Homosexuality examined in light of Scripture and science

(Rebuttal IV to Todd Morris' Pitt News column: "My sexuality is not something I can choose or change")

Jeff Jasko
Senior Staff Writer

Editors Note: This column originally appeared as an Expressions column of the Pittsburgh Standard. It reappears here to let readers know that Todd Morris' position is dangerous.

Advocates of homosexuality take two general approaches when dealing with Biblical passages discussing it.  Some acknowledge that the Bible is clearly against same-sex unions and therefore reject the Bible’s claims.  Others argue that the Bible does not forthrightly condemn homosexuality - at least not in all instances - and even quote passages in an attempt to support the lifestyle.  Which interpretation of these passages agrees with their intended context?  

Those who advocate homosexuality use passages such as 2  Samuel 1:26 to support their position. It states that David and Jonathan had a relationship that surpassed the love of women. This is not referring to sexual love, however, but to a special friendship they had which exceeded or was different from any kind of sexual relationship. David and Jonathan would have been stoned under Levitical law had they been homosexuals (Lev. 18:22; 20:13)

God also condemns homosexuality in Genesis 19. Pro-homosexuals respond that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but rape. However, the Sodomites did not initially force Lot’s male guests to have sex with them, but just by them mentioning it, Lot urged them not to do such a “wicked” thing (19:4-8). Other ancient sources such as Josephus and the New Testament (Jude 7) confirm that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality. 

Additionally, Romans 1:21-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly condemn lesbianism and homosexuality (cf., 1 Tim. 1:9,10). Some homosexual advocates reply that Romans 1 refers only to phallic cults who committed idolatry. Along with 1 Corinthians 6, they claim that God is simply condemning excessive and promiscuous sex, not a dedicated relationship between two homosexuals. 

First, let me say that if it were true that God is only condemning promiscuity, 90 to 99 percent of all homosexuals would fall into this category.  According to recent studies, only about 1 out of 7 homosexuals have had fewer than 50 partners in their lifetime, and 99 percent of the male homosexuals interviewed have had sex with complete strangers (  Nevertheless, the context of Romans and Corinthians affirm that homosexuality is completely unnatural (Rom. 1:26,27). When categorized with the other sins mentioned in these passages, there is no such thing as a moderate form of homosexuality any more than there could be moderate form of murder or adultery. Finally, the Bible condemns all types of fornication which would therefore include homosexuality (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21; John 8:41; Acts 15:20,29: Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Thes. 4:3; Heb. 13:4).

Two other arguments used by homosexual advocates in reference to Romans 1:21-32 center around the use of the term “natural.”  First, some claim that Paul was not referring to true homosexuality here because he stated that they exchanged "the natural function for that which is unnatural." It is argued that for those with a true homosexual orientation, that is their "natural" sexual expression. Hence, Paul could only mean heterosexuals who were leaving their heterosexual relations for what was against their natures.

However, this argument involves a severe anachronism. That is, those saying this are attempting to place a very recent twentieth century understanding of homosexuality back into the first century mindset of Paul. People in the first century did not think in terms of "sexual orientation." It is inconceivable for Paul to have even attempted to make a psychological differentiation such as this. Concerning this, Richard Hays writes: "The idea that some individuals have an inherent disposition towards same-sex erotic attraction and are therefore constitutionally 'gay' is a modern idea of which there is no trace either in the New Testament or in any other Jewish or Christian writings in the ancient world" (Richard B. Hays, "Relations Natural and Unnatural: A Response to John Boswell's Exegesis of Romans l," The Journal of Religious Ethics 14:1 (Spring 1986), 200).

Another attempt to refute Paul's clear condemnation of homosexuality argues that his words "unnatural" or "against nature" do not refer to a certain created order, but rather use "nature" in the sense of "current convention" or "current custom." While "nature" is sometimes used in this fashion (e.g., 1 Cor. 11:14), the context of Paul's argument in Romans 1 clearly is that of creation and the natural order established by the Creator Himself (Rom. 1:20, 25). Thus, Paul is asserting that homosexuality is a serious violation of God's natural design for His creation. In addition, it should be noted that the phrase "against nature" was used in connection with homosexual intercourse by both Philo and Josephus, contemporaries of Paul.

Furthermore, we would do well to recognize that the God of the Bible does not condemn homosexuality in an arbitrary and capricious manner.  Rather, God carefully defines the borders of human sexuality so that our joy may be complete.  In Romans 1:26-27 Paul writes that “women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”  As Thomas Schmidt notes:

“It is not clear what he meant by “penalty” in his time, but it is hard not to make a connection between his words and the health crisis we observe in our time.  Sexual liberation has brought homosexuals out of the closet into a shadow of physical affliction where a score of diseases lurk.  And as if this were not gloomy enough, the more deadly specter of HIV infection deepens the shadow, not only for the ever-growing number who die but also for those who are left behind to grieve and to wonder who will die next” (Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate, p. 122).

It is a scientific reality that homosexual relationships are devastating not only from a psychological but also from a physiological perspective:  “Irritation of the sensitive rectal mucus layer causes a host of reactions, including diarrhea, cramps, hemorrhoids, prostrate damage, and ulcers or fissures which in turn invite infection.  The thin cell layer of the rectum is easily perforated, and its insensitivity to pain can lead to serious complications before a person is aware of any harm” (Schmidt, p.118).  Common nonviral infections transmitted through homosexual activity are “amabiasis, giardiasis, gonorrhea, shigellosis, chlamydia, syphilis, and ectoparasites” (Schmidt, p.119).  Viral infections include “condylomata, herpes, hepatitis B, and hepatitis A.  Like bacterial infections, these diseases are easily transmitted by oral-genital contact, genital-anal contact and oral-anal contact” (Schmidt, p.120).  Suffice it to say that while there are attendant moral and medical problems with sexual promiscuity in general, it would be homophobic in the extreme to obscure the scientific realities concerning homosexuality.  It is a hate crime of unparalleled proportions to attempt to keep a whole segment of the population in the dark concerning such issues.

In conclusion, when Biblical passages regarding homosexuality are read within their intended contexts, one cannot honestly avoid the fact that the Bible is adamantly against it.  If the Bible is indeed the Word of God – and there is strong evidence that it is – then homosexuality is against God’s moral law.  The harmful physiological and psychological consequences of this lifestyle are precisely what God wants to protect us from by declaring its wrongfulness.  If the Bible is true, then anything that contradicts it must be wrong, for truth by its very nature excludes everything that contradicts it.  However, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.  Therefore, any genuine Christian will love homosexuals just as he loves anyone else because we are all made in God’s image and are loved by our Creator.  Romans 3:23 states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and therefore we all deserve His righteous judgment of our sins.  Thank God that He “so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  

(For a thorough analysis of the Biblical verses relating to homosexuality, read “That Which is Unnatural: Homosexuality in Society, the Church, and Scripture” by Joseph P. Gudel, For evidences supporting the divine inspiration of the Bible, read A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix.)

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Bible is not meant to be taken so literally!  (Kristen DiLemmo, Oct 11, 02)