The Bible and homosexuality
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The Bible refers to sexual practices that may be called "homosexual" in today's world, but the original language texts of the Bible do not refer explicitly to homosexuality as a sexual orientation. The Bible is interpreted by officials in some denominations as condemning the practice. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, however, the extent to which the Bible mentions the subject and whether or not it is condemned, has become the subject of debate.
Passages in the Old Testament book Leviticus that prohibit "lying with mankind as with womankind" and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah have historically been interpreted as condemning homosexual acts, as have several Pauline passages. Other interpreters, however, maintain that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, saying that historical context suggests other interpretations or that rare or unusual words in the passages may not be referring to homosexuality. In Religion Dispatches magazine, Candace Chellew-Hodge argues that the six or so verses that are often cited to condemn LGBT people are referring instead to "abusive sex". She states that the Bible has no condemnation for "loving, committed, gay and lesbian relationships" and that Jesus was silent on the subject.
Hebrew Bible 
Leviticus 18 and 20 
- 18:22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18:22 NIV)
- 20:13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13 NIV)
The two verses have historically been interpreted by Jews and Christians as clear blanket prohibitions against homosexual acts. More recent interpretations focus on its context as part of the Holiness Code, a code of purity meant to distinguish the behavior of Israelites from the Canaanites.
References to Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible 
The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis does not explicitly identify homosexuality as the sin for which they were destroyed, but the passage has historically been interpreted within Judaism and Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality due to the interpretation that the men of Sodom wished to rape the angels who retrieved Lot. While the Jewish prophets spoke only of lack of charity as the sin of Sodom, with the possible exception of Ezekiel, whom some see as including homosexual activity among the elements of Sodom's sin, the exclusively sexual interpretation became so prevalent that the name "Sodom" became the basis of the word sodomy, still a legal synonym for homosexual and non-procreative sexual acts, particularly anal or oral sex.
While the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Zephaniah refer vaguely to the sin of Sodom, Ezekiel specifies that the city was destroyed because of its arrogance, apathy towards the poor, and committing "abomination", the word used in Leviticus 18 and 20 in reference to homosexual acts, as well as in other parts of the Bible to refer to various forms of idolatry and other undesirable actions. The Talmudic tradition of between c. 370 and 500 also interprets the sin of Sodom as lack of charity, with the attempted rape of the angels being a manifestation of the city's violation of the social order of hospitality; as does Jesus in the New Testament, for instance in Matthew 10:14-15 when he tells his disciples that the punishment for houses or towns that will not welcome them will be worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to some interpretations, the use of "abomination" in the context of Ezekiel 16:49-50 is a reference to the attempted homosexual rape in the Genesis story.
Later traditions on Sodom's sin, such as Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, considered it to be an illicit form of heterosexual intercourse. In Jude 1:7 the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are stated to have given themselves "up to sexual immorality and perversion." Jewish writers Philo (d. AD 50) and Josephus (37 – c. 100) were the first to assert unambiguously that homosexuality was among the sins of Sodom. By the end of the 1st century Jews commonly identified the sin of Sodom with homosexual practices.
David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi 
The account of the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Books of Samuel has been interpreted by traditional and mainstream Christians as a relationship only of affectionate regard, but has been interpreted by some authors as of a sexual nature. The story of Ruth and Naomi is also occasionally interpreted in this way.
New Testament 
Romans 1 
|“||26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.(Romans 1:26-27 NIV)||”|
This passage has been debated by some twentieth and twenty-first century interpreters both in terms of its relevance today and in terms of its actual prohibition. While Christians of several denominations have historically maintained that this verse is a complete prohibition of all forms of homosexuality, some twentieth and twenty-first century authors contend the passage is not a blanket condemnation of homosexuality at all. Other interpreters have argued that Paul's writings must be considered fallible, due in part to his views about slavery and women.
Other Epistles 
|“||9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor malakoi, arsenokoitai, 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV)||”|
The word arsenokoitai (ἀρσενοκοῖται) in verse 9 has challenged scholars for centuries, and has been variously rendered as "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV), "sodomites" (YLT), or "men who practice homosexuality" (NIV). Greek ἄῤῥην / ἄρσην [arrhēn / arsēn] means "male", and κοίτην [koitēn] "bed," with a sexual connotation. Paul's use of the word in 1 Corinthians is the earliest example of the term; its only other use is in a similar list of wrongdoers given (possibly by the same author) in 1 Timothy 1:8–11:
|“||8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for arsenokoitai, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.(1 Timothy 1:8–11 NIV)||”|
In later Christian literature the word appears in the writings of 6th-century Patriarch John IV of Constantinople. In a passage dealing with sexual misconduct, he speaks of arsenokoitia as active or passive and says that "many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives". Although the constituent elements of the compound word refer to sleeping with men, he obviously does not use it to mean homosexual intercourse and appears to employ it for anal intercourse, not generic homosexual activity.
Matthew 8; Luke 7 
In Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, Jesus heals a centurion's servant who is dying. According to James Neill, the Greek term "pais" used for the servant almost always had a sexual connotation. According to Daniel A. Helminiak, it only "sometimes" was given this meaning. Donald Wold states that its normal meaning is "boy", "child" or "slave" and its application to a boy lover escapes notice in the standard lexica of Liddell and Scott and Bauer. In her detailed study of the episode in Matthew and Luke, Wendy Cotter dismisses as very unlikely the idea that the use of the Greek word "pais" indicated a sexual relationship between the centurion and the young slave. Neill himself compares the meanings of Greek "pais" to those of French "garçon", which, though also used to mean "waiter", "most commonly means 'boy'". In support of his view that Greek "pais" on the contrary most often means a young male lover, he says that it is "the" root of the English word "pederasty", while at the same time indicating that the English word is derived also from Greek "erasthai" (to love). He sees in the fact that the boy is described as "valued highly" by the centurion an indication of a homosexual relationship between the two, and says that the Greek word "doulos" (a slave) used of him in Luke's account of the episode suggests he may have been a sex slave. Others interpret "pais" merely as a boy servant, not a male lover, and read nothing sexual into "valued highly".
Matthew 19:12 
In Matthew 19:12, Jesus speaks of eunuchs who were born as such, eunuchs who were made so by others, and eunuchs who choose to live as such for the kingdom of heaven. This passage has been interpreted as having to do with homosexual orientation; Clement of Alexandria, for instance, wrote in his commentary on it that some men, from birth, are naturally averse to women and should not marry.
Acts 8 
The Ethiopian eunuch, an early gentile convert encountered in Acts 8, has been described as an early gay Christian, based on the fact that the word "eunuch" in the Bible was not always used literally, as in Matthew 19:12. Commentators generally suggest that the combination of "eunuch" together with the title "court official" indicates a literal eunuch - not a homosexual - who would have been excluded from the Temple by the restriction in Deuteronomy 23:1.
See also 
- Religion and homosexuality
- Homosexuality and Christianity
- Homosexuality and Judaism
- Homosexuality in ancient Greece
- Women in Christianity
- Biblical law in Christianity
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