Do you believe homosexuality is a sin? I read an article that discusses the use of the term homosexuality in the New Testament and how it had a completely different meaning when it was written. The article argued that homosexuality in the terms of two people loving each other didn’t exist back then and it is actually referring to rape and other sexual acts that were used to assert dominance. I am not gay, however I have recently come back to the faith and sometimes I am afraid to tell people of my faith because Christians today are seen as hateful gay-bashers. I personally don’t see why a homosexual relationship is sinful. It is undeniable that there are some people that are born gay. From a young age they are attracted to the same sex, in the same exact way straight people are attracted to the opposite sex. The rejection of gay people from Christians, especially from their own families drives gay people to suicide. I don’t see how there is any love in condemning gay people. It seems like Christians are more worried about following the Law rather than keeping with Jesus command to love others. So what are your thoughts on this?
First, we need to ask what the Bible says about homosexuality. Second we need to define some terms so that we can speak carefully about the subject. Then we can deal with those who (in my opinion) abuse the scripture because of an agenda that they have to justify certain behaviors.
In Leviticus 18:22 the Jews under the first covenant are told “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” This passage does not mention similar prohibition of female homosexual relations, but I believe that all or nearly all would assume that the equivalent would apply. Three things on this passage. First, this is a law for the Jews, and we are not under the law of Moses. Normally, we would note that Christians are not subject to the Mosaic law (Coll 2:16-19, all of Galatians, etc.). Second, although this is true, God tells us here that these acts are “detestable.” It is hard to imagine that such detestable acts would not be sinful, whether we are Jews or Gentiles. Third, this law is a prohibition of actual sexual acts with the same sex. It does not call having attraction to the same gender sinful per se, and this is important to note. Having same-sex attraction is not condemned in the Old Testament. It is actual sexual relations which are.
In Romans 1:26-27 both male-on-male and female-on-female sexual activity is called shameful and unnatural. Clearly such acts are sinful. Again, though, if a person happens to have attraction to the same sex, that is not called shameful or unnatural. We are talking about actual homosexual activity which is clearly sinful, despite what some may say (dealt with below). We should bear in mind that the Bible calls heterosexual relations outside of marriage as sinful as well, both premarital sex and adultery. Every kind of sex outside of marriage is sinful in Christianity.
You ask whether homosexuality is sinful? Let us get to definitions. First, is homosexuality defined as being attracted to the same sex or is it defined as engaging in sexual activity with the same gender? Both the person who actually has sex with members of the same sex and those who have feelings for the same sex can be called “homosexual.” I was heterosexual before I actually engaged in heterosexual acts (whether kissing, touching or actual sexual acts). One does not need to engage in physical activity to be either hetero or homosexual by this definition. These behaviors became sinful when I actually engaged in these acts outside of marriage. In the New Testament, all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. This is not a hard thing to glean from the scriptures! So, here is the question: Is it sinful to be a homosexual, defined as being attracted to the same sex? I know of no scripture which says so. Of course, lust, whether to the some or the opposite sex, with someone we are not married to is sinful according to Jesus (Matthew 5:28). I conclude that who we are attracted to does not make us sinful.
Let me reach my first conclusion, then deal with the claims of people who reject this conclusion. Having same-sex attractions is not sinful, but engaging wantonly in lust for or in actual sexual behavior with someone of the same sex is certainly sinful, biblically. I believe that this is very clear.
As for the claim that the New Testament only condemns homosexual rape, not homosexual activity, those who say this do not argue from the Greek language or culture, but from their bias toward supporting homosexual relationships not being sinful. Just look at the Leviticus passage. There is not even the slightest hint that this is a forced thing, yet the behavior is called detestable. Again, if you look in detail at the wording, in English or Greek, or if you look at the context, there is not the slightest hint that rape is being discussed. The passage discusses “unnatural relations.” This cannot be a reference to rape in the context. Only a blatant bias can conclude otherwise. Also, the passage describes “exchanging natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” Again, this is not discussing rape versus sex that is not rape. This is a ludicrous interpretation. Let us be honest, whether those who support the gay lifestyle like it or not, the Bible describes this “lifestyle” as sinful.
Any article which claims that there was not homosexual love in the Greek world had better be sent back to the one who wrote it. There is a rather large literature in ancient Greece promoting the beauty of homosexual love (both platonic and acted out). What is this person talking about? This is so obviously wrong, it is hard to know how to respond to this. Was homosexuality also used to oppress the weak in Greece? Absolutely, as was heterosexuality, but the claim that romantic love between the same sex was unknown in the Greek or Roman world is evidence of not paying attention to the facts.
I am with you that I find homosexual bashing to be sinful and unchristian. For a Christian who happens to be heterosexual to bash those who are same-sex-attracted is blatantly hypocritical. Jesus loved everyone, including those who felt attractions for the same gender. What we need to do to those who are homosexual in the first sense I described above is we ought to love them and give them a place to feel safe–including from the homophobics in the “Christian” camp. Like you, I find this hateful behavior detestable. However, showing compassion to those who are attracted to the same sex does not mean that we tell them it is OK to engage in sexual relationships with the same sex. God reserves sex for a man and a woman joined in marriage. I do not need to “explain” why God says this is sinful, any more than I need to explain why lying or stealing or adultery or lust are sinful. If God says they are sinful than they are. Now, all of these behaviors are bad for us, but that is beside the point, is it not?
So, I agree with you that condemning gay people is not loving and Christians should not do this. I have a good friend, Guy Hammond who leads an organization which helps those who are same-sex attracted who want to be faithful Christians. Guy himself was attracted to men from a very young age. He participated in these unnatural acts for many years, but repented and became a Christian. He was eventually married, had three children and a very happy marriage. His wife died of cancer recently. His website is www.strengthinweakness.org