To be completely honest, I must admit that this is really a post that I wish was not necessary to write. There are so many spiritual truths that can be explored in Genesis 19 that it is quite unfortunate that time should need to be spent on something that I believe is a peripheral issue. I do not believe that the purpose of what we are told in Genesis 19:4-11 is to establish that the practice of homosexuality is sinful, nor do I think that this was the only, or even primary, sin that the people of Sodom were guilty of. Paul writes to the Romans that homosexuality itself is but a step in the descending depravity of mankind apart from God, but lists it along with a myriad of other wicked behaviors in the indictment of humanity (Romans 1:27-32). I think this whole sordid incident is recorded in Genesis 19:4-11 to demonstrate the depth of immorality that the citizens of Sodom had fallen into.
I say that it is unfortunate that time should be spent discussing the matter of homosexuality in a Bible study because I find it incredibly puzzling that it would be necessary to demonstrate that sin is sin. No argument should be necessary, this ought to be a foregone conclusion. However, we have but to look at current events to realize that there is an attack being made today against God’s Word on the subject as people are twisting and misinterpreting the Bible to allege that no prohibition is ever really made: specifically or implicitly. I read in my local newspaper only a week or two ago about a “seminar” being hosted by a local church (of a major denomination, I might add) wherein the topic of being a homosexual Christian was to be discussed. Apparently, even a documentary celebrating prominent homosexual practitioners in church leadership was scheduled to be presented.
There have always been those who will do whatever they want, regardless of what God has to say about it. In fact, all of us were exactly that way before we came to faith in Christ. Until recently, there was no denial that the Word of God clearly condemned the practice of homosexuality. But now the effort is being made to cast a shadow of doubt and re-interpret the Scriptures in order to manufacture a Biblical support for this lifestyle. Therefore, since the purpose of this website is to look to God’s Word for answers, let us see what the Bible really does have to say on the subject:
Was The Sin Of The Sodomites Homosexuality Or The Desire To Commit Rape?
A major objection raised against this passage is the assertion that the only sin here is that the men of Sodom sought to force themselves on the two angelic visitors of Lot. Rape, they say, is the abomination, not consensual homosexuality. Yet in Genesis 19:4-5, there is no threat of force nor violence toward Lot and his visitors. Where are the men?…bring them out that we may know them, the townspeople say. Lot responds, “I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly” (v.7). Of course, the threats of violence do follow afterward, but at first it is merely their perverse lust that causes Lot to label their desires as wicked. At the risk of sounding crude, may I say that it seems that, if consensual homosexual practice was an acceptable and valid “orientation” (as those raising this objection suggest), why didn’t Lot ask the two angelic visitors if they wanted to go out to the men? If God indeed makes some people homosexual, how would Lot know that these two visitors were not made that way?
Is The Prohibition Against Homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22, And 20:13 Still Valid?
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
“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.” (Leviticus 20:13)
A major objection to verses such as these is that they are found in the Old Testament. The argument is made that we are no longer living under the laws of the Old Testament. While it is true that in Christ we live under Grace and not Law (e.g., Romans 6:14), it is also true that sin was not redefined with the coming of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18). If anything, the Lord Jesus’ definition of sin is even more restrictive than the Law of Moses because it focuses not only on actions, but thoughts and attitudes (e.g., Matthew 5:27-28).
Admittedly, dietary laws and regulations were changed (Acts 10:13-15), and some laws and penalties were specific to the nation of Israel. We are not living in a Theocracy today such as ancient Israel was, so God does not expect us to put offenders to death for their sins. With this in mind, the only changes that we can be safe in asserting are those specifically given. It is fallacious to assume that Jesus wiped the slate of the Old Testament clean and repealed every definition of sin when He came to Earth. For the most part, if it was sin in the Old Testament, then it is still sin in the New. Additionally, homosexuality is still specifically called sin in the New Testament, anyway, as we will see in a moment.
But Jesus “Hung Out” With Sinners, He Was All About Love, Wouldn’t He Be All Right With Homosexuality?
That Jesus associated with sinners is absolutely irrefutable. If He hadn’t, then we would all be in trouble because we are all sinners! But what was His attitude toward sin? Mark 2:17 tells us that Jesus stated that He came to call sinners (and I say again, we are all sinners) to repentance. That means that He called all of us to turn from our sins and turn to Him. He did associate with prostitutes, tax collectors, and adulterers, but He didn’t leave them that way! And He never approved of what they did. In fact, His admonition was to “go and sin no more” (e.g., John 5:14, 8:11). The Apostle Matthew was a crooked tax collector before Jesus called him to follow Him. What did he do when Jesus called him? “He left all, rose up, and followed Him” (Luke 5:28, emphasis added). You cannot say that Jesus approved of crooked, governmental endorsed extortion because He called Matthew to follow Him. Matthew left that behind, he repented of it when he came to Christ.
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:… I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:22,30)
The Lord Jesus Christ came to Earth and offered Himself as the Savior of mankind. Whoever puts their faith in Him will be saved. He came not to pass judgment in His earthly life, but He will be the Judge of those who reject Him when He returns.
Is Romans 1:27 Really Talking About Homosexuality?
Many of the objections concerning New Testament references to homosexuality center on the idea that the language is not more specific or explicit. Some have even asked why the word “homosexual” or something like it does not appear in the text. Indeed, euphemistic language is sometimes employed because it is naturally assumed that the reader will understand what is being referred to. Some of the more modern translations do in fact forego this and specifically use more contemporary terminology:
“Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.” (Romans 1:27 CEV)
I do not wish to go into etymology at great lengths, but examining the original Greek text confirms that homosexual acts are being referred to. “Leaving the natural use” refers to that which goes against nature (phusikos), that which is “physically” perverse and abnormal. It is difficult for me to understand how someone can miss the meaning of even the King James Version language: “burned in their lust one toward another; men with men”, but somehow there are those who apparently misunderstand this.
So Where Besides Romans Does The New Testament Refer To Homosexuality?
Two other passages refer to homosexuality: 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. Again, the objections are raised about what specifically is being referred to in these. “Effeminate” (found in the KJV and NASB) is translated from a word that literally means anyone who is sexually perverted and was commonly used to refer to young men who were homosexual prostitutes. The term translated as “abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Cor. 6:9) and “them that defile themselves with mankind” (1 Tim. 1:10) literally means A man who has sexual intercourse with a man (arsenokoites). This was the commonly used Greek term to mean a homosexual. You really cannot get any more explicit than this.
A lot of groups that state they are Christian have placed an inordinate amount of attention on the sin of homosexuality. It has been singled out in recent years by those who seem more interested in the condemnation of those who practice homosexuality than in seeing them come to Christ in repentance. We should note that, while it is mentioned in Scripture, it is usually done so along with a list of other sins. It is usually included right alongside other sins of sexual perversion and unrighteousness, including adultery. Some people like to carry signs about God’s condemnation of the homosexual, but they don’t say a lot about God’s condemnation of the “swinger”, the “playboy”, the “wife-swapper”, and the adulterer. There is without question a secular, social stigma that goes along with homosexuality that compels people to want to view it as a much more grievous sin than those that are listed with it in Scripture. But if we may be frank, sin is sin. If we commit any sin, we have disobeyed God and are guilty of violating God’s law (James 2:10-11). Like any other sin, homosexuality can be forgiven when a person comes to Christ and repents.
We all have fleshly desires that we struggle with. We should never conclude that simply because we desire something, then that is the way God intended us to be. There are Christians who formerly struggled with homosexual urges, yet today they have come to genuine faith in Christ and they are not giving in to those desires. My intention for writing this is not to single out homosexuality as some type of unusually abhorrent sin nor is my purpose to persecute homosexuals. I acknowledge that there are a lot of practicing homosexuals who couldn’t care less what God has to say about the matter and, frankly, that is between them and God. But my purpose here is to stand up for what the Word of God does have to say about the subject and warn those who are erroneously imagining that the Bible endorses their sinful practices. Along with all other sinful behaviors, the Bible condemns homosexuality. Regardless of whatever sin we struggle with, let us turn to Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and put our faith in Him for forgiveness. Let us look honestly at what the Lord God has said through His Word and change our ways to fit what it tells us, not change what it says to fit our ways.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published January 21, 2010]
All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]