 116.
- Ibid., p. 117.
- See the commentaries on Genesis by these authors as well as G. Alders, James M. Boice, and F. F. Bruce.
- Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, p. 1
- Gearhart and Johnson, Loving Women/Loving Men, p. 40.
- Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, p. 30, emphasis added.
- “Martin/Spong Debate on Sexual Ethics,” transcript from The John Ankerberg Show.
- Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1981), pp. 39-40
- In Davis, Evangelical Ethics, p. 117.
- See e.g., Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
- Bahnsen, p. 48.
- Davis, Evangelical Ethics, p. 120.
- “AIDS, Homosexuality, and the Power of Christ,” transcript of interview conducted for “The John Ankerberg Show,” 1989.
- Gearhart and Johnson, Loving Women, Loving Men, p. 150.
- John Boswell, Christianity, Social Intolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 340-353.
- Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 387.
- Ibid., p. 75.
- Bahnsen, pp. 89-91.