God decided that Adam needed a "helper." Some translations use the term
"companion," "helpmate" or "partner" here. God marched all
of the animals past Adam, looking for a suitable helper, but none was found. So God put
Adam to sleep, removed one of his ribs and created Eve from the bone. Although this
implies a cloning operation, it obviously was not, because
Adam, being a male, had XY sex chromosomes; Eve
was a female with XX chromosomes.
Conservative Christians: God created Eve to be Adam's wife. He made a woman to be the companion of
Adam, a male. This indicates God's intent for humanity: that men and women are to pair
off, and form permanent, heterosexual relationships.
Liberal Christians: If either Adam or Eve were homosexual,
the human race would not have developed. Thus, God obviously needed to
create both Adam and Eve as heterosexuals, so that they could be
fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth with humans, even though that required their children to commit incest.
God stated in Verse 18: "It is not good for the man to be alone"
(NIV). This shows the importance that God gives to committed relationships. For a
heterosexual, the only suitable companion is a person of the opposite gender. For a
homosexual individual, the only suitable companion is a person of the same gender. To say
that gays and lesbians should not form committed relationships is to say that it is good
for people to remain alone. This is a direct contradiction of God's statement; it implies
that God is a liar. More details
"The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh'...For this
reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will
become one flesh."
Conservative Christians: God created Adam and Eve to be heterosexual, expecting them to be fertile and
to populate the world with humans. During the sexual act, their bodies unite, and
symbolically rejoin as "one flesh." That is God's plan: for people of opposite
genders to marry, raise children and have dominion over all the earth. Homosexual behavior is apart from God's plan, an attempt to
distort and pervert what God intended from the beginning. If gays and lesbians cannot
change (or do not wish to change) their sexual addiction, they must remain celibate in
order to fit into God's planned intent for humanity.
Liberal Christians: The first creation story in the Bible is seen in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. It
describes that God's stated plan was for humanity to "Be fruitful and increase in
number." (NIV, Genesis 1:28). The second creation story appears in Genesis 2:4 to
2:25. It states specifically that a man will unite with his wife. (NIV, Genesis 2:24).
The above texts refer only to males and females. But three additional intersexual
genders exist. These are people who are neither male nor female, and thus not covered in
the simplistic view of Genesis. Dr. Fausto-Sterling of the Division of Biology and
Medicine at Brown University recognizes five biological groupings: male,
herm, ferm and female. 1 Approximately 3 to 10 million Americans are intersexual. Many
are operated upon shortly after birth to make them appear
like "normal" males or females.
A significant portion of the population is sterile and thus cannot be fruitful and
Some people, for any number of reasons, remain celibate throughout life and never marry
or have children.
Some women marry when they are beyond child-bearing age and are unable to conceive and
Some people carry serious genetic defects and choose to not conceive in order to avoid
creating a child who would have disastrous health problems.
Gays or lesbians are, by definition, not attracted to members of the opposite gender,
and thus cannot form lasting opposite-sex relationships involving one man and one woman.
God's plan was for Adam and Eve to form a heterosexual relationship and have children.
By implication, the plan expects the same behavior of at least some of Eve and Adam's
descendants. But it would not necessarily apply to all individuals.
We are all God's children: male and female, black and white, lesbian, gay, bisexual and
straight. Many of us, from all races, all genders and all sexual orientations, will want
to form a committed sexual partnership with other person. Sexuality, in all its varieties,
is a gift of God. It helps individuals of all sexual orientations to form partnerships
with another person and become all that they are capable of becoming. The Genesis texts
can thus refer only to a majority of individuals, not to everyone. It is a general plan
for society, but not universally applicable to all.
This passage is rarely cited in connection with homosexuality. But there may possibly be a
connection. The verses describe how Noah became intoxicated and lay naked in his tent. He
had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japeth. Ham saw his father in the tent and apparently did some unspecified act, He told his two brothers. The
Hebrew word for nakedness is here "ervah," which connotes a display of the genitals.
Shem and Japeth then cover their father without looking at him. When Noah wakes up, he
laid a verbal curse. It was not placed on Ham, the person responsible for the
act. It was placed on Ham's son Canaan, and all of his descendants. He
swore: "A curse upon the Canaanites...May they be the lowest of slaves."
Conservative Christians: Some theologians interpret this passage to mean that Ham's descendants were
cursed because Ham had observed his father naked. This would imply that nudity with a
family is forbidden behavior. Others interpret it to mean that Ham ridiculed his father's
nakedness and was being punished for his disrespect. That would be more in agreement with
Exodus 21:15 and Leviticus 20:9 which calls for a son to be punished if he curses or
shames his parent (the Hebrew word here has a dual meaning). Finally, Ham might have engaged in a sexual activity with his father.
Liberal Christians: The behavior of Noah seems strange, for a number of reasons:
By delivering a verbal curse, he is engaging in evil sorcery, a form of black magic.
This is condemned elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Exodus 22:18).
The passage contains three examples of a major theme found throughout
the Bible: that it is OK to transfer sin and
punishment from the guilty to the innocent In most of the world's
ethical systems, people are not held responsible for events that happened
before they were born, or for which they have no involement:
To enslave an entire tribe of people forever because of the
actions of one individual seems fundamentally unjust.
Enslaving all of the future descendents of a tribe also appears
unethical and is another example of sin transfer from the guilty to the
If Ham committed a despicable act, it seems strange that he is not punished but that his
son Canaan is harshly dealt with. It seems profoundly unjust to punish the innocent son
for a crime committed by his father.
Verse 24 mentions that "Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest
son had done to him" (NIV) The KJV translation is almost identical: "Noah...knew
what his youngest son had done unto him." Some have speculated that this passage
hints that Ham did a great deal more than simply catch a glimpse of his father's genitals;
he must have engaged in some overt act. Perhaps he went into the tent and engaged in some
form of sexual activity with his father. This would be a type of homosexual rape, since
Noah was drunk and unable to consent to sex. Perhaps incestuous rape was the crime that
Ham was guilty of and for which his son and other descendants were eternally punished.
This passage of the Bible was widely used to condone
human slavery up to the 19th century. Africans were assumed to be
descendents of Ham. Thus it was a biblical mandate to enslave them and treat
them as sub-human. Modern-day Christians of all persuasions can probably agree that the sin of Ham
is unrelated to human slavery, that slavery is a profound evil, and that this
Various Christian groups interpret Bible passages in totally different ways, and reach
mutually exclusive conclusions. For example:
Conservative Christians: God created the institution of heterosexual
marriage as the only valid relationship for humans within which sexual activity is without
sin. Homosexual activity, even if it is done within a committed, loving,
relationship is outside of God's plan for humanity and is thus
inherently sinful. Gays and lesbians are called by God to either
change their sexual orientation or remain
Liberal Christians: Sexual activity can certainly be sinful, when it is
manipulative, unsafe, or not consensual. But if done within a committed
heterosexual or homosexual relationship, it is not sinful. God said
that it is not good for a man to be alone. Since a gay or lesbian can
only develop a relationship with a person of the same gender, then it is
obviously God's intention that they form such committed partnerships.
M.D. Jordan, "The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology," The
Chicago series on Sexuality, History and Society. University of Chicago Press, (1997). Read reviews
and/or order this book from Amazon.com on-line bookstore.