In Biblical times, same-gender sexual interactions could take many forms. Some were:
Kings of conquered tribes were sometimes anally anally raped by the invading army as the ultimate
symbol of defeat and humiliation. Such rape was also a way of humiliating visitors
and strangers. These were acts of power and domination. [They had nothing in common with
consensual sex by gays and lesbians today.]
Some religious groups both in and around ancient Israel had male prostitutes in their temples who ritually
engaged in same-sex activities. These practices were frequently condemned in
the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). [Temple prostitution
is no longer found in most areas of the world.]
In biblical times, sex was regarded as an activity engaged in by a dominant
person and a submissive person. For a man to play the role of a submissive
partner would be a reversal of roles, and unacceptable. [Most adults engaged in
sexual activity today consider each other as equals.]
It was common within the Roman Empire for male adults to keep boy prostitutes for the
purpose of sexual activity. The boys were often slaves. [In modern times, this is
considered extreme child abuse, a criminal offense.]
It is reasonable to assume that many loving gay and lesbian
relationships existed in Biblical times. Rabbi Gershon Caudill wrote:
"Like all indigenous peoples, the Jews were not overly concerned about male
homosexuality, where two men lived together in a monogamous, sexual
relationship. As a rule, it did not get any notice....The Talmud does not
record a single instance of a person being brought before the Sanhedrin on
the charge of homosexual activity." 1
It was only a millennium after the Torah was written that the Talmud makes its
first reference to homosexuality as a perversion. This occurred during the
time when the Hebrews were being influenced by Greek culture -- which
accepted homosexual behavior.
Only the last type would have any similarity to today's gay and lesbian consensual,
committed, loving relationships.
There were other differences between the culture of the ancient Hebrews
and modern day society:
There was a general belief that life on earth was all that there
was. A person who led a good life would be rewarded by God with a long
life and many children. A person could live on after death only through
Having no belief in an afterlife, men were put under tremendous pressure to
marry and procreate. An example of this is seen in Genesis 38, where a
widow was expected to have at least one child fathered by her former
husband's brother in order to continue her husband's line. Thus both
adult bachelorhood and being in a loving same-sex relationship would
not have been an acceptable situation.
Ancient Israel was under continual attack from other countries. A large
and competent army was a high priority, and could only be maintained with a
high birth rate. Since same-sex couples had a low birth rate, such families
would be considered unacceptable.
Ancient peoples generally had a false belief about procreation. They believed that male sperm worked like plant seeds. That is, sperm contained living humans who only needed to be "planted" in a woman's womb to start pregnancy. They had no concept at all of women contributing an ovum to the fertilization process. The only function of a woman was to provide a nurturing environment for the tiny human so that it would grow into a newborn -- something like earth allowed seeds to grow.
Generally speaking, fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians believe that:
The Bible, as originally written, is God's word. The more conservative wing of evangelicals believe that the Bible is inerrant (infallible;
free of errors) and that God prevented the authors from making even a single mistake.
Every verse is useful in their understanding of God's intentions.
One should initially attempt to interpret each passage according to its literal meaning.
Although copying errors were likely that changed some text between the autograph copy -- the original copy handwritten by the author -- and more modern manuscripts, none of the errors have caused theological errors.
Many translations are reliable, particularly the New International Version (NIV)
and King James Version (KJV).
When conservative Christians read biblical
passages in English that clearly and unmistakably condemn homosexuality, they are inclined to
the translators and conclude that God hates homosexuality. Unfortunately, many groups of
translators have been heavily biased against certain groups, including Witches, gays and
lesbians; many have tended to warp their translations accordingly.
At this web site, we try to avoid criticizing the beliefs of religious groups. However,
we feel free to criticize their religiously motivated activities if they exhibit hatred
against an identifiable group or when they have a negative impact on the civil rights of
We have noticed a practice of a few fundamentalist and other evangelical
Christian pastors which appear to be inconsistent, unethical and/or dishonest. We use the word
"appear" because we are not certain that the pastors are consciously aware of
Some pastors cite Genesis 19, a passage that condemns homosexual rape, as
proof that God hates all homosexual behavior. Yet they would never quote a verse
that condemns heterosexual rape and state that it applies to all heterosexual activity.
We have noticed some pastors switching between Bible translations in order to find the
version that is most critical of homosexual behavior. When quoting Deuteronomy 23:17 some
deviate from their usual usage of the New International Version (NIV). It accurately
translates the original Hebrew condemnation of male and female prostitution in the temple
(a common Pagan practice). They prefer the King James Version (KJV) which incorrectly
translates the passage as condemning female prostitutes and male "sodomites."
More liberal/progressive Christians tend to look upon the Bible as containing many translation
errors, whose verses were not inspired by God, but were influenced by
ancient pre-scientific cultures. Passages
often relate to customs of a long-past era that are
unethical when compared to today's secular and religious systems of
morality. Examples are verses which accept and regulate slavery,
require widows to marry their brother-in-law, requiring victims of rape
to marry their rapist, or condone abusive child
disciplinary practices which most parents have now abandoned. Passages which might be
interpreted as condemning homosexuality might also be not applicable
Each Bible translation reflects the world view, beliefs and mind sets of its
translators. Essentially all versions of the Bible are funded by religious
organizations whose translators who all follow a specific theological belief system.
Their personal biases distort their work. There is an additional complexity facing
translators: today's society is very different from that of Biblical times. It is
sometimes difficult to find a current English word that closely matches a Hebrew or Greek
The answer is no. They have never been free to translate the Bible as
their understanding of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek dictated. One
famous example was the translation of the King James Version of the
Bible. The translators were pressured into attacking
The original Hebrew text in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)
discussed women who used spoken curses to hurt or kill others.
The original Greek text in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
discussed people who murdered others through the use of poison.
In modern times, the pressures are from economic considerations, not by
Take Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, for example. A
word-by-word analysis of these two verses by
the National Gay Pentecostal
Alliance (NGPA), showed that the passages do not prohibit all same-sex
behavior; they do not even prohibit all male same-sex activities. They
merely control where male-male intercourse is allowed. It cannot be
performed in a woman's bed, because that location is sacrosanct. Only the
woman, and under certain circumstances a man, may occupy it. Otherwise, a
serious defilement would result. 2
The New International Version (NIV)currently translates
Leviticus 18:22 as:
"Do not lie with a man as one lies with
a woman; that is detestable."
The New Living Translation (NLT) widens the translation to also include
"Do not practice homosexuality; it is a
"Two men must not engage in sexual activity on a woman's bed; it
is ritually unclean.
By reading various translations of the Bible, generations of Christians
have been conditioned to expect this verse to condemn all homosexual
behavior -- or at least all male same-sex activity. They expect that it will
be morally condemned as "an abomination" or at least as a "detestable"
act. But this new translation does not prohibit male to male sexual
behavior; it only limits where the act can be performed. And it does not say
that this conduct, if done on a woman's bed, is to be morally condemned. It
only says that it is ritually unclean, like coming too close to a dead body, or
eating shellfish, or getting a tattoo. The readers would assume that the
translation is defective and that the translators were distorting the
original meaning of the passage in order to be politically correct and not
offend gays and lesbians. The readers would be disinclined to buy the Bible.
Thus, a truly accurate Bible would probably be a financial failure, and might never
see the light of day.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Rabbi Gershon Caudill, "A Heterosexual Jewish Rebbe's View on the
(Supposedly) Homosexual Texts in the Hebrew Bible," at: