The Bible defines marriage in Genesis 2:24 as a union between one man and one woman. Jesus Christ upholds this definition of marriage in Matthew 19:5, as does the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:31.
Any and all sexual activity which takes place outside of this context is treated as sinful, what Jesus calls ‘sexual immorality’ in Mark 7:21
Further to this, same-sex practice is specifically highlighted as sinful a number of times in Scripture. In God’s Law, for example, condemnations of same-sex practice are given in Leviticus 18:22 Further references are made in the New Testament.
For example, in Romans 1:24-32, amid echoes to the Genesis creation account, both male and female same-sex practice are treated as sinful. Further references to the sinfulness of same-sex practice can be seen in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.
The Scriptures are, therefore, consistent in their prohibition of same-sex sexual activity, across different periods of salvation history and within different cultural settings.
Although the Scriptures are clear on sexual ethics, they also tell us that the prospect of forgiveness and eternal life is held out for anyone who turns from sin and puts their faith in Christ (Mark 1:15), no matter how they may have fallen short of his good design for sex and marriage.
What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?
At the heart of the claim that the Bible is clear "that homosexuality is forbidden by God" is poor biblical scholarship and a cultural bias read into the Bible. The Bible says nothing about "homosexuality" as an innate dimension of personality.
Sexual orientation was not understood in biblical times There are references in the Bible to same-gender sexual behavior, and all of them are undeniably negative.
But what is condemned in these passages is the violence, idolatry and exploitation related to the behavior, not the same-gender nature of the behavior.
There are references in the Bible to different-gender sexual behavior that are just as condemning for the same reasons. But no one claims that the condemnation is because the behavior was between a man and a woman.
There was no word in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek for "homosexual" or "homosexuality." These words were invented near the end of the 19th century when psychoanalysts began to discover and understand sexuality as an essential part of the human personality in all of its diversity.
Consequently, it cannot be claimed that the Bible says anything at all about it. The writers of the Bible had neither the understanding of it nor the language for it.
There is only one reference to sexual behavior between women, and that is in Romans 1:26. The context of this reference has to do with Gentiles rejecting the true God to pursue false gods; i.e., idolatry.
And, the sexual behavior described is orgiastic, not that of a loving, mutual, caring, committed relationship. What is condemned is the worship of false gods.
Sexuality is a wonderful gift from God. It is more than genital behavior. It's the way we embody and express ourselves in the world. But we cannot love another person intimately without embodying that love, without using our bodies to love.
And that does involve genital behavior. Sexual love is for the purpose of giving and receiving pleasure with our most intimate partner. It is a means of deepening and strengthening the intimate union that exists.
This can only be healthy and good if our behavior is consistent with who we are and with whom we love, and when we are true to our own sexuality and orientation.
In regard to marriage, it's important to remember that the Bible was written in a patriarchal culture that assumed men were in control and women were subject to them. Marriage was not an equal partnership, but a matter of a man owning a woman or women as property. Women provided men companionship, children and labor.
Certainly, love between the man and woman or women could develop, but love was not the basis of marriage. Consequently, the biblical concept of marriage is not appropriate today. We no longer accept the inferiority of women and superiority of men. We no longer accept marriage to be a property transaction. The concept of marriage has evolved throughout history.
Today, we understand it to be a voluntary spiritual relationship based on love, respect, mutuality and commitment. What really matters is the quality of the relationship, not the gender of the persons involved.
And marriage is created not by religious ceremony or civil government. It is created by the persons involved who make their commitments to one another.
Whether or not there is a religious ceremony to celebrate the marriage or marriage license to legalize it, the marriage two people make together in private is real and valid and should be honored as such.
I hasten to add that marriage should never be understood as a requirement for two people in relationship. Intimate relationships must not always create a marriage commitment.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment that not everyone is willing to make or should make. Being single in an intimate relationship is an honorable choice.
How do I view God's position on "homosexuality?" I believe lesbian, gay and bisexual people to be a part of God's wondrous creation, created to be just who they are, and completely loved and treasured by God. I believe God does not intend for any one to be alone but to live in companionship.
And I believe God expects healthy loving relationships to include sexual love. The Bible doesn't say this, of course. But neither does it deny it. I believe this to be true not only because of the Bible's emphasis on the goodness of God's creation and the supreme value of love, but because of the greater understanding of human nature that we have available to us today.
I do not believe that God intends us to live in the small world of ancient biblical culture, but rather in God's larger evolving world informed by science, reason and experience.
M I Ro