GAY OBJECTION: Isn’t the Sodom and Gomorrah account in Genesis 19: 4-13 dealing with hospitality, social injustice, and not homosexuality?
RESPONSE: The account begins with the arrival of two angels at the city gate. The angels appear as men and are strongly discouraged from spending the night out in the open in the city square. This is a hint in itself regarding the danger that exists. As the sun sets, things get nasty. So where does the supposed confusion enter in? Later, in parts of the Old Testament, other sins are mentioned such as oppression, adultery, lying, abetting criminals, arrogance, complacency and indifference to the poor…but homosexuality is not mentioned. So the gay community says that Genesis 19 is referring to social oppression, lack of hospitality, and injustice.
They also say that the word “know” just means to get to know someone and not necessarily sexually. This can be easily refuted as Lot made a dreadful attempt to offer his daughters as a sexual alternative. We must also realize that this crowd is not a small, unrepresentative group. It is very clear in Scripture this is the whole male community: “the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man.” Then the Angels warn that judgment is imminent in verse 13. In the New Testament in Jude 7 we see that Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities surrounding gave themselves up to sexual immorality. The book of Jude calls it a perversion and unnatural desire.
This account is definitely showing that the crowd was attempting to satisfy their sexual cravings that were ungodly, but also the nature of the cravings as well. A parallel episode in Judges 19 indicates it is not just pagan Sodom, but also the people of God who commit this kind of sin.
GAY OBJECTION: The prohibitions against homosexual activity in Leviticus 18: 10-24 and 20: 10-16 are referring only to call “cultic” prostitution associated with pagan temples as the word abomination refers to idolatry.
RESPONSE: The language in these passages refers in general to a man lying with the man as with a woman, without specifying a particular context for that act. Moreover, the surrounding verses in both Leviticus 18 and 20 forbid other forms of sexual sin that are general in nature, such as incest, adultery and bestiality. None of these have any connection with pagan temples or idolatry. These things are morally wrong, irrespective of who is doing them and where they are happening. Many in the gay community also try to write this off as only prohibiting things like gay rape or a forced relationship.
Leviticus prohibits even general, consensual homosexual activity. If the practices in Leviticus 18 and 20 are condemned only because of their association with idolatry, then it logically follows they would be permissible if they were committed apart from idolatry. That would mean incest, adultery, bestiality and child sacrifice (all of which are listed in these chapters) are only condemned when associated with idolatry; otherwise, they are allowable. No serious reader of these passages could accept such a premise
It is also important to see that homosexual behavior is not the only sin to be described as an abomination in the Bible. Leviticus refers to other sexual sins exactly the same way, and Proverbs list deceitful speech, pride and murder as equally abominable to God. Homosexual sin is not in a category of its own in this regard.
GAY OBJECTION: The verses in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 are referring to Gay prostitution or pederasty (men having sexual relation with boys in the Roman culture) and not homosexuality in general.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders… (1 Corinthians 6:9)
“For fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:10)
RESPONSE: In both 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 the apostle Paul states that those guilty of sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God. At the time Paul wrote his letters there was no word in classical, biblical, or patristic Greek which corresponded with our English term “homosexual.” Instead, homosexual behavior was described (Rom. 1:26-27). The words Paul uses here — malakoi (“male prostitute”) and arsenokoitai (“homosexual offenders”) — have been translated in different ways.
Because of this those condoning homosexuality have tried to lessen the impact of these verses, saying that all Paul was condemning was either homosexual prostitution or pederasty (i.e., men having sexual relations with boys). Virtually every Greek lexicon, however, including all of the standard English ones, has understood these words (especially arsenokoitai) to be referring to homosexuality. Arndt and Gingrich’s lexicon says malakoi refers to persons who are “soft, effeminate, especially of catamites, men and boys who allow themselves to be misused homosexually.” Likewise, arsenokoites means “a male homosexual, pederast, sodomite.”
We also find these terms in classical Greek literature (Lucian and Aristotle) sometimes applied to obviously gay persons. If Paul were only condemning certain types of homosexuality, he would certainly have specified this. Instead, he used a term directly based on the Greek Septuagint translation of the prohibitions against homosexuality in Leviticus: meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gynaikos (Lev. 18:22) koimethe meta arsenos koiten gynaikos (Lev. 20:13).
Paul, a rabbi thoroughly trained in the Torah, was certainly mindful of these Levitical condemnations and the Septuagint translation of them when he chose his wording in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.
GAY OBJECTION: Jesus never mentions homosexuality…so it is not wrong?
RESPONSE: Even though Jesus does not directly mention homosexuality in his teaching on sexual sin, He does address it. Consider the following: “And He said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications (sexual immorality – porneia), murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20-23)
Jesus says there are things that make someone spiritually unclean before God. In this list Jesus includes examples of sexual sin: adultery, lewdness and sexual immorality. Fornication or sexual immorality translates a Greek word, porneia that comes from the word pornography. It is a catch all term for any sexual activity outside of marriage. This extends beyond intercourse to include any activity of a sexual nature. None of Jesus his hearers would have doubted that His reference to porneia included homosexual behavior.
One other point needs to be made. As well as condemning sexual sin outside marriage, Jesus indicated that the only godly alternative to marriage was celibacy. In Matthew 19, when Jesus had outlined God’s purpose for human marriage, His disciples responded in exasperation: “if this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry” – (Matthew 19:10). See what Jesus said in Matthew 19: 11-12.
Eunuchs were the celibates of their day, and Jesus indicates their celibacy might be the result of birth, or human intervention, or a voluntary decision to forgo marriage. Whatever its cause, that Jesus goes there right after His disciples have balked at the commitment in seriousness of marriage shows that Jesus regards it as the only alternative. One marries or remains single. There is no third possibility, whether of a homosexual partnership or a heterosexual unmarried partnership. As far as Jesus is concerned, the godly alternatives before us are heterosexual marriage or celibacy.
GAY OBJECTION: Aren’t you just picking and choosing which Old Testament laws apply? Why not follow Leviticus 11:7 on pigs? Why not Deuteronomy 22:11 regarding not wearing clothes of wool and linen woven together?
RESPONSE: On the surface this looks like a very strong argument. The problem with this objection is that it assumes Christians have exactly the same approach to every part of the Old Testament law. In fact, the proper Christian view of the Old Testament has a little more variation than that.
The Old Testament is not a flat landscape. It is not just a lineup of instructions and regulations, each of which is equally binding. It has a particular shape to it, a shape whose contours, emphases and priorities are outlined and filled in by Jesus himself, who said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).
Jesus did not come to discard the law as nonsense from a bygone age or to enforce it and police it. Nor did He come to fulfill just bits of it, sifting through the pile with a pair of tweezers and picking out the occasional commandment that might still work for us. When Jesus came to fulfill the law, He came fulfill all of it. But as we follow Jesus’ life and ministry, it becomes apparent that He fulfills the various elements of the law in a variety of ways. He ended the cleanliness and food laws. He declared all foods clean in Mark 7:21 and this was reiterated in Acts 10:9-16. He touched lepers and dead bodies, and was not made unclean by doing so.
He spoke of His body as the true temple and His death as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. His death opened up the way for us to approach God, making Old Testament regulations concerning the temple and its sacrificial system obsolete. Through his sinless life Jesus fully embodied all the moral requirements of the law. Through union with Him, the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us as we live by the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:4).
We do not honor all the Old Testament texts in the same way. We take our cue from Jesus. It is because of what He claimed his death would achieve that we do not follow all the Old Testament laws. To do so would be to undermine His work on the cross. So the Old Testament’s teaching on sexual ethics, through its restatement in the NT, is still binding of Christians today.
GAY OBJECTION: Doesn’t the apostle Paul in Romans 1:24-32 address cultural issues in Roman society such as: homosexual acts being conducted during idol worship; sex with children; or Roman slave owners abusing slaves?
RESPONSE: Paul’s aim in these early chapters is to demonstrate that the whole world is unrighteous in God’s sight and therefore in need of salvation. He focuses on the pagan Gentile world, describing its turning from God and embracing of idolatry and wickedness. He is most likely using the Greco-Roman culture surrounding his readers as a case in point.
Gentile society faces God’s wrath because it has suppressed the truth that God has revealed about himself and creation (Rom. 1:18-20).
In the verses that follow, Paul illustrates how this has happened. He gives three examples of how what has been known about God has been exchanged for something else: they exchanged the glory of God for images of creatures (vs 23); they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, leading to full-blown idolatry, worshiping created things (vs 25); and they rejected the knowledge of God (vs 28), exchanging natural relations for unnatural ones (vs 26-27). Will the interpretation applied to the verse 26-27 also apply to verses 29-30?
Any sort of intellectual integrity demands it. If verses 26-27 apply to people who commit homosexual acts in connection with idolatry, and thus homosexual acts are not sinful if not committed in connection with idolatry, then the same must apply to verses 29-30 as well. Paul clearly describes both lesbian and male homosexual behavior as unnatural.
Some have wondered whether unnatural might refer to what is natural to the people themselves. If so, Paul would be talking about heterosexual people engaging in homosexual activity and thereby going against their natural orientation. Paul would therefore not be condemning all homosexual behavior, but only that which goes against the person’s own sexual inclinations. Additionally, the fact these men were “burning in lust” for each other makes it highly unlikely they were heterosexuals experimenting with homosexuality. Their behavior was born of an intense inner desire. The words for natural and against nature do not describe our subjective experience of what feels natural to us, but instead refers to the fixed way of things in creation.
Again, there is nothing in his wording to suggest he even recognized such a thing as a “true” homosexual versus a “false” one. He simply describes homosexual behavior as unnatural, no matter by whom it is committed. His wording, in fact, is unusually specific. When he refers to “men” and “women” in these verses, he chooses the Greek words that most emphasize biology: arsenes and theleias. Both words are rarely used in the New Testament. When they do appear, they appear in verses meant to emphasize the gender of the subject, as in a male child (arsenes). In this context, Paul is very pointedly saying the homosexual behavior committed by these people was unnatural to them as males and females (arsenes and theleias). He is not considering any such thing as sexual orientation. He is saying, in other words, that homosexuality is biologically unnatural – not just unnatural to heterosexuals but unnatural to anyone.
This shows us why it is not true for those with same-sex attraction to say: “But God made be this way.” All of us have desires that are warped as a result of our fallen nature. Desires for things God has forbidden are reflection of how sin has distorted us, and not how God has made us.
Regarding the arguments that this passage refers to Roman men preying on young boys (pederasty – love of young boys) are simply not true. Paul made reference to lesbianism as well and not just man-boy relationships that are known to have occurred in Roman culture. I am sure many male Roman slaveholders also sodomized or sexually abused their slaves. Again, Paul is focusing on what is natural and unnatural, inclusive of both sexes.
We must also realize the passage here in Romans unpacks a long list of behaviors or sinful acts that lead to judgment. It is important to recognize that Paul is talking in societal rather than individual terms. He is describing what happens to culture as a whole, rather than particular people.