What the Bible says andmeans
about same-gender sexual behavior
Important notes to consider:
This is an important sub-section in our web site's section on
homosexuals and other sexual minorities. That is because many people's beliefs about
homosexuality and their actions towards homosexuals are religiously based. Because
such a large percentage of North Americans are English speaking and identify
themselves as Jews, Christians and Muslims, it is important to understand what
the Hebrew and Christian scriptures (Old and New Testament) says about this topic: both:
In its original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek
languages, as interpreted by the early Christian movements within the culture of their time, and
In modern times, after its translation into English by religious translators, and after its interpretation by conservative, mainline and liberal theologians.
Seven or eight main biblical passages that may deal with same-gender sexual behavior are described below. They are often referred to as "clobber" passages, because they are often used to attack persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. They have been interpreted very differently by various religious denominations, para-church groups, and traditions. All groups recognize that these biblical passages condemn some types of sexual behavior but there is no consensus within a given religion whether they refer to consensual sexual behavior by persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, and whether it refers to all people or only to persons with a heterosexual orientation.
Only one passage, in Romans 1, discusses female same-sex sexual behavior. This text involves sexual behavior by male and female heterosexuals, who were former Christians. They had left the faith, reverted to Paganism, and apparently engaged in some form of religiously inspired same-gender sex orgy against their basic heterosexual nature. The passage appears to refer only to heterosexual men and women and say nothing about same-sex behavior by gays and lesbians. Some liberal theologians have taken the logical step of interpreted this passage as also condemning persons with a homosexual orientation who engage in opposite-sex sexual behavior against their basic nature. Some conservaive theologians have interpreted the same passage as condemning all same-gender sexual behavior whether by persons with a heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual orientation.
Among the full spectrum of fath groups, from the most conservative to the most liberal:
Most conservative faith groups tend to interpret all of the clobber passages as condemning all forms of same-gender sexual behavior, whether by men or women. They do this, even though only one of the seven or eight passages actually refers to women, and that sole passage refers only to women with a heterosexual orientation.
Most liberal and progressive faith groups tend to interpret the same passages -- in their original languages of Hebrew and Greek -- as referring to:
how it is unacceptable for two men to have sex if they do it on a woman's bed,
adults sexually abusing children,
engaging in sexual behavior that is against one's sexual orientation and basic nature, and/or
engaging in bestiality -- sexual activity with a non-human species.
Most mainline denominations and faith groups are split on these passages' interpretation with part of the membership taking the conservative position, and another part taking the liberal/progressive interpretation.
We have never found a faith group that accepts same-gender sexual behavior by lesbians while condemning such behavior by males, even though that could be a logical interpretation of Romans 1.
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