What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?


Published: 7 May 2015 (GMT+10)
iStockphoto couple

Some professing Christians direct hateful statements toward the homosexual community, while others minimize or even reject the Bible’s teachings on this issue. Homosexual activists point to the former group as proof that Christianity is often inherently ‘homophobic’, and point to the latter to demonstrate that Christians can reinterpret the Bible’s foundational teachings on the topic.

Because this is such a politically and emotionally-charged topic, it is essential that we approach this issue by first understanding what Scripture has to say about it, regardless of whether Scripture’s stance is considered politically correct or not. However, this does not mean we have to be gratuitously offensive to those who have unbiblical views and lifestyles (if they must be offended, let it be by the truth, not due to a fundamentally unloving heart!).

Some activists have attempted very creative means to reinterpret the Bible’s passages about homosexuality, arguing that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior per se. However, Christians today must continue to affirm the Bible’s teaching, not only regarding homosexual practice, but the ‘big picture’ teaching about marriage and sexuality presented from Genesis to Revelation, without which the criticism of homosexuality cannot be fully understood.

Male-female complementarity—God’s design

Genesis portrays the Creation of humanity as male and female in God’s image, and the creation of Eve as Adam’s suitable helper. Together, these passages teach us that 1) men and women equally share the image of God, and 2) they were created with distinct roles, and this is particularly evident in the context of marriage. And at the culmination of Genesis 2, we are given the Bible’s first teaching about marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is a ringing endorsement of monogamous, lifelong marriage, and an implicit criticism of any alternative arrangements. Some have gone so far as to argue that Eve was a "suitable" partner for heterosexual Adam, so a person of the same sex would be likewise "suitable" for a homosexual, yet this idea is clearly not supported in any of the other passages dealing with marriage.

Sin corrupts marriage

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve’s perfect marriage in a perfect paradise didn’t remain perfect for long. When Eve was deceived by the serpent and Adam willingly rebelled by eating the forbidden fruit, sin entered the world, corrupting everything including human relationships. From then on, God told them, they would face the constant temptation to dominate each other, rather than having the harmonious relationship they were meant to have.

As human history progressed, human relationships only became more distorted. Cain’s descendant Lamech was the first recorded polygamist, and an unrighteous man who boasted that he either had killed, or was willing to kill, to avenge himself. He said that while God had promised to avenge Cain sevenfold (perfect retribution), he would be avenged seventy-seven fold!

Fundamentally, all corruption in human relationships, including sexual relationships, is caused by sin. We all have a sin problem. For some, this manifests itself in disordered desire for unsuitable sexual partners (whether people of the same sex, children, or even animals). But there are plenty of sins linked with heterosexuality, whether lust, adultery, rape, or fornication. And because Jesus made it clear that sins committed in the mind are just as bad as those we act upon, no one can claim to be free of sexual sin. We all have a sin problem. And in a sense, homosexual people are correct to claim that they are “born that way”—we all are born sinful, and we all need the same solution.

The sin of Sodom

The first mention, and the first overt condemnation, of homosexuality takes place in the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When the angels come to investigate the sinfulness of the people there, it is evident that Lot knows the angels are in danger because of the urgency with which he pleads that they spend the night in his house, and not in the open square. He may have wanted to get them inside before anyone noticed the newcomers, but word had spread to the whole town, and they gathered outside his house that night.

The universality of the description is impossible to miss—all of the men, rich and poor, young and old, gathered outside the house and demanded that Lot give up his guests. They bluntly demanded that Lot bring out his guests so that they could rape them. In that culture, hospitality was a sacred duty, and Lot was obliged to defend his guests, even if it cost his own life. So he goes out and pleads with them, even offering his own daughters instead of his guests. It’s possible he was making a bad choice endangering his daughters, or it’s possible he knew the crowd had no interest in women and he was simply trying to buy time. Either way, the crowd responded by trying to break in, but the angels protected Lot and struck the whole crowd blind.

Most people, if they were suddenly blinded in the commission of a heinous sin, as well as all their accomplices, would at least pause to consider the extraordinary coincidence. But this did not deter them—in fact, the text says that they went on trying to find the door for so long that they wore themselves out! The picture is certainly one of immorality run amok.

Some who want to soften the condemnation of homosexuality say that it was the intended rape, not the homosexuality, that was the sin, and point to Ezekiel 16 for a definition of the ‘actual’ sin of the Sodomites. However, we should not interpret Scripture in such a way to make it contradict itself. Ezekiel gives a fuller picture of the sin of Sodom, without contradicting the story of the city’s destruction:

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it (Ezekiel 16:49–50).

The homosexual sin of Sodom is presented as a culmination of the growing sinful decadence of the city. Lesser sins preceded it, such as refusing to aid the needy when they themselves had more than enough. But the word “abomination” clearly refers to the homosexual sin which resulted in its destruction.

The New Testament also discusses Sodom in a few places:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority (2 Peter 2:4–10).

Peter was writing to encourage Christians who were experiencing persecution because of their faith. His argument proceeds:

  1. God punished the angels who sinned, and destroyed the world with a global Flood, but preserved Noah and his family.
  2. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but preserved righteous Lot; therefore
  3. God can keep the unrighteous under judgment and rescue the godly from trials.

Jude says:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude was warning his congregation against false teachers, so he gave examples of other people who were judged for unbelief and immorality.

Peter and Jude don’t argue that Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked; they assume it based on everything the Old Testament says about them. So the entire testimony of Scripture is that Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked cities, and that homosexuality was the sin they were destroyed for.

The sexual ethic of the Mosaic Law

When God rescued the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, He gave them a Law that served two purposes 1) it revealed important things about God’s character and 2) the laws would forbid them from acting like the surrounding nations and differentiate them as God’s people, a holy nation. And this law included a definite sexual ethic. Adultery was a capital offense. The sorts of sexual cultic acts that would have taken place in the Canaanite religions were absolutely prohibited.

It is in this context of a nation set apart by God that we have to understand the serious nature of God’s law, including the prohibition of, and death penalty for, homosexual activity. Leviticus 18 can be outlined as follows:

Declaration of Yahweh’s authority, command to refrain from the practices of Canaan (1–5).
Prohibiting marriage of close relatives (6–18).
Prohibition of other polluting practices (19–23).
General prohibition, threat of expulsion from land (24–30). 

The prohibition of homosexual activity is in verse 22, listed between child-sacrifice to Molech and bestiality. It simply says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”. The word for “abomination” is the Hebrew tô‘ēbāh, and it is the same word that Ezekiel uses to describe the homosexual activity in Sodom. Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty for this abomination.

Note, this is not an unloving, homophobic law (in fact, it would be extremely anachronistic to apply an idea like ‘homophobia’ to a text written long before there was anything close to today’s concept of ‘sexual orientation’). The whole assumption is that God as both Creator and Israel’s Lord has the right to give the laws for Israel, and that because He is a good Creator and Lord, those laws will be to Israel’s benefit. So God doesn’t prohibit incest and homosexuality because He is a bigot against those who love their relatives and people of the same sex; he prohibits those acts because they lead to self-destruction, both physically and spiritually.

Were David and Jonathan a homosexual couple?

Homosexual interpreters often point to David and Jonathan’s close friendship as a positive biblical portrayal of a gay relationship. First, David and Jonathan were demonstrably not homosexual—both had multiple children, and David had multiple wives. Furthermore, homosexuality can only be read into their relationship by grossly distorting the relevant texts. 1 Samuel 18:1–4 reads:

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

First, we have to realize that Scripture, being inspired by God, will not contradict itself by describing positively something that is elsewhere called an “abomination”. So the praiseworthy love that Jonathan showed for David did not have a sexual component. Rather, their friendship was very close and loving in a platonic sense. Jonathan is portrayed as stripping his royal garments, armor, and weapons and giving them to David—this is a recognition of God’s blessing on David and his right to rule.

1 Samuel 20:41 says:

And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most.

In a Middle Eastern context, kissing on the cheek is an appropriate way to show platonic love. This is not a romantic gesture, but a deeply emotional parting of close friends.

In 2 Samuel 1:25b–26, when David learns of the deaths of Saul and his sons, he laments:

Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.

This is not speaking of a homosexual relationship; rather, he is saying that Jonathan was his closest friend and confidant, in a way none of his wives were. To read David and Jonathan’s relationship is in fact a sort of homosexual imperialism, an insistence that we view the ancient world through a thoroughly modern context, ignoring the sorts of affection and language that would be accepted and common in a nonsexual friendship.

The Song of Songs: a celebration of marital love

The Song of Songs is one of the strongest statements about the sort of sexual relationship God approves of. The positive portrayal of the relationship of man and wife, veiled with metaphor and figurative language, but sufficiently explicit to portray both the emotional and physical aspects of the relationship, is implicitly a condemnation of every other sort of relationship. One cannot imagine the Bible including a positive depiction of homosexual men reveling in their relationship.

Did Jesus say anything about homosexuality?

One of the most common arguments against the biblical sexual ethic is that Jesus did not say anything against homosexuality. But that ignores the fact that Jesus is a Jew, living in a society that is steeped by the Old Testament, including the passages discussed above. Likewise, Jesus did not mention anything about bestiality, yet no one has argued that He would condone such action. If Jesus had wanted to clarify or to refute a false interpretation of these passages, He had ample opportunity to do so.

But in fact, Jesus’ statements about marriage necessarily exclude same-sex marriage or any sort of homosexual relationship. Matthew 19 and Mark 10 record the same episode. In Jesus’ day, there were two schools rabbinic thought regarding divorce. One thought that a husband could divorce his wife for the most trivial of reasons (much like in the Western world today), and the other thought that he could only divorce her because of serious sins like adultery or other sexual immorality. When they asked Jesus which side He came down on, He challenged the very foundation for their debate. They were reading Moses’ laws regarding divorce as if it was God’s first word on the matter, but Jesus said that “from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8). “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6–9).

Jesus’ teaching about marriage is steeped in the Old Testament teachings, and the same Old Testament condemns homosexuality. He did not hesitate to correct the Jews’ misreading of Moses when it came to divorce, but He did not even hint about such a misunderstanding about the prohibition of homosexuality.

Romans: Homosexuality as God’s judgment

In Romans, Paul portrays a downward spiral of sin. He argues that nature gives a clear indication of God’s existence and His power, but that people “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). Rather than worshipping God, they worship idols (v. 23). One of the ways God judges this sin is to give them up to lust (v. 24), including both male and female homosexuality (v. 26–27). This judgment culminates in all sorts of sin, all rooted in their fundamental rejection of God (v. 28). Some activists have argued that the only form of homosexuality that the Bible condemns are abusive forms, such as pederasty (men having sexual relationships with boys) or homosexual acts forced on an unwilling party. Yet clearly they are missing that these passages are referring to people that are “… consumed with passion for one another …” (v. 27).

Vice lists: Homosexuals will be condemned, but there is forgiveness in Christ

There are two vice lists in Paul’s letters, and both are relevant to the discussion of homosexuality.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–10).

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:3–6).

These lists definitely name homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality (like all sins) are things which exclude a person from the Kingdom of God. But this is not the whole message of either passage. They go on to state:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:7–8a).

In other words, Paul is writing to Christians, some of whom used to be slanderers, some of whom were idolators, some of whom were homosexuals and thieves and drunkards. But he doesn’t see any Christian as continuing to engage in that lifestyle because of the transformative power of salvation in Christ.

Marriage: a picture of Christ’s relationship to the Church

One reason it is particularly important to understand God’s will for marriage and sexual relationships is that it is used as a metaphor for Christ’s relationship to the Church. Paul tells the Corinthian church, “…I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (11:2), and Revelation 19 describes the marriage of the Lamb to his bride, the Church, dressed in fine white linen.

The metaphor would be ruined if Christ could have taken a bride or a bridegroom, if it didn’t matter whether He had one church or many, or if He might divorce her at some later time. So the most important reason to hold a biblical view of marriage is Christological: to understand Christ’s relationship to His church, we have to have a proper view of the institution that is consistently used as the metaphor to describe it.

So how should a Christian respond?

The issue of homosexuality in today’s culture is not just an intellectual discussion of views, but when we have family or friends that have ‘come out of the closet’, it becomes quite personal. As believers, however, we have to let the Bible determine our response. Rather than anger or reinterpreting the Bible, we should share the good news of the redemption that is only available through Jesus Christ.

As a first step to addressing this issue, we strongly recommend you read our booklet, Gay Marriage: right or wrong? And who decides? (also available in e-book format). This will help give you a biblical, truthful and gentle approach to use with someone you know who might be struggling with same-sex attraction, including Christian families whose children have been affected by cultural views on this subject. Be prayerful and compassionate, remembering that Jesus himself, “while we were yet sinners”, dealt directly with our sin through the power of the cross.

Helpful Resources

Gay Marriage: right or wrong?
by Gary Bates, Lita Cosner
US $3.50
Soft Cover
Gay Marriage: right or wrong?
by Lita Cosner, Gary Bates
US $2.00
Kindle (.mobi)
Gay Marriage: right or wrong?
by Lita Cosner, Gary Bates
US $2.00
eReader (.epub)

Readers’ comments

Jason R.
Very well written article, it shows that a good amount of time/effort was put into it.

I really like this point:

"And in today's society, one's sexual orientation becomes their identity. There aren't many people attending "Liar's Pride" parades and accusing others of pseudophobia, so today homosexuality is uniquely dangerous because it is a celebrated sin that becomes a person's entire identity."

I find it really hard to understand how someone enslaved to a sin and celebrating it can at the same time say they are a slave of Jesus Christ. (this isn't limited to homosexuality) How can someone love and serve 2 masters?

Keep up the good work CMI.

Anthony M.
Thank you Lita for bringing a biblical perspective to this very difficult subject in such a balanced and loving way. Unfortunately Christians have eagerly consumed TV and movie representations of infidelity for decades and now that 'celebrating sexual diversity' has become the cultural norm we find ourselves some distance from the theological high ground we once occupied. Thankfully God hasn't changed his mind about loving the world so we pray for his wisdom in sharing the gospel with all who will hear it. GBY.
H. B.
Wasn't the actions of Sodom violence and homosexuality? But this wasn't their actual sin. Wasn't their sin as stipulated in scripture: Ezek.16
[49] Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
[50] And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
So the abomination of violence and homosexuality was a secondary sin to the actual problem. What can we take away from scripture about what leads to these secondary aspects of sin?
Lita Cosner
Please see my interpretation of the passage in the article. I don't believe "abomination" can be contextually interpreted as anything other than the sin of homosexual practice.
A. W.
Interesting article, I believe as Christians we should not condemn the gay person, they are sinning, and 'yet he who is without sin cast the first stone'. I do object t to them having positions of leadership within the church, but also anyone who is blatantly sinning as well.........
I do believe however that Christians should stand against the legalization of Gay Marriage, it is against what God created, and even against what Jesus said....... 'man and woman be as one flesh'.. To legalize means we say it is okay...... Just as I oppose legalizing abortion, euthanasia and marijuana....... Gay marriage is in direct defiance of God and of his order, do we want a country that loses his hand of blessing? or even worse we incur a punishment like Sodom?
The bible hasn't lost its meaning, it stands as truth, we just are slowly moving further away from it, allowing minorities to dictate rule and law changes........
Lita Cosner
I think it's important to note that Christians aren't condemning homosexual people. God's law condemns all sorts of sin, and as Christians we need to be proclaiming that condemnation, so that sinners, including those who practice homosexuality, can receive forgiveness in Christ.
Gary T.
The article notes: "…this is not an unloving, homophobic law (in fact, it would be extremely anachronistic to apply an idea like ‘homophobia’ to a text written long before there was anything close to today’s concept of ‘sexual orientation’)." I've read that such an anachronism is actually a logical fallacy and goes by the name "presentism." I've run across others utilizing this same fallacy in college-level history classes I've attended.
Daniel W.
"But this did not deter them—in fact, the text says that they went on trying to find the door for so long that they wore themselves out!" I can't find this text. Reference please. Totally agree with the article. Good work.
Lita Cosner
Genesis 19:11 "And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door."
G. M.
Good article. In response to the article and comments arising I would like to make the following points:
1. I am not homosexual and do not condone homosexuality on Biblical grounds.
2. I personally know homosexuals, whom I know to be good, loving, kind people who are better than some of my heterosexual friends.
3. From bitter personal experience I fully appreciate how some passionate desires and feelings can be so strong that rather than cope with the pain and agony of resisting and dealing with them we rationalise them and convince ourselves that they are natural and normal, even though deep down we know they are wrong. In spite of this we are still tempted to justify them to avoid the pain of admitting the truth and dealing with the issues involved. And I know that some desires and feelings are so strong and deep that we cannot deal with them by our own will power. I know this from bitter experience. The only remedy is to admit the truth and concede our own weakness and surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God by trusting in the healing and saving power of Jesus. There is no other way!
As Christians let us be very compassionate toward our homosexual friends, but do not ever imagine or concede that homosexuality is natural or normal - it isn't.
O. P.
A good article to a point. But it misses the underlying matter of sexual orientation. I belief the the churches have a very limited understanding of orientation and how to approach it. It would have been helpful if the writer had dealt with this aspect also in detail !
Lita Cosner
The goal of the article was to address what the Bible says about homosexuality, not to explain orientation.
Carolyn W.
I have done a through bible study of this subject and sad to say homosexuality came on the scene in Genesis. But all through the Scriptures God makes it clear He hates homosexuality. And there is a doctor who attests to this fact by explaining all the terrible things that happen to the body by this abnormal activity.
Lita Cosner
Yes, God hates homosexuality--but He offers salvation to the people who practice it. When we actually witness to people who practice homosexuality, we have to be careful not to make it seem like they're practicing the 'unforgiveable sin'.
M. E.
Atheists seem to be using the "I was born gay" idea, because God created them that way. then if God created them that way, well then it's ok. I sure could use some help on this issue here. Thank you and God bless you, in Christ Amen
Lita Cosner
I've written an article that might be helpful: We're all 'born that way'.
William A.
A very helpful article, measured and balanced, and as kind as could be, given its subject. Thank you.

Two thoughts, unrelated to each other.

One. My Greek is minimal, so I advance this point a little tentatively. Paul’s word arsenokoites is always translated euphemistically in English Bibles, e.g. ‘men who practice homosexuality’, ‘abusers of mankind with themselves’, or similar. But the Greek is embarrassingly graphic, denoting anal intercourse. I wonder whether Paul was thinking of males exclusively here. This practice is even more potentially harmful to women than to men, and should (I think) be a prohibited heterosexual coupling on health grounds, if not on any other!

Two. In 2 Peter 2.5, Noah is the eighth (ordinal number); the number seven is not here. I take Peter to mean Noah was the eighth ‘preacher of righteousness’ from Adam, the mantle passing from grandfather to grandson on two occasions in those first ten generations. I mention this because CMI is committed to the veracity of scripture – particularly early Genesis. Using a version of the Bible whose translators evidently have a lower view undermines this stance, somewhat.

Thank you all at CMI.
Lita Cosner
Hi William,

The Greek is very clear, but it is not graphic. The words making up arsenokoites are "man" and "bed", making it very clear what is being referred to, but certainly not spelling it out in quite as much detail as you say.
K. M.
I have a son who has struggled with same-sex attraction since puberty. We have had many tearful conversations -as many tears on my part for having sinned throughout his childhood through neglecting important quality time with him in pursuit of my ministry as there were tears on his part for having felt so afraid of his parents who disciplined his older brothers severely when they rebelled. Throughout my son's life he was taught the truth of scripture and, although the examples I just gave sound horrid, was loved and nurtured by his father and me. He chooses now, at 19 and a freshman at a large state university, to follow Christ and remain celibate, praying for healing and wholeness as he concentrates on knowing God, studying His word and building relationships with other Christians on campus. He continues to struggle with same sex attraction. But what all this has taught me is to see the plank in my own eye! After more than 30 years walking with the Lord in surrender and discipleship I continue to overeat, thus sinning against my body. As far as I am concerned, mine is the greater sin if you put me next to a homosexual who does not believe he/she is sinning. I know better and still struggle. This is how my son sees his struggle as well. Romans 12:1 and chapter 7 are two of our strongest scriptures for perspective on all of this. Thank you for your part in helping us all - not just homosexuals but all sinners - as we seek holiness and the glory of God in the choices we make.
Don D.
Excellent article! However, I have wondered sometimes if harmful mutations could have introduced homosexual tendencies into the genome. Any thoughts on that?
Lita Cosner
There's no indication of any genetic basis for homosexuality--some experts believe that it has been conclusively shown that it can't be genetic. However, even if there were a genetic basis, it wouldn't be determinative (i.e. a gene might make someone more disposed towards an activity, but won't determine their behavior), and it wouldn't alter what Scripture has said.
Bob W.
Certainly I am no one's ultimate judge(Mt. 7:1).
However, I am authorized to be a fruit inspector (Mt. 7:20); and to admonish those who choose perversion to repent.
Pastor Ron B.
Excellent, well written article without the usual "sugar-coating" attached. Your reader's can no longer say they do not know OR understand where God & Jesus stand on this issue with any sense of honesty and I thank you for this, Amen
Ian T.
Lita, Some clarification of where I was coming from with my earlier comments. I didn't think anything you said was hateful, I thought you pointed out in the article the negative religious responses often were. I didn't re-read it to give specifics. Here are two samples from commenters on this article;
"Rom. 1:27, there was apparently the knowledge of health problems associated with homosexuals 'and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.'" Above is a comment/quote from Chuck R from the USA. I know the scriptures warn of ramifications of not living God's intended life, but to quote this verse about them getting their due, isn't quoted from a spirit of love and compassion, at least not appearing so. Jack L comment"It cannot be accepted or tolerated" seems harsh and condemning. I as a Christian do my best to accept and tolerate all people. How can we show them the Way if we insult and demand they live according to our interpretation of the scriptures. God's wonderful Holy Spirit is well capable to bring conviction. Somehow I doubt it is my Christian duty to point out the obvious. I'm sure most know their life style is dangerous so when we rub their noses in it with comments or even quote certain scriptures to them we assist them in becoming even more radically anti-christian.
Lita Cosner
Ian, one of the limitations of electronic communication, particularly in contexts like this, is that it's hard to judge someone's 'tone' or intent. I didn't find the comments you quoted insulting or hateful, so I published them. (Note, God doesn't 'accept or tolerate' sin either.)

I understand your desire to lovingly witness to people who practice homosexuality, but part of that witness has to be that all of us are sinners. We can't take for granted that they know what God's Word says about their sin--and their sin is literally killing them. The most loving thing we can do for them is, in the context of sharing the Gospel, tell them what God says about their actions. No one should condone insults or hateful comments, but simply pointing out what the Bible says is neither of those.
Chuck R.
Good article showing how clearly God prohibits homosexuality. Also note that in Rom. 1:27, there was apparently the knowledge of health problems associated with homosexuals 'and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.'
Max S.
Two matters need to be mentioned. Love between two men is not prohibited but love does not mean sexual relations were involved. Leviticus and Romans speak of sexual behavior they do not prohibit love as between Jonathan and David. Leviticus also prohibits other behaviors that are now harmless because it was written to Israel to make them a peculiar people. The Leviticus passage is often used by the homosexual community to say that the prohibition is nonsense in that Leviticus also prohibits eating shellfish and clothing made from two different fabrics, therefore they would say that is all nonsense. But Leviticus sets rules for making a holy nation in which obedience to God touched every area of life. They would be a nation like no other, if . . .
Lita Cosner
Max, non-sexual love between two men, by definition, is not homosexuality, but friendship. The Bible gives us many examples of this: David and Jonathan are probably the most prominent.
George R.
Excellence article. It is apparent that those who disagree with you have no idea what the Scripture is about. 1 Corinthians 10 has a bearing on this telling us that the OT Jews are examples for us to follow. We don't look to those laws for our salvation since Jesus did away with them when the viel was rent into, but they are guidance for living successfully as examples of those who did not.
Donald C.
There are many different views listed in the comments, but "TRUTH" will prevail, and God wins no matter what view we take.
Stephen K.
Homosexual activists use the tactic of creating a fused identity between the homosexual and his or her sin. In this way, they attempt to disarm the church when it attempts to love the sinner but hate the sin. The activists basically say, "love me, love my dog". They do not allow the possibility that a homosexual could repent and turn from his sin, because they strenuously insist that the person and the action are one and cannot be separated. The church must understand this tactic and explicitly identify it as a falsehood.
Surprisingly good article Lita. I wasn't going to read it at first because I thought it was just more of the same. I think you emphasized nicely the dangers of hateful religious responses to this issue, although some clearly didn't get it. A bit surprised you didn't challenge anyone who posted comments of that nature. If I was a religious anti homosexualist standing next to a person struggling and possibly even acting out homosexually I think I'd receive the accusation of being a viper before any angry or even negative words were spoken to the other person.
Not trying to justify "sin" and I'm in agreement sin against your body is more grievous and most other sin, except, most likely, the sin of self-righteousness where persons think they are better than the homosexual because they are not one.
Lita Cosner
Ian, thanks for these comments. Although I wish you had been more specific about which comments you though were hateful. In fact, any comments I judged to be hateful toward homosexuals as people I haven't published.
Stephen K.
One thing often left unstated is the the church today is under attack by homosexual activists. Homosexuals are a very small minority, and the activists are an even smaller minority who have "grabbed the microphone", so to speak to deliberately escalate conflict between the church and the larger culture over this issue. One intention is to place the church on the horns of a dilemma, i.e. either we accept homosexuality, or we will be considered unloving. It is important to understand that this is merely a tactic to place the church on the defensive and apply pressure on the church to desert the Bible on this issue. I appreciate Lita for standing firm on this issue.
David D.
Though not directly regarding homosexual sin, the Beltane Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland demonstrates how the turning away from God's Created order, and of willingly transgressing His laws can result in a morass of satanic sexual practices where individual sins become indistinguishable from each other and ungodliness is given full expression. Dear God, please save us from ourselves through our Lord Jesus Christ's perfect and righteous life, His vicarious death and resurrection.
gabriel S.
hi! thanks for another hard hitting truth! like all truth it is discarded by those outside of Christ. one request - 'what does the bible say...' can sound like a 'social' commentary when really it is 'what does Jesus Christ say?' is He not the Logos, the Word? why downclass Him? with love and in Christ gabriel smit
Lita Cosner
Of course whatever Scripture says, Jesus says. However, when walking through Scripture on a doctrine like this, it is also accurate to say, "Leviticus says" or "Paul says" or "Moses says". Referring to the books of the Bible by their names or human authors is in no way discounting the ultimate Authorship of God.
Lennart E.
In the days when the Hebrew and Christian tests were written there was no understanding of the biology of the brain. In fact they did not know what the brain was for!! Homosexuality is not a voluntary phenomenon. It is a biological phenomenon. It therefore has nothing to do with religion which is man's relationship to a God. Thank you, Lennart
Lita Cosner
Lennart, thank you for writing in. Yes, at some level it is a biological phenomenon because it involves living beings. But God has the authority to regulate biological phenomena. For instance, it is a sin for an unmarried man and woman to have relations. That is using God's very good, designed, mechanism for reproduction in a way that contradicts his design, because his design is for that to happen within marriage.

Saying that homosexuality is not a voluntary phenomenon at all seems very degrading to the homosexual person, because it seems to say they have no choice about whether to act on those desires or not. My view honors the humanity of homosexual people and presumes they have the moral accountability to follow God's law, whereas you make them a slave to their sexual desires.
V. W.
I endorse this article fully. I have family who are homosexual and because of this have befriended numbers of homosexuals over the years and had in-depth talks with them as I could not talk to my family. I see that some people for various reasons cannot enter into heterosexual relationships (ie because they experienced sexual abuse), whereas some "go" that way through sexual perversion or other experiences.
I feel for Christians who have a same-sex drive but I always tell them that Christianity is a narrow way. Some people are born blind or crippled and have to live with those disabilities, it's the same spiritually with people who have homosexual desires. God can heal a cripple but may not, and God can heal a same-sex oriented person but may not. It's better to live in obedience to God and heterosexuals also have to deal with issues as they are changed into Christ's image.
David K.
This is an excellent article. Simple and factual, constantly referring to Gods word, and while dealing with a specific sin reminds us all we are sinners. The bible teachers that man was created to serve God. We were put on this earth to glorify Him and as our creator He makes the rules, not us. The path is called narrow for a reason. Its not easy to follow but if we love God we will try to walk it even though its in complete opposition to our sin corrupted nature. If our human reasoning is telling us to do one thing, and God is telling us to do something different, who do we choose to serve? Our creator or ourselves?
Romans 12.1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Lawrence S.
We might say that it is a plausible argument that people are born with a genetic or hormonal imbalance that predisposes them to homosexual tendencies. The reality is that Christ offers freedom from our old identity and gives us His righteousness ie new heart new life. We always have a choice no matter how heavily inclined we may feel to indulge in behaviour that is sinful or not necessarily beneficial.
A. Y.
Thankyou Lita Cosner for your biblical responses in answering all the questions in this article. We will continue to pray for your much needed ministry. It is particularly difficult when God believing people have a child come out and tell them they are gay, as the parents look to other Christian parents to give them some sort of positive affirmation it will be ok. I don't want to sit on the fence and say nothing but we are also not to judge others, so I am struggling a bit to know exactly how to support my friend, who knows this is wrong but has decided to tell her son, it's all fine as long as you love God, so she doesn't lose him.
An excellent article which I thank Lita and her team. God blesses bold obedience to His word.
Jon Stephan E.
While I think it's true that sin is sin to a certain extent like Alex states, though I think it would be hard for Paul to call himself chief of sinners if that were the case, I think what's lacking with some homosexuals is their repentence for their sin. Instead, some try to reintepret Scripture to fit with their sin and try to make the Church and other Christians bless this sinful practice.
N. V.
I feel that many individuals often have thoughts of sinning by experimenting with homosexuality. However, this experimentation doesn't mean that they are homosexual. Nonetheless, I do wonder if perhaps a very small percentage of the population really does have some sort of hormonal imbalance that makes them so inclined to homosexuality that they naturally are homosexual. Is it possible that the men in Sodom were just sexually corrupt (which would account for their homosexual behavior), while other homosexual people are biologically attracted to the same sex. I'm not condoning homosexuality, I'm just curious about the difference.
Lita Cosner
It seems there is no single thing that makes a person homosexual. I would recommend our booklet "Gay marriage: right or wrong?" for a discussion of this.
Neville D.
Amen and Amen!!!! Praise God for those who are willing to make a stand for the truth on this issue in a Christlike way. It is so important to call sin by its right name. All sin is the transgression of the law and it is God alone that defines what sin is. We do not condemn or pass judgement on anyone who commits sin, God alone can do that. All we are doing is pointing out what sin is and pointing the sinner to a sin pardoning Saviour, Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God. Further to your point where Jesus defines marriage and says what God has joined let not man put asunder, that is exactly what homosexuality is doing. God's desire is to join man and women in marriage. This institution of God is put asunder by those who would join man with man or woman with woman, thus making of none affect the word of God.
Thank you again, kind Christian regards, Neville Doherty
K. F.
The analysis of Scripture done here was quick and shallow. A response to that would take too many characters, so let me just express the most overwhelming aspect of this matter.
God is love. He wants us to love one another. God designed our bodies so that we could express and share a special and intense love through sexual contact -- as long as the relationship is in keeping with that mysterious aspect of our make up that we call desire AND is shared by both partners to the act. When that desire is NOT shared by both partners, great harm is done, as in rape, or as in sex with children. God knows all about desire and uses it to bring us together in an intense way so as to provide many blessings -- comfort, pleasure, security, children. It is meant to be experienced in the emotional environment of mature love and commitment between adults. When both people in question are consenting adults, no harm is done. Great love is shared by gay couples when they are loving and committed. I can't believe a loving God would find this offensive.
Lita Cosner
K. F., such a broad overview necessarily can only skim the surface. People who want more depth in a particular area can research more on their own; this article was more to point to the relevant areas when discussing this issue. And may I point out, you did not really answer a single point.
I find it surprising that you would appeal to God's design of the human body to argue for homosexuality, because the body is clearly designed for heterosexual marriage. In fact, homosexual acts (particularly between males) are tremendously harmful, both having an increased risk of injury and disease transmission.
At the heart of the issue is this: will we allow God to define what is truly loving, and what relationships are allowed? I find it interesting that you hold to the notion of the relationship as exclusively between two people ("both", "couple", etc). Is consent is what makes the relationship good, why not three or more?
Dave E.
Hurray for CMI: Sin is sin fighting over types and severity quickly closes the door of opportunity to show our neighbors/friends/relatives the road to salvation. Lead on, Lita, thank you for this truly biblical approach.
Ash M.
Sodom and Gommorah were certainly not destroyed because of homosexual acts since Lot offered his own daughter to be raped which is just a serious. It was destroyed because they were extremely inhospitable and selfish. If a guest came to a house, they were expected to sleep outside. The general rule was "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" and It was a criminal offence to aid the poor. For this reason it was destroyed. (Ezekiel 16:49)
Lita Cosner
Ash, it seems you did not read the part of my article that discussed Sodom and Gomorrah, because I answered that exact objection.
Ash M.
I do not understand why Christians feel the need to criticize and condemn homosexual acts based on Biblical prohibitions when they fail to observe many of the other prohibitions like not eating: Pork, prawns, lobster, crab, horse-meat, meat with milk, grains during Passover; not working on Shabbat, worshiping figures of human forms, tattoos, shaving beard with razors, not mixing wool and linen, BEARING GRUDGES against other people etc. All of which were observed by Jesus and are just as serious or even more serious than Lev 7:20. Clearly this cherry picking hypocrytical behaviour is nothing more than a foolish excuse to hate gays. We should not be so quick to criticise others before we know the Truth first.
Lita Cosner
Ash, homosexual acts are demonstrably different than eating lobster. No non-Israelite nation was ever commanded not to eat lobster, but Sodom was destroyed because of their sin, and it was one of the reasons the nations were driven out of the Promised Land, as well. Paul tells us that homosexual practice is one of the things that will keep sinners out of heaven.

Certainly, Christians should not cherry-pick the sins we address. But an article cannot take on every topic at once.
Jendayi H.
Good article as always! I love how loving the article is word, making sure to mention that we all have sinned! Some of us have stopped living in sin and turned to Christ though. But one note about "Jesus and homosexuality." When a person says Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, they don't have a true view of the nature of Jesus. Jesus is God (the Son). If God (the Father) condemns homosexuality, how then can Christ contradict that? Jesus is God and submits everything to the father. They are one and the same! Whatever God calls sin, Jesus would also call sin. There is no room for Jesus contradicting the Father, otherwise Jesus would have been a false teacher!
J. T.
Scriptures have never supported Homosexual relationships but clearly males can love males if there is strictly no sex involved
Lita Cosner
J, this is a case where it would be good for English to have more than one word for love. In biblical terms, men can have an agape love for each other (as Christ loved Peter), or a philos love (as in friendship--close friendships like David and Jonathan are an example), but eros (sexual love) between men would be a sin even if it's never acted out (i.e. lust is a sin).
Richard P.
The article's title asks the question, "What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?"
The short answer is, Scripture uses a variety of negative, disapproving terms (never positive) to describe God’s view of same-sex sexual activity: “detestable,” “defiling,” “sinful,” “impure,” “degrading,” “shameful,” “unnatural,” “indecent,” “perversion,” “wicked,” “lawbreaking,” “rebellious,” “ungodly,” “unholy,” “irreligious,” “immorality,” and “contrary to sound doctrine” (Leviticus 18:22,24-30; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; Jude 7).
It’s true that the Lord Jesus never explicitly singled out same-sex sexual activity for disapprobation. Similarly, it's true that he never specifically mentioned incest or bestiality (all three of these sexual sins are prohibited in Leviticus 18). But Jesus did use the Greek word porneia — or an Aramaic equivalent — to condemn “sexual immorality” in general.
Some Old Testament commands are not obligatory for New Testament believers (especially Gentiles) — for example, circumcision, animal sacrifices, and food laws. But there is no New Testament evidence that any of the OT commands regarding sexual ethics have become obsolete; indeed, there are many indications that commands about sexual morality do remain binding upon Christians (see, for example, Acts 15:29, which uses the Greek term porneia).
There is, of course, forgiveness and cleansing for homosexuals who repent, just as — God be praised — there is forgiveness and cleansing for all of us sinners if we repent. But repentance means to forsake sin, not to justify lingering in it, and certainly not to formalize or celebrate it, as in a same-sex "wedding."
Alex W.
I understand that the bible is clearly against this act, as is the bible with just about every other sin. I've heard arguments used by the LGBT community saying "dont judge me because i sin differently from you. " While this is clearly a sin/abomination, does is make it any different or pungent than any other sin like lust/infidelity, using the lords name in vain, stealing, lying, etc? While I am straight, i have known and do know a few people who are gay.
Lita Cosner
Alex, homosexual acts are the same as any sin, in the sense that any sin separates us from God. Paul says that sexual sins are worse, however, because they are sins against our own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). And while most sexual sin at least acknowledges the male/female binary, homosexuality denies even that.

And in today's society, one's sexual orientation becomes their identity. There aren't many people attending "Liar's Pride" parades and accusing others of pseudophobia, so today homosexuality is uniquely dangerous because it is a celebrated sin that becomes a person's entire identity.
Colin N.
Thanks to Lita Cosna and CMI for having the courage to be politically incorrect so often. We need your witness greatly. God bless.
Stephen T.
Thank you CMI for this clear summary of Biblical teaching on homosexuality. It is important we keep in mind that we are all sinners saved by the grace of Jesus when discussing this. Those who compromise on this matter by giving priority to man made ideas and promoting homosexuality as 'normal' do however, show a lack of love for the lost.
John L.
Jesus words in Mk 10 can be made even clearer by rearranging the words a little:

"The reason why a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two will become one flesh, is because from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female". The 'male/female' relationship is the 'reason' for traditional marriage.
Jack L.
It has become clear to me that acceptance of evil, even tolerance of it, leads to more evil.

We are forced to treat homosexuality the same way. It cannot be accepted or tolerated, as, like a disease that is untreated, it will spread.
John C.
It's often said that Jesus did not condemn homosexuality. I may have missed it somewhere but I don't recall seeing the argument that he did, most emphatically. In Matt 5:17-19 he endorses ALL the OT which explicitly prohibits homeosexuality.

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