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What does the Bible actually say about being gay?
BBC ^ | October 23, 2003 | BBC

Posted on 10/23/2003 3:53:51 AM PDT by ejdrapes

What does the Bible actually say about being gay?

Confused how two groups of church-goers can have such conflicting views about whether it's OK to be gay?

Both sides of the debate about homosexuality in the church, which threatens to split the worldwide Anglican church, hold their views sincerely and after much study. So how can their views be so contradictory?

The Bible makes very few mentions of homosexuality - lesbianism isn't mentioned at all in the Old Testament - and as the examples below show, interpretations of the verses that do exist differ hugely.

Following each of the verses below is a brief illustration of what a hardline pro- and anti-gay position might be. (Most Christians hold views somewhere in between these two stances.)

An illustration of the division can be seen by what either side might say about the friendship in the Old Testament between David and Jonathan. One verse reads: "I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; dear and delightful you were to me; your love for me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women."

A pro-gay position might be that this is a clear indication that King David had a gay relationship, and to pretend otherwise is naive.

An anti-gay opinion might be that the friendship between the two men was exactly that - a very close and loyal allegiance.

Similarly, the tale of Sodom is often debated. In it, Lot has two angels staying in his house. The men of Sodom surrounded the house. "They called to Lot and asked him where the men were who had entered his house that night. 'Bring them out,' they shouted, 'so that we might have intercourse with them.'"

To protect his visitors from an act which Lot describes as "wicked", he offers the crowd his two virgin daughters instead. The crowd are not satisfied and break the door down - the angels then make the intruders blind and Sodom is eventually destroyed by "fire and brimstone".

An anti-gay argument might say this story demonstrates the immorality of homosexuality, as has been accepted for generations, hence the term sodomy. Elsewhere in Genesis, God says of the men: "Their sin is very grave." It's an example of behaviour degenerating.

Of course the men's behaviour was wicked, but it was wicked because it's a tale of sexual assault and rape. When Jesus mentions Sodom, hundreds of years later, it appears to be in a context of a discussion of hospitality, rather than one of sexual morality.

There are several verses in the Bible which are similarly contested - there are however a much smaller number of seemingly clear statements. The most famous of them is probably from Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; that is an abomination."

An anti-gay position would be that this line is unambiguous. It is also repeated elsewhere in the book. The speaker of the words is God, so this is an explicit indication that homosexuality is wrong in God's eyes. It was one of the sins that justified God in giving the land of Canaan to the Israelites

A pro-gay argument might say that other verses in the same book forbid a wide range of sexual activities, including having sex with a woman who is having her period. This is an indication that the passage embodies specific cultural values rather than God's law.

There is some debate about how relevant rules in the Old Testament are to Christians. Some would say they are binding, since Jesus said he did not come to abolish the old laws. Others would say that Jesus set Christians free from the old laws, highlighting instead that people should love God and their neighbour.

Jesus himself says nothing explicitly about homosexuality. There are though two statements by him which have been interpreted as having a bearing on the subject.

"[A] man shall leave his father and mother, and be made one with his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."

This indicates Jesus saw heterosexual relations as the proper way of behaving.

Jesus is actually talking about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage

Later in the same conversation, after Jesus has spoken about divorce, the disciples say to him it is better not to marry at all. Jesus says: "That is something which not everyone can accept, but only those for whom God has appointed it. For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so, or made so by men, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let those accept it who can."

This shows that Jesus is more concerned with people looking after their own relationship with God, than with enforcement of rules. The reference to being "born so" indicates that heterosexual marriage is fine for those who are heterosexual, but it's OK to be different. Again and again Jesus reaches out to those on the margins of society, like prostitutes and tax collectors, to include them.

Jesus here is actually talking about people who were born incapable of having children, or people who were castrated - not about gays. He is actually saying that marriage and chastity are both within God's purpose. Jesus does appeal to the sinners, but once he has called them, he tells them to go and sin no more.

The letters of St Paul provide the other traditional support for the position that homosexuality is sinful. He writes: "God has given [people who worship false gods] up to shameful passions. Their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and their men in turn, giving up natural relations with women burn with lust for one another; males behave indecently with males and paid in their own persons the fitting wage of such perversion."

Paul later writes: "Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolator, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers of drunkards of slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God."

A pro-gay position might be that the word Paul uses for homosexual here could alternatively be translated as "male prostitute". In any case, Paul's writings are clearly of his time, and there are plenty of other verses which people have no difficulty in ignoring - for instance: "a woman brings shame on her head if she prays or prophesies bare-headed; it is as bad as if her head were shaved." This should be viewed like that.

Anti-gay argument might say this line is crystal clear in establishing that Christianity and homosexuality are incompatible. Paul is actually quite clearly referring to homosexual behaviour, and includes lesbianism. You can't just pretend that St Paul, who did so much to influence our understanding of Jesus, didn't know what he was talking about. He's clear that homosexuality is an offence against God and against people's own bodies.

Part of the reason the views diverge so much is because Christians think of the Bible differently. Some see it as literally the word of God, divine inspiration which humans should not question. Others see it rather as a book which is a witness to God's message, but one which was written by humans and thus has flaws.

Trying to find common ground between the two positions is no simple matter - one of the reasons that Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is having such a tricky job keeping everyone on board.

Quotations are taken from the New English Bible.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bible; homosexual; homosexualagenda; homosexuality; prisoners; scripture
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To: TheCrusader
#38 is dead on!
41 posted on 10/23/2003 5:25:37 AM PDT by JesseHousman (Execute Mumia Abu-Jamal)
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To: MEG33; milan
"Why don't we discuss fornicators,slanderers,thieves,adulterers,like we do homosexuals?

Could it be because only one of the above has an organized, political agenda to make their immoral behavior acceptable, even appreciated?

42 posted on 10/23/2003 5:32:54 AM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: ejdrapes
God pretty much spoke his mind on the subject at Sodom and Gomorahh

But you forget (the author that is) that Jesus

IS "God" the Son ..who became Jesus upon willingly assuming the human form of the Son of Mary in order to be sacrificed on sinnners behalf..

"God" the Son "God" the Father and "God" the Holy Spirit have always been together...have NEVER been apart

"If you have seen the Father you have seen the Son"

"I and my father are one"

"Come let us make man in OUR image"

"There was nothing not made by Him"

The notion that Jesus has some different ideas than the Father is absurd..and not biblical

Everything the Father has said is said by Jesus...yesterday today tomorrow...never changes..

The Old Testament was written by Jesus as well as the New...

God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are united on every issue in the entire bible...

God is 100% opposed to the Sodomite and Lesbian life style...

For that matter they are also opposed to any sexual activity outside of marriage

43 posted on 10/23/2003 5:33:05 AM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: MEG33
You seem to have missed my point

Fornicators, slanderers, thieves, adulterers et al are not trying to convince the world that the bible can be interpreted to mean these sins are not really sins. Neither are they attempting to inoculate society with the notion that fornicators, slanderers, thieves, and adulterers are normal behaviors.

44 posted on 10/23/2003 5:37:14 AM PDT by Fzob (Why does this tag line keep showing up?)
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To: Jumper
The wording in the bible is not ambiguous and my version says "know" not intercourse.
45 posted on 10/23/2003 5:38:04 AM PDT by biblewonk (Spose to be a Chrisssssssstian)
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To: ejdrapes
"To protect his visitors from an act which Lot describes as "wicked", he offers the crowd his two virgin daughters instead."

It is interesting to note that Lot was offering to sell his two young daughters into prostitution, to placate the townspeople. It sure shows a bad attitude towards women, doesn't it?
46 posted on 10/23/2003 5:39:59 AM PDT by punster
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To: Non-Sequitur
He also says that about getting college degrees and promotions and raises and wealth but not quite as specifically.
47 posted on 10/23/2003 5:40:41 AM PDT by biblewonk (Spose to be a Chrisssssssstian)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
I asked the question and appreciate the feedback.I am opposed to the pushing this lifestyle in school or anywhere or for giving special privilege.
48 posted on 10/23/2003 5:42:57 AM PDT by MEG33
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To: invoman
And the penalty, in the Bible, for eating shrimp is??

You don't get to be a Jew anymore.

49 posted on 10/23/2003 5:43:00 AM PDT by biblewonk (Spose to be a Chrisssssssstian)
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To: TheCrusader
...there are no organized groups out there proudly calling themselves "theives and adulterers", who go about trying to legitimize their sin by pushing for minority status and asking for public funding for their health care, and even promoting their filth amongst our children in public schools.

Wait, you forgot about the Democratic Party.

But I do like your answer.

50 posted on 10/23/2003 5:44:19 AM PDT by Fudd
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To: MEG33
Why don't we discuss fornicators,slanderers,thieves,adulterers,like we do homosexuals?

This is not an answer to your question but a thought your question brings back to mind. In the bible we see many prostitutes getting almost honorable mention. There are lots of prostitutes in the bible but the two that come to mind as honorable mention are Rahab who helps Isreal take Jerico(sp) and the 2 prostitutes that come to Solomon. I can't help but notice that these two prostitutes are more loving mothers than a lot of the carreer women and sluts of today that kill their unborn babies.

But you never every once see anywhere in the bible and honorable mention of a Sodomite. They are simply called dogs and there is never one that does anything note worthy in the bible except to try and rape other men.

51 posted on 10/23/2003 5:47:10 AM PDT by biblewonk (Spose to be a Chrisssssssstian)
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To: Non-Sequitur
He said the same about eating shrimp.

The original Hebrew uses two completely different words for eating shrimp and homosexual behavior.

52 posted on 10/23/2003 5:47:25 AM PDT by Alouette (Neocon Zionist Media Operative)
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To: jocon307
One might note that in order to interpret the Scripture as allowing homosexuality, one has to read that interpretation into Scripture and stretch the point rather far.

If one simply confessed all sins to God, let Him judge the issue, then read Scripture from the point of view of obedience to whatever and however the Holy Spirit leads the Christian to mature, then nowhere is one tempted to accept homosexuality as being condoned in Scripture. Quite the opposite, the God-filled inclination is to view it as an abomination.

Perhaps the better categorical label than "pro-gay vs antigay' would be 'feces-loving vs feces dispelling'.
53 posted on 10/23/2003 5:50:52 AM PDT by Cvengr (0:^))
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To: mdmathis6
That is what happens when strict adherance to scripture is not maintained. People have been under the impression that they can write things into the scriptures that aren't there and extrapolate verses to support doctrines that are nowhere therein defined. That isn't Christianity - it is Philosophy playing at religion and sheep dipping for effect.
Christians need to stand up and call it what it is.
54 posted on 10/23/2003 5:50:54 AM PDT by Havoc (If you can't be frank all the time are you lying the rest of the time?)
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To: Fudd
There isn't anything "gay" about a homosexual lifestyle, especially when the average age of death for homosexual men is 41 years and for lesbians 44 years.
55 posted on 10/23/2003 5:55:06 AM PDT by itsinthebag
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To: biblewonk
Thank you.I believe it is the sin against nature that has the homosexual put in a different place.Paul did list these sins all together as abominations.
56 posted on 10/23/2003 5:59:09 AM PDT by MEG33
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To: punster
It also displays that some sins are more evil than others and homosexuality ranks extremely perverse. It would have been better for a single instance of submission by the father and his daughters than to condone or not oppose homosexuality, especially an attempt to corrupt messengers of God.

It's an outstanding example though of the severity in our present day situation. In Lot's case, messengers of God were being attacked by homosexuality with the consequence of the entire people and their city being destroyed.

Consider now that the highest offices of the church are being assaulted again by homosexuality. In parallel, the US is in jeopardy of divine destruction to the point that even believers might be destroyed unless we remain steadfast in our faith to Him and oppose the homosexual advance upon any and all aspects of society.
57 posted on 10/23/2003 6:00:19 AM PDT by Cvengr (0:^))
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To: Skooz
The New Testament continues to call homosexual relations a sin and an abomination.

But not Jesus. In fact, He never said a word on the subject. He had plenty to say on divorce, though, and that practice is promoted by the government. Go figure.

58 posted on 10/23/2003 6:01:52 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: MEG33
It's definitely a sin that God seems less willing to work with. Sodomites find extremely little comfort from the scriptures where as a dirty old man like myself finds lots of comfort. A good topic of debate, unlike this article, is whether or not a homo can be a Christian.
59 posted on 10/23/2003 6:02:50 AM PDT by biblewonk (Spose to be a Chrisssssssstian)
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To: MEG33
I thought that's what we do when we talk about bjclinton.

Most bank robbers go to jail.

NOw the slanderers "lying liberals" do get a pass.

Thus far the "fornicators, slanderers, thieves, and adulterers have not demanded and been given, their acts declared a "civil right".
60 posted on 10/23/2003 6:06:22 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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