Clobber Passages: The Bible and Homosexuality
Editor’s note: There are two answers to the question of what the Bible says about homosexuality: The short answer and the long one. The short one is that nowhere in the Bible are same-sex committed and loving relationships condemned.
The long answer is that there is plenty of reputable scholarship showing that the six “clobber passages” commonly used to make the claim that the Bible condemns homosexuality are simply misunderstood by those making those claims. This series of essays is the tip of that iceberg.
Editor Emeritus Rev. Candace Chellew’s book Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians explores homosexuality in the Bible even more fully.
The Bible and homosexuality
Introduction from Rev. Candace Chellew
Of the negative or critical e-mails I receive from critics of this magazine and its mission, I’d estimate 90 percent of them advise me to read my Bible. Specifically, I am urged to read at least one or all of the six passages we as LGBTQ+ Christians know as the “clobber passages”. These are verses, we’re told, where God condemns homosexuality in no uncertain terms.
As I inform those letter writers, I have read my Bible, and I’ve paid close attention to those clobber passages. So have many Bible scholars. We all agree that nowhere in the Bible are same-sex committed and loving relationships condemned. It’s just not there. Instead, the Bible holds much joy, comfort and love for LGBTQ+ Christians willing to wade into its pages and hear the loving voice of God.
Clobber passages: The big six
In this section of Whosoever we explore the six “clobber passages” and several other verses used as “prooftexts” of homosexuality’s condemnation.
Before we begin we must clarify the concept of “prooftexts,” or isogesis (a.k.a. eisegesis). To defend their assertion that God condemns homosexuals, people always use small passages from the Bible to prove their point. Using the Bible in this manner is destructive. Instead of exegesis, which involves examining the history of scripture to find out what it means and how it applies to us, eisegesis approaches scripture with a preconceived idea of what you will find there. It is abuse of scripture.
In eisegesis you search the Book until you find a passage you think applies and use it as your “proof” that God backs you up. You isolate that phrase or passage, take it out of context and improperly use it to back up your argument. It’s like a friend taking a sentence or phrase out of a letter you wrote and using it to represent what you believe as a whole. It’s easy to be taken out of context. You wouldn’t want your views represented that way, but that’s how the ideas and beliefs of the Bible’s authors are presented every day!
It is my sincere hope that LGBTQ+ Christians and our critics alike will approach this material with open hearts and minds. Not everyone will come away convinced, but I’ve discovered it takes time to unlearn all the misinterpretations of scripture we’ve been taught through the years. I invite you to sit with this information, pray and meditate on it, and let God speak to your heart. I hope that when your journey is complete you’ll see God’s word with new eyes and realize LGBTQ+ Christians are welcomed in Jesus’ one word, “whosoever.”
About these essays
This series of essays is derived from a paper titled “Same Gender Sexual Behavior and the Scriptures” and prepared as a service of the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka, authors Rev. Jonathan Loppnow and Rev. Paul C. Evans, with supporting scholarship by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Introduction: The Bible and homosexuality
Clobber passages in the Old Testament
The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19)
The Holiness Code (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13)
Temple Prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:17-18)
The Story of the Levite (Judges 19)
Temple Prostitution (1 Kings 14:24 and 15:12)
Clobber passages in the New Testament
The authors conclude with a series of inspiring Bible verses that confirm that the New Covenant is for everyone — and that nowhere in the Bible did Jesus himself ever actually said anything about homosexuality.
A list of books and websites that are recommended reading for anyone looking to engage more deeply on this subject.
A series of Bible versus that demonstrate God’s boundless love for all of God’s creation and that make clear what is expected of God’s people.
When it comes to the Bible’s six ‘clobber’ passages, the simple truth is that same-sex committed and loving relationships aren’t condemned anywhere in them. Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash