Last modified on May 26, 2024, at 22:50

Homosexuality and biblical interpretation

The subject of homosexuality and the Bible is one in which the Biblical condemnation of homosexual relations has historically been upheld. However, beginning shortly before the sexual revolution of the 1960s, continued attempts have been made by pro-homosexual revisionists to negate the universal injunctions against homosexual relations, and to find sanction for the same via wishful thinking on the part of those seeking to read homosexuality (and by extension, their own sinful desires) into selected parts of Scripture where such does not exist. This interpretive conflict is one which is between two fundamentally different positions, these being the traditional/historical position and the latter revisionist, pro-homosexual view.[1] Principal texts are Genesis 1:26,27; 2:18-24; Leviticus 18, and Romans 1. The religious conflict between the two positions by churches or individuals is typically manifest as correlating to their beliefs about the Bible, and usually parallels their positions on other issues which divide conservatives from liberals.[2] For a more detailed treatment, see Homosexuality and Christianity.

This article primarily deals with the phenomenon of pro-homosexual polemics regarding homosexuality in the Old Testament, and the examination of its conclusions in the light of traditional/historical Biblical exegesis, that of the explanation of a text, based upon proven principals of hermeneutics,[3] or rules of interpretation. See also New Testament and homosexuality

Basic distinctions

Those who hold strongly to the traditional position see the issue of homosexual relations being dealt with as part of the laws and doctrines on sexual partners which are universally applicable in all cultural contexts from the time they were given. As regards homosexuality, the Bible is shown establishing and consistently confirming that only the women was made for man (1Cor. 11:9), as his uniquely compatible and complementary "helpmeet," which no other physical creation could fulfill, with purposefully created complementary distinctions, and which preclude fulfillment by same gender unions. (Gn. 2:18-24; 1Cor. 11:1-12) This sexual union is alone evidenced as being explicitly sanctioned by God through marriage (Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:4-6; Eph. 6:31), which sanction is never established for same gender unions. Instead, homosexual relations are manifest as excluded by both design and decrees, including same-sex unions being only condemned in places wherever they are explicitly dealt with. (Lv. 18:22; 20:13; Rm. 1:26,27)[4]

In contrast, most proponents of homosexual relations and same-sex marriage render these laws and principals as being culturally or contextually bound, and perceive homoeroticism within close same gender relationships, such as between David and Jonathan. (1Sam. 18; 2Sam. 1) A few concede that the Bible unconditionally forbids homosexual relations, but rejects it as applicable today. Many within the traditional camp see the revisionism of pro-homosexual polemicists as a manifestation of the attempts made from the beginning (Gn. 3:1-5) to both negate what God has commanded in the Bible, as well as to otherwise drastically misconstrue its meanings. Those within the homosexual camp often charge their opponents with ignorance, and being motivated by homophobia.

Principal Sources

Sources of pro homosexual interpretations are abundant, such as former Jesuit priest John J. McNeill,[5] Robin Scroggs,[6] Episcopalian Professor L. William Countryman,[7] Roman Catholic priest Daniel Helminiak,[8] and other writers who usually reiterate their polemics. The revisionist scholar who is primarily noted for first (1955) advancing their novel view was the Anglican priest Derrick Sherwin Bailey. In addition to him, perhaps the basic primary source for most of the main pro-homosexual arguments represented here is John Eastburn Boswell. Born in Boston in 1947, and educated at Harvard, he was later made a full professor at Yale, where he founded the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center. Described as a devout Roman Catholic, Boswell was yet an openly announced homosexual. He wrote a number of books seeking to negate Biblical injunctions against homosexuality and to justify it. One of his last books was, "Dante and the Sodomites" (1994). After that Boswell died of complications from AIDS on December 24, 1994, at age 47.

It is noted that most of the pro-homosexual polemicists (charged with "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness": Jude 1:4[9]) are by souls who yet profess to be Christians. Conservative Christians tend to such as a manifestation of that which the apostle Paul foretold, "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:30)

Among evangelical responses to the above, the foremost contributor is Robert A. J. Gagnon,[10] ("The Bible and Homosexual Practice") although he is not a full Biblical inerrantist, and holds to the Documentary Source Hypothesis[11] in that regard is somewhat like his counterparts. Adding to his numerous and extensive reproofs of pro-homosexual claims[12] is Thomas E Schmidt[13] ("Straight and Narrow?"), Guenther Haas[14] ("Hermeneutical issues in the use of the Bible to justify the acceptance of homosexual practice), James B. de Young [15] (Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law[16]), Dave Miller Ph.D. (“Sodom—Inhospitality or Homosexuality?"), F. Earle Fox, David W. Virtue (Homosexuality, Good and right in the eyes of God?[17]), apologist James Patrick Holding[18] ("Were David and Jonathan Gay Lovers?", and other apologists.

Terms Defined

The term homosexual is a relatively recent one, with its first known occurrence apparently being in an 1869 pamphlet in the German language, and attributed to native Austrian Karl-Maria Kertbeny. Over time, this term, scorned by H. Havelock Ellis in Studies in Psychology, in 1897 as a "a barbarously hybrid word"[19] and which was used within the field of personality taxonomy, and could be used to denote any same gender environment, is now used almost exclusively in regards to sexual attraction as well as activity. This is as yet unsatisfactory, as such use lacks the distinction between homosexual social activity, denoted by the term "homosociality," versus same gender love, "homophilia," and which may be romantic, and that of homoeroticism (clinically MSM), denoting homosexual erotic activity, that of same gender sexual relations (also known as homo-genital relations, or more rarely, homosex). As most of this article deals with the sexual practice of homosexuals, the term homosexual relations or homoeroticism will usually be used. Sodomy is also sometimes referred to as denoting the same, though this originally defined a temple prostitute. (Sodom itself is derived from the word "scorch," or "burnt".) Some former homosexuals, such as Larry Houston, argue that homosexuality is what one does,[20] while in the Bible, the motive or "orientation" of a person is not what determines the illicit nature of sex with an unlawful partner, and as since the Fall, all humans are born with sinful proclivities, for which God gives grace to overcome, (Gn. 4:7; Rm. 8) inner inclinations are not allowed to justify such.

Interpretive foundations and positions

How one views the Bible - its inspiration and authority and the manner of interpreting it - is directly related to the conflicting positions on homosexuality. As Lionel Windsor observes, "the fundamental contention is about hermeneutics, about the interpretation and use of Scripture, in which two views are basically manifest."[21] Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, regarding the side churches take on the issue of same-sex marriage, commented that this "will expose a great divide over the authority of the Bible among many Christian churches and denominations — perhaps in a way exceeding any other issue."[22]

The study of homosexuality and biblical interpretation reveals that the revisionist school of homosexual apologetics operates out a radically different exegetical basis than which enduring historical Biblical scholarship has evidenced as a whole, and which sees such revisionism as foundationally faulty and aberrant. (Psa 11:2-3).[23][24]

James R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell contend that,

The net effect of this revisionist approach is a novel and destructive twisting of Scripture...The Bible is being reinterpreted according to urges that are "against nature" and then said to support the homosexual agenda...Despite the revisionists' protests to the contrary, their position is in actuality based upon human desire rather than upon biblical authority and interpretation.[25]

Traditional/historical position

Those who hold to the traditional position of unconditional prohibition of homoeroticism usually work from a strong adherence to the theological foundation of Biblical infallibility, in which God, as the author of Holy Scripture, made His will for man evident and to be obeyed, especially as concerning basic doctrines and laws for attitude and behavior. This position holds that proper exegesis requires the consistent use of proven rules of interpretation (hermeneutics), and that such confirms the transcendent relevancy of the Bible, and that in particular its spiritual and basic moral laws are immutable. Rather than every man doing that which is right according to his judgment, (Dt. 12:8; Jdg. 17:6) man is to be subject to the holy, just and good laws of God, (Rm. 7:12) which are to His benefit when obeyed, and to man's detriment when forsaken. (Dt. 28) In so seeking to live by every word of God, (Mt. 4:4) it becomes evident that a basic literalistic approach to Biblical exegesis is required, so that while interpretations are understood within the context of their respective literary forms, a wide range of metaphorical meanings of the historical narratives, in particular, are disallowed. In addition, historically Christian theologians have overall seen the laws of God manifested as within different categories, basically those of immutable transcendent laws, out of which cultural applications were made, and ceremonial laws, which were typological of Christ and His working under the New Covenant. (Colossians 2:16,17; Hebrews 9:10)[26]

In regards to the issue of sexual unions, this historical or traditional position, especially as substantiated by conservative Christians, holds that the Bible establishes and consistently confirms that only the women was created from man and for man, as his uniquely compatible and complementary "helpmeet". And that only this joining of two opposites halves is shown to be what God designed and decreed to make man (for those who so choose to marry) sexually complete, and which no other physical creation could fulfill. (Gn. 2:18-24; Mt. 19:4-6; 1Cor. 11:9; Eph. 5:31) It is furthermore seen that these uniquely created complementary distinctions (1Cor. 11:1-12) preclude fulfillment by same gender unions. In addition, the explicit and abundant evidence for the establishment of marriage for heterosexuals, by which sexual union is sanctified by God, is seen to stand in stark contrast to the lack of any establishment of marriage between "homosexuals". This conspicuous absence is not found to be constrained by cultural considerations, but rather is due to homosexual relations being foundationally contrary to the aforementioned foundational design and decrees of God.[27]

As relates to prohibitions on sexual activity, consistent with the understanding that God made basic doctrines and laws for human behavior evident and to be obeyed, the laws and principals concerning human sexual partners are seen as moral, universal and transcendent from the time of their institution, and directly applicable to today's cultural contexts. In examining such, it is evidenced that from the beginning all sexual relations outside marriage were and are consistently categorized as fornication. (1Cor. 7:2). And in contrast to heterosexual unions, in the places where homoerotic relations are most explicitly dealt with (Lv. 18:22; 20:13; Rm. 1:26,27) they are only condemned, with this condemnation also being universal in scope, and not restricted to certain cultural, behavioral or motivational conditions.[28][29][30][31]

As stated by German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg,

[T]he biblical statements on this subject merely represent the negative corollary to the Bible's positive views on the creational purpose of men and women in their sexuality.[32]

The final report of the Baptist Union of Western Australia (BUWA) Task Force on Human Sexuality concludes that while all mankind is prone to sin,

the Bible is clear that sin involves choice, and it unequivocally condemns homosexual behavior as sin.[33][34][4]

Evangelical Bible scholar Greg Bahnsen[35] sums up the position of traditional Biblical exegesis in stating,

God’s verdict on homosexuality is inescapably clear. His law is a precise interpretation of the sexual order of creation for fallen man, rendering again His intention and direction for sexual relations. When members of the same sex (homo-sexual) practice intercourse with each other...they violate God’s basic creation order in a vile and abominable fashion.[36]

In P. Michael Ukleja's summation,

Only towering cynicism can pretend that there is any doubt about what the Scriptures say about homosexuality. The Bible has not even the slightest hint of ambiguity about what is permitted or forbidden in this aspect of sexual conduct.[37]

Calvin Smith concludes,

the weak revisionist exegetical arguments, together with far more convincing traditionalist rebuttals, have led me to affirm the traditional view more firmly than ever.[38]

Revisionist/Pro-Homosexual Position

Pro-homosexuals seeking to negate the universally enjoined Biblical injunctions against homosexual relations most typically attempt to relegate such to only a formal cultic context, or to pederasty, or to heterosexuals acting contrary to the orientation. In addition, the homosexual intent of the Sodomites in Gn. 19 (cf. Jdg. 19) and Jude 1:7 are usually contended against. Conversely, homosexuality is often asserted to be taking place in the stories of most any close heterosexual relationship in the Bible.

Faced with the biblical establishment of the exclusive sanction of male and female sexual unions, and condemnation of homosexual relations, homosexuals almost seriously impugn the reliability of Scripture, most particularly when it conflicts with their desired conclusions. Countering this, conservative Christians contend for the reliability of the Bible,[39][40] and the meaning of those related to homosexuality,[41][42][43][44] and see the diminishing of the authority of the Bible by many homosexual authors as being ideologically driven.[45]

Those who seek to find support for sanctioned homoeroticism in Scripture typically view the Bible as a book that was not wholly inspired of God, and which allows a vast range of metaphorical interpretation, even within historical narratives, as well as tolerating a much broader range of interpretation of basic moral commands and their immutability, even to the point of such being determined by contemporary cultural morality. The Bible is almost universally held by them to be partly the work of homophobic editors.[46] Those who penned the Bible are sometimes essentially deemed to be too ignorant on the subject of homosexuality for their censure of it to be valid, thus impugning the Divine inspiration of Scripture, as well as demonstrable sound exegesis.[47] This effect may be seen as a desired one, and part of the homosexual agenda, and a form of homosexual historical revisionism.

Another solution to the problem of the universal condemnation of and lack of sanction for homosexual relations is that of Professor Walter Wink, who concedes, "I have long insisted that the issue is one of hermeneutics, and that efforts to twist the text to mean what it clearly does not say are deplorable. Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and there is no getting around it." And that "Paul wouldn't accept [a loving homosexual] relationship for a minute." However, he and similar revisionists view the Bible as offering no coherent sexual ethic for today, especially as regards homoeroticism, which teaching Wink terms “interpretative quicksand”. Instead,such hold that people possess a right to sex that supersedes Biblical structural requirements for sexual unions, and essentially proposes that sexual ethics are best determined by one's own subjective understanding of Christian love.[48] (contra. Dt. 12:8; Jdg. 17:6; Mt.4:4)) It is understood that this enables the objective immutable moral laws of the Bible to yield to a love that can actually rejoice in iniquity (contra. 1Cor. 13:6)[49][50]

Daniel Helminiak's theory of ethics is similar, which Olliff and Hodges notes "is, at its very foundation, self-refuting. While he professes Christianity, he has adopted the autonomous man's position for the basis of his ethics." [51]

While few pro-homosexual writers concede with Wink that the Bible is contrary to same sex behavior, virtually all reject any Biblical censure of it. Author Robin Scroggs states, “Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today’s debate.”[52] William M. Kent, a member of the committee assigned by United Methodists to study homosexuality, explicitly denied the inspiration of any anti-homosex passages in the Bible, and their application today. Gary David Comstock, Protestant chaplain at Wesleyan University, termed it "dangerous" to fail to condemn the apostle Paul's condemnation of homoeroticism, and advocated removing such from the canon.[53] Episcopalian professor L. William Countryman contends, “The gospel allows no rule against the following, in and of themselves: . .. bestiality, polygamy, homosexual acts,” or “pornography.”[54] Christine E. Gudorf flatly denies that the Bible is the primary authority for Christian ethics.[55] Bishop (Ret.) John Shelby Spong denies all miracles, including the virgin conception and literal bodily resurrection of Christ, as well as the Divine inspiration of Scripture, and denies that there are any moral absolutes[56]

In response to the various forms of pro-homosexual revisionism, Pastor Joseph P. Gudel notes,

It is extremely revealing to note that almost every pro-gay group within the church shares one thing in common: they reject the Bible as being fully the Word of God...Likewise, the many pro-homosexual books that have come out almost all reject - or even ridicule - the church's historic stance on the inspiration and authority of Scripture.[57]

Likewise, Dr. Albert Mohler[58] describes pro-homosexual polemics as contending that

either the biblical texts do not proscribe homosexuality...or the texts do proscribe homosexuality, but are oppressive, heterosexist, and patriarchal in themselves, and thus must be rejected or radically re-interpreted in order to remove the scandal of oppression.

He goes on to conclude that, “The passages are not merely re-interpreted in light of clear historical-grammatical exegesis - - they are subverted and denied by implication and direct assault.”[59]

Alex D. Montoya[60] concurs, prefacing his essay on the subject at hand by stating,

Developments in the secular society in its acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle have put pressure on the evangelical church to respond in some way. Homosexual spokespersons have advocated varying principles of interpretation to prove from the Bible the legitimacy of their lifestyle. They have resorted to either subjectivism, historic-scientific evolving of society, or cultural biases of the Biblical writers to find biblical backing for their position. Scripture condemns homosexuality in such passages as Genesis 19; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; 2 Pet 2:7; and Jude 7. The true biblical teaching on the subject requires the church to condemn the sin of homosexuality, convert the homosexual, confront erroneous teaching, and cleanse itself. The church must be careful not to adopt the customs of the world.[61]

It may be noted that homosexuals in general tend to have a different view of God than the Biblical one, often indicated to be that of a pantheistic nature of deity which can refer to any of a variety of perspectives.[62] A few pro-homosexual apologists do present themselves as evangelical Christians, yet as with homosexual apologetics in general, certain hermeneutics and logic employed by them are seen as effectively allowing the negation of most any moral command, and the Bible itself as a moral authority. (See Leviticus 18.)

Genesis: the Unique Union of Man and Women

The Biblically established position is also known as complementarianism, for which at least seven reasons are provided as to why "from the very beginning of the Bible we see that there is only one proper type of marriage: The union of a man and a woman."[63] (See also Complementarity.)

(Gen 2:18-24) "And the LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. {19} And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. {20} And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. {21} And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; {22} And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. {23} And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. {24} Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."'

The Biblical texts which are primarily the subject of homosexual revisionism fall into two categories: those which prohibit or condemn homoeroticism, in principal or by precept, and those into which sanction for it is alleged. It is seen fitting[64](Gn. 3:1-5) that these attempts begin in Genesis. In dealing with Gn. 1:27 and 2:18-24, efforts are made by pro-homosexual apologists to negate the uniqueness of God's choice to join man and women together, in order to read into Scripture an allowance for marriage between same genders (which, by implication, may be seen to also include animals). While the Bible only evidences explicit and consistent Biblical declarations of who is joined in marriage, this being heterosexuals, proponents of homoeroticism contend that a “man with man” sexual union can be valid. In attempting to negate the exclusivity of Gn. 2:24, the assertion is made by some proponents of homoeroticism that the joining of only opposite genders would be expected with an empty planet in need of population, and that this does not exclude same gender unions, as procreation is longer a primary need for the human race.[65][66] Countryman supposes that the Genesis 2:24 passage "can equally well be read simply as an etiological story, telling how the institution of marriage came into being."

In response, the context of Gn. 2:18-23 is invoked as showing that it was only after other created beings were found unsuitable for Adam that the women was created. "The lonely Adam is provided not with a second Adam, but with Eve. She is the helper who corresponds to him. She is the one with whom he can relate in total intimacy and become one flesh.[67]

Donald D. Binder also responds,

Absent entirely from his [Countryman's] discussion, is the point that Jesus himself did not interpret the passage etiologically, but normatively (Mark 10:5-9, Matt 19:4-6), providing an ethical basis for the institution of monogamous, heterosexual marriage in the subsequent teachings of the Church.[68]

Hilborn states,

...the complementarity of woman and man is more than simply physical. Genesis 1:27 emphasizes that God created human beings in His own image - male and female together. The context shows that this divine image is expressed in a relationship which may be sexual, but which is also spiritual, emotional and psychological.[69]

Welch states that marriage is in essence,

a covenant of companionship that is ordained by God. It is the bringing together as one flesh two people who are truly 'fit' for each other." And that in contrast, "Homosexual acts and homosexual desire, by either male or female, are a violation of this creation ordinance and are thus sinful.[70]

In addition, the Lord Jesus is shown in Matthew 19 to distinctly affirm that the Genesis union of opposite genders is the "what" of "what therefore God hath joined together":

(Mat 19:4-6) "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and 'mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."'

Gaiser adds that the legal materials in Genesis established boundaries for life as actually lived "outside the garden",[71] and here in the New Testament Jesus references both Gn. 1:27 and 2:14, in being distinctly stating that the union of the male with his female counterpart is what God sexually joins, and which union Scripture elsewhere establishes and consistently confirmes. "It was the women, not another man, that was created out of Adam's side to be at his side, being created from part of man to be uniquely joined together with man, sexually, in marriage."[72] As Keil and Delitzsch state, “The woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, because she was formed for an inseparable unity and fellowship of life with the man, and the mode of her creation was to lay the actual foundation for the moral ordinance of marriage." [73]

Robert J. Gagnon explains,

Genesis 2:18-24 portrays an originally binary human split down the side into two sexually differentiated counterparts. Clearly, marriage is imaged as a reconstitution, into “one flesh,” of the two constituent parts, male and female, that were the products of the splitting. One’s sexual “other half” can only be a person of the other sex. Men and women are complementary sexual beings whose (re-)merger brings about sexual wholeness in the sphere of erotic interaction.[74]
The text states four times that the woman was “taken from” the “human” (adam, thereafter referred to as an ish or man), underscoring that woman, not another man, is the missing sexual “complement” or “counterpart” to man (so the Hebrew term negdo, which stresses both human similarity, “corresponding to him,” and sexual difference, “opposite him”). Within the story line man and woman may (re-)unite into “one flesh” precisely because together they reconstitute the sexual whole.[75]

The traditional position[72] thus sees that the physical compatibility of the male/female union, with her unique procreational ability, itself stands in clear contrast to same gender unions,[76] and the procreational aspect is what Judaism's traditional opposition to homosexuality is primarily based upon.[77] Even on the basis of anatomical engineering, homosexual intercourse is seen to be a supreme insult to God and His power and wisdom, with unnecessary deleterious consequences.[78] Yet it is also seen that the purpose of opposite gender marriage to being simply for procreation is untenable, as what Scripture reveals is that God also uniquely created the women in order to fill the need of man being alone, "that in addition to procreation, there is a unitive function of sexuality that has to do with fulfilling our need for companionship".[79] Hilborn adds,

Admittedly, the complementarity of woman and man is more than simply physical. Genesis 1:27 emphasises that God created human beings in His own image - male and female together. The context shows that this divine image is expressed in a relationship which may be sexual, but which is also spiritual, emotional and psychological\.[80]

This joining is manifest as God's declared means of creating sanctioned sexual “oneness,” which other created beings could not fill (Gn. 2:18-20), to the glory of God.

The Song of Solomon is sometimes invoked as revealing that the women is uniquely designed to be man's compatible and complementary mate in more ways than just for procreation.[81] (cf. Prov. 5:15-19) In addition, the sanctity of sex within marriage but apart from emphasis upon procreation also seen as being indicated in the New Testament, where celibate singleness is esteemed (1Cor. 7:7,8,24-43), and marriage between man and women is presented as the primary alternative to fornication, with conjugal relations being enjoined due to what their marriage union entails (1Cor. 7:1-5), with the marriage bed being undefiled. (Heb. 13:4) Jewish tradition also recognizes the importance of marital love and companionship.[82]

In addition, the transcendent exclusivity of marriage being between male and female is seen as being throughout the Bible, in which whenever God gives instructions for sexual bonding it is always between opposite genders - even between animals, as seen in Noah's pairing (Gn. 7:9). The only marriages in the Bible are between man and women, with the Hebrew and Greek words for wife never denoting a male. In contrast to the abundant confirmation of God's sanction for heterosexual relations, it is pointed out that in all of the Bible there exists no establishment of any homosexual marriage by the people of God. “Indeed, every narrative, law, proverb, exhortation, metaphor, and piece of poetry in the Hebrew Bible having anything to do with sexual relations presupposes a male-female prerequisite.”[83]

Jame B. De Young, in “Homosexuality,” writes,

The creation of humans as male and female (Gn. 1) and the heterosexual union that constitutes marriage (Gn. 2) lie at the at the basis of the rest of Scripture and its comments about sexuality and marriage. A proper understanding of, and submission to, the record of Creation will guide the inquirer to the truth about homosexuality and heterosexuality. Genesis 1 — 3 clearly is foundational to other Bible texts.

In response to the need for a marriage precedent, pro-homosexual proponents attempt to make Jonathan and David's covenant a marriage, (see David and Jonathan) to which it is responded that covenants were common in in the Old Testament (the word occurs 285 times, and only once in regard to marriage) and Jonathan and David made 3 of them, and there is nothing in the description of their relationship that establishes such, or sex. It is also contended that same gender marriage must be allowed since there is no explicit command prohibiting it. In response, it is stated that this polemic possesses the same amount of legitimacy as saying that marriage between man and certain animals is allowed, as these also are not explicitly forbidden. Under traditional exegesis, homosexual marriage does needs to be explicitly forbidden, as God clearly specifies, and consistently confirms who is joined together in marriage, and unconditionally prohibits men laying with men as with women (Lv. 18:22), which “cleaving” is part of God's description of marriage. (Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:4)

1 Corinthians 11

1 Cor. 11:1-12 explicitly confirms the unique bond of man and women in marriage, which is further seen as being contrary to same sex unions:

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1Cor 11:3)

An argument by pro-homosexual writers against this, is one which asserts that the injunctions against homoeroticism are based upon outdated male headship. "Increasing numbers of scholars— influenced by the sexual deconstruction of M. Foucault and by the feminist critique of biblical sexuality—freely acknowledge a biblical condemnation of homosexuality, but dismiss this condemnation on the ground that it is an arbitrary expression of an obsolete patriarchalism. Since, they maintain, power creates truth, new power structures will create new sexual mores based on mutuality.[84]

Opposing this is the traditionalist's argument that from the beginning, God is the author of male headship, and maintains it without abrogation in the New Testament. (Gn. 3:16; 1Tim. 2:12,13) 1 Cor 11:1-16 is a primary text in this regard, in response to which a modern argument contends that this positional distinction (not simply its expression) is culturally caused. This is traditionally dealt with by contextually showing that this distinction is based upon the creational, ontological distinction between man and the women, in which the man is the head of the women, like as the Father is the head of the Son, and Christ is the head of the church.[85][86]

Verse 8 is seen as showing that, while positional distinctions themselves do not require opposite genders, the reason for the headship of the male over the women is being directly due to her being created from the man:

For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. (1Cor 11:8)

In addition, the next verse explicitly states that it was the women who was created for the man:

Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. (v.9)

This statement of purpose references back to Gn. 2:18-24, which is the beginning of the establishment of the women as man's uniquely compatible and complementary helpmate, in marriage.

A further aspect of the complementary nature of the man and the women is seen in their mutual interdependence stated in vs. 11-12:

Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. (1 Cor 11:11-12)

In the light of these additional texts, to join man with man is further understood as being contrary to the sanctified union in marriage between man and women, in which opposite and uniquely compatible genders hold distinctive yet complimentary roles due to their creational differences, both in position and purpose.

Baker's states,

From the beginning it is acknowledged that humankind is created in two genders that together bear God's image (Gen 1:27) and together constitute a unity of flesh (Gen 2:24). The reaffirmation of these two notions in key New Testament passages on sexuality (Matt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7:12-20) demonstrates the continuity and importance of sexual differentiation in the construction of a normative biblical sexuality. More simply put, humankind is created to find human completion only in the (marital) union of two sexes.[87]

Celibacy, polygamy, and procreation

While is it not a command that all men be sexually joined, the only other alternative is celibacy, as seen in the only alternative to fornication being marriage:

"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." (1Cor 7:2)

In response to the procreational aspect of complementarian position, some pro-homosexual revisionists charge them with making single persons less human,[88][89] while the conservative response is basically that, what sexual union in marriage enables and sanctifies is sexual completeness, "It is only in the heterosexual union of marriage that we find the fulfillment of God's intended order, both procreative and unitive."[90] yet this is not required of all under the New Testament, and may be sacrificially forsaken, and which requires sexual abstinence. Gagnon states,

First, to assert that male and female are two incomplete parts of a sexual whole is not the same as saying that all people must marry if they are to be whole persons. It is to say, rather, that if a person chooses to engage in sexual activity, that person always and only does so in his or her particularity as one part of a two-faceted sexual whole, as male or as female. Men and women have inherent integrity in their respective sexes: Men are wholly male and women are wholly female. They are not half-male and half-female, respectively (which, again, is the unfortunate logic of same-sex sexual bonds) The image in Gen 2:21-24 of a woman being formed from what is pulled from the man/human illustrates the point that the missing element from one sex is not another of the same sex but rather one from the only other sex."

It is also argued that as plant and animal food was specifically provided for man as his normal sustenance,(Gn. 9:2-6) but may be abstained from (1Cor. 7:5; 2Cor. 6:5) - if only for a time due to necessity - so sex can be abstained from for a time, and marriage permanently if one so chooses. But to engage in sexual relations contrary to the sanctified means for such (marriage), or to be joined in marriage with an unlawful partner, is seen to have less justification than cannibalism.[72]

In support of the traditional position it is understanding that the exhortation to celibacy in singleness (1Cor 7:7,8,25-35) is shown to be based upon the spiritual nature of the believers relationship with Christ and His kingdom and the attention it is worthy of, and (if only partly) due to "the present distress", (v. 26) and perhaps a sense of imminent trials,[91] but which in no way abrogates the restriction of sexual relations to being only between opposite genders in marriage.

Proponents of homoeroticism also argue that the allowance of polygamous marriages in the Old Testament (even concubines were wives: Gn. 25:1; cf. 1Ch. 1:32; Gn. 30:4; cf. Gn. 35:22; 2Sam. 16:21, 22, cf. 2Sam. 20:3) indicates a departure from the Genesis model, and thus sets a precedent that would allow same sex relations and marriages.[92] In response, it is pointed out that there is no structural change here, as while union with more than one wife was allowed, and the New Testament restores that to the original of one wife, (Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:5 Eph. 5:22-6:2)[93][94][95] yet even an excess of wives is manifest as keeping with the creational design and directive in which the women was created for the man, with polygamy only differing from the Genesis model which Jesus affirmed in the number of female wives (as in too much of a good thing: Prv. 18:22), not their gender.

McNeill[96] and others attempt to force marriage under the New Testament to include homosexuals due to its lower priority upon procreation. However, as related above, conservative Christians in particular see the Bible explicitly honoring romantic and erotic love between a man and his female spouse in places such as the Song of Solomon (cf. Prov. 5:15-19), and otherwise revealing the marriage bond as being far more than for procreation, with the women's uniqueness as the helpmeet of the man transcending that aspect (although the complementary aspect relative to procreation is held as important by conservative Jews and Christians, and which itself excludes same sex unions).[97]

In additional support of the traditional position, it is argued that while under the New Covenant physical procreation is not seen as having the priority evidenced in the Old Testament, yet not only is the unique union of man and women in marriage (alone) affirmed, but rather than long term sexual abstinence in marriage being promoted (or sex only as part of procreation), regular benevolent conjugal relations are actually enjoined, which are based upon to the depth of the ordained marriage union (1Cor. 7:3-5; Heb. 13:4).

Another attempt in homosexual argumentation is to invoke Gal. 3:28 to order to negate the ontological argument against homomarriage.[98] Countering this is historical exegesis, which evidences that while all believers are spiritually one in Christ regardless of sexual and racial distinctions, and in the spiritual age to come even sexual unions will not exist between the elect, (Mt. 22:30; Lk. 20:34-36) yet it is also evident that this spiritual oneness does not negate positional/functional differences, (Heb. 13:17) including those based upon creational distinctions (1Cor. 11:1-3; Eph. 5:22-25; 1Pt. 3:1-7) or the effects of the Fall. (1Tim. 2:9-15)[99][100] And that essential spiritual equality does not abrogate basic moral laws, including those against unlawful sexual partners, and the specifications of who is to be joined in marriage, which are seen as upheld in the New Testament.


(Mt. 19:9-12) "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. {10} His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. {11} But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. {12} For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

Traditional this is understood as Jesus referring to ways in which men become eunuchs.

Based upon the O.T., the first way would be those who were born without the ability to procreate, exhibiting a mutilation of human nature,[101] and possibly those who were asexual.

The second means are those who likewise cannot procreate due to men making them that way. Mathew is writing to the Jews, and these eunuchs find their Old Testament reference in Dt. 23:1, where such persons were forbidden from (at least) the Temple service (cf. Lv. 21:17-24). The second means is also confirmed in Isaiah 39:7, which foretells some Israelites being made eunuchs by the Babylonians, as part of Israel's punishment.

The last case of eunuchs are those who purposely choose to be single and celibate, as referred to in 1 Cor. 7:7,32-35, in order to better attend to the things that most directly pertain to the kingdom of God. Among the Essenes there were examples of this. But celibacy within marriage is actually forbidden by 1Cor. 7:5. (Note: The early church leader Origen castrated himself, literally following Matthew 19:12, perhaps to remove any hint of scandal as he taught young women their catechism. He later came to see his action as ill-advised and not to be taken as an example.)[102]

However, here some more extreme pro-homosexual apologists, postulate or assert that at least some some of the eunuchs in the Bible, and those which Jesus referred to in Mt. 19:12, were natural born homosexuals, and sexual active, as in pagan nations.[103] They then controvert “all cannot receive this saying” (v. 11) to refer to the uniqueness of the male/female union of Gn. 2, in order to conclude, “Jesus did not prohibit same sex marriage for born eunuchs”, asserting they are “exempt from the Adam and Eve style, heterosexual marriage paradigm”. Then, enlisting 1Cor. 1:8,9, and holding that abstinence is unreasonable for such eunuchs, the pro-homosexual apologist reasons that marriage must be allowed for them.[104]

Is response it is argued that while it may be true that sometimes eunuchs could procreate,[105][106] as the Hebrew word for "eunuch" can also refer to such men as the officer of Pharaoh who was married, yet this does not require that such were homosexuals.[107] (Gn. 39:1ff; 2King. 25:19) And that the existence of sexually active homosexual eunuchs in pagan nations cannot provide sanction for such among the children of God, as both Israel and Christians are distinctly commanded not to like the pagans and unbelievers in practicing such behavior. (Lv. 18:24,27; Acts 17:30; Rm. 1:20-32; 1Cor. 6:11; Eph. 2:2-3; 4:17-19; 1Thes. 4:5; Titus 3:3; 1Pet. 1:14; 3:4,5) And which moral laws Jesus upheld, except to further intensify the Genesis marriage bond as regards is permanence. Therefore, it is held that to suppose that Jesus is referring to congenitally determined homosexual behavior as well as radically contradicting O.T. moral law and instituting homosexual marriage, is neither found warranted here or elsewhere.[108] As Gagnon notes, Not only in Scripture but ""every piece of evidence that we have about Jewish views of same-sex intercourse in the Second Temple period and beyond is unremittingly hostile to such behavior."[109]

Using established means of exegesis, it is further argued that the untenable nature of the pro homosexual argument is evident from the beginning and throughout.

Mt. 19:3-12 reveals Jesus restoring the original standard for marriage, referencing its institution in Gn. 2, and in which He affirms that the “what” of “what therefore God hath joined together” is the unique union of one man for one women for life, except that the fornication clause may negate its permanence, but which clause itself reaffirms that sex outside marriage is sin (cf. 1Cor. 7:2). Hearing the narrowness of the original standard, the disciples react that it is not good to get married. Jesus response is in recognition of the validity this statement, insofar as not all men can receive (or submit) to the disciples expressed conclusion, but only those to whom it is given, whom Jesus calls eunuchs, which refers to both physical and spiritual ones. This perfectly correlates to what the Holy Spirit establishes under the New Covenant, in which “every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that” in 1Cor. 7:7, in context referring to being either married or single and celibate. "Although marriage was normally expected of Jewish people, Jesus here acknowledged the value of a single life that includes abstinence, without making celibacy the norm for Christians."[110]

The pro-homosexual polemic opposes this, asserting that what Jesus was referencing to (“this saying”) was the kind of marriage, that being between male and female, to negate its exclusivity as a type, while traditional exegesis sees that Jesus was referring to the disciple's conclusion which had become the issue in response to the permanence of marriage, that being single was to be preferred.

The pro-homosexual argument next proposes that the advocation of marriage due to intense longing in 1Cor. 7:9 must also sanction same gender marriage. Countering this it is held that, fully consistent with all other teaching on marriage in the Bible, it is only opposite genders who can be joined in marriage, and not to anyone or anything contrary to what God has joined, nor to unscripturally separate what He has joined. The traditional argument holds that it is evidenced that the sanction of marriage in 1Cor. 7 does not abrogate the Biblical restrictions on marrying near kin, or another man's wife, or an animal, no matter how much one may long to do so, or between same genders. 1Cor. 7 also further establishes that “eunuchs” are those who are single and celibate. It is also held that simply desiring sex is not the real issue in 1Cor. 7:9, and in any case celibacy can also be chosen by persons who could be married if they so choose, and have as much or more drive than others, as like the passionate Paul, they can keep their body under subjection (1Cor. 9:27) as they seek and serve the LORD, who Himself was single and was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Other aspects of this pro-homosexual polemic are further responded to,[111] with the conclusion that sanction for a radical new concept of marriage cannot be derived from the words of Jesus and Paul, and that instead the LORD reaffirmed the original unique union of opposite genders, in restoring the permanence of that bound. And that those who do not marry are considered eunuchs, able to be single, and required to be celibate, as the LORD as well as His apostle Paul were. (1Cor. 7:7,8).

Sexual orientation argument

The prior homosexual argument relates to one that posits that some men are born homosexual, and thus marriage must be allowed for them.[112] This is countered by the traditional response which holds that premise for this is both unproven,[113] and that its logic is Biblically untenable. Traditionalist argue that that no sound evidence exists that proves that homosexuals were born that way, and though this may be possible, and certainly one individual may be more prone to one type of sin that another, yet this is irrelevant as the Biblical fact is that all mankind is born with a proclivity to sin, but this in no way justifies acting it out. (Romans 6, 7; 1John 2:6). Every day men must resist sexual desire if it would be immoral as contrary the Creator's laws, which are good and necessary. (Rm. 7:12) The logical end of the homosexual argument is also seen as allowing all innate proclivity to sin to justify acting it out, yet God commands man to resist sin and overcome it. (Gn. 4:7; Rm. 8; Gal. 5; Col. 3)

In summary, traditionalists evidence that all marriage in Scripture is based upon its foundation in Genesis, in which God purposely created two different genders to be joined in a uniquely complementary and compatible sexual union, with distinctive positions patterned after the Divine order, for both procreational purposes as well as in sexual and non-sexual ways which transcend this. In contrast to homosexual attempts at eisegesis (2Pet. 3:16) nowhere is same-sex marriage evident or sanctioned, in principal or by precept. Rather, to join Adam (man) with one of his own (or an animal), is manifestly radically contrary to what God has specifically and transcendently ordained, by both design and decree. In the words of one apologist, as the "what" of "what therefore God hath joined together" is exclusively defined as male and female, (Gn. 2:24; Mt. 19:4), this conclusion may be summed up as, "What therefore God has placed (sexually) asunder, let no man join together."[72]

Genesis 19

Destruction of Sodom by God

This background for story may be seen beginning in Genesis 13, in which Abraham and Lot have too many livestock for their present land. Abraham, seeking peace, offers Lot the first choice as to what land he shall choose. Lot sees and chooses the then verdant plain of Sodom. But the sober note of Scripture is, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." (Gen 13:13). Later in chapter 18, the LORD and two angels visit Abraham in the plains of Mamre, appearing as men, with the two angels being sent on a mission of investigation and judgment to Sodom. Understanding the nature of judgment, Abraham most reverently intercedes for Lot and his kin, and is assured by God that even if there remains at little as 10 righteous souls in the city then God will not destroy it. The verdict of the investigation of the "very grievous" (or heavy) sin of Sodom is revealed in what happens to the angels appearing as men.

Gn. 18: "And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; {21} I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. {22} And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD."

Gn. 19: "And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; {2} And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. {3} And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

{4} But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: {5} And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. {6} And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, {7} And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. {8} Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. {9} And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. {10} But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. {11} And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

{12} And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: {13} For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it."

The issue here is not the forced manner of sexual relations that is evidenced, but the homosexual nature of it, which defines the practice from whence the term "sodomy" was derived. Jewish Ethics and Halakhah For Our Time  (2002) states, “The paradigmatic instance of such aberrant behavior is found in the demand of the men of Sodom to “know” the men visiting Lot, the nephew of Abraham, thus lending their name to the practice of “sodomy” (homosexuality)[114] In the light of cultural attitudes toward homosexual relations, Gordon J Wenham concludes that the demand to know Lot's guest was sexual, and while this was a most grievous manner of inhospitality, yet "...undoubtedly the homosexual intentions of the inhabitants of Sodom adds a special piquancy to their crime. In the eyes of the writer of Genesis and his readers it showed that they fully deserve to be described as 'wicked, great sinners before the LORD' (13:13) and that the consequent total overthrow of their city was quite to be expected."[115]

As this story evidences that the most notable physical sin of Sodom had to do with homoerotic relations,[116][117][118] and which “filthy” lifestyle resulted in Sodom becoming the foremost example of the judgment of God, and a warning to “those that after should live ungodly” (Pet. 2:6), pro-homosexual apologists most typically seek to disallow that the "very grievous" sin of Sodom here had anything to do with homoeroticism. Instead, they usually seek to attribute it to simply being "inhospitality,” albeit of a violent nature.[119] Scroggs, while seeking to justify homosexual relations, states he finds it “difficult to deny the sexual intent of the Sodomites”, and that he believes “the traditional interpretation to be correct.”[120] In addition, conservative apologist Holding states, "I know of no evidence for the claim that Lot violated a custom by not getting permission to have a guest.[121] While Sodom certainly manifested “inhospitality,” it is the specific expression of it which is the issue.

Grammatical contentions

Two words focused upon in the attempt to remove homosexual abuse from Gn. 19 are "men" as in "the men of Sodom", and "know" as in "know them", which the men demanded Lot allow them to do regarding his guests. The first assertion is that the word for men used in Genesis 19:4, "'ĕnôsh" (Strong, #582), is not gender specific, but simply indicates mortals or people, and instead the word "'îysh" (or "eesh") (Strong, #376), would have been used in Gn. 19:4 if it specifically meant men.[122] However, upon examination of this and other word used for men, it is concluded that while 'ĕnôsh may often denote a multitude of people irrespective of gender, yet as it is used in cases where men are clearly the subject, its use in Gn. 19:4 to denote men as the particular subject cannot be disallowed. In the continuing context, Lot goes outside and entreats his "brethren" (a word ("'âch," H251) that most often denotes males), saying, "I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly", and proceeds to offer them his two daughters "which have not known man" (v. 8). This they refuse, and they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door." But the men ('ĕnôsh) angels rescue him (vs. 4-11). Lot's address and the nature of his appeal and their violent reaction best indicates men in particular.[123]

The next word in contention, yâda‛ (H3045) is more critical in determining the particular nature of the inhospitality of Sodom. While yâda‛ is used in many places in the Bible as a primary verb to denote sexually knowing a human, and its context here very strongly indicates a sexual knowing, most pro-homosexual apologists contend that since yada is used over 940 times to denote non-sexual knowing, then its use here only denotes interrogation, albeit of a violent nature. Countering this is the response that states that both violent interrogation as well as the use of yâda‛ to denote gaining information by such means is absent in the Bible (though some assert that this is what "knew her, and abused her all the night" means in Jdg. 19:25, which is examined below). And in addition, that the use of "yâda” to denote gaining non-sexual personal knowledge by close contact with another person is exceedingly rare (Gn. 45:1), while "yada" is clearly used 14 times in the Old Testament, besides Gn. 19:4, and an equivalent word 2 times in the New, to denote knowing sexually: Gn. 4:1,17,25; 24:16; 38:26 (premarital); Num. 31:17,18,35; Jdg. 11:39; 19:25; 21:11,12; 1Sam. 1:19; 1Ki. 1:4; cf. Mt. 1:25; Lk. 1:34. Another possible instance is one in which a non-consensual homosexual act is perceived by some, in Gn. 9:20-27 (v. 24)[124]

The Bible, as in many languages and cultures, makes abundant use of euphemisms for sex, such as "know" or "lie with" or "uncover the nakedness of" or "go in into." Ancient languages which also used this allegorical use of “know” included Egyptian, Akkadian, and Ugaritic,[125] as well as Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Greek [126] Hebrew scholars defining 'know' as used in Genesis 19:5, used terminology like 'sexual perversion'[127] 'homosexual intercourse'[128] and 'crimes against nature',[129][130]

It is also seen that Lot's offer of his two daughters who “have not known [yâda] man” (Lot had married ones also, not with him) to the Sodomites in response to their demanded to “known” his guests, best indicates that Lot was offering substitute bodies for them to know sexually, rather than being sacrificed in pagan idolatry, as some pro-homosexual apologists assert. The latter position is seen as untenable by traditionalists in the light of the response of the men to the same offer in the parallel story in Judges 19. However, Bailey cannot see any sexual connection between Lot's offer and the Sodomites demand to know the men, while the pro-homosexual author Scroggs sees the traditional interpretation of Gn. 19 being correct.

As one commentator states,

In narrative literature of this sort it would be very unlikely to use one verb with two different meanings so close together unless the author made the difference quite obvious. In both verses 5 and 8 "yada" should be translated "to have sexual intercourse with." The context does not lend itself to any other credible interpretation.[131]

Another misleading argument that the less ambiguous word shakhabh (H7901) would have been used instead of the word "yâda if sexual knowing was meant,[132] yet shakhabh even more often means sleep or rest, while (again) yâda is used instead of shakhabh to gain sexual knowledge 13 times in the Old Testament Bible, besides the disputed verses in Gn. 19.

In the quest to render yâda to be non-sexual, some point to the Greek Septuagint translation which renders yâda' in Gen 19:5 as synginomai, which they suppose only means becoming acquainted, while v. 8 translates yâda' as ginosko ("know), which is clearly is sexual in that verse. Besides possible problems with the Septuagint[133] and the incongruity of the men of Sodom merely wanting to get acquainted with the strangers, that synginomai can have a sexual meaning is evidenced by Gen 39:10, in which synginomai is used to refer to Joseph's refusal to sleep with the wife of Potiphar. It also occurs in three places in the Apocrypha (Judith 12:16; Susanna 11, 39), with all conveying a sexual meaning. Among secular sources, synginomai is used to denote a sexual meaning in Xenophon's "Anabasis" 1.212, Plato's Republic 329c (5th to 4th century B.C.), and, among others, in writings of Epidaurus (4th cenury B.C), which indicates that the translators of the Septuagint knew of the use of the term for sexual meanings, which use preceded their translation.[134]

It is noted that prohomosexual polemicists who disallow a sexual meaning here are often not reluctant to read homoeroticism or a homosexual relationship into stories such as Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, Daniel and Ashpenaz, the centurion and his servant, Jesus and John, and (some) Elijah and the son of the widow of Zarephath, and even resort to asserting that Paul was a repressed homosexual, while even more extreme examples can be seen.

As yâda is often used as a verb to refer to sex narratives, but in forbidding illicit sex, another attempt is made to disallow homoeroticism in Gn. 19 based upon the absence of yâda when the Bible mentions homosexual acts (in Lv. 18:22; 20:13; 23:17)[135] However, this argument fails, as it would also disallow yâda from denoting premarital sex, (Gn. 38:26) or forced sex, (Jdg. 19:25) which, like Gn. 19, is described in narratives by using the euphemism yâda, but when proscribed as a sin, it uses the euphemism “lie/lay” (Dt. 22:25-29). None of the laws against illicit sex use yâda.

Judges 19

Jdg. 19: "Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. {23} And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. {24} Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. {25} But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go."

Judg 20: "And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead. {6} And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel."

In this episode, beginning in Jdg. 19:1, a Levite (who is no model of virtue himself) is traveling back home after fetching his departed concubine (a wife: Jdg. 20:4; Gn. 30:4; 35:22; 2Sam. 16:21, 22), who played the whore against him and ran away. On his way back, and finding no one that would receive him in a strange city (Gibeah), he is taken in by an old man, a resident of the town. No sooner had they eaten, then "certain sons of Belial" came and demanded of the old man, "Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know [yada] him" (v. 22). Like unto Lot, the host beseeches them “do not so wickedly” (v. 23), adding, “do not this folly”, and then offers his own virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine to them to “humble, saying "unto this man do not so vile a thing." At first it appears they refused, hoping for the man, but being given the concubine by the man, "they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go."

Homosexual apologists sometimes contend that this abuse also was non-sexual, and they only wanted to kill the man by violent interrogation, but here again, that the crowd's desire to "know" the guest(s) was sexual is best indicated by the context and language. The only two choices for the manner of “knowing” are that the men wanted to non-sexually interrogate the men, or that they desired to know them sexually, both being in a violent way that could or would lead to death. Again, rather than the word “know” (yâda‛) meaning gaining intimate personal knowledge by interrogation, it is clearly used is many places for gaining sexual knowledge by physical intimacy, as shown under the Gn. 19 section. And as there, the offer of virgins by the resident host (who like Lot, would know what his fellow countrymen were after) is best understood as an offer of substitute bodies for immediate gratification by sex, even if it was abusively. This is in contrast to the idea that the offer of the women was for a pagan sacrifice, which is contrary to their response and th fact that the men of the city were Benjaminites (19:14; 20:4; cf. Josh. 18:24; 21:17). The Levite did fear they would kill him (Jdg. 20:5), and the concubine did die, but not until after they “knew her, and abused her” and let her go (vs. 25-28). The Levite further stated that they “forced” (KJV) her, that she was dead (Jdg. 20:5). He then states that they “committed lewdness and folly (same word as vile) in Israel" (Jdg. 20:6).

Grammatically, the Hebrew word used for humble (“‛ânâh” , H6031), as in “humble ye them” (19:24), usually means afflict, but it is also often used for humbling someone sexually (Gn. 34:2; Ex. 22:10,11; Dt. 21:14; 22:21,24;29;. 2Sam.13:12,14,32), while “folly” and "vile", as in “do not this folly”, and “do not so vile a thing” (Jdg. 19:23,24), are from the same Hebrew word (“nebâlâh,” H5039), which is mostly used in sexual sense when referring to a specific sin of action (Gn. 34:7; Dt. 22:21;. 2Sam.13:12; Jer. 29:23). Likewise, “lewdness” (“zimmâh/zammâh,” H2154), as in “they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel” (20:6), is used more in a sexual sense than for any other type of sin (Lv. 18:17; 19:29; 20:14; Jer. 3:27; Ezek. 16:43,58; 22:11; 23:21,27,29,3544, 48). “Abused” (“‛âlal,” H5953) as in “they knew her and abused her all the night” (v. 25) offers no other precise meaning other here than what the context indicates.

Taken together, it is most evident that the abuse the women suffered was violently sexual, and which best defines the type of “knowing that “certain sons of Belial” (a term used for fornicators in 1Sam. 2:12, cf. v.22) sought to have, and which would result in death. And which serves to define the manner of “knowing” which was sought in Gn. 19. The only real difference between this and Gn. 19 is that these men finally took the substitute offer of the women (which was also sin). And though both Gn. 19 and Jdg. 19 specifically show homosexual rape itself to be sin, it was not simply the manner in which they sought relations (such as the women suffered) that was called vile, but the homosexual aspect of it. Even prohomosex author Robin Scroggs also concurs that in Jdg. 19 "the verb [yada] almost surely refers to a sexual desire for homosexual rape", and that the traditional interpretation of Gn. 19 is correct.[136]

Finally, that the sin of Sodom was attempted homosexual rape hardly needs any of the above for confirmation, as Jude 7 (see below) clearly tells us that not only was Sodom and company given to fornication, but that this included a perverse kind.

The book of Jude

Jude is a book dealing with the manifestations and consequences of spiritual and moral declension, in contrast to the purity and power of the holy love of God. Verse 7 come after examples of men and angels who went backwards in rebellion against God, and suffered certain judgment, and which then declares, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (KJV)

Here, it is explicitly stated that not only Sodom but also Gomorrha and the cities about them in like manner “gave themselves over to fornication.” with a specific form of it being the culmination of such surrender to sensuality. The Greek (which the New Testament was written in) word from which the emphasized phrase comes from, is “ekporneuō” (G1608), and is only Biblically used here, but it is a combination of “ek,” denoting motion, as in “giving themselves,” and “porneuō,” meaning fornication. Ekporneuō also occurs in the Septuagint to denote whoredom in Genesis 38:24 and Exodus 34:15. Realizing this, most homosexual apologists again seek to deny homoeroticism from being the primary physical sin of Sodom by proposing or contending that as the word for “strange” basically means “another,” “other,” “altered” or even “next,” then the meaning is unclear, and if the condemnation of Sodom was sexual, then it is likely that it was because women sought to commit fornication with “other than human” angels,[137] perhaps referring to Genesis 6 and or the apocryphal book of Enoch. However, if the “sons of God” in Gn. 6 are fallen angels, or if Enochian legends are being alluded to,[138] then it is about them going after the daughters of men, not the other way around. And if homosexual advocates must give the Book of Enoch more veracity above the portion which Jude uses,[139] then its condemnation of "sodomitic" sex (10:3; 34:1)[140] indicates that was the prevalent sin of Sodom. As Jude connects the judgment of Sodom with their going after strange flesh, then the connection to Gn. 19 is intimated. Additional evidence indicative of Jude 7 and 2 Peter 2:6-7,10 possessing a homoerotic dimension is found in the nearest parallels in early extra Biblical Jewish texts: Philo of Alexandria (Abraham 133-41; Questions on Genesis 4.37), Josephus (Antiquities 1.194-95, 200-201; Jewish War 4.483-5; 5.566) and the Testament of Naphtali (3:4).[141]

As for “other,” as in “strange flesh,” the Greek for the phrase, “strange flesh” is “heteros” and “sarx,” with the former basically meaning “other/another,” while “sarx” denotes the nature of man, or (once) a class of laws from God which deal with earthly matters as washings (Heb. 9:10). Heteros could easily refer to "other than normal, lawful or right," as in Rm. 7:3 or Gal. 1:6, that being contrary to God's law and design, and rebellion has been the context prior to this, and is the real issue, not angels, as some suppose. Dave Miller states this pertains to the indulgence of passions that are “contrary to nature” (Barnes, 1949, p. 393)—“a departure from the laws of nature in the impurities practiced” (Salmond, 1950, 22:7).[142]

Some assert that Jude is referring to the Sodomites seeking sex with angels,[143] but that is further militated against by the fact that the fornication was an ongoing and regional issue, not simply isolated to Sodom, and in Gn. 19 it is highly unlikely that the Sodomites knew that the men were angels. The angels appearance as men was in order to find out whether the cry of Sodomy was true, and it is certain that this cry was not that of seeking sex with angels. Gagnon contends, "Not only is it not required by the wording of the Greek text that ekporneusasai (“having committed sexual immorality”) refer exclusively to copulation with angels, there are also at least six indications that ekporneusasai alludes, at least in part, to attempted male-male intercourse.[144] Taken together, it is unreasonable to hold that that the particular primary physical sin of Sodom, leading to their destruction, was not sexual, while the most warranted understanding is that it was widespread regional fornication, including that of a most perverse manner, that of men seeking to sexually “know” men, albeit unknowingly it was with angels, and but which attempt positively confirmed the investigation of their grievous sin.

Ezekiel 16:49 and inhospitality texts

A final attempt by homosexual apologists to disallow the most particular sin of Sodom from being sexual is to assert that other summations of the iniquity of Sodom do not mention sexual sin but shows it to be inhospitality to strangers,[145] for which cause they invoke Ezek 16:49: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." However, widespread promotion of sensuality and homoeroticism in particular, tends to be a product of and concomitant with, pride, abundance of food, idleness, and selfishness. And as will be shown, Sodom is associated more for sexual sins than with inhospitality or any other physical type of sin. But first we should notice that while verse 49 states overall sins, the next verse He states, "And they [Sodomites] were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good." The word for “abomination” here is tô‛êbah, and (contrary to many homosexual assertions) it is not the word often used for ritual uncleanness, but is often used for sexual sin (Lv.18:22; 26-27,29,30; 20:13; Dt. 23:18; 24:4 1Ki. 14:24; Ezek. 22:11; 33:26), including in this chapter (vs. 22, 58). And that the context in this chapter is that of fornication by Israel, and while the Hebrew is sparse in vs. 47-48, contextually the LORD was comparing Israel with Sodom (even calling it “thy sister”), and yet revealing that Israel was different, not in the sense that Sodom's physical sins were different, or those of Samaria, but that the Israelites went beyond them in scope and degree, and by idolatry violated their covenant with God and thus faced certain judgment. Thus Sodom is once again listed in connection with sexual sins.[146]

Sins to which Sodom is linked to elsewhere include,

  1. adultery and lies (Jer. 23:14);
  2. unrepentance (Mt. 11:20-24; Mk. 6:11, 12);
  3. careless living (Lk. 17:29);
  4. shameless sinning (Is. 3:9);
  5. and overall “filthy conversation” (G766), which means sexual sins (lasciviousness: 2Pet. 2:7; cf. Mk. 7:22; 2Co_12:21; Eph. 4:19; 1Pet. 4:3; Jud_1:4; or wantonness: Rm. 13:13, 2Pe_2:18).

In regards to this, homosexual apologists also claim Jesus did not invoke Sodom as an warning to cities because they were merely generally inhospitable, rather He foretold that cities which would not repent would be judged more severely than Sodom (Mt. 10:14; 11:20-24), as that was the cause behind their specific “inhospitality” toward His disciples, who “went out, and preached that men should repent” (Mk. 6:11,12), which rejection Biblically was and is the ultimate sin of damnation.

Jewish Ethics and Halakhah For Our Time (2002), confirms, “The paradigmatic instance of such aberrant behavior is found in the demand of the men of Sodom to “know” the men visiting Lot, the nephew of Abraham, thus lending their name to the practice of “sodomy” (homosexuality) (Cf. Genesis Rabbah 50:5, on Gen. 9:22 ff. More generally see M.Kasher, Torah Shlemah, vol. 3 to Gen 19:5.)[147]

Extra Biblical historical sources

These sources do not have the authority of the Bible, and are of varying historical value, but which. serve to provide historical opinion. These references include historians, extra Biblical books (apocryphal and pseudepigraphical) and Jewish commentary.


Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC - 50 AD) described the inhabitants of Sodom,

"As men, being unable to bear discreetly a satiety of these things, get restive like cattle, and become stiff-necked, and discard the laws of nature, pursuing a great and intemperate indulgence of gluttony, and drinking, and unlawful connections; for not only did they go mad after other women, and defile the marriage bed of others, but also those who were men lusted after one another, doing unseemly things, and not regarding or respecting their common nature, and though eager for children, they were convicted by having only an abortive offspring; but the conviction produced no advantage, since they were overcome by violent desire; and so by degrees, the men became accustomed to be treated like women, and in this way engendered among themselves the disease of females, and intolerable evil; for they not only, as to effeminacy and delicacy, became like women in their persons, but they also made their souls most ignoble, corrupting in this way the whole race of men, as far as depended on them" [133-34; ET Jonge 422-23] (The Sodom tradition in Romans Biblical Theology Bulletin, Spring, 2004 by Philip F. Esler).

In summarizing the Genesis 19 account, the Jewish historian Josephus stated: “About this time the Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, in so much that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices” “Now when the Sodomites saw the young men to be of beautiful countenances, and this to an extraordinary degree, and that they took up their lodgings with Lot, they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence” (Antiquities 1.11.1 — circa A.D. 96).


The apocryphal Testament of Benjamin, part of Books of Twelve Patriarchs (circa 2nd century BC) warned in regard to Sodom,

"that ye shall commit fornication with the fornication of Sodom," (Concerning a Pure Mind, 9:1) http://[148]

Anther book within the same collection, the Testament of Naphtali, states,

"But ye shall not be so, my children, recognizing in the firmament, in the earth, and in the sea, and in all created things, the Lord who made all things, that ye become not as Sodom, which changed the order of nature." (3.5.) [149]

The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch, warned:

"And those men said to me: This place, O Enoch, is prepared for those who dishonour God, who on earth practise sin against nature, which is child-corruption after the sodomitic fashion, magic-making, enchantments and devilish witchcrafts, and who boast of their wicked deeds, stealing, lies, calumnies, envy, rancour, fornication, murder, ...." (10:4; in J recension Ch. I.118); Late 1st cent. AD.)[150]

The Old Testament apocrypha, Testament of Isaac. Probably originally from Egyptian Judaism, but shows pronounced Christian elements. "The angel said to me, 'Look at the bottom to observe those whom you see at the lowest depth. They are the ones who have committed the sin of Sodom; truly, they were due a drastic punishment." (5.27. Ch. I.909; Second century AD) [151]


The "Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer" compilation of the Mishnah, portrays the sin of Sodom as being crass inhospitality, including that of fencing in the top of trees so that even birds could not eat of their fruit.

The Babylonian Talmud (which contains many odd fables) also does not explicitly mention sexual sins in regards to Sodom, but attributes cruelty and greed to it, including that if one cut off the ear of his neighbor's donkey, they would order, “Give it to him until it grows again.” — Sanhedrin 109b

However, it also clearly condemns homoeroticism:

“He Who commits sodomy with a male or a beast, and a woman that commits bestiality are stoned. — Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 54a Soncino 1961 Edition, page 367

Several texts in the Midrashic literature written in the early Christian centuries, such as Beresheth Rabbah 26:5 commenting on Genesis 6:2, also asserted that God is patient with all sins except fornication, and which included homoeroticism.


An examination of both grammar and context in Gn. 19 best indicates a homoerotic intent on the part of the Sodomites. The sexual connotation in this story is further evidenced in the parallel story of the Levite and his concubine in Judge 19, whom men of Belial “knew” and abused all the night.[152] To this is added the confirmation in the Book of Jude that Sodom's most notable physical sin was fornication, culminating in a perverse kind. While prohomsex polemicists attempt to render this as referring to Sodomites knowingly seeking sex with angels, Jude 1:7 reveals that fornication was a regional issue which preceded the angelic visit, and Gn. 18:20-22 indicates that Sodom was practicing their damnable sin prior to the arrival of Lot's angelic guests. In addition, it is most unlikely that the Sodomites knew then what manner of men his guests were (or that they would go after angels if they did), until the angels smote them with blindness and pulled Lot inside and shut the door. This would have been impossible for ordinary men, and the Sodomites would then have realized that the men whom they sought were no ordinary men.

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

(Lev 18:22) "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (KJV)

(Lev 20:13) "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." (KJV)

While most pro-homosexual polemicists admit that sexual moral codes are transcultural and transhistorical, attempts are made to find grammatical, categorical, cultural and motivatonal aspects that would disallow the injunctions which prohibit homosexual relations. These attempts here, as others, manifest a foundational position on the Bible contrary to its own statements relative to both its Divine inspiration and transcendent coherent moral relevance and authority. As stated by prohomsex author Richard Hasbany,

"Here again, two interpretive foundations are opposed, that of traditional Judaism which holds that the law of God as understood through the Talmudic literature is immutable, and ultimately higher than man's full comprehension (Ps. 40:5; 92:5), and those who hold that present Western values should influence man's moral interpretation of the Bible."[153] (cf. Dt. 12:8)

Universal, Cultural and Ceremonial laws

See also: Leviticus 18

Arguments against the Levitical injunctions being universal and transcendent almost always attempt to relegate them to being ceremonial in nature, and therefore not binding upon Christians. In approaching these arguments therefore, it is necessary to understand that in traditional Christian doctrine the Bible is recognized as evidencing three types of laws: moral, civil/judicial, and ceremonial/ritual.[154][155] (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 9:10; Gal. 4:10) Bahnsen points out that the early third century church document Didascalia Apostolorum clearly distinguished between the Decalogue and the temporary ceremonies.[156]

Within the first category are those which deal with basic human actions and heart attitudes which are directly applicable to mankind in general. Idolatry is the first command, (Ex. 20:2,3) and whatever holds our ultimate allegiance, or is our ultimate object of affect or source of security is our god, at least at that time,(Dt. 10:20; Ezek. 6:9; 14:3-7; 20:16; Rm. 6:16; 14:4; 1Cor. 10:31; 16:22) and all willful sin against what one knows God has ordained is idolatry. (Rm. 6:16) Also within this first category are moral laws which deal with mans behavior toward others which likewise transcend historical and cultural boundaries, such as honoring parents, unjust killing, illicit sexual unions, etc. as seen in the 10 Commandments.

Civil laws and judicial penalties (judgments) which are based upon foundational moral laws. Both the judgments and certain aspects of laws are often culture specific, yet what they enjoin is usually literally applicable to all cultures and times, by way of modification in accordance with the principal behind them, though some controversy exists regarding details of such. (Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, For Whom Was God's Law Intended?) (Moses' Law for Modern Government)

The final category is that of ceremonial laws, which mainly deal with practices which are not inherently moral, and which the New Testament reveals were typological, serving as physical examples of Christ and realities realized under the promised (Jer. 31:31-34) New Covenant instituted in Christ's blood (Lk. 22:20; Heb. 9:16). These consist of laws on sacrifices, the liturgical calendar, diet and washings (Lv. 1-16,25; Is. 53; Jn. 1:29; 1Pt. 1:18,19; Col. 2:16,17; Heb. 4:3; 9:10; 10:1-22; Gal. 4:10).

In contrast to ceremonial laws, the New Testament is seen explicitly reincorporating many basic moral commands of the Mosaic code into the New Covenant code,[157] upholding basic universal moral laws by type and often individually.[158] Unlawful sex between outlawed partners or outside marriage is particularly abundantly prohibited in the N.T. (Mat. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mk. 7:21; Jn. 8:41; Acts 15:20; 15:29; 21:25; Rom. 1:29; 1Co_5:1; 1Co. 6:9,13, 18; 7:2; 2Co. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Ths. 4:3; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; 1Pet. 4:3; Rev. 9:21; 14:8, 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2) The prohibitions against homosexual relations are seen to clearly fit in this category by type, and are condemned in the New Testament where they are explicitly mentioned in Romans 1:24-27. In contrast, accompaniments such as simply where to worship or eat would only be contextually wrong. (1Cor. 8,10) Gudel concludes,

The Holiness Code contained different types of commands. Some were related to dietary regulations or to ceremonial cleanliness, and these have been done away with in the New Testament (Col. 2:16-17; Rom. 14:1-3). Others, though, were moral codes, and as such are timeless. Thus incest, child sacrifice, homosexuality, bestiality, adultery, and the like, are still abominations before God.[159]

Contextual and categorical arguments

An early and ongoing attempt[160] to negate the Levitical condemnation of homosexual relations is based upon the texts which invoke the surrounding pagan culture as examples of behavior which is forbidden to Israel. (Lv. 18:3,27,28) It then concludes that the Holiness Code was not about personal morality, but about forming community definition. In response it is evidenced that the whole of Scripture reveals unbelievers are often used, in both Testaments, as behavioral examples who are contrary to the laws on heart attitude and actions which God is instituting. (Exo. 20:2; 23:24; Lev. 20:23; Dt. 12:4; 12:30-31; Jer. 10:2-3; Acts 17:30; Rm. 1:20-32; 1Cor. 6:11; Eph. 2:2-3; 4:17-19; 1Thes. 4:5; Titus 3:3; 1Pet. 1:14; 3:4,5) Moreover, such admonitions were often given in the immediate context of moral laws, but not clearly ceremonial ones. Considering their nature, (Psa. 106:35-38) and the reiteration of such in the New Testament, in particular those against fornications,[161] it is held to be untenable to relegate such laws, and in particular those against illicit sexual partners, to being for purposes of establishing cultural distinction.

Another argument by pro-homosexual proponents is to assign a radical significance to (what is stated to be) only one prescription in the Old Testament for the death penalty for homosexual relations, in contrast to most of the other sins of Lv. 20 being repeated elsewhere, mainly in Dt. 27:15-26. Upon which basis they restrict Lv. 18:22 to only prohibiting male homosexual temple prostitutes.[162] (Dt. 23:17)

The errors of this argument and those related, are seen as multiple, in that,

  • 1. The sentence of death for homosexual relations is essentially listed twice (collectively with all laws in Lv. 18:29, and specifically in 20:13), while elsewhere death is not mandated for some forms of incest. (Lev 18:12,14,16,18; Lv. 20:19,20,21) In addition, it is doubtful that cursed in Dt. 27 always denotes death, (Dt. 28:19ff Gn. 9:25) which would further negate disparities between reiterative quantities. Conversely, if cursed does always denote death, then it increases the number of moral offenses for which death is apparently assigned only once (Dt. 27:17,18). Or twice, as all infractions of the law of Moses would be capital sins. (Dt. 27:26)
  • 2. No certain conclusion can be arrived at as to what category a law belongs based upon the number of times the death penalty is mentioned for it. Some forms of incest have no Capital punishment individually mandated for them, nor do all violations of the ten commandments, while the death penalty for breaking the sabbath, which most pro-homosexual advocates would categorize as ceremonial, is thrice mentioned (Ex. 31:14,15; 35:2; Num.16:32-36)[163] (It appears the sin for which death is most mentioned in the Old Testament is unholy presumption, that of approaching holy things which only sanctified Levites were allowed to do, and for which there are eight occurrences of the capital penalty being attached to it,: Num. 1:51; 3:10,38; 4:20; 18:3,7,15,22, with three examples of this consequence: 1Sam. 6:19; 1Chr. 13:9,10; cf. 2Chr. 26:16-20; but which examples indicate capital punishment was always death by supernatural execution, as it was for unjustly afflicting a widow or fatherless child: Ex. 22:22-24)
  • 3. The number of repetitions of the death penalty for a sin is not a consistent criteria by which its severity is determined. According to the principal behind Gal. 3:19, the greater the need (when the law was being given), for Israel to be deterred by a law and its capital offenses, then the more likely it should be expected to be reiterated in the recorded Mosaic code. Cannibalism is not even specifically outlawed, but like homosexual relations, and perhaps even less unconditionally wrong, it is contrary to foundational law. (Gn. 9:2,3) Likewise, Gagnon notes, "The only form of consensual sexual behavior that was regarded by ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christianity as more egregious than same-sex intercourse was bestiality. It is no accident that bestiality receives even less attention in the Bible than same-sex intercourse—it is mentioned only in Exod 22:19; Lev 18:23 and 20:15-16; and Deut 27:21[164]
  • 4. The phrase, put to death or similar explicit phrase is used for manifestly moral sins,[165] sometimes in combination with cut off (Lv. 18:29; 20:17), and only for the most serious ceremonial sins (Ex. 35:2; Num. 1:51), while "cut off" is used by itself for most of the ceremonial sins Exo 12:15; 30:33; Lev 7:20,21,25,27; 17:3-4; 19:8,13; 20:18; 22:3; 23:29; Num 9:13; 15:30-31)[166]
  • 5. Homosexual relations is not only included with other capital sins, but is seen as distinguished as a first-tier sexual offense in Lev 20:10-16, along with adultery, incest with one's stepmother or daughter-in-law, and bestiality. As such, it is distinguished from lesser capital sexual offenses in 20:17-21.[167]
  • 6. Lv. 18:22 is contrary in type to mere ceremonial/typological laws, such as deal with ritual cleansing. The purely religious practice of male homosexual relations is dealt with separately in Dt. 23:17,[168] and is based upon the general command of Lv. 18:22, which itself is evidenced as being based upon foundational design and decrees. The pro-homosexual attempt here is seen as akin to limiting the like general prohibition against prostitution in Lv. 19:29 only to its religious practice.[169] (Dt. 23:17,18; 2Chrn. 21:11; Jer. 3:6; Ezek. 23:44; Hos. 4:13-15)
  • 7. It is duplicitous for pro-homsoexual polemicists to assert more repetitions of the death penalty are expected if it were inherently sinful, while seeking to justify homosexuality despite the utter absence of the establishment of homosexual marriage, in stark and consistent contrast to heterosexual relations. It is inconceivable that no evident sanction would not be given in the law for homosexual relations if only a religious prostitutional practice was proscribed.

A different strategy used in attempting to negate the universal nature of the other laws against illicit partners, is to seek to create a categorical division between Lv. 18:20, which prohibits adultery, and the next verse, which forbids child sacrifice to Molech, with this signifying a new division rendering the next law (v. 22) as only forbidding homosexual relations in that type of idolatrous context. In response it is argued that, as most in both camps hold v. 19 to be ceremonial (sex during menstruation), this same logic would relegate adultery (v. 20) to that category. In addition, only Molech in v. 21 is seen as being a culture-specific aspect of that law, while being universally applicable otherwise. In regard to this, it is understood by conservative Christians that children are sacrificed today to destructive ideals and selfish lusts, as to a god.[170]

Linguistical polemics

Tōʻēḇā and zimmâh

As Lv. 18:22 declares homosexual relations between men to be an "abomination", Boswell and most other polemicists promoting such contend that the Hebrew word tōʻēḇā, usually translated abomination, seldom refers to something intrinsically evil, like rape or theft, but something which is ritually unclean for Jews, like eating pork or printing marks on one's flesh, or against mixed fabrics. Helminiak for instance, claims that tōʻēḇā, means "dirty" or "impure", and was wrong merely "because it offended sensitivities".[171]

Rather than prohibiting same gender sex in general like other laws against illicit partners, Boswell and like revisionists generally assert that these Levitical injunctions against homosexual relations (and even all the sins of Lv. 18 and 20) were only given to make Israel distinctive (akin to “team colors”), and only prohibit pagan temple prostitution. Or that they were concerned with the wasting of reproductive seed,[172][173][174] though even pro-homosexual author Robin A. Scroggs thinks these latter ideas are conjecture which is best not to speculate about.[175]

Instead of tô‛êbah, Boswell asserts that the Hebrew word zimmâh would have been used if the prohibitions of Lv. 18:22; were not a mere form of "ethnic contamination,",[176] like laws against unclean foods, or that of strange haircuts.

However, in support of the traditional position, examination of the use of tōʻēḇā in the original language text is shown to evidence that it is not used in Leviticus for dietary violations, and is only used 2 or 3 times elsewhere to refer to the such things being abominable for Israel (versus the Egyptians), and in contrast, tōʻēḇā is the word most often used for abomination in reference to grave moral sins, including those which are unmistakably universally sinful. Collectively it is used for all the sins of Lv. 18 + 20. (vs. 27,29) As idolatry is the mother of all sins, tōʻēḇā can be directly used for such. (Dt. 32:16, etc.)[177]

The word, which, when used, always denotes ceremonial abominations is sheqets (Lev. 7:21; 11:10-13,20,23,41,42; Is. 66:17; Ezek. 8:10), and then shâqats, from which it is derived, which itself is only used in Leviticus for dietary violations, (Lev. 11:11,13,43; 20:25) and a "cursed thing in Dt. 7:26, and an abhorred cry in Prv. 22:24.

Majority of specific sins which are said to be tōʻēḇā

  • 1. idolatry or idols (Dt. 7:25,26; 13, 2 kg. 21:2-7; 23:13; 2Chr. 33:2,3; Is. 44:19)
  • 2. empty, vain worship (Is. 1:13)
  • 3. witchcraft; occultism (Dt. 18:9-12)
  • 4. illicit sex (Ezek. 16:22,58; 22:11; 33:26)
  • 5. remarrying divorced women (Dt. 24:2-4)
  • 6. marriage with unbelievers (Ezra 9:1,2)
  • 7. male homosexual and (collectively) heterosexual immorality (Lv. 18:22; 18:26,27,29,30; 20:13)
  • 8. temple prostitution (1 kg. 14:24; 21:2,11)
  • 9. offerings from the above (Dt. 23:18)
  • 10. cross-dressing (Dt. 22:5)
  • 11. child sacrifice to idols (2Ki. 16:3; Jer. 32:35)
  • 12. cheating in the market by using rigged weights (Dt. 25:13-19, Prov. 11:1)
  • 13. dishonesty (Prov. 12:22)
  • 14. dietary violations (Dt. 14:3; Jer. 16:18)
  • 15. stealing, murder, and adultery, breaking covenants, (Jer. 7:10),
  • 16. violent robbery, murder, oppressing the poor and needy, etc. (Ezek. 18:10-13)
  • 17. bringing unbelievers into the holy sanctuary of God, and forsaking the holy charge (Ezek. 44:78)

As regards zimmâh, when used sexually, it is usually used in a general manner to describe the vile nature of universally sinful sexual immorality, such as are also specifically or broadly categorized as tōʻēḇā, (Lv. 18:17, 19:29; Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 22:9,11; 23:21,27,29,35,44,48,49) yet the use of the latter shows that the list of universal sinful things extends to more than those referred to as being zimmâh. Paradoxically, zimmâh also works to confirm the sexual nature of the sin of Sodom in Gn. 19, due to its use in the parallel story to describe the offense of the men of Gibeah. (Judges 20:6)

  • Use in the Septuagint

Boswell and Helminiak look to the Greek Septuagint (LXX), an interpretive work of many Greek translators, for support here, arguing that its use of βδέλυγμα (bdelygma or bdelugma) in translating tōʻēḇā in Lv. 18:22 and other places,[178] indicates that the Leviticus passage should be interpreted as a violation of ceremonial impurity. They further postulate that a Greek word, anomia,[179] would likely be used if it were a violation of moral law[180][181]

Countering this, James B. De Young and others show the inconsistency and invalidity of this argument in the light of more extensive research.[182][183][184]

Regarding anomia, 24 Hebrew words are seen to be variously rendered in the LXX as this, and while is a word that describes violations of law, it is most always used in a general sense, often like the Hebrew word ‛âvôn, and is rarely used to specify a particular sin, which in contrast is often the case with tōʻēḇā in the Torah. Yet anomia is used in many verses where tōʻēḇā later occurs in the Hebrew, and which iniquity is usually of a moral nature, such as illicit sex partners. (Eze. 8:6,9,13,17; 12:16; 16:2,47,51,58; 18:13,24; 20:4; 22:2; 23:36) As it is normally used in a general sense, when anomia is used in passages as Lv. 16:21; Is. 53:5, anomia is referring to all the transgressions of Israel, not simply those in the moral class. Yet in passages such as Lev. 22:16 it refers to things which Boswell and most traditionalists classify as mere ceremonial purity. To support his polemic, Boswell classifies idolatry, such as making idols to worship, or offering one's child as a literal sacrifice to a false god (Jer. 32:35; Boswell cites 2Ki. 16:3), as merely being part of ceremonial laws of separation, rather than being practices which are universally and immutably evil and forbidden, which the whole of the Bible testifies to. (1Cor. 10:20,21; Rv. 14:11) In contrast to prohomosex proponents, the traditionalist argument manifests that homosexual relations are not a corruption of a practice such as eating, for whereas the latter is contextually sanctioned, the sanctioned context for homosexual relations is (conspicuously) never established. As right worship is seen as being established by having the God of the Bible as its object, so likewise sanctified sexual relations is also seen to be established as being between eligible opposite genders, while homosexual relation is revealed as a consequence of making God into an image of one's own liking, formal or informal. (see Romans 1)


Another attempt to relegate Lv. 18:22 and 20:13 to a unique cultic context is one that strives to attach a radical significance to the use of zakhar [H2145], which is the Hebrew word normally translated male/males throughout the OT, or the lesser used word for such, zekhur [H2138], by noting that in 90% of the occurrences it signifies those who have a special sacred significance (newborn sons, circumcised males, Levites, soldiers, sacrificial animals, returning exiles, etc.). By which he concludes that this signifies that the Levitical injunctions against homosex only pertains to sex with priests![185]

In support of the traditional position,[186] it is evidenced that all Israelite males fell into a special class of people, while the only special significance the strictly gender specific words zakhar/zekhur most often provides is to differentiate between male and females in general, and, and therefore they are used for those in special classes of people. It is seen that the reason for the most prevalent use of zakhar within special classes of males is simply because that is most often the subject, from sacrificed animals to Jews returning from exile. While zakhar is used for the descendants of Levi, (Lv. 6:18,29) it is also used for Adam, (Gn. 1:27) and in contrast with Eve, (Gn. 5:2) and for all the men of Shechem, (Gn. 34:22,24,25) for Midianite males, (Num. 31:7,17,18,35; Jdg. 21:11) for idolatrous male images, (Ezek. 16:17) for male men of Manasseh, (Josh. 17:2) for slain male Edomites (1Ki. 11:15) for male children, (Lv. 12:2; Is. 66:7; Jer. 20:15) for fearful men, (Jer. 30:6) for circumscribed males, (Gn. 17:23), and for all the men of Israel, (Num. 1:2), as does zekhur (Ex. 23:17; Dt. 16:16) and for male enemies (Dt. 20:13) or male children (Ex. 34:23). Thus the pro-homosexual distinction is manifest as one which makes no difference in what the Levitical injunctions apply to. Moreover, in no place in Scripture are these words used to distinctly signify pagan male priests, with the common word for men ('îysh [H376]) being used for such. (Jdg 6:28,30; 1Ki 18:22)

Additional arguments

Restriction to gender and manner

Some pro-homosexuals apologists, such as Stacy Johnson, contend or postulate that the grammar in Lv. 18:22 and 20:13 indicates only a prohibition of actual male intercourse, and only condemns the active party, not the passive one, with procreation being causative of the injunction, and or being due to the need for male dominance, but not forbidding lesbian eroticism.[187] Or that it only targets coercive male intercourse[188]

The focus here is on the words, îysh (man) shâkab (lieth) êth (with) zâkâr (mankind) mishkâb (lieth) 'ishshâh nâshîym (women), with mishkâb, usually meaning bed, which the pro-homosexual polemic restricts to only intercourse. Countering this is the traditionalists response which argues that while that intercourse is prohibited, (cf. Num. 31:17–18,35; Judges 21:11–12) yet restricting "the "bed of love" (Ezek. 23:17; cf. 7:17) to only actual intercourse would to be too narrow. It is seen as unreasonable that euphemisms such as "uncover the nakedness, or "lieth with", would only forbid adulterous or incestuous intercourse while allowing all else. Though the sin of Reuben was that he went up to his father's bed (Gn. 49:4) inferring adultery/incest with his mother, certainly lesser forms of eroticism would not be sanctioned. Gagnon concludes that the idea that ancient Israel would have accepted other aspects of male with male erotic sex is preposterous, which apparently even Johnson is compelled to admit.[189][190]

In response to the idea that only the active partner is targeted in 18:22, it is understood that simply because the man is specified does not mean the recipient is not culpable, and a distinction is made in jurisprudence when the latter is not. (Dt. 23:23-29) Likewise in verses before and after 20:13 the male is specified, though it addresses a consensual act. (Lv. 20:10-12,14)

David Hilborn (Theological Adviser to the UK Evangelical Alliance) states that,

"the same root text also deploys the generic term ‘male’ rather than any more specific word for ‘man’ or ‘youth’ - a detail which also points to a more comprehensive understanding of homoerotic activity. Furthermore, the death penalty in Leviticus 20:13 applies equally to the active and the passive partner: there is no implication of rape, in which case the rapist alone would have been executed (cf. Deut. 22:22-5). Nor is there any hint of coercion. The context, rather, would seem to include homosexual intercourse by mutual consent. Comparative literary study has revealed that the Assyrians outlawed forcible same-sex intercourse; it has also shown that the Egyptians banned pederasty; Israel, however, appears to have stood alone in viewing homosexual acts in general with this degree of severity.[191]

Priority of procreation

Countering the aspect of the above polemic which charges that procreation is the only cause of the prohibition against homosexual relations, it is argued that reproduction is not the sole or determining basis for the foundational premise which 18:22 is based upon, as the Bible in its entirety evidences as that the basis for the complementary nature of the union of opposite genders transcends simply procreation, (Gn. 2:18; Prov. 5:15-19) and that even when that is not a critical issue, then sex is enjoined only between male and female, due to the nature of their marital union, and of human nature. (1Cor. 7:2-5) Additionally, in no place is marriage afforded between same genders, with Jesus and the N.T. distinctly affirming "what God hath joined" as being male and female.

Lesbian sexual relations

As regards the issue of lesbian sexual relations, it is likewise seen that to presuppose that condemnation of same-sex relations between males does not apply to same gender female sexual unions lacks Scriptural warrant, as these are also contrary in nature to the union of opposite genders originally established and uniquely affirmed throughout Scripture, with no principal or precept affording the contrary. In addition, though a phrase like "women lying with women with womenkind" is not specified in the Old Testament, commands and texts which are given to the male ('îysh) in Lv. 20:13 also can include women, such as in Lv. 20:9; Is. 53:6,11; Jer. 11:8; 16:12; 18:12. It is also understood that most likely sexual relations between females was not a known (or a prevalent) practice then, and thus did not warrant a specific injunction. However, under the New Covenant, both male and female consensual homoeroticism is condemned in Romans 1, as being contrary to the creational design of God, and ordained normality, and thus is a manifestation of idolatry ("the mother of all sins").

In response to the argument that male dominance was the cause for 18:22, it is evidenced that it is God, not society, that established and upholds the headship of the male, and this functional distinction is an intrinsic part of his unique union with the women, based upon creational distinctions, (1Cor. 11:1-12) and which also excludes same gender marriage.

Psychologically based polemics

An even more imaginative psychologically based argument on Lv. 20:13 is advanced by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who renders that to only forbid male with male intercourse when they pretend one is a women, and or that this verse is really mandating a parallel set of institutions for dealing with male with male sex.[192] That this is an egregious example of "wresting" of Scriptures (cf. 2Pet. 3:16) should be obvious, but such is evidenced elsewhere in prohomosex apologetics. In no place do emotions or imaginations, motives or mental attitude play a part in the prohibitions of sex with illicit partners, whereas when it does within laws regarding marriage (Dt. 24:3; Num. 6:12-31) or killing (Dt. 19:11,12) then it is made explicit. Likewise, the idea that a fundamental prohibition against male homosex, which is manifestly contrary to what God has sanctioned and established by design and decree, is somehow mandating a like means of sanction for it, is seen as utterly without warrant. And that is makes a mockery of the Bible as a coherent authority for even basic human behavior.

Nor is it indicated that "as he lieth with a woman" is making a distinction between an effeminate versus masculine internal disposition of the partner. Rather the simile and euphemism serves to identify the sexual nature (intercourse) of laying down, and would distinguish it from simply sharing the same real estate to lay down on, as with women.


The following summation, while not inclusive, provides reasons for the position that no grammatical, categorical, cultural or motivation argument warrants relegating the Levitical injunctions against homosex to merely being prohibitory of idolatrous temple homosex, or belonging to the class of ceremonial laws (which are not the same), or are only motive-specific, but that instead they are universal and immutable.

  • 1. The reasons why literal obedience to ceremonial laws is not enjoined now is based upon like evidence for why the laws against homosex are upheld. While the New Testament defines the class of laws which were ceremonial/typological, it even more abundantly upholds laws against illicit sexual partners as a class. While literal obedience to the former is not mandated under the New Covenant, sex with illicit partners and any possible mention of homosex only finds unconditional condemnation therein.
  • 2. The injunctions against homosex are based upon creational, not cultural differences, as is manifest by design and decrees, and are upheld in principle and by precepts, in which only the women is created for the man, with purposeful complementary physical, functional, and positional distinctions. Which, as decreed, only opposite opposite gender unions between humans could fulfill, in marriage. (Gn. 2:18-24; 1Cor. 11:3-15)
  • 3. All sex outside marriage is classed as fornication, and outlawed marriage partners are determined by a violation of marriage bond (adultery), or of nearness of kin (incest), or of nearness of kind (homosex), as well as being other than humankind (bestiality). These prohibitions are based upon what God has joined together, (Mt. 19:4-6), which incest being added later, and upheld in the N.T. (1Cor. 5:1) showing a progression toward greater strictness, not lesser.
  • 4. Motive (love, hate, consensuality) does not play a part in determining the forbiddance of homosex,[193] nor whether sex outside marriage or with any unlawful partner is valid in either Testament, in contrast with sexual legislation which stipulates such, (Dt. 22:13; 24:3; Num. 35:20; Dt. 22:23-29). Neither the mention of such or lack of mention of it establishes a factor which may sanctify an otherwise illicit union (adultery, incest etc., and all fornications are unequivocally sinful: cf. Gn. 34; Mk. 7:21-23).
  • 5. Lv. 18:22 finds no abrogation elsewhere, nor is the Biblical context (marriage) established in which the practice of homosex is sanctified, as is explicitly provided for heterosexual relations, but which provision is likewise absent for illicit unions such as adultery and bestiality. Nor does the allowance or the use of polygamy, concubines or Levirate marriage set a precedent for homosexual marriage, as the only variance with the Genesis original is in the number of times a man takes a wife, not the gender of the wife, which is clearly manifest
  • 6. The issue of sexual unions (with valid partners) is dealt with from the beginning to the end of the Bible as part of moral separation (Gn. 20; 26; 34; 38; Rv. 21:8; 22:15), whereas ceremonial violations are different by nature than moral offenses, being basically that of defilement by touching, tasting, or handling unclean things, including diseased persons (Col. 2:21), and do not deal with sex except insofar as contact with including blood or semen is involved, (Lv. 15:24,33). There is nothing ritually “unclean” about the males in 18:22, anymore than an illicit partner in adultery or incest, rather, any form of fornication makes one morally defiled. (Lv. 18:24; Mk. 7:21-23)
  • 7. Attempts to relegate 18:22 and 20:13 to only temple idolatry are unwarranted, as the grammar of Lv. 18:22 is universal, and entirely consistent with other transcultural immutable commands given here which forbid sex with the spouse of another, or near kin, that of the flesh of one's own flesh. Homosex is structurally similar, that of sex with an illicit partner, one's own gender.[194] To restrict v. 22 to only targeting male temple prostitution is unwarranted like as doing the same to Lv. 19:29 is.
  • 8. When homosex or illicit heterosexual sex as a formal part of idolatrous activity is possibly targeted, then the context makes that evident (Dt. 23:17,18), (“with dogs” likely referring to the manner of homosex relations). The historical fact is that in Canaanite culture, homosexuality was practiced as both a religious rite and a personal perversion...Israel's pagan neighbours knew both secular and sacred homosexuality."[195] Though some argue that there is no evidence to suggest these texts even refer to Canaanite cultic practices[196]
  • 9. While types of laws are grouped often together, ancient laws codes are not strict categories of laws. The attempt to negate the universality and transcendence v. 22 due to the culturally specific aspect of v. 21 (child sacrifice to Molech) fails, as that law is not restricted to child sacrifice to only one specific idol, and cannot be relegated to merely being ceremonial. Rather, it is based upon foundational moral law (Gn. 9:5,6; Ex. 20:2; 34:15) and is literally applicable in principal and by modification to all cultures and times. In addition, consistent with the hermeneutic behind their categorical argument, v.19 (intercourse during menstruation, which is more akin to ceremonial law) would disallow the intrinsic sinfulness of the next verse (adultery).
  • 10. While the sentence of death for homosex is listed twice (collectively in Lv. 18:29, and specifically in 20:13), (and which is only prescribed once for some moral sins, if "cursed" does or does not mandate death in Dt. 27), yet there is no radical significance to the lack of more mandates for the death penalty for homosex that would lessen its severity, contrary to prohomosex statements[197] Rather according to the principal behind Gal. 3:19, the more likelihood of a capital transgression occurring then the more likely the reiteration of its prohibition and penalty. Thus the absence of a law against cannibalism, and sparse mention of some other sins. The duplicity of prohomsoex polemicists here is manifested by their assertion that more repetitions of the death penalty would be expected if it were inherently sinful, while it is the establishment of homosex marriage that is what would be most expected, but which is no where established, in stark contrast to the that which God originally and consistently decreed.
  • 11. As Lv. 18:22 is substantially evidenced as being based upon foundational design and decree, just as the forbiddance of bestiality is in the next verse is, in principal its application is not restricted to only male homosex but same gender sex as well. Male sex with another male represents an illicit partner, contrary to all Biblical marriages, just as Molech represents an illicit object of worship, contrary to all statements relative to such, and the respective injunctions against both are universal based upon inherent qualities which disallow the forbidden functions. The injunctions against homosex physically parallel laws against idolatry. The latter forbids worship of and spiritual union with an illicit god, which is not created to be such, or able to truly be as God. The former forbids union with a same gender object of sexual union, which was not created for that purpose, or able to truly fulfill their God designed and decreed union.
  • 12. The forbiddance of idolatry is itself a universal and immutable command, which is manifest not only in formal worship of idols, but by any deliberate act contrary to the laws of God (Mt. 6:24; Rm. 6:16). Homosex by nature, not simply context, is an expression of idolatry, not simply an abuse by it.
  • 13. Ceremonial violations are stated to “be an abomination [sheqets] unto you” (Lv. 11:10), male homosex is stated to be tô‛êbah itself (Lv. 18:22), as other illicit sex sins are, (vs. 27,29,30), and contrary to prohomsex arguments concerning tô‛êbah, that is the word most translated as “abomination” to denote grave moral offenses of universal sins, and is rarely used for ceremonial offenses. (Note: idolatry does it not stop with graven images.)
  • 14. Attempts to extrapolate other grammatical differences in favor of the prohomosex position critically fall short. Zakhar (mankind) in Lv. 18:22 and 20:13 only distinguishes between genders, and does not signify idolatrous priests are targeted here, while mishkâb (lieth) is a metaphor for sexual intercourse, using the place or manner in which it usually takes place, (Ezek. 23:17) And as 20:13 shows, both are guilty.
  • 15. Male homosex is classified as a first tier offense requiring the death penalty, that stipulates that they shall “be put to death”, which wording is used for other immutable grave sins (though the penalties may require Israel's theocracy), and not for ceremonial/purity laws, except for unholy presumption, and for breaking the Sabbath, the gravest of such. The term usually used by itself for punishment for ritual purity offenses by Israel, such as dietary violations, (Lv. 7:21,25,27) is “cut off” though it is used in combination which "put to death" for grave moral sins, such as in Lv. 18:29 for all the sins of that chapter.
  • 16. Hermeneutics are employed by those seeking to negate the Levitical injunctions, if applied consistently, would effectively disallow a coherent sexual ethic in the Bible, yet the laws on sexual partners are presented as universal commands and reiterated as a class in a way that presumes they can be understood and obeyed by all, without being open to a vast degree of interpretation which effectively allows them to be negated.
  • 17. Lev. 18:22 is “part of an interconnected Old Testament witness.” “There is no evidence to suggest that ancient Israelite society, acting in fidelity to Yahweh, would ever have approved of any form of homosexual practice.”
  • 18. Lv. 18:22 is appropriated by the New Testament. The term arsenokoitai (“men who lie with a male”) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is formulated from the Septuagint translation of Lev 18:22 and 20:13, which refers to not ‘lying’ (koite) with a ‘male’ (arsen). Paul’s critique of homosexual relations in Romans 1:24-27 also echoes Lev 18 and 20 by using two terms that appear in Septuagint translation of these chapters: akatharsia (“uncleanness, impurity” in Romans 1:24 and Lev 18:19; 20:21, 25) and aschemosune (“indecency, indecent exposure” in Rom 1:27 and twenty-four times in Lev 18:6-19; 20:11, 17-21).[198]

Joseph P. Gudel states, Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott assert that "consistency and fairness would seem to dictate that if the Israelite Holiness Code is to be invoked against twentieth-century homosexuals, it should likewise be invoked against such common practices as eating rare steak, wearing mixed fabrics, and having marital intercourse during the menstrual period." Much effort need not be expended answering these objections. First, God did not condemn certain behavior for the Israelites only because Israel was to be kept separate from Canaanite practice. Otherwise, if the Canaanites did not practice child sacrifice and bestiality, would these then have been all right for the Israelites? Of course not! Having sexual relations with an animal and killing one's child are inherently wrong and evil, even when they are not related to pagan worship; they are abominations before God. And yet, these specific prohibitions also are listed in this passage, both immediately before and after the condemnation of homosexuality (Lev. 18:21-23).[199]

Bailey, while seeking to justify homosex, stated, "It is hardly open to doubt that both the laws in Leviticus relate to ordinary homosexual acts between men, and not to ritual or other acts performed in the name of religion."[200]

New Testament and homosexuality

In Mark 7:21, the Lord Jesus Christ condemns all forms of fornication, and in Matthew 19:4 He specifies that it was male and female that constitutes the "what" of "what therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Notwithstanding the above, pro-homosex adherents claim that since Jesus did not specifically condemn homosexuality by name, they conveniently interpret that His silence should be construed as "acceptance", overriding the remainder of Biblical passages which speak against it.

In Romans 1, God, through the apostle Paul, condemns both male and female homoeroticism, which, as a cultural practice, is shown to be a manifestation and a result of idolatry, in which man progressively acted contrary to that which God has revealed by creation, by design and normality.

This morality is confirmed by the Law, as the next chapter declares. As a result of this continued rebellion, which was partly manifest in God being reduced to an image like unto corruptible creatures (like as today with homosexuals claiming Christ, without proof, to be "homosexual", or "sanctioning" it, as well as nature effectively being worshiped), "God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves." (v. 24)

While some seek to render this chapter as condemning homosexual relations only when it is done as part of idolatry, the condemnation here is not due to its association with paganism, rather as it inherently contrary to that which God ordained, then it is a manifestation of idolatry, regardless of its form, though in ancient times in which religion was an inseparable part of culture, then formal idolatry was what was more manifested. Romans 1 proceeds to show that homosexuality is not alone as a fruit of idolatry, but that this particular pernicious physical sin is one of many inherently evil things. (Rm. 1:28-32)

1 Corinthians 6:9 also places the effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind (KJV) as sinners outside the Kingdom of God, while and 1 Timothy 1:10 condemns those who "defile themselves with mankind."

For more information please see: New Testament and homosexuality.

See also


  1. A. J. Gagnon, "The Authority of Scripture in the 'Homosex' Debate"
  2. Revealing Statistics
  3. Hermeneutics - A Guide To Basic Bible Interpretation By Darryl M. Erkel
  5. Doctorate in Philosophy, Louvain University in Belgium; Former Jesuit priest
  6. Professor of New Testament at Chicago Theological Seminary
  7. Professor of New Testament, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
  8. Assistant Professor of Psychology
  10. Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. B.A. degree from Dartmouth College; M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School; Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary.
  13. Professor of New Testament Greek at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California
  14. Associate Professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer College
  15. Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon
  16. [1]
  19. [2]
  20. Behavior and Not a Person
  21. The Bible and Homosexuality The Current Debate, by Lionel Windsor (2005)
  22. Will Gay Marriage Pit Church Against Church?, Time Magazine, Apr. 26, 2009
  23. Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Authority of Scripture in the 'Homosex' Debate"
  25. The Unthinkable Has Become Thinkable
  26. The Authority Of God's Law Today, Greg L. Bahnsen
  27. The Bible and Homosexuality by J. Glenn Taylor (Assoc. Prof. Of to at Wycliff College. U. of Toronto
  28. Should We Support Gay Marriage? NO! Wolfhart Pannenberg
  29. Prof. Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon
  30. Straight or Narrow? Sexuality from the Beginning, Thomas E.Schmidt
  32. One Flesh: Why Sodomy Can Never Depict the Relationship Between Christ and His Church, Agape Press
  33. Life News, October 1997.
  34. Final Report of the Task Force on Human Sexuality, Baptist Union of Western Australia, July 1997)
  36. Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 36.
  37. “Homosexuality and the Old Testament,” BSAC 140 (July 1983): 259.
  38. CONCLUDING REMARKS, Homosexuality Revisited in Light of the Current Climate
  39. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, by Bruce M. Metzger
  40. Inerrancy By Norman L. Geisler
  41. Marriage and Family in the Biblical World By Ken M. Campbell
  42. Straight & Narrow? By Thomas E. Schmidt
  43. Homosexuality By James B. De Young
  44. Robert A. J. Gagnon Articles Available Online
  45. Authority of Scripture, by Joseph P. Gudel
  46. B.A. Robinson; Thomas Horner; Steven Greenberg
  47. Victor Paul Furnish, The Moral Teachings of Paul: Selected Issues (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985), p. 85.
  48. Walter Wink, "To hell with gays" and "the Bible and homosexuality"
  50. "No Universally Valid Sex Standards? A Rejoinder to Walter Wink's Views on the Bible and Homosexual Practice", Gagnon
  51. A Further Look at Pro-Homosexual Theology, Derrick K. Olliff and Dewey H. Hodges
  52. Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, l983) p. 127.
  53. Gary David Comstock, Gay Theology Without Apology (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1993), p. 43.
  54. Dirt, Greed, and Sex (Fortress, 1988)
  55. Balch, Homosexuality, Science, and the "plain Sense" of Scripture p. 121
  56. Michael Bott and Jonathan Sarfati, "What’s Wrong With (Former) Bishop Spong?"
  57. Homosexuality in Society, the Church, and Scripture, The Authority of Scripture, Christian Research Institute Journal
  58. Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in "Systematic and Historical Theology;" president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
  59. Fact Sheet on Homosexuality,
  60. Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministries at The Masters Seminary
  61. The Master's Seminary Journal (TMSJ), 11/2 (Fall 2000), Homosexuality and the church,
  64. Pastor Toby Brown,
  65. The Bible and Same-Gender Marriage, Mary A. Tolbert
  66. Richard Hasbany, Homosexuality and Religion, Procreation and the family
  67. Gordon J Wenham, The Old Testament Attitude to Homosexuality; Expository Times 1991
  68. A Letter to the Bishops and Deputies of the 73rd General Convention Chaplain Donald D. Binder, PhD Adjunct Professor of New Testament, Southern Methodist University
  69. Homosexuality and Scripture, by Dr David Hilborn, Theological Adviser, Evangelical Alliance (UK)
  70. Edward T. Welch, The Journal of Biblical Counseling
  71. Fred J. Gaiser, "Homosexuality and the Old Testament," Word & World 10 (1990): 161-165
  72. 72.0 72.1 72.2 72.3 Homosexual relations and the Bible,
  73. Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament; Johann (C.F.) Keil (1807-1888) & Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890)
  74. Gagnon’s response to Prof. L. William Countryman’s review in Anglican theological review: on careful scholarship. Though Gagnon holds to the problematic JEDP theory, his analysis is overall good
  76. God, Marriage, and Family, p. 48, by Andreas J. Kostenberger, David W. Jones
  77. Norman Lamm, Judaism and the Modern Attitude Towards Homosexuality, p. 197-98
  78. Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity In The Homosexuality Debate, pp. 117-118, Thomas E. Schmidt
  79. "That Which is Unnatural" Homosexuality in Society, the Church, and Scripture, Genesis 1-2, by Joseph P. Gudel, Christian Research Institute Journal
  80. "Response to Rowan Williams". and "Homosexuality and Scripture", by David Hilborn, Former head of The Evangelical Alliance
  81. Song of Solomon
  82. Ketubot, 61b-62b; Feldman, 168
  85. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; 1Cor. 11:3
  87. Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
  88. Myers and Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together? p. 109
  89. Hasbany, Homosexuality and Religion, p. 106
  90. Gudel,"That Which is Unnatural"
  91. which surely did come, not only from opposition by Paul's own "kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rm. 9:3; cf. 1Ths. 2:16), and the turmoil following the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., but from often intense persecutions from a procession of emperors, from Domitian (195) to Diocletian (284-305)
  92. Walter Wink, ibid
  93. Matthew Henry, Mt. 19:8-12; Albert Barnes, 1.Cor. 7:2
  94. Unlike children (Eph. 6:1), which is plural, when a individual husband is addressed, it is not "husband love your wives," but "let every one of you in particular so love his wife" (Eph. 5:33). Likewise "honor thy father and mother" are singular (Eph. 6:20) and presumes only one of each. A prime requirement for pastors, who are examples to be followed (2Ths. 3:7,9; Heb. 13:7), is that they only have one wife (1Tim. 3:2; Tts. 1:6; cf. 1Cor. 9:5). Likewise deacons (1Tim. 3:12) See also God, Marriage, and Family, pp. 43-45
  95. The reformist Essene sect at Qumran rejected ‘taking two wives in their lives’ because ‘the foundation of creation is “male and female he created them” [Gen 1:27]' and because ‘those who entered (Noah’s) ark went in two by two into the ark [Gen 7:9]’ (CD 4.20-5.1). Gagnon,
  96. ref. by Richard Hasbany, The Church and the Homosexual, Cp. 2
  97. A refutation of Dr. Walter Wink: Homosexuality and the Bible
  98. Walter Brueggemann, Lisa Miller, ref. in "More than “Mutual Joy”: Lisa Miller of Newsweek against Scripture and Jesus", (Gagnon)
  99. Albert Barnes, John Gill, 1Cor. 11:3; 14:34; 1Tim. 2:8-11
  100. Note: "saved in childbearing" is generally held by traditionalists not as implying salvation due to works, but by obedient faith in Christ, which will saved her despite her travail of mothering (Gill, JFB), akin to being saved "as by fire", (1Cor. 3:15) if they continue in the faith. An alternative understanding is that generally women will be saved by a faith which was/is to be usually primarily expressed by women in raising children and maintaining the home. In other places Paul commends those women who helped Paul and others in the gospel work, (Rm. 16:1,2ff; Phil. 4:3) in addition to encouraging celibacy in singleness if so called.
  101. Gill comments that natural born eunuchs “were frequently called by the Jews, סריס המה, "an eunuch of the sun” (T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 75. 1. 79. 2. & 80. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 2. sect. 14), that is, as their doctors (Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 4) explain it, one that from his mother's womb never saw the sun but as an eunuch; that is, one that is born so ... The signs of such an eunuch, are given by the Jewish writers (Bartenora, ibid. & Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, ut supra). This sort is sometimes called סריס בידי שמים "an eunuch by the hands of heaven" (T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 80. 2) or God, in distinction from those who are so by the hands, or means of men.
  103. Faris Malik, "Eunuchs are Gay Men" (pro-homosexual)
  104. Homosexual Eunuchs, Rick Brentlinger (pro-homosexual)
  105. Homosexuality p. 122; James B. De Young
  106. Digest of Justinian, Vol. 1, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1998, Book XXIII.3.39.1
  108. Transsexuality and Ordination by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D
  109. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pp. 159-83
  110. The Bible and Sexual Boundaries, by Craig R. Koester See also Robert H. Smith, Matthew (Augsburg New Testament Commentary; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1989), 229-230
  111. Homosexual relations and the Bible; Eunuchs
  113. Homosexuality By Stanton L. Jones, Mark A. Yarhouse
  114. (Cf. Genesis Rabbah 50:5, on Gen. 9:22 ff.  More generally see M.Kasher, Torah Shlemah, vol. 3 to Gen 19:5.)
  115. Old Testament Attitude to Homosexuality, Gordon J Wenham, Expository Times 102 (1991): (259-363)
  116. Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pp. 73-74
  117. Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice, pp. 46-50
  118. What was the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Gregory Koukl
  119. D S. Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Tradition, p. 8; John J. McNeil, the Church and the Homosexual, p. 50; Daniel Helminiak,
  120. The New Testament and Homosexuality, by Robin Scroggs; p. 73
  121. "On Homosexuality and Rape in Genesis", James Patrick Holding
  123. Homosexual relations and the Bible, Genesis 19
  124. Holding, Homosexuality and Rape in Genesis
  125. (Botterweck, 1986, 5:455-456,460),
  126. (Gesenius, 1979, p. 334).
  127. (Harris, et al., 1980, p. 366),
  128. (Botterweck, 5:464),
  129. (Gesenius, p. 334).
  131. Derek Kidner, "Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Chicago: InterVarsity Press, 1963), p. 137.
  132. G. A. Barton
  133. which apparently has Methuselah dying after the flood in Gn. 9,
  134. Dr. James B. DeYoung, Homosexuality, pp. 118-122
  135. Julie M. Smith, Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar
  136. The New Testament and Homosexuality, by Robin Scroggs, pp. 73-75
  137. Bailey, pp. 11-16; Boswell, p. 97
  138. there are sound reasons for the Book of Enoch being rejected from the Jewish canon, the Septuagint and Vulgate, and the Apocrypha (, including tales of approx. 443 foot height angelic offspring, or angels (stars) procreating with oxen to produce elephants, camels and donkeys, (86:1-5) if taken literally
  139. or simply Enoch. Jude would be following the Biblical practice of quoting an inspired utterance from a source that is not wholly inspired, just as Paul did in quoting a pagan prophet (Acts 17:28)
  141. Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice pp. 87-89.
  142. Dave Miller, Ph.D.
  143. W. Countryman
  145. Bailey, Homosexuality and Western Tradition, pp. 1-28; McNeil, Church and the Homosexual, pp. 42-50; Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, pp. 92-97
  146. cf. Straight & Narrow?: Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate, Thomas E. Schmidt
  152. Derek Kidner, "Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Chicago: InterVarsity Press, 1963), p. 137.
  153. Hasbany, Homosexuality and Religion, p. 50,51
  154. [The Bible As Law, Gerald R. Thompson]
  155. Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1977), p. 214.
  157. Homosexuality and the Old Testament, P. Michael Ukleja
  158. Charles C. Ryrie, "The End of the Law," Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (July-September 1967):246
  159. [" That Which is Unnatural" Homosexuality in Society, the Church, and Scripture by Joseph P. Gudel (ICR)]
  160. such as by David Bartlett, professor at Yale Divinity School
  161. Mat. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mk. 7:21; Jn. 8:41; Acts 15:20; 15:29; 21:25; Rom. 1:29; 1Co_5:1; 1Co. 6:9,13, 18; 7:2; 2Co. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Ths. 4:3; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; 1Pet. 4:3; Rev. 9:21; 14:8, 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2
  162. A Defense Theory, by Royce Buehler
  163. The Death Penalty in the Old Testament
  164. Gagnon, Zenit Interview
  165. Ex. 21:29; Lev.20:2,6,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,27; 24:16,17; Dt. 17:6; 13:5,9; 17:12; 21:21
  166. [3]
  167. Gagnon, "God and Sex" or "Pants on Fire"? The "Irrelevance of Levitical Prohibitions" Argument
  168. and are mentioned as working in Judah, under Rehoboam (1Ki. 14:24), whom Asa largely purged (1Ki. 15:12), and which his son Jehoshaphat finished (1Ki. 22:46), but was later needed to be repeated under king Josiah
  169. See Keil & Delitzsch on Dt. 23:17,18
  170. The Sin of Silence, by Dr. Laurence White
  171. Quoted in A Reformed Response to Daniel Helminiak's Gay Theology
  172. Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. pp 100-01
  173. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality By Jack Bartlett Rogers, p. 72
  174. Horner, David loved Jonathan, p.73,85
  175. The New Testament and Homosexuality, p. 73
  176. Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. p. 100
  177. Anchor Bible Dictionary, Abomination of Desolation
  178. 16:18&ot=lxx&nt=tr&new=1&nb=jer&ng=16&ncc=16; abomination
  180. Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. pp. 100-102
  181. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, Daniel Helminiak, pp. 64-65
  182. Homosexuality, Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law, pp. 65-69
  183. Homosexual relations and the Bible; The Septuagint
  186. Homosexual relations and the Bible; Zakhar
  187. Wrestling with God and Men, pp. 80-93, by Steven Greenberg
  188. A Time to Embrace, Stacy Johnson
  189. More Reasons Why Stacy Johnson’s A Time to Embrace Should Not Be Embraced: Part II
  190. "God and Sex" or "Pants on Fire"? - by Robert Gagnon
  191. Hilborn vs. Rowan Williams and Homosexuality These points are based on Wright, David F. ‘Homosexuals or Prostitutes? The meaning of arsenokoitai (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10), Vigiliae Christianae 38 (1984), pp. 125-53, Wenham, Gordon, ‘Homosexuality in the Bible’, in Higton, Tony (ed.) Sexuality and the Church. Hawkwell: ABWON, 1987, and Hays, Richard B., The Moral Vision of the New Testament. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, pp.382-3.)
  193. Homosexuality in the Church, Richard B. Hays, Lev. 18:22; 20:13
  194. Gagnon, "God and Sex" or "Pants on Fire"?
  195. Greg Bahnsen p 45
  196. Homosexuality Revisited in Light of the Current Climate, by Calvin Smith
  197. A Defense Theory, by Royce Buehler
  198. Gagnon, Why the disagreement over the Biblical witness on homosexual practice?
  199. "That Which is Unnatural" Homosexuality in Society, the Church, and Scripture, Leviticus 18 and 20, by Joseph P. Gudel, Christian Research Institute Journal
  200. Bailey, Homosexuality, p. 30

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