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A three part essay donated by John A. Dixon

Part 1

"What I believe the Bible
really says about homosexuality

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Please understand that I am a sola scriptura Christian. I believe that the Bible alone is our guide and resource to better know the Trinitarian God, and that the Bible really does explain itself, revealing all we need to know about our Creator. I have never, ever twisted what the Bible says to suit my own personal agenda, for doing so would squelch any growth in Him and would cut off the wonderful Spiritual Gifts He has given me.

I was taught that God says that a man that lay with a man or a woman who lay with a woman will surely die and that they are an abomination unto Him. What I learned from reading the Scriptures more carefully, more prayerfully, and even in their original languages, is that this teaching is simply wrong.

Let me explain what the Bible really says.

First, we must agree on a few basic rules that are common to most Protestant churches:

  1. The Scripture must be taken and interpreted line upon line, precept upon precept. This is to say that no single verse stands entirely on its own, but rather is fortified by its surrounding text and by other Scripture within the Bible. Taking any verse out of its context, without considering its surrounding text and supporting Scripture, only twists the meaning of the verse.

  2. The Bible is infallible as it was originally written. This does not preclude mistranslation of ancient languages or copying errors. The original language keeps the message intact, but human translators and copyists, being human, sometimes err. Though many denominations hate to admit this, I will prove that this is a definite problem.

  3. We are called to reason together (Isaiah 1:18).

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That said, let's look at the common passages that people often consider to be those which condemn homosexuality.

Genesis 19: First there is Sodom and Gomorrah, which is a classically held Scripture used most frequently to "prove" how God hates homosexuality. It is a passage that I contend is most often misunderstood. But I will let the Bible interpret itself. It is written in Ezekiel 16:49,50:

"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."

The question I know you will ask is, "What is this about abomination?" Indeed, what is it? Let's look at the account of Sodom again:

The word rendered here as "abomination" comes from "tow'ebah" (in Strong's, it's # 8441), and is said in Strong's to mean "idolatry" or "idolaters". In the Hebrew it is very clear that it does not mean "homosexuality".

In Luke 10:3-12, Jesus talks to his disciples about what to do if they are not greeted with hospitality, and tells what the consequence will be for such towns. In verse 12, Christ says, "But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable [merciful] in that day for Sodom, than for that city." He said this after a full missive on inhospitality, so we must take verse 12 in that context.

You may also look particularly at Genesis 19:4-5, which reads:

"But before they [the men in the house and the angels] lay down [to sleep], the men [Strong's #582, Hebrew word 'enowsh] of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter:

And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know [Strong's # 3045, Hebrew yada] them."

The Hebrew word "'enowsh" is most accurately translated as mortals, and includes all genders and all ages. Even in the context provided in the story, it is clear in the Hebrew that it is the majority of the town population, male and female, that is represented here.

The Hebrew word "yada" has no sexual context, and means to become acquainted with socially. By no means is yada translated elsewhere with a sexual context, either. If sexual interaction were intended, the word "shakab" (Strong's # 7901) would be used instead, which means to know sexually. It is fascinating to note on the side that the NIV mistranslates yada here as "we want to have sex with them".

That said, the notion that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for homosexual behavior does not hold up. The Hebrew is clear, and nowhere is homosexuality made an issue.

Of very interesting note is that historically it is the Roman Catholic Church that is guilty of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the Middle Ages, and even after, the Church was always full of riches, with gold and rich foods, and yet allowed thousands upon thousands of its own subjects to starve and be subjected to slavery as paupers in the papal reign. To escape being exposed for the hypocrite it was, the Roman Catholic Church very likely chose to mistranslate and misconstrue the truth of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to escape the wrath of the people. What better scapegoats than its own abundance of homosexual priests? By pinning Sodom and Gomorrah on this population, the Roman Catholic Church blackmailed its own priesthood into silence, threatening excommunication if anyone spoke against her.

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Leviticus 18: In Leviticus 18:22 it is written:

"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." (NIV)

In and of itself, it seems very clear. But look at the surrounding context, and something more comes to bear on this verse. Leviticus 18:6-18 tackle having sexual relations with relatives. Verse 19 says a man shall not have sexual relations with a woman during the "uncleanness of her monthly period". (How many of today's Christians actually obey this?) Verse 20 condemns having sexual relations with another man's wife.

Then verse 21 changes gears a bit and begins a discourse on sexual relations that are associated with Molech's worship. Molech, like many false gods of the day, had temple prostitutes, and Molech's followers believed that having sex of ANY kind in the temple would please Molech and increase the fertility of themselves, their spouses, their livestock, and their fields. Verse 21 mentions the sacrifice of children to Molech. Verse 22 should more accurately read "Do not have sex with the male temple prostitutes," which would continue the admonition in idolatry. In fact, the entire Chapter is about idolatry. Consider Chapters 17 and 19, which both speak of idolatry. Why would a missive about sex be inserted nonsensically in between two chapters on idolatry unless it also is meant to address idolatry? If we look at Chapter 18 as a whole, and verse 22 as part of that whole, then that verse must speak of idolatry and false worship in some manner, or else it is a line and precept out of place. Therefore, (come, let us reason together!), it is not a blanket condemnation of homosexuality, but rather a condemnation of the sexual promiscuity of the many idol-worshipping sects in the land the Israelites were coming into.

If we hold to Leviticus' statements as being a blanket condemnation of homosexuality, do we then also obey the rest of the old law? It is written in James 2:10:

"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it [all of the law]."

So a person who adheres to the law must adhere to the whole law, which is contained in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Those three books contain the core of God's laws.

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This essay continues in the next essay.

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How you may have arrived here:

 Home page > Christianity > Bible themes & topics > here

or Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Religious impact > here

Copyright © 2004 by the author
Originally written: 2004-MAR-20
Latest update: 2016-APR-02
Author: John S. Dixon

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