What the Bible Says About... Homosexuality

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin, 1852.
Public Domain

What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does scripture condone or denounce the behavior? Is the scripture clear? There are varying opinions on what the Bible says about homosexuality and same-sex relationships, and the best way to understand where the conflict comes from is to learn more about the specific scriptures being debated.

Will Homosexuals Inherit the Kingdom of God?

One of the most greatly debated scriptures regarding homosexuality is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (NIV).

While the scripture may sound clear, the debate actually surrounds the use of the Greek word that this particular version of the Bible translates as "homosexual offenders." The term is "arsenokoite." Some say that it is a reference to male prostitutes rather than to two committed homosexuals. Yet, others argue that Paul, who wrote the passage, would not have repeated "male prostitutes" twice. Even others argue that the two root words in arsenokoite are the same terms used to prohibit any premarital or extramarital sexual relations, so they may not refer to homosexual relations alone.

However, even if a person believes that homosexuality is a sin based upon this scripture, the next verse does say that homosexuals can inherit the kingdom if they come to the Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:11 - "And that is what some of you were. 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." (NIV)

What About Sodom and Gomorrah?

In Genesis 19 God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah due to the extensive amount of sin and debauchery going on in the city. Some add homosexuality in with the sins being committed. Others say that it was not just blanket homosexuality being condemned but homosexual rape, meaning it is different from homosexual behavior in loving relationships.

Cultic Homosexual Behavior?

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are also debated among denominations and scholars.

Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." (NIV)

Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." (NIV)

While many Christian denominations and scholars believe these scriptures clearly condemn homosexuality, others believe that the Greek terms used were meant to describe the homosexual behavior present at Pagan temples.

Prostitution or Homosexuality?

Romans 1 discusses how the people gave into their lust. Yet the meaning of the acts described are debated. Some see the passages as describing prostitution while others see it as a clear condemnation on homosexual behavior.

Romans 1:26-27 - "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (NIV)

So, What Does the Bible Say?

All of these different viewpoints on the various scriptures most likely bring up more questions for Christian teens than answers. Most Christian teens end up adhering to the viewpoints based upon their personal beliefs about homosexuality. Others find themselves swayed or more open to homosexuals after examining the scripture.

Whether or not you believe homosexuality is a sin based upon your interpretations of the scripture, there are some issues surrounding the treatment of homosexuals of which Christians need to be aware. While the Old Testament focused on rules and consequences, the New Testament offers a message of love. There are some Christian homosexuals and there are those that desire deliverance from homosexuality. Rather than trying to be God and pass judgement on those individuals, a better option may be to offer prayers to those struggling with their homosexuality.