Thursday, 31 December 2009

Does the Bible really clearly state that homosexuality (a sexual orientation) is a sin?

In my previous blog, I discussed that modern psychology differentiates between one's sexual identity (heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual) and how one's behaviour is informed by one's sexual identity. In this blog, I wish to explore if the Bible does clearly regard all aspects of homosexuality as evil or a sin.

1) Interpreting the Bible (Hermeneutics)

Oddly, I'd like to begin the discussion on whether or not the Bible clearly condones slavery. Please bear with me. The web site Got Questions defends the Bible against the accusation that it does clearly condone slavery. I particularly agree that
"what many fail to understand is that slavery in [Biblical] times was very different from the slavery that was practised in the past few centuries in many parts of the world."
It is a very important step in hermeneutics (the theory & methodology of interpretation) to first & foremost understand ancient texts in context of the anthropology and sociology of the time they were written, as well as what we know from archaeology.

Once we understand this, we can then place the scripture in our modern context and defend the Bible against its critics. On the issue of slavery, another website Fighting For God reinforces this important hermeneutic step.

2) Homosexuality in Biblical Times

However, the Got Questions web site's discussion on homosexuality immediately abandons this first hermeneutic step. It launches straight into a condemnation of homosexuality using modern terms:
"The Bible consistently tells us that homosexual activity is a sin ..."
Got Questions (2009) What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Is homosexuality a sin?
Actually, the Bible cannot consistently tell us anything about homosexuality in the modern sense of the word (i.e., a sexual identity/orientation): the word "homosexual" is a relatively new word (circa 1892) and did not exist in Biblical times. For example, it is erroneous to translate the obscure Greek word "arsenokoitai" into the modern word "homosexual": "arsenokoitai" refers to a person behaving in a certain way, not to a type of sexual orientation. (Fighting For God)
"Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today. Therefore, passages that reference same-sex sexual activity should not been seen as comprehensive statements concerning homosexuality, but instead should be viewed in the context of what the ancient world that produced the Bible understood about sexual activity."
Fighting For God (2009) Attack #6 - The Bible Is Anti-Homosexuality
Now I appreciate that some readers are probably jumping up and down screaming, "You gay people and your sympathizers will twist scripture any which way you wish to justify your sin!" Please understand that I remain committed to the authority and integrity of the scriptures. However, I believe we must be consistent with our approach when interpreting scripture. We cannot use one technique when it suites us to defend the Bible on slavery and, then use another when we want to condemn homosexuals and justify things like the Ugandan "anti-gay" bill. After all the Bible is not open to private interpretations (2 Peter 1:20).

In conclusion I must admit that I was also one who thought that the Bible was very clear in its condemnation of homosexuality. However, I now believe that homosexuality is a modern concept and the Bible does not deal with it. It could not; the concept was not around at the time! What is apparent is that the Bible condemns certain kinds of sexual behaviour, both heterosexual and homosexual. What it is consistent in condemning is sexual behaviours that are selfish, abusive, non-consensual and domineering. In reviewing the texts that apparently condemn homosexual behaviours, this condemnation consistently relates to the latter and I'm not able to find any condemnation of loving, caring and consensual homosexual behaviour.


1 comment:

  1. I entirely agree with you.
    In Matthew Jesus in his second commandment told as to love everyone as ourselves.


I don't mind comments from people who disagree with me. However, please keep comments civil and do not use prophanity or vulgarity.

Comments deemed to be unsubstanciated generalisations, prejudicial, defamitory or liabilis will be rejected.

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones" - Proverbs 16:24.