Is homosexuality a sin? What the bible says about ever-changing moral values
How citizens fail to recognize a decline in society’s moral standard
Absolute consensus on societal issues will likely never exist. There will always be disagreement and dissension over what constitutes right and wrong. But general consensus, acceptable by the majority, can be manufactured by Man. Laws, leaders, and societal groups assert great influence on citizens and can promote an issue to the point that the majority of the population will eventually embrace it. In general, the promotion of an agenda, and acceptance by a civilization, occurs gradually, over time, and in small increments – barely recognizable by the citizens until the issue at hand has been fully integrated into the society.
In the early 16th century, sodomy was punishable by death, a measure of punishment that continued until the late 19th century. In the early 1900’s, nations around the world began decriminalizing sodomy. Within 20 years of decriminalization, “underground” homosexual literature and furtive gay clubs began to spread. By the mid-1960’s, premarital sex became common and socially acceptable. By the late 1960’s, with social values in a steady decline, the homosexual lifestyle had begun to be accepted by some societal groups. By the 1970’s, the gay rights movement was in full swing with public “equal rights” marches taking place around the country. By 1980, homosexuals began to appear in public office, in the media, and on TV. AIDS began to spread and became front-page news across the world. By the 1990’s the American Medical Association changed its stance and homosexuality was no longer considered an illness. Although still a novelty, gays continued “coming out”, openly proclaiming, even celebrating, their sexuality. By 2000, civil union laws were passed allowing gays to legally marry with the same rights afforded to couples of traditional marriages. In 2003, the Supreme Court invalidated state sodomy laws and the “alternative lifestyle” could no longer be deemed illegal. By the early 2010’s, portrayal of the alternatives lifestyle was common on TV, sometimes in jest, sometimes in earnest, graphic detail. High school students openly embraced their homosexuality with no fear of humiliation, degradation, or isolation. The choice between a traditional lifestyle and an alternative lifestyle was now nothing more than that – a choice.
It should be apparent from the above timeline that acceptance of homosexual lifestyles occurred gradually, over a period of time. It went from a sin punishable by death to an accepted lifestyle in less than 100 years. From the 1960’s, when sexual social values began to rapidly decline, to the early 2000’s, when homosexuality became generally acceptable in society, we saw a similar decline in other areas of morality too. During that same period, violent crime quadrupled (tough government changes in law kept the homicide rate in check), property rate crime nearly doubled, and the reported incidents of child abuse rose five fold. That morality as a whole was on a rapid downhill decline is inarguable.
Even incidences of bestiality, a sexual deviancy that is still morally reprehensible to most people, rose from a reported 1% of the population to 4%. Similar to the early days of the gay rights movement, zoophiles began to promote justifications of their sexual preference and sought to politic in order to make the practice more acceptable to society. In a Thomas Francis interview in 2012 with a man named “James”, James explained, “’This is not a fetish. It’s an orientation, a lifestyle.” In a 2002 report by Miletski Beetz, he noted that zoophilia was not an inclination that was freely chosen but rather a trait that was inherited and he admitted in his 2002 report, “the phenomenon of sexual contact with animals is starting to lose its taboo.”
Ignoring the society’s religious values or attempting to justify behavior by manipulating those religious values to excuse behavior allows the decline of morality in a civilization. It is important to recognize that the decline of social values is not forced upon the society by leadership or influential groups but rather is freely *accepted* by its citizens – over time. Our social values do not change overnight. Degradation of a civilization’s acceptable social values occurs slowly, usually with each incremental change in those values occurring once per generation. If a civilization loses sight of their religious foundation, ignores historical context, and fails to recognize the gradual dissolution of their morality, the declining morality will likely destroy the civilization. If this sounds like the wild cries of a maniac, read my analysis on how the decline of moral values promoted the failure of past civilizations.
Biblical view of homosexuality and watered-down religion
The Bible is quite clear on the topic of homosexuality. Regardless, liberals will attempt to justify homosexuality on several points. They will sometimes note that God made Man in his own image and hence homosexuality should be acceptable. This logic breaks down when applied to other sins, such as pedophilia, bestiality, theft, murder, or any other morally deficient practice. Some will claim that the references to homosexuality are taken out of context. This is also a difficult claim to justify given the many documented references of God’s abhorrence of homosexual practices (see specific examples below). And finally, they will assert that the word “homosexual” did not even exist during biblical times but alas, that claim also breaks down when the scripture is read in context.
Genesis 19:5 – Sodom and Gomorrah
The first mention of homosexuality in the Bible occurs in Genesis 19:5 (a similar story can be found in Judges 19:14) in the story of the destruction of the cities of Sodom (which the word “sodomy” is derived from) and Gomorrah. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah makes reference to both rape and homosexuality. Other than the general emphasis of the tremendous immorality of the two cities, the story does not clearly specify which sin is most deplorable.
The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked and vile that God told a pleading Abraham that he would save the cities if only 10 decent people could be found living there (the ultimate demise of the cities makes it clear that Abraham’s argument was a hopeless cause). As the story’s scene switches to Lot, who lives within the city, we are presented with a scene that illustrates the level of depravity that Sodom and Gomorrah have sunk to. Two angels (ancient texts refer to them as “men”) choose to stay overnight with Lot. After entering Lot’s home and closing the doors, men surrounded the home and demanded Lot turn out the male visitors so they could have sex with them. Although in this case we have no way of knowing which is more deplorable, the men’s desire to rape or their yearning to have sex with their own gender, the degree of degeneracy of the men’s’ demands can we weighed against Lot’s counteroffer – “take my daughters instead”.
Leviticus 18:22 – if a man lies with a man
In Leviticus Chapter 18, God tells Moses to speak to the Israelites and instruct them to not behave as other neighboring countries behave. God tells Moses that the man who obeys these laws will “live by them” meaning compliance will help ensure the man’s life and wellbeing. God lays out 17 “laws” regarding sexual relations including forbidding incest, sexual intercourse during a woman’s period, bestiality, and homosexuality. Specifically in Lev. 18:22 God tells Moses “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is detestable” and in this sentence, the word translated as “detestable” indicates a strong form of moral (not ritual) disapproval. It is obvious from this sentence that to God, homosexuality is hardly an “alternative lifestyle”.
Leviticus Chapter 20 goes on to expand upon the offenses listed in Chapter 18 and list penalties for each. Lev 20:13 says “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” This double emphasis on these topics further emphasizes God’s distaste for these sinful acts (Note: if the “death penalty” seems severe, read about the differences in Old Testament moral and judicial law).
1 Corinthians 6:9 – neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters
Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth during his first visits and spent several more years in the city during subsequent trips. Corinth during this time was rife with immoral beliefs and depraved tendencies. The city’s slogan, “Everything is permissible for me” demonstrated their attempt to cloak the immorality of its inhabitants in a belief system that permitted any and every physical function to be used as they please (many atheists proclaim to follow a similar principle). Paul’s response to this slogan was to point out that not every physical function is beneficial to a person, society, or mankind.
During Paul’s time in Corinth, he reiterated the teachings of Jesus to the Corinthian churches. During the time in between, and after his visits, Paul wrote letters to the Church answering questions and emphasizing the lessons that Jesus taught his followers. In one of these letters, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul says:
“Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters (note, in ancient times, idols were often used in sexual rituals) nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders … will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Although this list of sins is certainly not all inclusive, homosexuality is specifically mentioned in the list as a sin. Supporters of “alternative lifestyles” will argue that this verse prohibits nothing more than male prostitution but this is an ignorant claim. Ancient Greek translations of this verse show that the Greek word “malakoi”, meaning homosexual male prostitutes and “arsenokoitai”, meaning homosexual, are clearly used in two separate and independent connotations. There is simply no argument that this verse specifically lists “homosexuality” as a turpitude and a potential barrier to the entrance of heaven.
Romans 1:26 – abandoning natural relations and the due penalty for their error
Romans 1:26 not only provides an excellent example of the Bible’s message regarding homosexuality but also provides us excellent commentary regarding the impact to society when homosexuality becomes a socially acceptable practice. This chapter points out that once society rejects Christian morals, God in turn rejects the society leading to the inevitable dissolution of that culture.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he points out that even though the Romans were aware of the morals espoused by Christianity, they refused to abide by them. In turn, God turned his back on them and allowed them to degenerate into an amoral society. As Paul explained:
“Therefore God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another… 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.”
In what Paul calls “sinful desires”, “errors”, and “degradation of their bodies”, he clearly points out that homosexual relations are “unnatural” sin and further demonstrates that a society that becomes tolerant of such sins can progress into wicked civilization filled with strife.
1 Timothy 1:9-10 – Paul includes homosexuality in long list of sins
In one of Paul’s (or Paulinist depending on your scholarly opinion of the book’s authorship) last letters, the book of 1 Timothy, he wrote to two pastors reflecting concerns that troubled him near the end of his ministry. The letter emphasized appropriate moral conduct and his concern that “false teachers” were disseminating lies and misconceptions regarding what constitute Christian morals. Paul explained that the Law was not especially beneficial to those with good moral conduct but was necessary for sinners such as:
“… lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.”
Once again, Paul specifically points out homosexuality as a sin as he warns the Church about false religious leaders and an unstable population who may seek to bend the rules to their advantage.
Jude 1:7 – Sodom and Gomorrah and sexual immorality
Judas (who was likely one of Jesus’ brothers) also warned in the book of Jude of “false teachers” who would distort the biblical scriptures to mask their immorality. He reminds his readers about the behavior of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and explains the consequences of their immoral behavior.
“Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”
Additional Supporting Evidence
In addition to clear, specific biblical references to homosexuality, there is much ancillary biblical evidence that homosexual behavior is undesirable, dangerous, unhealthy, immoral, and not God’s true intent for the order of life.
Genesis 1:28 – be fruitful and increase in number
In Genesis 1:28, God clearly informs Man what his purpose on Earth is. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Genesis 9:20 – the taboo of male nakedness
In Genesis 9:20, we see that a male’s nakedness (in particular, a father’s nakedness), was so taboo that Noah’s sons held a garment stretched between their shoulders and walked backwards into their father’s tent in order to cover him up.
Deuteronomy 22:5 – cross-dressing and blurring the distinction of the sexes
Demonstrating that cross-dressing blurred the distinction of the sexes (an essential part of the order of life), Deuteronomy 22:5 instructs both sexes, “a woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this”.
Twisting Biblical Law to legitimize homosexuality – evolving religion to fit changing societal moral guidelines
Supporters of homosexual lifestyles will often slant the meanings of key biblical passages or manufacture other excuses in order to argue that the Bible does not prohibit homosexuality.
Attempting to explain away moral guidelines using ambiguous biblical translations
The accuracy of modern-day bible translations
First, it helps to recognize that our modern-day biblical translations are extremely accurate. The first words written in the Bible (by Moses) was written in Hebrew. Almost all books of the Old Testament were written in Hebrew (a few chapters in Ezra and Daniel and one verse in Jeremiah were written in Aramaic). Later, Aramaic became popular and was the common language spoken during Jesus’ time (and was probably the language the he spoke). The New Testament however, was written in Greek, which was the language of scholarship from 50 to 100 AD. In fact, so many Jews could not speak Hebrew that around 300 BC, the entire Old Testament was painstakingly translated from Hebrew to Greek, a translation that took almost 100 years! Original copies of the Old Testament (e.g. the Dead Sea Scrolls), dating to the first century BC, were found in 1947. Scholars found that the text of the scrolls, nearly across the board, agreed with our modern day translations. Since the Biblical text was considered sacred, scribes were extremely careful when copying the text.
Male prostitution or homosexuality
One of their arguments is that certain passages do not specifically prohibit homosexuality but rather, prohibit male prostitution. They will argue that the translation of “male prostitute” could be mistranslated as “homosexual” instead. Deuteronomy 23:17-18 provides us with three distinct words for “prostitute” that occur in the Bible, and demonstrates that they are not easily confused with “homosexual”. In Deuteronomy 23:17, the Bible says, “no Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute (Hebrew term translated as “temple prostitute”, common in fertility cults of the day). You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute (here the Hebrew term distinctly delineates the prostitute as a secular female prostitute) or of a male prostitute (Hebrew term for non-cultic male prostitute) into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both”.
This single phrase contains three distinct translations for three different kinds of prostitution. None are mistranslated as “homosexual” despite the fact that the reference to “male prostitute” most likely refers to homosexual prostitutes (as the term “male prostitute” would even in the present day). Mistranslation of the Bible text is practically nonexistent.
But what about Eunuchs?
Homosexual supporters will often bring up Matthew 19:10 as an example of the Bible permitting homosexuality. In Matthew 19:10, Jesus is answering questions for a group of people. The topic turns to divorce and marriage and the question is asked – what about people who do not have normal sexual desires, eunuchs or men who have been castrated. Jesus explains that men who have been castrated, whether or not it was their fault, as well as persons who choose not to marry for religious reasons (e.g. priests), have the right to not marry. Despite the fact that Jesus is specifically talking about men who have been physically castrated, he in no manner indicates that they should be allowed to marry *each other* nor should they be allowed to have sexual relations with each other. To propose that this verse supports and permits homosexual lifestyles is a stretch to say the least.
But John 3:16 says I’m saved if I believe?
Another argument promoting the acceptable morality of alternative lifestyles is sometimes presented by the famous verse found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Supporters of homosexuality may claim that in this verse, Jesus indicated his acceptance for everyone, including homosexuals as long as the believe in him. But the true meaning of this phrase is revealed in the very next sentence: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” This explains that Jesus was not sent to Earth to condemn, but to teach and save. Those that truly “believe” in him, follow his teachings, including his lessons regarding the immorality of homosexuality.
But what if I were born gay?
Another common argument is “God made me gay so it must be ok”. Some scientific studies claim to show a slight difference in the brain composition of homosexual men. In the same manner, other scientific studies have shown slight differences in the brain composition of serial killers, pedophiles, drug addicts, alcoholics, and common criminals. But the same scientists who conducted those studies will also note that a biological predisposition for some outward behavior is not a determination of that behavior nor is it an open door to behave as they see fit. If a person with the “alcohol gene” drinks and kills someone does that make his behavior acceptable to society? Of course not.
But maybe we are just misunderstanding the biblical commands?
Many other arguments in favor of homosexuality are illogical and break down with the simplest of analysis. For instance, some homosexual supporters argue that the men in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah only wanted to “get acquainted” with the Lot’s male guests and did not want to “have sex with them” as modern bible translations depict. However, they fail to explain Lot’s reaction to the homosexual’s demands. Lot’s offer to send his virgin daughters instead is not the action of man responding to a “let’s get acquainted” request.
But the Old Testament no longer applies to modern-day society
Some will argue that the Old Testament laws no longer apply to us. Again, broadening the scope of the analysis and taking a look at the bible as a whole, we can easily discount this argument. If homosexual behavior is permissible because old testament laws no longer apply to modern day man then other old testament laws should now be permissible too including incest (having sex with direct family members), bestiality (having sex with animals), and pedophilia (having sex with children). Old Testament rules regarding ceremony may no longer apply but Old Testament laws regarding morals certainly remain applicable throughout time.
Other (illogical) arguments to justify the acceptance of homosexuality
Other illogical arguments attempting to justify homosexual behavior put forth by supporters include:
- The bible prohibits homosexual behavior but only in Israel
- Homosexual behavior is prohibited only if it is practiced by a heterosexual male.
- Anal sex is prohibited but since the laws apply to “Man”, lesbianism is permitted.
- That the often repeated “as one lies with a woman” would only prohibit homosexuality if it was worded “as one lies with a woman lies with a woman”.
- Only public display of homosexual behavior is prohibited.
- Homosexual behavior is only prohibited if conducted in a pagan ritual.
- Homosexual behavior is permitted if it is not forced upon someone.
- Homosexual behavior is only prohibited if the homosexual act involves a transaction of money.
These arguments are plainly illogical and in some cases, quite silly. If you have trouble comprehending the logic of such statements, simply substitute the word “murder” for “homosexual behavior” in each sentence.
Love the sinner, not the sin
The Bible teaches Christians to love everyone, even sinners. That edict means regardless of immoral behavior, everyone should be treated with love and compassion. However, that does not mean that societal and cultural standards should be watered down to allow acceptance of behavior we clearly know is immoral. Modern-day Christian’s predisposition to “just let things go” only contributes to the decline of the society’s moral values. The Christian edict is clear – love the sinner, not the sin.