I’ve made several YouTube videos explaining that homosexuality is not a sin based upon a thorough understanding of Scripture. There’s been a ton of backlash, but also a lot of gratitude. My main argument has always been that sexual orientation did not exist in the Ancient World—that because of this, all the Bibles Verses against homosexuality must be talking about something other than monogamous, consenting gay relationships. I decided to lay out in-depth my arguments on a lot of aspects of this issue. Comment below any of your thoughts! I’m always open to being proven wrong.
Counter-Examples in Scripture:
- If God created sex only to be both unitive and procreative within a heterosexual marriage relationship between one man and one woman, there would not be examples in the Bible of God abusing His own natural law.
- There are many examples in the Bible in which sex is NOT purely unitive and procreative only within a heterosexual marriage relationship between one man and one woman.
- Jacob marries both Leah and Rachel and then has sex with their servants Billah and Zilpah to have children (Genesis 29 & 30)
- David had many wives: Ahinoam, Michal, Abigail, Maccah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, etc. (1 Samuel 18:27, 1 Samuel 25:42, 2 Samuel 3:2-5)
- In Ancient Israelite society, one of the duties of the kinsman-redeemer was to impregnate the wife of his deceased cousin or brother. (Genesis 38:8-10, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Mark 12:18-23, Ruth 3:1-4)
- Solomon had MANY wives. “Solomon had 700 royal wives and 300 concubines” (1 Kings 11:3)
- Therefore, God did not create sex only to be a unitive and procreative act within a heterosexual marriage relationship between one man and one woman. (modus tollens 1,2)
Thus, we should be careful to not interpret Genesis 2:24 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” in a way that is over-literal and legalistic and attached to some metaphysical telos when polygamy was actively practiced by the Jewish Patriarchs.
On Forced Abstinence:
- Teaching that “Homosexuality is a sin” requires abstinence of Gay Christians.
- But in Scripture celibacy is never forced upon someone. It is a choice and a “gift” given by God— the person being aware of the gift. (1 Corinthians 7:7)
- Many Gay Christians do not see being gay as a gift of celibacy and instead express the desire to be in a same-sex marriage relationship.
- Therefore, teaching that “Homosexuality is a sin” goes against Scripture. (modus tollens 2, 3)
Contradictions within Catholicism:
- Not every single sexual act must be unitive and procreative to be moral.
- Natural Family Planning (NFP) is allowed in Catholicism as a form of birth control. With NFP you’re allowed to intentionally have sex even when you have certainty that it will not be procreative.
- Catholic couples that are infertile are allowed to have sex.
- Within Catholicism, a couple that has certainty they are infertile before being married are allowed to get married and allowed to have sex within their marriage. This is not considered a mortal sin, even though it is only fulfilling the unitive part of sex and will NEVER fulfill the procreative aspect of sex.
- Therefore, Catholicism allows marriages in which sex is not procreative. (2)
- The Church would simply encourage this couple to adopt children to fulfill the procreative aspect of their marriage.
- Homosexuality is a marriage in which sex is not procreative.
- The marriage of an infertile couple is analogous to a gay marriage in that in both cases they are only fulfilling the unitive part of sex.
- Therefore, Catholicism could allow gay marriage without violating the procreative aspect of sex. (modus ponens 3,4)
We should be careful to not interpret Genesis 1:28 in an overly legalistic way: “God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." In this verse God is speaking to the first humans, not to 21st Century Christians. This doesn’t mean it does not apply to us at all, but we’re far removed from the original context. It also seems like it has already been fulfilled since humanity has already “filled the earth” with people. Populating the world seems to be a much less pressing issue for Christians today than it was for Adam and Eve, since the world is already populated.
On Metaphors within Scripture:
- If metaphors used in the Bible to explain God’s relationship with the Church do not have to continue indefinitely in our modern practices, then discontinuing or tweaking Ancient practices does not lessen the value and meaning of these metaphors or of our relationships with Christ.
- Ancient slavery as a Biblical metaphor of salvation. (Ephesians 6:6, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 2:16)
- Slavery is illegal in every country in the world except for North Korea and we do not need to reinitiate slavery or the practice of having bondservants to maintain the meaning of this metaphor.
- Wives submitting to their husbands, i.e. thinking of relationships as the guy “ruling over” the female as a metaphor to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-28)
- Many 21st Century Christians believe in relationships of equality and do not see egalitarianism in any way as lessening the power of Christ and the Church.
- Farming metaphors. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth;” the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, etc.)
- We don’t need to all have vegetable gardens for this to remain a powerful statement of salvation and what it means to be converted into the Faith.
- Ancient slavery as a Biblical metaphor of salvation. (Ephesians 6:6, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 2:16)
- Marriage between a man and a woman is a beautiful metaphor used to describe Christ’s relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:22-28), but like all the other examples it is just a metaphor and it would not lessen the value or meaning of Christianity if our understanding of marriage changed.
- Especially since many Christians no longer subscribe to the gender roles that are also a part of this metaphor in Ephesians 5. In essence, our understanding of marriage has already changed.
- Therefore, we do not need to hold onto a singular view of marriage as though we are destroying the power of the Church if we do so. (modus ponens 1,2)
Bible Verses “Against” Homosexuality:
- Genesis 19. The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“4Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” -Genesis 19:4-8
- These men were punished by God for attempting to gang rape the two angels who were visiting Lot. Hospitality was one of the highest virtues within the Mesopotamian world and verse 8 “for they have come under the protection of my roof” makes it clear that this is more about violating hospitality than participating in homosexuality.
- Comparing these men wanting to rape the two angels to a consenting same-sex relationship is simply not analogous.
- Homosexuality as an “abomination” in Leviticus 18:22 & Leviticus 20:13
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” -Leviticus 18:22
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” -Leviticus 20:13
- Abomination in the Old Testament was not necessarily connotated with sin, but rather somewhat arbitrary laws God created to “set apart” the Israelites from the surrounding nations. One of my Old Testament classes in college emphasized how “clean” v. “unclean” was simply not about sin or morality.
- This is obvious in that other examples of “abominations” within Leviticus are eating shrimp (Leviticus 11:9-12) or wearing clothing made of multiple types of fabric (Leviticus 19:19).
- Since heterosexual marriages were the only kind that existed amongst the Israelites, a man lying with another man would have been breaking the marriage covenant and having sex outside of a legal marriage. That seems to be the problem.
- New Testament Bible Verses:
1 Timothy 1:10 “We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for the lawbreakers and rebels… for those practicing homosexuality”
Romans 1:26-27, “ Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
The concept of sexual orientation did not exist in the Ancient world. The concept of monogamous same-sex relationships did not exist in the Ancient world. Gay marriage did not exist in the Ancient world. It is anachronistic to assume Paul is speaking out against gay marriage or consensual same-sex relationships. He isn’t. He couldn’t have been. It didn’t exist in the 1st Century! What did exist were apprenticeships in which older men would rape younger boys in return for teaching them a skill or trade. (Ruden, Paul Among the People) What did exist were situations of “shameful lust” in which someone would break their Marriage Covenant by having sex with someone of the same gender.
Something that is much more analogous to these Bible Verses than homosexual relationships is modern day sex slavery which affects 4.5 million people globally (International Labor Organization). But regardless, homosexuality (in the way we are currently thinking of it in the 21st Century) is not mentioned in the Bible.
On Things Not in the Bible:
- Many things are not explicitly discussed in Scripture:
- Birth control
- Global Warming
- Torturing animals in factory farms
- Mental illness
- Christians going to war
- The doctrine of the trinity
- Using technology
- Open heart surgeries
- Owning guns
- Christians getting tattoos or piercings
- Sola scriptura
- In vitro fertilization
- Smoking Marijuana
- Celebrating Christmas
- Credit cards
Most of these things are not discussed in Scripture because they also did not exist in the 1st Century. When something is not explicitly discussed in Scripture, we can look to the Bible as a whole for general themes and apply them to the given situation. The Bible in general seems to be about love and the gay rights movement seems to also be promoting love. When God declares something as a sin in the Bible, it is usually because it is harming another person, harming yourself or harming your relationship with God. But Gay Christians who are in relationships maintain none of this is true to homosexuality. In fact the opposite is true. Christians declaring it as a sin and not being willing to listen or change is what is causing more harm to these individuals.
Paul’s sexual ethics were more about equality than anything else. In the Greo-Roman world sex tended to be about the weaker and the stronger person, rather than something mutual. The person dominating was seen as having “honor” whereas the passive person experienced “shame.” When Paul speaks of sexual ethics within marriage, he is speaking out against this and promoting an equality within sex. This verse is extremely forward-thinking and even feminist for his time: 1 Corinthians 7:4, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” (Ruden, Paul Among the People)
Today we think of sexual ethics more in terms of who we can have sex with and when we can have sex, but Paul was not concerned with that because to the Early Christians of course sex was only within marriage and of course marriage was only between a man and a woman. But primarily because sex is allowed only within marriage is why homosexuality is so harshly condemned throughout Scripture. It is breaking the marriage covenant. It is about lust rather than being a unifying force within a relationship. Any type of homosexuality would have been sex outside of marriage to the 1st Century up until the 21st Century Church, so we shouldn’t be surprised that this has always been condemned. But if people of the same gender want to make a marriage covenant, the nature of homosexuality completely changes.
When it comes to things not explicitly talked about in the Bible, we can also look to Christian Tradition and see how Christians through the years have thought of these same issues. For something like abortion, we can see that from the 1st Century onward Christians have been consistently against any type of abortion or infanticide. But when it comes to homosexuality, this is difficult because a majority of Christian history when discussing “homosexuality” has not been talking about it as a sexual orientation within a consensual monogamous relationship. They had not been dealing with what we are discussing today.
I believe homosexuality has always existed within a portion of the human population (as it also does in over 300 animal species), but expressing it through definitive sexual orientation terminology is something that developed last century. It’s a new issue for the Church to grapple with and understand. Many Gay Christians feel rejected by our churches and many liberal-minded millennials want nothing to do with Christianity because of the way we have handled this.
So many people speak of this in terms of salvation— that it is a salvation issue allowing gays to live together and have sex as if in a marriage relationship. But telling them they cannot love in the way a heterosexual Christian can is a block in itself from them fully engaging with a Church and growing close to God. I’ve read hundreds of comments from gay Christians who have been emotionally or physically abused, been rejected and invalidated by Christians— some who have felt like God hated them and who have become suicidal because of the way Christians have handled this. Many of them love God and want to remain in the Faith, but are scared to be part of a Church because we have scarred them.
Many millennials who are not even gay but who support the lgbtq+ community are leaving the Church and will never come back because they see it as against equality, against science, and against love. This is much bigger than the homosexuality issue, it is about the reputation of the Church as a whole and our mission in bringing the Gospel to the world. This issue is hindering that for a lot of people. Let’s be cautious and gentle and humble with how we precede.