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Homosexuality as viewed by different Christian denominations

Jehovah's Witnesses & same-sex marriage

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An article in Awake! magazine concerning same-sex marriage:

The Jehovah's Witnesses published an article condemning same-sex marriage in their Awake! magazine for 2001-APR-08. 1 The article discussed most of the Bible passages that have been cited elsewhere in discussions of same-sex marriage

In this essay, we are not trying to attack the Jehovah's Witness position. Rather, we are attempting to explain the full diversity of Christian interpretation of those biblical passages that may relate to homosexuality. We are comparing the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses with those of more liberal Christians.

  • Genesis 2:24: This verse discusses a man and woman forming a marriage relationship. Awake! stated:
    "God intended marriage to be a permanent and an intimate bond between a man and a woman. Men and women are designed to complement each other so they may be capable of satisfying each otherís emotional, spiritual, and sexual needs and desires."
    This verse certainly demonstrates God's support for opposite-sex marriage. However, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have not reached a consensus on whether this passage describes God's only recommended adult lifestyle, or his main recommended lifestyle.

    Some argue that God approves of opposite-sex marriage for most adults, as well as:
    • Celibacy for those who are attracted to this lifestyle and can cope with it, and
    • A loving committed same-sex relationship leading to same-sex marriage as an option for those with a homosexual or bisexual orientation.
  • Genesis 19: This chapter describes God's genocide of the newborns, infants, children and adults in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah due to extreme levels of sinful behaviors by the adults in those cities. The Awake! article describes the "sinful depravity" by the men of Sodom who apparently demanded access to Lot's angelic guests in order to rape them. According to Awake!: "The Bible says: 'The men of Sodom were bad and were gross sinners against Jehovah'."

    There is no consensus among Bible believers as to the specific nature of the men's sin. The Bible is ambiguous on this point. The sin may have been:
    • Bestiality: sexual intercourse between men and angels.
    • Rape: anal intercourse forced on Lot's guests against their will.
    • Homosexual behavior itself.

    The Awake! article states unequivocally that the sin was the desire to engage in homosexual behavior. However, other passages in the Bible seem to refer to the sinfulness of the people of Sodom's as being their brutal and uncaring response to strangers, widows, orphans, the poor, and hurting. It would appear that the genocide in Genesis 19 is unrelated to loving, committed homosexual activity. Rather, it was triggered either by the men's attempts at bestiality and/or rape.

    If the account of attempted same-sex rape in Genesis can be used to condemn all homosexual behavior, then the opposite-sex rape in Genesis 34:1, Deuteronomy 22:28, etc. can be used to condemn all heterosexual behavior.
  • Romans 1:27: The Awake! article linked all modern-day homosexual behavior to this passage. It describes men who became "violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males. (Romans 1:27)" It is important to realize that  the men to whom the passage in Romans refers were heterosexual. They were once Christians. They had left the faith and reverted to Paganism. Later, they had apparently become involved in sexual orgies in Greek Pagan temples. During the orgies, they had engaged in homosexual activities with other men -- something that is against their fundamental nature. This passage has nothing to do with men with a homosexual orientation engaging in loving, committed same-sex behavior within marriage. To the latter, sex with a woman would be against their fundamental nature.
  • Jude 7: This passage has an ambiguous phrase describing the men of Sodom: "gone out after flesh for unnatural use" (New World Translation) or "going after strange flesh" (King James Version). The Jehovah's Witnesses and most other religious conservatives interpret this phrase as condemning all ancient and modern-day homosexual activity. However, many or most most Bible believers interpret it as referring to the attempted bestiality by the men of Sodom. The males were human and the victims that they wanted to rape were of a different species -- angels.
  • Leviticus 18:22: This is part of the Jewish holiness code. It states that: "You must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable thing." (New World Translation)Awake! interprets this passage as condemning all homosexual behavior. But many Christians conclude that the verse condemns only anal intercourse between two men in a Pagan temple ritual or condemns anal intercourse between two men in a woman's bed. Many gay males do not engage in anal intercourse. Few have sex on a woman's bed. Even fewer of them engage in orgies in Pagan temples. This passage may well be unrelated to married same-sex spouses today. 1

However, the Awake! article ignored an important passage:

  • Genesis 2:18: In this verse, God is quoting as saying that it is not good for a man to be alone. This appears to support committed relationships leading to marriage. For a person with a homosexual orientation, opposite-sex marriage is not usually attainable or sustainable. This passage would seem to imply support for homosexuals and bisexuals entering a same-sex marriage. The Awake! article did not discuss this verse.

Related essay:

See also our essay on the Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexual behavior

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Does God approve of same-sex marriage?" Awake! magazine, 2005-APR-08, at: http://www.watchtower.org/

Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2008-SEP-27
Latest update: 2008-SEP-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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