Homosexuality—Is the Bible’s View Reasonable?
ARE you a homosexual? If so, you may feel that you are the object of much unfair discrimination and that you suffer unjustly because of what you consider to be a personal matter—the choice of sex partners. The world at large, in your opinion, may be very narrow in its outlook on homosexuality.
But there is an old saying that ‘a sword cuts two ways.’ So, one needs to be careful not to be guilty of the same bias that one sees in others. Have you taken time to examine carefully what the Bible has to say on the subject of homosexuality? Or, have you, as it were, cast the Bible aside as unworthy of your consideration?
You may know that more religious people than ever who claim to represent the Bible are speaking out in favor of homosexuality. For instance, “Father” Henry Fehren says in U.S. Catholic magazine that anti-homosexual views have been “based on misinterpretations of stray Biblical texts written for another age and culture.” Echoing his words is Günther Hintze, a Lutheran Evangelical priest in Augustenborg, Denmark: “The Bible’s view on this matter cannot have any validity for us today.” And Jewish rabbi Philip Horowitz recently said in Cleveland, Ohio: “The modern homosexual would resent the fact that his behavior is considered immoral.”
But why do these men turn away from the Bible? Notice, again, what they say: the Bible is for “another age,” and is not “modern” or “for us today.” The Bible is considered out-of-date for use in dealing with this problem. But is that the case? Fair-minded persons interested in the truth and in the approval of God are willing to find out.
It is true that the Bible is a very old book. But that of itself does not disqualify it as a guide on personal moral matters like homosexuality; quite the opposite is the case. The Bible’s very age contributes to its value as a moral guide. Why do we say this?
Well, for one thing, people are essentially the same now as they have ever been. Regardless of the time period when they lived, men have had the same basic physical and emotional needs. Logically, if the Bible is the Word of God by which men should direct their lives, is it not understandable that it would have a long history? Certainly. Thus the Bible’s age is a factor in its favor and lends weight to what it says on homosexuality.
THE EFFECTS OF HOMOSEXUALITY
The Bible is not oblivious to homosexual practices. Such things are specifically referred to several times in the Scriptures. For instance, we read at Romans 1:26, 27, according to The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips:
“God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged the normal practices of sexual intercourse for something which is abnormal and unnatural. Similarly the men, turning from natural intercourse with women, were swept into lustful passions for one another.”
But thereafter, most importantly, it accurately details the effects of homosexuality:
“Men with men performed these shameful horrors, receiving, of course, in their own personalities the consequences of sexual perversity.”
Is the Bible’s diagnosis given here actually correct? Homosexuals by their words and actions say Yes. They point to the instability of homosexual “marriages,” of the promiscuity of searching for sex partners and of the dishonesty in trying to hide behind a facade of respectability while secretly carrying on homosexual activity. Not their enemies, but homosexuals themselves speak of the “dread of growing old alone.” The hopelessness of their future, homosexual William Carroll observes, leads to “cynicism, despair and even suicide.” Yes, homosexuals themselves admit that they receive “in their own personalities the consequences” of the homosexual way of life.
The Bible therefore accurately depicts the results of this practice. But why do these adverse traits appear in “their own personalities”? The apostle Paul says it is because they engage in that which is “abnormal and unnatural.” Advocates of homosexuality say that what makes something “natural” or “unnatural” is purely subjective, and is a matter that must be decided by each person for himself. But is that really the case? Is it not obvious to virtually all persons that male and female are counterparts, opposites sexually? Is it not apparent that their sex organs were designed to “fit” together?
On the other hand, does it seem “natural” to you for two lesbians to come together sexually? One of the pair must often use some type of artificial substitute for a male organ to satisfy the other. And consider male homosexuals. Both may claim to be men, but must not one assume a female role in some sense? In the case of male and female homosexuals, one way or another, a substitute must be supplied for what the opposite sex supplies “naturally.” How reasonable is that? The Bible correctly refers to the actions of homosexuals as “abnormal and unnatural.”
The Bible therefore accurately depicts the results of this practice and informs us as to why these results appear. Consistently, would it not thereafter clearly condemn the practice? That would be reasonable.
So we read at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10: “Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion . . . will possess the kingdom of God.” (The New English Bible) Or, as the verse is paraphrased in The Living Bible: “Homosexuals—will have no share in his kingdom.”
Biblically speaking, the matter is quite clear, is it not? The Bible just plainly shows that homosexuality is wrong. The Scriptures are thus consistent, not just showing the bad effects of this practice, but also properly condemning what produces those ill effects.
But it has become fashionable among homosexuals to argue that primarily the apostle Paul, not Jesus Christ, spoke against homosexuality. How valid is that contention?
JESUS AND HOMOSEXUALITY
Well, to start with, those who so argue ignore the fact that the Bible refers to the words of Paul as part of ‘Scripture’ and thus beneficial for “setting things straight.” (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 3:15, 16) But an honest examination of the words of Jesus shows that he, too, did indeed speak against homosexuality.
He said, as recorded at Matthew 19:9 according to the Revised Standard Version (RSV): “Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.” The Greek word for “unchastity” that Matthew here employs in penning Jesus’ words is por·neiʹa. Por·neiʹa is related to the verb por·neuʹo, meaning “to give one’s self to unlawful sexual intercourse.”
The best way to understand what is taken in by these terms is to find out how they are used in other places. A similar word appears in the Bible at Jude 7 in describing the sin of certain ancient cities: “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally [an intensive form of por·neuʹo] and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” (RSV) For what type of ‘immorality’ or por·neiʹa were those at Sodom and Gomorrah condemned? The Bible narrative at Genesis 19:4, 5 answers:
“The men of Sodom, surrounded the house, from boy to old man, all the people in one mob. And they kept calling out to Lot and saying to him: ‘Where are the men who came in to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intercourse with them.’”
These men of Sodom and Gomorrah were homosexuals. In fact, the English word “sodomy,” which particularly means ‘intercourse between two men,’ is drawn from the name of the city of Sodom. The Bible would call their sin por·neiʹa. Jesus said por·neiʹa was so wrong morally that it was a basis for severing the marriage bond.
Further, remember that Jesus was a Jew living under the law of Moses. His use of por·neiʹa, says Edward Robinson’s Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, apparently includes ‘all intercourse interdicted by the Mosaic Law.’ That Law included among its injunctions: “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence.” (Lev. 18:22, The Torah, The Five Books of Moses, by the Jewish Publication Society of America) Por·neiʹa, the word used by Jesus, obviously embraced this command of God.
Also, it should be noted that homosexuality had been condemned by God before the law of Moses was even given. The account about Sodom and Gomorrah, referred to earlier, proves this fact; those cities were destroyed by God over 400 years before the law of Moses came into existence. Jesus was aware of that.—Luke 17:28, 29, 32.
Beyond doubt, therefore, Jesus did in fact condemn all such ‘unchaste’ practices as homosexuality. As reason would indicate to us, the Bible is consistent on this matter. Paul’s words are backed up by the authority of the Son of God.
But, according to the Bible, what course is open to homosexuals? Are they simply condemned and, as it were, dropped eternally from God’s favor? That would not seem reasonable; let us see.
[Picture on page 485]
God destroyed Sodom and nearby towns because of their unnatural sexual practices. Is it reasonable to think that God has changed his view?