GAY marriage is still under debate in many countries. In the United States, however, in 2015 the Supreme Court declared gay marriage to be legal nationwide. Thereafter, Internet searches on the topic skyrocketed. One of the most popular questions asked was, “What does the Bible say about gay marriage?”
The Bible does not specifically comment on legal rights involving marriage between people of the same sex. A more fundamental question is, What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
Without closely examining the Bible, many people think that they know the answer—but their answers are contradictory! Some say that the Bible is clearly antigay. Others claim that the Biblical command to “love your neighbor” supports any and all sexual lifestyles.—Romans 13:9.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Which of these statements would you consider to be true?
The Bible condemns homosexual acts.
The Bible condones homosexual acts.
The Bible promotes homophobia (a hatred of or prejudice toward homosexuals).
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible’s moral code is the best standard for living, and they choose to abide by that code. (Isaiah 48:17) This means that Jehovah’s Witnesses reject all sexual misconduct, including homosexuality. (1 Corinthians 6:18) That is the Witnesses’ lifestyle choice, and they have a right to it.
Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to follow the Golden Rule by treating others the way they themselves would like to be treated
At the same time, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to “pursue peace with all people.” (Hebrews 12:14) While they reject homosexual acts, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not force their view on others, nor do they participate in homophobic hate crimes or rejoice when they hear of them. Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to follow the Golden Rule by treating others the way they themselves would like to be treated.—Matthew 7:12.
Does the Bible Promote Prejudice?
Still, some people would say that the Bible promotes prejudice against homosexuals and that those who adhere to its moral code are intolerant. ‘The Bible was written at a time when people were narrow-minded,’ they claim. ‘Today we accept people of all races, nationalities, and sexual preferences.’ To them, rejecting homosexuality is the same as rejecting people of a different skin color. Is that comparison valid? No. Why not?
Because there is a difference between rejecting homosexual conduct and rejecting homosexual people. The Bible tells Christians to be respectful of all kinds of people. (1 Peter 2:17) But that does not mean that Christians must accept all kinds of conduct.
Consider a comparison: Suppose you view smoking as harmful and even repugnant. What if you have a workmate who is a smoker? Would you be considered narrow-minded just because your view of smoking differs from his? Would the fact that he smokes and you do not smoke automatically mean that you are prejudiced against him? If your workmate were to demand that you change your view of smoking, would that not make him narrow-minded and intolerant?
Jehovah’s Witnesses choose to live by the moral code set forth in the Bible. They do not approve of the actions that the Bible prohibits. But they neither mock nor mistreat people whose practices differ from their own.
Is the Bible’s View Cruel?
What about people who have homosexual inclinations? Were they born that way? If so, would it not be cruel to say that it is wrong for them to act on their desires?
The Bible does not comment on the biology of homosexuality, although it acknowledges that some human traits are deeply ingrained. Still, the Bible says that certain conduct—including homosexual acts—must be shunned if we are to please God.—2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.
Some would say that the Bible’s position is cruel. But their claim is based on the premise that we must act on our impulses or that sexual impulses in particular are so important that they should not—even cannot—be controlled. However, the Bible dignifies humans by stating that they can resist their urges. Unlike animals, they can choose not to act on their impulses.—Colossians 3:5.
Consider a comparison: Some experts say that certain behavioral traits, such as aggression, may have a biological cause. The Bible does not specifically comment on the biology of aggression, but it does acknowledge that some people are “prone to anger” and “disposed to rage.” (Proverbs 22:24; 29:22) Yet, the Bible also says: “Let go of anger and abandon rage.”—Psalm 37:8; Ephesians 4:31.
Few people would disagree with that advice or say that it is cruel to those who have aggressive tendencies. In fact, even those experts who believe that anger is rooted in a person’s genetic makeup work hard to help people control such tendencies.
Jehovah’s Witnesses take a similar position toward any conduct that conflicts with Bible standards, including sexual acts between two people of the opposite sex who are not married to each other. In all such cases, the Bible counsel applies: “Each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with greedy, uncontrolled sexual passion.”—1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5.
“That Is What Some of You Were”
Those who wanted to become Christians in the first century came from various backgrounds and lifestyles, and some of them made significant lifestyle changes. For example, the Bible speaks of “those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who submit to homosexual acts,” and then it adds: “That is what some of you were.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
In saying “that is what some of you were,” does the Bible mean that those who stopped engaging in homosexual acts never again experienced any homosexual desires? That could hardly be the case, because the Bible also exhorts: “Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire.”—Galatians 5:16.
Note that the Bible does not say that a Christian will never experience an improper desire. Rather, it says that he or she will choose not to carry out that desire. Christians learn to bring such desires under control, not dwelling on them to the point of acting on them.—James 1:14, 15.
The Bible thus makes a distinction between inclinations and practices. (Romans 7:16-25) A person who has homosexual leanings can control what he allows his mind to dwell on, just as he would control any other wrong desire, including leanings toward anger, adultery, and greed.—1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Peter 2:14, 15.
While Jehovah’s Witnesses uphold the moral code set forth in the Bible, they do not force their views on others. Nor do they try to reverse laws that protect the human rights of those whose lifestyle differs from theirs. The message that Jehovah’s Witnesses bear is a positive one, and they eagerly share it with all who will listen.—Acts 20:20.
1. Romans 12:18: “Be peaceable with all men.”
2. Isaiah 48:17: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself.”
3. 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee from sexual immorality!”
4. 1 Peter 2:17: “Honor men of all sorts.”
5. Colossians 3:5: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion.”
6. James 1:14, 15: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.”