of 7 major passages
same-gender sexual behavior.
Resolution through dialogue.
Major or "clobber" passages:
Of the 20 or so Bible passages that have been interpreted as
involving homosexual behavior, the seven listed below are mentioned most often.
They are commonly
referred to as "clobber" passages, because they are used by many
social and religious conservatives to condemn homosexual behavior. The remainder are minor passages and
are described elsewhere.
The following very brief descriptions are necessarily
over-simplified. They do not cover the full range of conservative/progressive
beliefs. However, you may well find the beliefs that you have been taught in one
of these columns:
Typical interpretation by religious conservatives
Typical interpretation by religious progressives &
Humans who have sex with other species -- angels in this case -- will go to
Hell, not Heaven, at death.
*Concerning Leviticus 18:22 and 30:13:
Prior to the mid-20th century, these verses were correctly translated from the original Hebrew as referring to men sexually abusing young boys. 1
There are various interpretations of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 of which this is one.
The Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible, and
James Moffatt translation correctly use the word "catamites," or
the phrase "boy prostitutes" to describe
one group of individuals that Paul believed will go to Hell because of their behavior
on Earth. Catamites and boy prostitutes were often boys or male youth who was kept as a
sexual partner/slave by an adult male.
The verse is profoundly immoral by
today's secular and most religious moral standards because it involves scapegoating: the transfer of sin and/or
punishment from the guilty perpetrator to the innocent victim. This
type of transfer is seen many passages throughout the Bible from
Genesis to Revelation. Many religious liberals believe that these passages are
immoral and should be ignored because they are
clearly opposed to the will of God.
Summary of opposing interpretations of the clobber passages:
To many -- not all -- conservative members of religions that revere the
Bible -- primarily the Baha'i faith, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism -- the Bible
condemns homosexual behavior and states that, after death, persons who have been sexually active
with members of the same gender will end up in Hell, not Heaven.
Most fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians believe that because God
is all powerful and hates same-sex sexual behavior, he will either:
Change a repentant lesbian or gay who is saved into a heterosexual, or
Help a saved lesbian or gay choose and later maintain a celibate lifestyle.
English translations of the Bible are far more supportive of these beliefs than are the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
To many -- not all -- liberal/progressive believers, the Bible is silent
same-sex sexual behavior within a loving, consensual relationship or same-sex marriage. God accepts persons of all
sexual orientations and approves of sex that is consensual, non-manipulative,
safe and within a loving, committed relationship. Liberals and progressive
have a range of beliefs concerning safe, consensual, and casual sex by heterosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians or gays.
However the Bible condemns:
Males raping other men. In fact, it condemns all non-consensual sex.
One of two behaviors:
Either men engaging in ritual sex in Pagan temples, or
Men having sex in a woman's bed.
Thelogians have translated passages in Leviticus 18 and 20 both ways.
People having sex that violates their sexual orientation -- their basic nature. For example:
Persons with a heterosexual orientation having sex with a member of the same sex.
Lesbians or gays with a homosexual orientation having sex with a member of the opposite sex.
Men sexually abusing children. One passage also condemns young victims
of sexual molestation.
People engaging in bestiality: having sex with non-humans, including angels.
A solution to the conflict:
As with many other religiously-based conflicts like abortion access, equal rights for transgender persons and transsexuals, and -- in past years -- interracial, interfaith and inter-ethnic marriages, we see two opposing groups strongly disagreeing with each other, even as they tenatiously hold firmly to their beliefs. Harmonizing their beliefs would require dialogue. This involves sitting down together, explaining their beliefs to each other, and discussing their differences. The process encourages both sides to seek the truth, and to avoid trying to convince the other side to change their mind.
Webmaster's personal opinion; [bias alert]:
Unfortunately, both sides tend to stay apart, throw verbal rocks at each other, and teach their followers only one side of the conflict as absolute truth. Dialogue on sexual orientation is essentially non-existent. In the meantime, about one in four lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are thrown out of their homes when they come out of the "closet" to their parents. Suicide ideation and completed suicide rates among LGBT youths are much higher than average. If a concensus were reached, there is every chance that these dreadful figures could be greatly reduced. With no consensus, the trail of coffins lengthens daily. Our opinion is that both sides exhibit depraved indifference when they do not actively engage in dialogue.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.