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Comparison of six views of homosexuality with regard to:

Main biblical message
Does a homosexual orientation exist?
Incidence of homosexuality

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The six viewpoints, from:

bullet  "Condemnation" -- the most conservative and traditional -- to
bullet "Liberation" -- the most liberal --

are actually stereotypes. They don't necessarily fit the opinions of individuals. Many people will hold beliefs that combine more than one viewpoint.

Presenting data in this way emphasizes that there are more sets of beliefs than the two extreme views that one hears so often in the media.

bullet One sentence description (repeated):
Viewpoint Description or main emphasis
"Abomination" Homosexuality is profoundly immoral at all times.
"Change is expected" Homosexuals can change their sexual orientation, with effort
"Celibacy is expected" Homosexuals must either change or be celibate.
"Marginally acceptable" Committed homosexual relationships are the least awful option.
"Equality" Seek equal rights. Homosexuality, is morally neutral.
"Liberation" Reinterpret the Bible. Homophobia, not being lesgay, is the main evil.

bullet Main biblical message:
ViewpointWhat the Bible says about homosexuality
bullet Genesis 19 describes that God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their homosexuality.
bullet Leviticus 18:22 states that homosexual behavior is an abomination.
bullet Leviticus 20:13 is similar, and adds a compulsory death sentence to the offender.
bullet Judges 19 discusses the near extermination of the tribe of Benjamin because of their homosexual desires.
bullet Deuteronomy and Kings state that there shall be no sodomites allowed in Israel.
bullet Romans 1:26-27 says that homosexuality -- both by men and women -- is unnatural and a perversion.
bullet 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that homosexual behavior is such a serious sin that anyone who commits it cannot enter heaven.
bullet 1 Timothy 1:9-10 considers homosexuality on a par with murdering ones parents.
bullet Jude 7 refers back to the homosexual sin in Sodom.

The Bible is totally consistent: homosexuality is a profound sin, worthy of capital punishment, which will prevent a person from attaining heaven. However, 1 Corinthians 6:11 holds out hope for the homosexual. If they will repent of their sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will be cured and become heterosexual.

"Change is expected"While accepting the "Abomination" viewpoint that the Bible condemns all homosexual behavior, this group emphasizes the message in 1 Corinthians 6:11: that a homosexual can be cured by becoming saved. The important message of the Bible is thus for homosexuals to become saved, to seek help from reparative therapists or transformational ministries, to terminate their homosexual lifestyle and to become heterosexual. This group heavily supports therapists and ministries in their work to cure homosexuality 
"Celibacy is expected"The Bible clearly condemns homosexual behavior. Homosexuality is, without exception, a major sin. The message for the homosexual is to seek a cure so that they can become heterosexuals. If therapy and/or prayer fail, as it almost always does, then the message of the Bible is for the homosexual to leave the gay lifestyle, decide to become sexually inactive, and be celibate for the rest of their life.
"Marginally acceptable"The Bible does take a negative view towards homosexual behavior. The Bible states that all "...homosexual practices are unnatural and Godless." 2 But the authors of the Bible had limited knowledge of homosexuality. The Bible is silent on the topic of sexual orientation. In particular, it does not describe committed, loving, same-sex relationships. Thus, we have a slight degree of freedom in determining what is moral behavior for such couples.
bullet The genocide of Sodom described in Genesis 19 was motivated by the inhabitants' uncharitable treatment of strangers and uncaring attitude towards the poor. Homosexual rape is condemned. But this is unrelated to same-sex behavior in a loving relationship.
bullet Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 condemn cultic homosexual behavior in a Pagan temple. They are part of the Holiness Code, and are not binding on Christians today. 
bullet Judges 19 is a reworked version of Genesis 19, and contains no additional information about homosexual behavior.
bullet The Deuteronomy and Kings passages are mistranslations in the King James Version of the Bible; the passages refer to prostitution, not to homosexual behavior.
bullet Romans 1:26-27 condemns heterosexuals who depart from Christianity, embrace Paganism, worship idols, and act against their nature by engaging in homosexual behavior.
bullet 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is somewhat ambiguous, but apparently refers to men who sexually abuse boys, and is unrelated to consensual homosexual behavior in a committed relationship.
bullet 1 Timothy 1:9-10 carries the same ambiguous message as 1 Corinthians.
bullet Jude 7 refers back to the attempted rape of angels in Sodom -- again unrelated to consensual homosexual behavior.
bullet 1 Corinthians 6:11 does hold out hope that sinners can be reformed and sanctified. However, this would seem to refer to child molesters deciding to abandon their criminal. abusive practices.

The Bible does condemn certain certain specific sexual sins between persons of the same sex. Those are still considered immoral, and even criminal, today by almost everyone. But it delivers no moral message about private, consensual same-sex activity by a committed, loving couple.

The Bible does talk extensively about the spiritually elevating and civilizing power of love. It discusses the need for justice and freedom for all. To deprive persons of elementary rights, including the right to marry, because they happen to have an unchosen and unchangeable homosexual sexual orientation is profoundly unjust. We should concentrate on these positive biblical themes when we develop a moral code for persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation.

"Liberation" This viewpoint agrees with the "Equality" supporters: the Bible is silent on consensual sexual activity within a committed relationship. On a positive note, the Bible does contain many grand themes of liberation and justice: the Exodus from Egypt, the story of Esther, the criticism of social inequality by the major and minor prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), Jesus' support for the broken, poor, imprisoned, disadvantaged, etc. These themes have inspired Christians and Jews to promote liberation theology in Central America, and an end to racial segregation in the U.S. Now, these same themes are inspiring gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons to fight for equality.

The condemnation found in the Bible against sex outside of marriage made a lot of sense in biblical times. It was a pre-scientific age when contraceptive techniques and methods of preventing STDs were unavailable. They were not intended for all eras and all cultures. In particular, they are not applicable today. Safe, consensual, responsible, non-exploitive, non manipulative sex between mature persons -- whether of the same sex or opposite sex, whether in a committed relationship or not -- can be moral if it is genuine and spiritually elevating. Homosexuals "...should be encouraged to seek relationships that are meaningful and constructive, and that con contribute to the development of their personality as loving."

bullet Does a homosexual orientation exist?
ViewpointExistence of sexual orientation
"Abomination" Homosexuality as an orientation does not exist. If it did, the Bible would mention it. Everyone is a heterosexual. What the Bible does discuss in depth is humanity's sinful depraved nature. Homosexual behavior is one form by which this fallen nature is manifested.

Some people, will experience a same-sex act. This often leads to addiction which is one form of God's punishment for the act. The person then will often assert that they have a homosexual orientation in order to justify their sin.

Even if the existence of a homosexual orientation could be proven, it is immaterial, because the Bible would condemn any acting out of that orientation.

"Change is expected"Opinion is divided.
bullet Some teach that a homosexual orientation does not exist. Everyone is basically heterosexual.
bullet Others teach that a homosexual orientation does exist but that it can be overcome.

They do agree that some people, mainly as a result of a poor relationship with their parent of the same sex during early childhood, do seek same-sex sexual relationships during adulthood. They are trying to fill a longing that was not satisfied during childhood. They can be retrained through a loving, intimate but non-sexual relationship with a member of the same-sex. Their "homosexuality" will disappear and be replaced with attraction for the opposite sex. 

"Celibacy is expected"The Bible does not discuss sexual orientation. Its writers appear to assume that everyone is heterosexual. But they lived in a pre-scientific age before human sexuality became the focus of numerous scientific studies. We must turn to science to learn about sexual orientation. Numerous studies, personal testimonies, the unsuccessful struggles that countless persons with a homosexual orientation have experienced trying to become heterosexual, all point to a homosexual orientation that is unchosen and unchangeable in adulthood. Child psychologists are able to determine with excellent accuracy which pre-schoolers will grow up to be gay or lesbian. Studies have shown that a person with a homosexual orientation is very rarely able to become heterosexual. The Bible calls them to a state of celibacy.
"Marginally acceptable"This viewpoint generally agrees with the "Celibacy" group. However, they teach that a loving committed same-sex relationship is to be preferred over a promiscuous single lifestyle.
"Equality " They also agree with the Celibacy group concerning the existence of a homosexual orientation.

A sexual orientation, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, is a gift of God to be appreciated, and explored with responsibility.

bullet Some suggest that sexual orientation is simply a social construct...that if social pressures were removed, everyone would realize that they are bisexual.
bullet Others, probably the majority, believe on the basis of memories and current feelings of attraction that sexual orientation is a reality.

bullet Incidence of homosexuality:
Viewpoint How many adults are homosexuals
"Condemnation" Very few adults are homosexuals: on the order of one or two percent. Also, sexual behavior is very fluid. Many people change their behavior during their lifetime.
"Change is expected" Various beliefs.
"Celibacy is expected" Various beliefs.
"Marginally acceptable" Various beliefs.
"Equality" About 5 to 10% of adults are homosexual. This appears to be a constant percentage throughout history and among various cultures. Sexual orientation is difficult to measure. Simply asking a person if they are gay or lesbian during a phone interview will produce unrealistically low numbers because of lack of trust. The only reliable data comes from person-to-person interviews in which a trusting environment is established.
"Liberation" Agree with the "Equality" viewpoint.

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Useful references:

  1. L.R. Holben, "What Christians think about homosexuality: Six representative viewpoints," Bibal Press, (1999). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  2. Lewis Smedes, "Sex for Christians: The limits and liberties of sexual living," Eerdmans, (1976). *
  3. Michael Valente, " "Sex: The radical view of a Catholic Theologian" Macmillan, (1970).

* Quoted in Reference 1.

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Home > Conflict > Homosexuality > > Religious impact > Six views > here

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Copyright 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-SEP-18
Latest update: 2004-SEP-18

Author: B.A. Robinson

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