Analysis of a Religiously-based
We found an essay "Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective" to be a
well-written example of conservative Christian beliefs about homosexuality. 1
The author, the late Lehman Strauss, Litt.D., F.R.G.S., taught Old Testament history at
the Philadelphia Bible Institute and served as the pastor of two Baptist churches
during the period 1939 to 1963. He had authored 18 books at the time of his death in
1997-JUN at the age of 86.
His essay is in the form of a series of questions (Q) and answers (A).
We have added comments that a liberal Christian might make after each of Dr. Strauss'
answers. They are identified as (C) and are in italics.
Q. What is homosexuality?
A. Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desire toward a member of
one's own sex or the erotic activity with a member of the same sex. (The Greek word homos
means "the same"). A lesbian is a female homosexual. More recently the
term "gay" has come into popular use to refer to both sexes who are homosexuals.
C. Dr. Strauss's definition fails to differentiate between
homosexual orientation (i.e. same sex feelings of attraction) and homosexual behavior
(i.e. sexual activity with a member of the same gender). A more
complete definition would describe the three possible sexual orientations:
heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality.
Q. How does one determine if the practice of homosexuality is right or
A. That depends upon who is answering the question. The Christian point
of view is based solely upon the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God. A truly
Christian standard of ethics is the conduct of divine revelation, not of statistical
research nor of public opinion. For the Christian, the Bible is the final authority for
both belief and behavior.
C. Dr. Strauss accurately describes conservative Christian beliefs
about morality. On the other hand, Roman Catholic beliefs are based both upon the Bible's
contents and upon church tradition. Liberal Christian beliefs are based upon the Bible,
the findings of natural, social and medical science, and other sources of information.
Various denominations have reached opposing beliefs and practices
Q. What explicitly does the Bible teach about homosexuality?
A1. This question I consider to be basic because, if we accept God's Word
on the subject of homosexuality, we benefit from His adequate answer to this problem. I am
concerned only with the Christian or biblical view of homosexuality. The Bible has much to
say about sex sins in general.
C1. This answer assumes that the Bible is inerrant
- that it is free of error. It also assumes that the authors were inspired by God. Only
conservative Christians believe this. He assumes that there is only one "Christian or
biblical view" of homosexuality. In fact, there are many
conflicting views by various Christian groups.
A2. First, there is adultery. Adultery in the natural sense is sexual
intercourse of a married person with someone other than his or her own spouse. It is
condemned in both the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 20:14; I Cor. 6:9, 10).
Christ forbids dwelling upon the thoughts, the free play of one's imagination that leads
to adultery (Matthew 5:28).
Second, there is fornication, the illicit sex acts of unmarried persons which is likewise
forbidden (I Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; Ephesians 5:3).
Then there is homosexuality which likewise is condemned in Scripture. The Apostle Paul,
writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that homosexuality [sic] "shall
not inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9; 10). Now
Paul does not single out the homosexual as a special offender. He includes fornicators,
idolaters, adulterers, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, revilers and
C2. Dr. Strauss confidently declares that 1 Corinthians
6:9-10 condemns homosexuality - i.e. consensual sexual acts between same-sex
adults. But the original text of this passage contains Greek words whose meanings have
been lost. Biblical translators have had to guess what this passage means. Various Bible translations translate the terms as:
effeminate males, male homosexuals, male prostitutes, pederasts (male adults who sexually
abuse boys) and catamites (boy prostitutes). Some Bibles in the English language say that
the passage refers both to men who sexually abuse boys and to the boys victims that they
abuse. There is every evidence that St. Paul knew of such sexual abuse, and was also aware
of ritual homosexual rituals in Pagan temples. There is no evidence that he was aware of
consensual, committed relationships between gay males.
It is notable that lesbians are not referred to at all in this passage. The passage
will probably continue to be obscure.
A3. And then he adds the comment that some of the Christians at
Corinth had been delivered from these very practices: "And such were some of you:
But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord
Jesus, and by the spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11). All
of the sins mentioned in this passage are condemned by God, but just as there was hope in
Christ for the Corinthians, so is there hope for all of us.
C3. St. Paul refers to the positive effects of religious
conversion. Believers no longer engaged in casual sex, excessive drinking, criminal
activities, etc. These changes in behavior are seen today as well, among newly converted
people. But individuals have certain characteristics which are not changeable,
Included among these are their gender, race. Studies have shown that sexual orientation is apparently not changeable either.
A4. Homosexuality is an illicit lust forbidden by God. He said to His
people Israel, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is
abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). "If a man also lie
with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they
shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus
20:13). In these passages homosexuality is condemned as a prime example of sin, a
sexual perversion. The Christian can neither alter God's viewpoint nor depart from it.
C3. Both Leviticus quotations are from the Holiness Code which lists 614 ethical and ritual laws to be
followed by the ancient Israelites. They include many dietary, sanitary and other laws. A
consensus exists among liberal and mainline Christian theologians, pastors and
teleministers that the Holiness Code is no longer applicable for today's Christians.
Conservative Christians generally agree; however, they still want to retain the two
elements of the Code which appear to prohibit male homosexuality. We have been unable to
find a justification for the rejection of most of the laws, while retaining these 2.
The Hebrew word to'ebah is often translated "abomination" in
English. This is a poor translation; "ritually unclean" would be better. An
ancient Israelite eating a meal with a non-Jew is to'ebah. Eating eating a
cheeseburger is also to'ebah.
A5. In the Bible sodomy is a synonym for homosexuality. God spoke
plainly on the matter when He said, "There shall be no whore of the daughters of
Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 23:17).
The whore and the sodomite are in the same category.
C5. Dr. Strauss is here quoting the King James Version of the
Bible. The translation is in error. The verse does not
refer to female hookers and male homosexuals. The New International Version correctly
translates this passage as: "No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine
prostitute." The passage refers to the practice in some Pagan temples of men
and women acting in ritual sex acts. Same-sex activity is not mentioned.
A6. A sodomite was not an inhabitant of Sodom nor a descendant of an
inhabitant of Sodom, but a man who had given himself to homosexuality, the perverted and
unnatural vice for which Sodom was known. Let us look at the passages in question:
"But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom,
compassed the house around, both old and young, 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 them. And Lot went out at the door unto
them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them
out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing;
for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof." (Genesis 19:4-8)
The Hebrew word for "know" in verse 5 is ya,,daŽ, a sexual term. It is
used frequently to denote sexual intercourse (Genesis 4:1, 17, 25; Matthew 1:24,
25). The message in the context of Genesis 19 is clear. Lot pled with the men to
"do not so wickedly." Homosexuality is wickedness and must be
recognized as such else there is no hope for the homosexual who is asking for help to be
extricated from his perverted way of life.
C6. A liberal Christian might reflect on Dr. Strauss' comment as
follows: A man does not "give himself to homosexuality." Dr. Strauss apparently
believed that everyone is a heterosexual, but that some engage in wicked homosexual acts.
This was certainly the belief of the authors of the Bible. Society now realizes what
homosexuals have known forever: that homosexuality is something that one is, not something
that one does. Dr. Strauss refers to homosexuality as a "perverted and unnatural
vice." And it certainly is, for heterosexuals. It is a practice that is against their
sexual nature and identity. But one can argue with equal validity that heterosexuality is
a "perverted and unnatural vice" for homosexuals. It is a practice that is
against their sexual nature and identity.
The Hebrew word for "know" appears 943 times elsewhere in the Hebrew
Scriptures (Old Testament). In only about a dozen of these cases does it refers to sexual
activity - always heterosexual. In the remaining approximately 930 occurrences, it refers
to non-sexual knowing.
It is unclear whether the "knowing" refers to a sexual act. It is unclear
whether the citizens are being condemned because:
|they planned to be inhospitable to the visitors,|
|they wanted to rape the visitors,|
|they wanted to engage in homosexual acts with the visitors, or
|they wanted to engage in an act of bestiality (the angels are a species that is
In order to understand what the "sin"
of Sodom was, one has to consult the Bible itself. References in Isaiah 1, Jeremiah
23:14, Ezekiel 16:49-50, Matthew 10:14-15, Luke 10:7-16, 2 Peter 6-8 all
say that Sodom's sin was that their citizens were liars, idolatrists, inhospitable to
strangers, unprincipled, lawless, and uncaring about the needs of widows and orphans.
Sexual matters were not even mentioned. Jude 7 refers
to their lust for "sarkos heteras" (Greek for "other flesh"). This
apparently refers to the men of Sodom wanting to engage in sexual activities with angels.
Angels are a species that is not human. Their sin would be that of bestiality.
Q. You said that sexua1 intercourse outside of marriage is condemned
in the Bible. How do you explain marriage ceremonies in which two persons of the same sex
are united by an officiating clergyman or justice of the peace?
A. There are cases on record where a marriage license was issued to
persons of the same sex. I recall one such incident in Phoenix, Arizona. A marriage
license was issued in the Maricopa County clerk's office to two men 39 and 21 years old
respectively. The two men are reported to have "married" in a private ceremony.
However, to call a union of two persons of the same sex a "marriage" is
a misnomer. In the Bible, marriage is a divinely ordered institution designed to form a
permanent union between one man and one woman for one purpose (among others) of
procreating or propagating the human race. That was God's order in the first of such
unions (Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:24; Matthew 19:5). If, in His original
creation of humans, God had created two persons of the same sex, there would not be a
human race in existence today. The whole idea of two persons of the same sex marrying is
absurd, unsound, ridiculously unreasonable, stupid. A clergyman might bless a homosexual
marriage but God won't.
C. Dr. Strauss gives a religious definition of a marriage. But
marriage is much more than a religious ceremony; it has civil aspects. It brings over 100 economic and security privileges to the spouses. Many people feel
that it "is absurd, unsound, ridiculously unreasonable, [and] stupid" to deny
two people in a committed relationship the rights, privileges and responsibilities of
marriage simply because they are of the same gender. Some
lesbians seek marriage so that they can raise their own children; some gay males seek
marriage with the goal of forming a family and adopting one or more children.
Dr. Strauss would seem to imply that a marriage between a man and woman is invalid
if either of the spouses is infertile. That is an insult to many millions of heterosexual
Q. A Jesuit Priest, John J. McNeill, reportedly said in a conference
(Christianity Today, June 3, 1977), "There is no clear condemnation of homosexual
activity to be found anywhere in the Bible." How does a church leader arrive at
such a conclusion?
A. This particular Jesuit priest, like some other supposedly Christian
theologians, have totally ignored the Scriptures as the guidelines for Christian behavior
in regard to homosexuality. McNeill does not speak for the Roman Catholic Church, but for
a small segment of priests who, having vowed themselves to celibacy, that is, to abstain
from marriage and sexual intercourse, have found sexual gratification in homosexual acts.
However, religious sex perverts are plentiful among Protestants. Protestant leaders on
both sides of the Atlantic have gradually eased away from the Scriptures. In England men
like Bishop John Robinson, in his book Honest to God made a play on the term
"The New Morality," which in reality was a plea to open the door to
immorality making it respectable and thus acceptable. The Bishop went so far as to
describe the unscriptural adulterous relationship as "a kind of holy communion."
This modern concept of Christian ethics rejects totally the precepts laid down by God in
His Word. It is blasphemous and atheistic.
Recently in America ten homosexually oriented religious organizations, comprised of men
and women from more than a dozen denominations, and from seventeen states and Canada, met
at Kirkbridge, a retreat and study center near Bangor, Pennsylvania. The retreat was
entitled, "Gay and Christian." But the two terms, "gay" and
"Christian" are mutually exclusive, incompatible, incongruous.
Representing the women at that retreat, Nancy Krody a lesbian, spoke on "The
Lesbian Christian Experience." Here again is a misnomer. A practicing Christian,
from the biblical viewpoint, will not be a practicing homosexual. Of course, I make the
distinction between a professing Christian and a practicing Christian. Calling one's self
a Christian does not make one a Christian.
Malcolm Boyd speaks about "The Gay Male Christian Experience." Boyd, a
Protestant clergyman, says he has been a homosexual secretly for years. Only recently he
made a public announcement of his homosexuality. He claims that his public announcement of
his homosexuality has brought him back to the church. Boyd does not tell us what he means
by the "church"!
Following is one point on which the speakers at Kirkbridge agreed: "A monogamous
homosexual relationship characterized by fidelity, honesty and love is possible,
desirable, and honoring to God."
Any evil condemned in Scripture cannot be honoring to God. Homosexual religious leaders
attempt to smooth over the breaks and rough places with Christian terminology so that a
euphoria predominates, but God is not in it. A truly born again person, who loves and
understands the Bible as God's revelation to him, will not condone an evil that God
condemns. "If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth
righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29). "Nevertheless
the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His.
And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (II
Timothy 2:19). Practicing homosexuals are engaged in a divinely forbidden evil.
C. Dr. Strauss' comment about Roman Catholic priests appears to
imply that all priests who support equal rights for gays and lesbians are themselves
active homosexuals. They are not.
He states that a real Christian cannot be a practicing homosexual. He says that
homosexuals engage in a "divinely forbidden evil." His belief certainly agrees
with most conservative Christians. However, liberal Christians sometimes point out that
the Bible, in its original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, condemned homosexual rape,
homosexual prostitution, homosexual sex rituals in Pagan temples, men sexually abusing
boys, etc. But on the topic of consensual homosexual activity within a committed, same-sex
relationship, the Bible is silent.
Q. Why do homosexuals refer to themselves as "gay"?
A. The word "gay" means merry, exuberant, bright,
lively. More recently it has been adopted by homosexuals. In its original use it did not
have this double meaning. The clever adaptation of the word "gay" by
homosexuals has robbed it of its pure meaning, thereby corrupting a once perfectly good
word. I never use the word "gay" when referring to homosexuals. There
are many bright, exuberant, merry people in this world who are not sexual perverts.
C. The English language is in constant change. Words change in
meanings, sometimes within the period of a few months. This is not a process of
corruption; it is one of evolution.
Dr. Strauss, and many other conservative Christians believe that any sexual act
between persons of the same gender is a perversion. One can understand his point of view.
He was presumably a heterosexual. And to a person with that sexual orientation, any
homosexual act is difficult to understand and is probably personally repulsive. However,
to a homosexual, it is a heterosexual act is difficult to understand and personally
repulsive. Dr. Strauss has taken his own personal reaction to homosexuality and expanded
it into an absolute.
Q. You made reference to First Corinthians 6:9-11.
What is the meaning of the word "effeminate" in verse 9?
A. There are certain words in every language that can be used in a good
or bad sense. In the context of this verse the use of "effeminate" is
obviously in a bad sense. It is listed among other evils which are condemned. It describes
feminine qualities inappropriate to a man. It is normal and natural for a woman to be
sexually attracted to a man; it is abnormal and unnatural for a man to be sexually
attracted to another man. Many male homosexuals are effeminate, but not all. Nor are all
lesbians unduly masculine.
C. As described above, the word "effeminate" was
selected by a few Bible translators because the meaning of the original Greek is unknown. Many liberal Christians feel that
it is an invalid translation, and that the original Greek probably referred to men who
sexually abused young boys.
Q. Are there other Scriptures in the New Testament which deal with
A. Yes. Romans 1:24-27; I Timothy 1:10 and Jude
7. If one takes these Scriptures seriously, homosexuality will be recognized as
an evil. The Romans passage is unmistakably clear. Paul attributes the moral depravity of
men and women to their rejection of "the truth of God" (1:25). They
refused "to retain God in their knowledge" (1:28), thereby dethroning
God and deifying themselves. The Old Testament had clearly condemned homosexuality but in
Paul's day there were those persons who rejected its teaching. Because of their rejection
of God's commands He punished their sin by delivering them over to it.
The philosophy of substituting God's Word with one's own reasoning commenced with Satan.
He introduced it at the outset of the human race by suggesting to Eve that she ignore
God's orders, assuring her that in so doing she would become like God with the power to
discern good and evil (Genesis 3:1-5). That was Satan's big lie. Paul
said that when any person rejects God's truth, his mind becomes "reprobate,"
meaning perverted, void of sound judgment. The perverted mind, having rejected God's
truth, is not capable of discerning good and evil.
In Romans 1:26-31 twenty-three punishable sins are listed with
homosexuality leading the list. Paul wrote, "For this cause God gave them up into
vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is
against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in
their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving
in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet" (Romans
1:26, 27). These verses are telling us that homosexuals suffer in their body and
personality the inevitable consequences of their wrong doing. Notice that the behavior of
the homosexual is described as a "vile affection" (1:26).
The Greek word translated "vile" (atimia) means filthy, dirty, evil,
dishonorable. The word "affection" in Greek is pathos, used by the
Greeks of either a good or bad desire. Here in the context of Romans it is used in a bad
sense. The "vile affection" is a degrading passion, a shameful lust.
Both the desire (lusting after) and the act of homosexuality are condemned in the Bible as
C. Liberal Christians might conclude that in Romans 1:24-27, St. Paul was condemning that
activities of some former Christians who reverted to Pagan beliefs and practices, engaged
in idolatry, engaged in casual group sex, both heterosexual and homosexual. It would
appear that this passage condemns Pagan worship and group sex. It certainly has nothing to
say about consensual sexual activity between two individuals in a committed, permanent
relationship, whether gay or straight.
I Timothy1:10 includes the same
unknown Greek phrase "malakoi arsenokoitai" as does 1
Corinthians 6:9-10. It would seem to refer to adult males who sexually abuse children.
As noted above, Jude 7 appears to
refer to bestiality (sex between two species), not to homosexual activity.
Q. There are those persons who say that homosexuality, even though a
perverted form of the normal, God-ordained practice of sex, is a genetic problem,
constitutionally inherited. Is there evidence to support this view?
A1. I read in a periodical that in June, 1963 a panel of specialists in
medicine, psychiatry, law, sociology and theology participated in a conference on
homosexuality called by the Swiss Evangelical Church Union. That group reached
the conclusion that homosexuality is not constitutionally inherited, it is not a part of
one's genetic makeup. The ill-founded and unverifiable myth that homosexuality results
from genetic causes is gradually fading away.
C1: One would expect that a panel convened by a conservative
Church group almost four decades ago would reach that conclusion. Since 1963, studies have
revealed the true nature of homosexuality. "Pedigree
analyses" of the genealogy of gays has proven beyond any doubt that there is a strong
genetic cause to homosexuality. Studies on identical twins who were separated at birth and
raises separately indicates that about 10% of males are born with a "homosexual
gene," and that this gene causes a homosexual orientation to develop in about 50% of
A2. There are possibly a number of different ways in which homosexual
practices could begin. When boys and girls reach puberty and the genital organs develop,
it is not uncommon for boys to experiment with boys, and girls with girls. In prisons
where men and women are denied access to persons of the opposite sex for long periods of
time, some are introduced to homosexuality for the first time.
A young Christian woman came to our office in Detroit for counseling. She became involved
in lesbianism when her marriage began to fail. She was introduced to her first homosexual
experience by a divorcee who was her neighbor. After six months of practicing lesbianism
she was convicted of her sin and sought help. We were able to show her from the Bible that
she was sinning and that God stood ready and willing to forgive and cleanse her. She
confessed and forsook her sin, and continues to this day to live a happy, normal Christian
C2. Studies have indicated that children who will become gay
adults can be detected before the age of 5. It is apparent
that sexual orientation is determined in early childhood.
The woman in Detroit may have been a bisexual woman, not a lesbian. She was
apparently able to switch from a male sexual partner to a female partner (and perhaps back
again) without difficulty.
A3. Homosexuality must be accepted for what God says it is-- sin. Some
homosexuals will attempt to circumvent the plain teaching of the Bible with the insipid
reply that they are the way God made them. There is not the slightest bit of evidence in
Scripture to support this false concept. God never created man with a so-called
"homosexual need." No baby is born a homosexual. Every baby is born male or
female. In every place the Bible refers to homosexuality, the emphasis is upon the
perversion of sexuality. The practicing homosexual is guilty of "leaving the
natural use of the woman" (Romans 1:27), meaning that his
behavior is "against nature" as in the case of the lesbian (Romans
1:26). Inasmuch as homosexuality is opposed to the regular law and order of
nature, the genetic concept must be ruled out completely. If homosexuality were a genetic
problem, there would be little hope for the homosexual simply because there is no way that
the genes in a person can be changed.
C3: The Bible contains almost no material at all on genetics, or
locomotives, or airplanes. So one would not necessarily expect its authors to talk much
about the need by some people to engage in consensual, homosexual activities.
The Bible condemns homosexual rape, homosexual prostitution, homosexual Pagan
temple activities, casual, group homosexual sex, and raping of boys by adult men. But the
Bible also condemns these same activities when done by heterosexuals. The Bible does not
condemn sexual activities between committed gays or lesbians.
Q. Are there contributing factors to homosexuality for which a
homosexual might not be responsible?
A. Yes, I believe there are. I have not done much research in this area,
however, studies made by others showed varied deviations from the average or normal
parent-child relationship. For example, clinical cases show that some homosexuals have not
had a normal or natural relationship with the parent of the same sex. In some instances
there has been a wide gap between father and son. There are those boys who have been
neglected by their unaffectionate fathers. The boy who has not had a good and wholesome
relationship with his father could have an unfulfilled need for a father relationship with
a man. Now that need will not start out as a sexual one, but there are cases on record in
which the sexual relationship has developed. I know one case of a homosexual adult who
seduced a 13 year old boy whose father had forsaken him. Before the boy's contact with the
older man he had no knowledge whatever of homosexuality. The older man seduced the boy.
Lesbianism has been known to follow this same pattern. Some mother-daughter relationships
are not conducive to a normal social and sexual development. One young woman came to her
pastor seeking help. She had gotten involved with a lesbian in the community where she
lived, a woman twenty-one years her senior. The girl's parents had a defective marriage
which ended in divorce when the daughter was ten years old. Her mother became bitter and
resentful against all men. She convinced her daughter that men were not to be trusted, and
that man's one goal was to exploit women sexually. The daughter grew up with a fear of
men, a fear totally unwarranted. She was an easy victim of the seductive older lesbian.
The good and wise pastor showed the counselee from the Bible that homosexuality was sinful
and that God condemned it. She confessed her sin to God and received Jesus Christ as her
Savior and Lord. Today she is happily
married to a fine Christian man.
C. It is certainly true that some gays and lesbians are the
product of terrible parenting. And some homosexuals were seduced by members of the same
sex as children. But many heterosexual adults have the same factors in their background.
Researchers into human sexuality (at least those who are not Evangelical Christians) have
reached a consensus that the quality of parenting is completely unrelated to adult sexual
Q. Do you believe that the homosexual controversy is causing problems
for the churches of America?
A. Evil in any form is a problem in the church. It always has been. The
greater problem, however, is the church's failure to discipline evil when it arises. Karl
Menninger's book, Whatever Became of Sin?, deals directly with that point. There
are ministers, priests, and rabbis who never talk about sin. There was a time when the
minister of God's Word preached the whole counsel of God. Today many pulpits are silent on
the sin question. Sin has become fashionable and therefore acceptable. When sin gets its
victim into serious difficulty, the psychiatrist and psychologist tell him he is sick. The
church must face the fact of sin squarely.
C. There was a time when slavery was
regarded as a normal practice, regulated and condoned by the Bible. Abolitionists were
condemned as sinful. There was a time when when women were restricted to rigid roles and not permitted to achieve positions of power in the church or elsewhere. In many conservative churches,
they still are treated unequally. Christians fighting for equal rights for women were
condemned as sinful. Today, slavery and racial discrimination are no longer popular in
churches, and women are being given equal rights in an increasing large percentage of
denominations. We are now seeing the same changes beginning with regards to sexual
Dr. Strauss is incorrect when he states that the churches are ignoring sin. They
are simply redefining various practices from sinful to not sinful. This has happened with
numerous other topics in the past.
Q. Does the Bible tell us how the church should deal with sexual sins?
A1. In Old Testament times in Israel God dealt severely with homosexuals.
He warned His people through Moses, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth
with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to
death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13). Every
Jew knew that homosexuality was an abomination, a disgusting practice to be loathed,
hated. This was God's attitude toward that evil practice. He hated it to the extent that
He considered it worthy of punishment by death. Now God loved His people Israel dearly,
and it was from His great heart of love that He chastened them. The Epistle to the Hebrews
says, "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He
receiveth" (Hebrews 12:7). When God issued His law forbidding
homosexuality, and the punishment for those persons who violated that law, He did so in
order to prevent them from sinning. However, when anyone broke the law, the offender paid
the penalty due him. God is a holy God who hates and judges sin. Parents who love their
children will not refrain from warning them of prevailing evils, nor will they fail to
chasten them when they disobey. The church today not only tolerates sin but in some
instances condones it. God does neither.
C1. Dr. Strauss has indicated that the Christian should be guided
by the contents of the Bible. After calling homosexual relationships sinful, vile,
perverted, unnatural, wicked evil, and worthy of the death penalty, it is obvious where
much of the motivation for gay-bashing comes from. When people are told by their religious
leaders that homosexuality is depraved and hated by God, it is only natural for them to
consider attacking gays and lesbians.
A2. In the New Testament the principle of discipline was applied with
apostolic authority. In the church at Corinth the young man who was committing fornication
with his step-mother was excommunicated. Paul instructed the church to take that action
"in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . and with the power (i.e. the
authority) of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 5:1-8). In Romans
1:21-32 where Paul shows the Gentile world in its downward plunge into sin,
including the sin of homosexuality, verse 32 concludes with the words, "who
knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death . . . "
Worthy of death, yes. But today we are not under law but under grace. People used to hear
and heed the Gospel-truth, the message that God is holy, man is a sinner, and that through
faith in the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, sinful people
can be born again and thereby delivered from the guilt and penalty and practice of their
C2: As pointed out above, the references
in Corinthians apply to former Christians who switched back to Paganism and engaged in
casual group sex. "Romans" seems to refer to men who sexually abuse boys.
Neither references would seem to be related to homosexual activity between consenting
Q. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for the church?
A. Nothing is more foundationally essential for the church and the world
than a return to the truth. Recently I read where someone said we are suffering from a
famine of the worst kind, "a truth-famine." Our modern culture is in a
degenerating, deteriorating stage caused by a departure from the truth. And I must say
unequivocally that truth does not exist independently of God, and His written Word the
Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ. Truth is in no sense of man's imagination or contrivance.
Man in his fallen state does not know truth, and that is why he continues to go on
sinning. A civilization without the truth is doomed to oblivion. Every ancient
civilization that ignored God and His laws has crumbled. Our present civilization is well
on the road to doom. We cannot survive independently of God and His Word.
The Church must return to the truth, the whole truth, the sum total of truth founded and
grounded upon Him Who said, "I am the truth" (John 14:6). In our Lord's high
priestly prayer for His own He prayed, "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is
truth" (John 17:17). There must be in our churches the clear exposition of the
Scriptures and a continuing exaltation of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ if
our civilization is to be saved from the disasters that overcame past civilizations. Any
civilization with a philosophy or a doctrine which denies the real truth cannot survive.
C. Christian churches have been able to make major changes in the
past 2 centuries. Former sins are now regarded as morally neutral; formerly non-sinful
behavior is now regarded as sinful. Past changes include beliefs about slavery, racial
segregation, marriages between African-Americans, marriages between people of different
religions, marriages between people of different races, equality of opportunity for men
and women. We fully expect that the Christian denominations will be able to handle a major
realignment of their beliefs about the nature of sexual orientation in the future.
Q. Do you see any prophetic significance in the recent homosexual upsurge?
A. Yes, I do. However, I would suggest caution on this point. It is not uncommon for
preachers to attach a prophetic meaning to every earthquake, riot, war, moral scandal or
political disaster, labeling all such events as "signs of the times."
The modern homosexual upsweep is one phase of a declining trend in morals. When the
disciples asked our Lord, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the
consummation of the age?" He told them that "iniquity shall abound"
(Matthew 24:3, 12). There is today a permissiveness and a promiscuity in
sexual behavior unprecedented in the history of America. There is little restraint upon
the widespread of material containing pictures and writing depicting erotic behavior
intended to cause sexual excitement. This would be included in our Lord's prophecy about
There is also a prophetic statement in Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy which has some
bearing upon the subject we are discussing. Paul said, "This know also, that in
the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves,
covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
without natural affection . . . " (II Timothy 3:1-3).
Homosexuality is an unnatural affection, practiced by persons "that defile
themselves with mankind" (I Timothy 1:10), translated in the
New American Standard Version "homosexuals," and in the New
International Version, "perverts." I conclude, in the light of these
Scriptures, that the rise of homosexuality is very definitely a trend which indicates the
approaching end of the age.
C. In past years, the slavery abolition movement, desegregation,
the drive for equal opportunity for men and women, inter-racial marriages etc. were all
condemned as a "declining trend in morals." But, in time, the denominations have
accepted these social changes in a positive light. We expect that the various Christian
denominations will eventually reach the same conclusion about homosexuality. Most liberal
and some mainline denominations already have.
There does not appear to be any indication that the percentage of gays and lesbians
has changed in the last few centuries. The only "rise of homosexuality" is a
rise in the visibility of gays and lesbians.
Q. Have you personally counseled with homosexuals?
A. Yes, in two pastorates over a period of twenty-five years. In each
instance the homosexual was a man in his thirties who had seduced teen-aged boys. The
seduction of younger persons is a pattern most homosexuals follow. They seem to prefer
gratifying their lust with youth. This is a pattern typical of men who marry several
wives. Men who do not respect their marriage vows pursue women younger than themselves.
One man of wealth was reportedly married and divorced six times. Most of his wives were
young enough to be his daughters. The two homosexual men who applied for a marriage
license in the Maricopa County Clerk's Office in Arizona were 39 and 21 years old, quite a
variation in ages.
C. Dr. Strauss' statement that that most gays sexually abuse young
people is beneath contempt. Statistics show that the overwhelming number of sexual
predators who abuse children are either heterosexual, or have no sexual orientation
Q. Do you attach any significance to the age factor you mentioned?
A. Yes, I do. I see a potential threat to young people who are exposed to
homosexuals. Older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth.
C. This comment is also beneath contempt.
Q. Do you care to make any comments on the Anita Bryant crusade in
Dade County, Florida?
A. In my judgment Anita Bryant was justified in the action she pursued.
She did not want her children exposed to the influence of a practicing homosexual in the
public school classroom. Inasmuch as homosexuality is classified in the Bible as an evil,
to insist that children be exposed to homosexual teachers in the public schools would be
an infringement upon the rights of parents and their children. Under no condition would I
permit my children to be subjected to the influence of a sex pervert. As an American
citizen I consider that choice to be my right. Anita Bryant laid her career on the line in
the bold and courageous stand she took. She should not have to fight the battle alone.
Christians should support her.
C. Dr. Strauss seems to assume that US public schools are
Christian. They are not. The wall of separation between church
and state requires them to be religiously neutral. He seems to ignore the need for
homosexual youth to have good gay and lesbian role models among their teachers. Finally,
he advocates discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
Q. What should be the Christian's attitude toward the homosexual?
A. We must always keep before us the fact that homosexuals, like all of
us sinners, are the objects of God's love. The Bible says, "But God commendeth
His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans
5:8). Jesus Christ "is the propitiation for our sins: and not for
ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).
The Christian who shares God's love for lost sinners will seek to reach the homosexual
with the gospel of Christ, which "is the power of God unto salvation, to every
one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). As a Christian I should hate
all sin but I can find no justification for hating the sinner. The homosexual is a
precious soul for whom Christ died. We Christians can show him the best way of life by
pointing him to Christ. Our Lord said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the
gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). We are obligated to
take the gospel to all.
C. Dr. Strauss reverses his stance at this point. After having
called gays and lesbians every disgusting name possible, after saying that most gays abuse
young people, and after advocating that they be fired from their jobs, he finally
recognizes that gays and lesbians are human beings that God loves.
Q. How can we help Christians who get involved in the practice of
A. We can help them by seeking to draw their attention to what God says
in His Word. In a kind and loving spirit we can show them that they are wrong. However,
the homosexual must admit to the fact that he is living in sin and that he has the desire
to be made free from it. Without a genuine conviction of God's displeasure and a strong
desire to do God's will, there is no hope. A truly born again person cannot continue to
practice sin without reaping the results of miserable unhappiness brought on by loss of
fellowship with God, the fear of retribution and the anxiety produced by guilt. The
homosexual must ask himself, "Is the temporary gratification of the flesh worth
all the penalty and losses I must suffer?"
C. An alternative response is for Christians to befriend a gay or
lesbian Christian, to study the Biblical quotations that are so often used to condemn
homosexuals, to learn about the genetic cause of sexual orientation, and to attempt to
understand how a gay or lesbian Christian feels when their own religious denomination
rejects them. It is quite likely that they will conclude that homosexuality is simply a
different, genetically determined, sexual orientation in a minority of people...and that
God wishes the same "lifestyle" for all individuals - to fall in love and enter
into a committed permanent relationship with another adult.
On the positive side, Dr. Strauss does not promote the mistaken
belief that an individual can change their sexual orientation. He seems to recognize
that gays and lesbians only have two choices: to love a person of the same gender, or to
decide to remain celibate.
- Lehman Strauss, "Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective," at: http://www.bible.org/docs/splife/chrhome/homo.htm
Note: The hyperlink states that: "this essay is copyright
©1997 Lehman Strauss, Litt.D., F.R.G.S. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and
distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the
author's consent." That might be difficult to obtain, as Dr. Strauss died in