- Homosexual activity in the temple by male prostitutes is clearly prohibited by the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).
- Homosexual activity in general may have been prohibited at the time by the Holiness Code, but that code is no longer binding on Christians today.
- St. Paul considered at least some male and female homosexual acts to be forbidden, but it is unclear precisely which acts are included. He may have been referring to temple prostitution, or to people who are not innately gay, lesbian or bisexual engaging in homosexual acts. One should note that Paul also condemned women preaching (1 Cor 14:34) or wearing gold or pearls (1 Tim 2:11). He also accepted and did not condemn the institution of slavery. Some Christians feel that his writings are not a useful guide for ethics and morals in the 20th Century.
- Jesus made many hundreds of statements regarding belief and behavior. However He never mentioned homosexuality.
- There are two Biblical same-sex relationships (one between two women, the other two men) reported in the Bible in a positive light. They appear to have progressed well beyond friendship. They were likely homosexual affairs, although not necessarily sexually active relationships: Ruth 1:16, 2:10-11 between Ruth and Naomi — and 1 Samuel 18:1-4, 1 Samuel 20:41-42 and 2 Samuel 1:25-26 between David and Jonathan. (Some translations of the Bible distort the original Hebrew text, particularly of 1 Samuel 20)
- It is the subject of endless debate whether St. Paul’s prohibition of at least some homosexual acts was: for the people in the vicinity of the Mediterranean during the 1st Century CE, or for all people, forever.
One can argue that the ancient Israelites were surrounded by warlike tribes. Their fertility was very important if the group was to survive. The early Christian church was also surrounded by enemies. Homosexuals tend to have few children; thus their presence would be met with opposition. At the end of the 20th Century, conditions are the exact opposite; we are threatened by our excessive fertility. Perhaps Paul’s criticism of homosexuality is no longer valid, like his various prohibitions against women’s behaviour.
Source: The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
There is an extreme amount of prejudice and hatred directed toward gay people. In my opinion this bias has had an influence in the translations of the Bible. Words with uncertain meaning are translated as if there is no doubt that they refer to homosexuals. Words that quite obviously do not mean “homosexual” are blatantly mistranslated, as in the transformation of “male temple prostitute” into “sodomite” or “perverted one”. Even the New Covenant of grace in Jesus Christ is ignored in favor of being condemnatory through the use of the Old Covenant.
It would seem to me to be a violation of the basic beliefs of “conservative” theology or “fundamentalism” to use verses or words as blanket condemnations without regard as to why the verses/words were written in the FIRST place; or without accurately reflecting the meaning of a word; or without admitting when they don’t know or are unsure of the meaning of a word.
The fact of the matter is that there is no clear condemnation of people of homosexual orientation living out their lives fully expressing their orientation, sexually or otherwise, anywhere in the Scriptures. The most that can be said is that there are some verses which seem to condemn some homosexual acts under circumstances that we are not aware of. This extreme ambiguity on the part of the few Scriptures concerned, coupled with the clear proclamation of the Gospel for all people leads me to believe that gay people are affirmed by God in their orientation and in their living out that orientation. Please take a moment and read the following section talking about God’s…
GOOD NEWS FOR ALL PEOPLE! You, and all people, are created in God’s image! (Gen. 1:27) You are special! (Ps 8:4-5) There is NOTHING that can separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8:39) WHOSOEVER believes has eternal life. (John 3:16, 6:51, Romans 1:16-17, 10:13) God is with you-challenging oppression and injustice! (Isaiah 42: 6-7, 58:6, Amos 5:24, Micah 6:8, Luke 4:18-22) You are a part of the New Covenant! The New Covenant is one of grace (which means unearned love) in Jesus Christ. It is not concerned with gender roles or sexual orientation for in Christ there is “neither male nor female.” (Gal. 3:28) In fact, do you know what Jesus had to say about homosexuality? NOTHING! Not one word! It was a non-issue, not even worth mentioning!
The New Covenant accepts even those who had formerly not been acceptable because of their sexual or reproductive status. You do not have to bear children in order to be included in God’s family! (Isaiah 56:1-5, Matt 19:12) The Old Covenant was very concerned about such things. Deuteronomy 23:1 would not allow castrated men to be a part of the Old Covenant yet in Acts 8 we are shown that the New Covenant sets that prohibition aside. The Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized, accepted into the New Covenant, while still being a foreigner and a eunuch! God didn’t have to change this person in order to love and accept this person fully!
The New Covenant did away with distinctions of clean and unclean, which opened the door for ALL people to be a part of the New Covenant. (Acts 10) The Gentiles were treated by the Jews the way that many Christians of today treat homosexuals, yet God revealed to Peter that he had to set aside his prejudice and could no longer condemn and exclude others because they didn’t fit into the rules of the Old Covenant.
God loves you and affirms the love of heterosexual and same-gender relationships! The same-gender relationships of Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16) and of David and Jonathan (II Samuel 1:26 “Jonathan… your love for me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women”) are respected and honored.
God tells all people who have felt alienated because of the pain of prejudice and hatred, “in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near… You are no longer strangers, foreigners or aliens, but fellow citizens with all God’s people.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)
Finally, God reminds us that no matter what our orientation is, or what our beliefs are on homosexuality, we need to remember that “God is love.” (I John 4). We need to follow the law of love: “LOVE GOD, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, LOVE ONE ANOTHER!” (Lev. 19:18, Matt 19:19, Mark 12:31, 33, Luke 10:27, John 15:12, 17, Romans 12:9-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8)
This paper is provided as a service of the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka, authors Rev. Jonathan Loppnow and Rev. Paul C. Evans. It may be reproduced freely as long as the entire text is reproduced and unaltered, all attributions are left intact and it is not sold for profit or included in a for-profit publication.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.