We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Bible and Homosexual Behavior

There are several passages in Scripture that are unequivocal in their condemnation of homosexual behavior and yet those who support such perversion twist these passages to say something totally different. I’m going to just address four of these passages in this article, and all will be from the English Standard Version:

Leviticus 18:22
Leviticus 20:13
Romans 1:26-27
1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Let‘s look at the first passage. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Lev. 18:22

Now, this is pretty strong in the verbiage used to describe how God sees the act of homosexual behavior - an abomination. Now let’s look at the context.

Chapter 18 starts with God saying, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. From this point God lists all sorts of sexual practices which were done in Egypt and Canaan, and which God found detestable. There are no other topics in this chapter; God just says don’t do any of these things because these are a reason why God is punishing the nations by having Israel drive the people out of the land. It was these practices which made the land unclean. The Scripture is very, very plain: God says all the listed sexual behaviors are an abomination to Him, and that those who practice these things are worthy of severe punishment.

Now here is the second passage: 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. Lev. 20:13

Notice the same strong verbiage God uses to explain His revulsion to such behavior; it is an abomination. Again, let’s look at the context.

Beginning at 20:10, God again lists numerous sexual practices which He forbids. And again, God gives the reason why at verse 23: And you shall not walk in the customs of the nations that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things and therefore I detested them. God said that the pagan lands where he was bringing them were detested - another strong word - because of these sexual practices.

Leviticus has many ceremonial laws and social order laws which are meant only for Israel as a way to set the nation up as holy - separated - to himself. Scripture tells us these laws were just for Israel (Deut. 4:7-8; Lev. 27:34; Ps. 147:19-20, et al). However, in His discussion about sexual practices He found abhorrent, God says these are behaviors that those outside of Israel are even disallowed, and because they practice such abominations they are being destroyed.

The point is, that the Leviticus passages aren’t just relegated to some ancient prohibition for some people. These passages speak of these sexual practices as something that God detests among people no matter when or where.

There are some claims by those promoting homosexuality that we misunderstand these passages. They say that it is only about homosexual behavior in conjunction with idolatry. But this leaves a problem: Does God then condemn incest, adultery and bestiality ONLY if they are done in conjunction with idolatry - that at any other time they are okay?

Okay, now let’s look at Romans 1:26-27, but start at verse 24 to get more of the context: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Other versions get a bit more descriptive so there is no doubt what “natural relations” mean:
For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. HCSB

Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural. Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. CEV

Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. NLT

Let’s begin with this question: Who is the “them” that God gave over to their lusts? Verse 18 says it is those who “suppress the truth” about God. Continuing on in the passage Paul says God made Himself known to these people who suppress the truth about God and yet they do not honor God or thank Him. Instead of giving glory to God, they give it to animals and man, and worship created things instead of worshiping God (the way evolutionists do today). These people who suppress the truth about God did not just exist at the time Romans was written - these people have always existed. Everywhere you look you will see people who suppress and deny the truths of God.

Then at vs. 24 it says “therefore,” which means it is because these people suppress the truth about God and refuse to honor Him and what He has revealed that he gives them up to sexual impurity which dishonors their bodies. God calls it “dishonorable passions.” And it is because they would rather accept a lie than the truth of God. Verses 26 and 27 then describe exactly what Paul means when he says they are given over to impurity which dishonors their bodies: homosexual behavior.

This Scriptural passage is clear: homosexual relations for any reason are considered dishonorable and impure. There is no room for claiming that it is only about those whose “natural” inclinations are for members of the opposite sex and not about those whose “natural” inclinations are for members of the same sex. There is no such thing as “natural” sexual desires for members of the same sex.

Let’s now look at the last passage, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

The English Standard Version combines two terms from the Greek and interprets them as “men who practice homosexuality.” The NIV translates the passage as “male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders,” the NASB says, “nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,” NKJV says, “homosexuals, nor sodomites,” and the KJV says, “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.”

With this many versions, let’s look at the original Greek to know exactly what was said here. The first word is arsenokoites. Where does this come from and what does it mean?

When looking at the Septuagint’s Greek translation of Lev. 18:22 we have the following: meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gunaikos. Arsenos means “male” and koiten means “to have sexual intercourse.”

Next, when looking at the Septuagint’s Greek for Lev. 20:13 we have this: hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos.

Notice in both these passages the use of arsenos and koiten, and especially the latter passage where the two words are together. It becomes obvious where Paul got this word which means a man who has sexual relations with another man. He is referring back to the Levitical commands against homosexual behavior. It is this word which is translated as “homosexual offenders,” “homosexuals,” “sodomites,” and “abusers of themselves with mankind.” It’s meaning is “male bedder.”

What about the word translated as “male prostitutes,” “effeminate,” and “homosexuals?” This is the Greek word malakoi, which literally means “soft ones.” Supposedly this refers to those who were usually a passive partner in homosexual relationships (or should we say, the one who plays the receptor?)

Nevertheless, both terms are used by Paul to describe those who practice homosexual behavior, and he states without equivocation that these people will not inherit the kingdom of God. Again, it is very plain that Paul is here saying that those who practice homosexual behavior are among the “unrighteous.”

There is nothing in any of these passages that allows for twisted interpretations to claim God permits homosexual relations as long as they are conducted in a committed relationship. The relations are not permitted at all.

But notice vs. 11 ends with good news. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Paul says that some of those among the Corinthian church were practitioners of homosexual behavior before they became Christians, and that now they no longer are. So much for the claim that change is not possible!

Here is the clear conclusion about the Bible’s view on homosexual behavior just by using these four passages: it is an abominable sin before God, is an unnatural and dishonorable use of human sexuality, and is not practiced by those who have become Christians. Only by twisting of the passages beyond their context could anyone claim God sanctions such behavior.

6 comments:

Drew said...

//Leviticus has many ceremonial laws and social order laws which are meant only for Israel as a way to set the nation up as holy - separated - to himself. Scripture tells us these laws were just for Israel (Deut. 4:7-8; Lev. 27:34; Ps. 147:19-20, et al). However, in His discussion about sexual practices He found abhorrent, God says these are behaviors that those outside of Israel are even disallowed, and because they practice such abominations they are being destroyed.//

Good analysis


//it is an abominable sin before God, is an unnatural and dishonorable use of human sexuality, and is not practiced by those who have become Christians.//

I wouldn't go quite that far, as all the other sins in 1 Corinthians 6 can be committed by regenerated individuals who have nonetheless strayed from the right path.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Paul's statement was that was what they WERE, the force of the text meaning that they no longer practiced such behaviors. Not that they won't be tempted to do so and perhaps have a failure and commit the sin, but they no longer practice it as a lifestyle. Does that make sense?

Drew said...

No, it doesn't make sense, because he just got done showing that one of them was in fact sleeping with his mother-in-law and that they were cheating each other and making fools of each other in court. The "were" is positional, referring to their "justified" and regenerated spirits. He is making a point similar to Ephesians 5:8, where the hearers of the letter are already children of light but subsequently need to make sure that they act like it.

That said, the idea that homosexuality involves an irrestible urge is patently ridiculous and really needs no biblical refutation. (1 Corinthians 10:13 easily does the job, in any case.)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I don't think a person, once they become a Christian, will live a lifestyle defined by any of these sins. Can a Chrsitian fall into these sins again - yes, as describe by the buy who had his stepmother. But notice they are to put him out of the church until he repents. And when Paul says that's what they WERE, I think he is saying that lifestyle is what defined them prior to their conversion, and now they have left that life behind.

Which is why those who are living the homosexual lifestyle and yet claim to be Christians are, according to 1 John 2:4, liars.

Drew said...

"Knowing God" and being regenerated aren't really the same thing. Knowing God is a more intimate description that you obtain once you've grown in the faith. (For example, compare John 6:64, where most of the discples believed, with John 14:7, where Jesus implies that they still did not "know" the Father.) 1 John 2:4 is probably referring to false teachers who claimed to be extremely spiritual -- having knowledge of God -- but in reality were extremely deluded.


//I don't think a person, once they become a Christian, will live a lifestyle defined by any of these sins. Can a Chrsitian fall into these sins again - yes, as describe by the buy who had his stepmother.//

Well I don't even know what you mean by that, because in my mind sleeping with your stepmother is a pretty defining thing.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Drew,

I think you are limiting the application/meaning of 1 John 2:4, where "him" refers to Christ and not God the Father. What I am saying is that one who claims to be a Christian will not continue to live a lifestyle which is defined by sin. In other words, not that we will cease to sin, but that our lives will not be defined by such. The guy in 1 Cor. having an affair with his stepmother is not necessarily living a life defined by sin any more than a Christian who now falls into an adulterous relationship is living a life defined by sin. The person is challenged to repent and if he doesn't do so then he is put under church discipline as Paul said to do with that guy.

Those whose lives are defined by the sin are those who don't even repent of it, don't believe it is sinful, etc (e.g., those who live a homosexual lifestyle). And this is what I mean when I say that the one who is truly a Christian will not contine to practice such a lifestlye such that it defines who he is (and if you think about it, those who practice homosexual behavior normally want to be defined by it, which is why they have taken the act and made it into an identifying noun.)