Homosexuality and the Bible

One of the more modern objections to Christianity and the Bible in particular, is their stance on homosexuality. The traditional Christian view on homosexuality is seen to be primitive and outdated, and the few parts of the Bible that address homosexuality directly (Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-10) are either used to discredit the Bible and Christianity, or they’re re-interpreted so that one can affirm our modern western culture’s view of it.

The first point to remember is that Christians are called to love their neighbours without exception, including our LGBT neighbours. In response to someone who tried to limit the scope of who their neighbour was, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to demonstrate that his disciples’ love for their neighbours had to cross the most significant cultural gap of the time. Christians are specifically called to love people who are different from them and even hostile to them (Matthew 5:43-48), and so any Christian response to homosexuality has to be driven by love.

Secondly, Christians are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and love in actions and in truth (1 John 3:18). Mere politeness can skate over difficult topics and conversations for the sake of personal comfort, but genuine love rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6) and should move us to speak the truth for the sake of the other person. On this point, it’s helpful to remember that disagreement is not the same as moral judgment; just because someone disagrees with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re judging you.

Thirdly, according to the Bible, God’s design for sexuality is for sex to be used within heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:22-24, Mark 10:6-8). Homosexual acts aren’t necessarily worse than other deviations from God’s design for sexuality (e.g. pornography, pre-marital sex), but all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is described by the New Testament as “sexual immorality” (Greek: ‘porneia’).

Fourthly, according to the Bible we’re all more wicked than we dared believe (Romans 3:10-20) and more loved than we dared hope (Romans 3:21-26). No one is righteous by virtue of their heterosexuality. Homosexual people are just as much made in the image of God as heterosexual people, and heterosexual people are just as sinful as homosexual people. God’s grace completely levels the playing field, and so we shouldn’t construct a moral hierarchy in its place.

Fifthly, if Christianity is dismissed because of its view of homosexuality, then our cultural bias is destroying our objectivity. When weighing competing truth claims we should try to be as objective as possible, but if we’re not willing to even consider the truth claims of Christianity because of what it says about a particular area of sexuality, then we’re not being objective in our investigation of the truth. Instead of allowing the evidence to shape our view, it would be allowing our view to shape the evidence that we pursue.

Sixthly, if God can’t challenge us or our culture, then we forfeit all possibility of relationship with God. In The Stepford Wives, a number of husbands in Stepford put computer chips in their wives’ brains so that they only ever say “yes dear”, and agree with them on everything. But as they do, they forfeit the possibility of a relationship with their wife and replace it with the possession of a robot. If we have a god or a Bible from which we can pick and choose which things to listen to, then we don’t have a relationship with a God who can challenge us and transform us, but a Stepford god (or perhaps a Mr. Potato head god) who only ever says yes to our feelings and/or our culture.

Seventhly, Christ calls all of his disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24 // Mark 8:34 // Luke 9:23). Homosexual people are called to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him, and heterosexual people are called to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. Following Christ will look different for different people with different pre-dispositions, but it’s simply not the case that heterosexual people don’t also struggle with the Bible’s call to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sexual temptation is something that all Christians struggle with, regardless of who they’re attracted to.

And finally, our desires are much more malleable than modern western culture would have us believe. Some people go from being straight to gay and vice-versa, and some identify as bisexual and are attracted to both sexes. The view that same-sex attraction and opposite-sex attraction are binary categories with no middle ground or movement between the two, simply doesn’t fit the complexities of human sexuality, which is much more fluid than the simplistic binary narrative proclaimed by modern western culture.

In the biographies of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Jesus is constantly reaching out to people who have been marginalised and oppressed, including those whom the Old Testament Scriptures describe as “sexually immoral”. Jesus is always compassionate towards those who admit that they’re broken and in need of mercy, but his harshest criticisms are for those who insist that they have the moral high ground (or are on the right side of history), and look down on others as morally inferior. Regardless of who you’re attracted to, according to the Bible, God humbles the proud, but exalts those who humble themselves.

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