Apologetics Faith Theology
R. L. Solberg  

Should “Homosexual” Be In The Bible?

I recently received an insightful comment on my article, Is “Homosexual” New to The Bible? In responding to the reader, Frank, I ended up with more to say than can be comfortably contained in a reply to a blog comment, so I am putting my response in its own article. First, here is Frank’s comment on the previous article in full.

Frank says…

I too read the interview with [author Ed] Oxford. By the way, I appreciate the fair tone in [your] article and wanting to find what is true or false no matter what your own personal feelings are on this subject. I would like to make a few points.

Oxford was going to the earliest versions of the Bible because the blanket condemnation of homosexuality just wasn’t there that you find with later translations of the Bible. The Greek “malakoi” had a slew of meanings (the word was used in abundance outside of the Bible) that ranged from a heterosexual man weak in character to describing fine clothing (how Jesus used the term that to me was an indictment of the rich), yet modern translations now make the word out as an effeminate gay man who play the passive role in a homosexual relationship. What!? How did that happen? No new manuscripts were found to make the word read as such so why is it read that way now?

Leviticus reads: “An Israeli man of age shall not have anal sex with Zakhar (a male of some type of religious or age distinction, the two meanings of the word to the ancient Jews) in his wife’s beds.”

That’s a far cry from; “man shall not lay with a man as in woman.”

Oxford is spot on with saying the word “homosexual” shouldn’t be in any Bible translation because the word misleadingly denotes both male AND female homosexuality, the deceptive intent of the translators who put the word in. Since female homosexuality isn’t mentioned in Leviticus, it wouldn’t be carried over by Paul with “arsenokoite.” You’re now probably thinking; “What about Romans?” But I’ll give you what I already wrote on that:

“… No prior writing from a church Father in commentary ever saw lesbianism in the Romans 1 passage. No writing from the time Romans was written by Paul read lesbianism in Romans 1, that is until John Chrysostom in the 4th century all of a sudden saw lesbians in the passage. This one reading from this one early church father put lesbianism on the map for the first time and centuries later it became as good as Gospel. The Church with bated breath couldn’t wait to swallow it fast enough with wanting to close the homosexual loop.”

By the way, like Oxford, I am a gay Christian though I really don’t see a point in bringing up his sexuality when I could easily say heterosexual translators interpreted the Bible through the scope of their heterosexuality. I also don’t find it a coincidence that “homosexuals” was put in a translation at a time homosexuality was hated the most by society in general with seeing us as pedophiles, mentally sick, and “perverts.”

Anyways, If you have any more to say on this, I’m curious. Take care brother.

My Reply to Frank

Thanks for your insight, Frank. I appreciate your articulate and respectful response. You brought up some points I found really interesting.  

You mentioned that “Oxford was going to the earliest versions of the Bible…” However, the point I make in the article is that he was not going to the earliest versions at all. Instead, he “was basing his theological conclusions on obscure, 500-year old translations of the Bible, rather than on the earliest manuscripts we have.” So in my article, I looked at the original source in the original language to see what it had to say.

You also mentioned something I had not thought of before, which is that “female homosexuality isn’t mentioned in Leviticus.” That’s true, of course. But don’t forget that Israel (and the ancient world at large) was a patriarchy. God’s commands were given to the men as head of the household, yet they were culturally understood to apply to the entire family, including the wife and children of both genders. Many things were not explicitly mentioned about women in the Torah but were still seen as applying to them. Moreover, the fact that Paul carried the idea of female homosexuality into the New Testament should not be taken lightly. Not only was Paul a Jewish scholar and trained expert in Jewish Law and the Tanakh, but he was also writing under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit. He did not write anything that God did not want him to write.

By the way, here’s an interesting side note: The word “homosexual” does not appear in the most popular translations of the Bible. It is not used at all in the King James Version, the NRSV (a favorite of biblical scholars) or the RSV. And it appears only once in the NIV, NKJV, and CSB translations.

This brings up the broader concept of contextualization. The meaning of Scripture does not change, of course, but the language we use to describe that meaning must change over time and across cultures. For example, if I said to you, “I trow not,” would you know what I meant? Or suppose I said, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it.” These are archaic phrases from the KJV Bible, which have little meaning to the modern reader. It is through contextualization that we update the language so that the meaning of a passage can be properly understood by readers in their own time and culture.

In fact, let’s leave out the specific wording for a moment. I’d be curious to hear what you make of the larger teaching behind the passages that oppose sexual immorality in general. Scripture sets clear boundaries around mankind’s sexual behavior. If you disagree with where the Bible establishes those boundaries, where would you propose they be drawn? 

It seems to me that the unavoidable picture we get from Scripture as a whole is that sex was given to mankind by God (Gen 2:24) and is a blessing when exercised within the confines that He prescribed, namely, the marriage covenant. Both the Old and New Testaments (and Jesus, Himself) define marriage as being between a man a woman (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5-6; Mark 10:6-9). So any sexual activity (hetero– or homo-) outside the marriage covenant is a misuse of God’s gift and, therefore, a sin. That includes things like adultery, friends with benefits, bestiality, casual hookups, incest, and, by definition, homosexual sex.

The question isn’t whether or not God condones homosexual behavior. That answer in Scripture is unambiguous (Lev 18:22, 20:13; Rom 1:26-28; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:8-11). The difficult question we have to wrestle with today is, “Why?” I’m sure you would agree there must be some boundaries drawn around human sexual behavior. From a biblical worldview, it’s not right for us to have sex with literally any creature we want any time we want. God certainly would not condone adultery, pedophilia, incest, bestiality, rape, etc. (Which, by the way, is why I am not a fan of the “love is love” line of thinking.)

So how do we decide where our sexual boundaries ought to be drawn? Our modern sensibilities certainly do not like where God chose to draw them. I know gay couples who are fabulous, loving people; why should I care that they are the same gender? I understand the tension because I live in it, too. That’s why in many ways, this issue is at the heart of our faith as Christians. It presents each of us with a fundamental question that is as old as the Garden: will we honor God’s boundaries or make our own? If we choose to “follow our heart” on LGBT issues, are we not elevating the modern, Western sexual ethos above God?

This is a fundamental issue that hinges on our ultimate view of God. Did He establish sexual boundaries because He is a cosmic policeman who doesn’t want us to have fun in the bedroom? Is He an old-fashioned prude that needs to get with the times? Or is He a loving Father who wants His children to know that there are some things we need to avoid in order to live life to the fullest, avoid pain and brokenness, and live in a covenant relationship with Him? The bottom line is this: are we willing to trust God even when we disagree with Him or don’t understand His reasoning? If not, then He is not really our God, is He? Instead, the things we choose to put above Him are our god. 

One last important thing to note. As clear as Scripture is on the issue of homosexuality, it’s just as clear on how we are to treat our fellow human beings. As Christians, we are to treat every person (gay or straight) with love and respect (Phil 2:3-4). We are all made in God’s image (Gen 1:27), and we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). So, yes, homosexual behavior is a sin. But it is not the “super sin” that the modern Church sometimes makes it out to be.

Jesus modeled a perfect balance of grace and truth for us on the issue of sexual immorality. When the Pharisees brought Him a woman caught in adultery, He showed her mercy rather than condemnation. He said to the Pharisees, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” But, at the same time, He did not condone the woman’s sexual sin:

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.'”

John 8:9-11

Note: My conversation with Frank continues in the replies below.

20 thoughts on “Should “Homosexual” Be In The Bible?

  1. Frank

    Wow. Thanks you for going the extra mile in responding to my comment Mr. Solberg. I didn’t receive a notification in my e-mails, so I thought you didn’t respond back. Like before, I’d like to address what you said.

    You stated:

    “… don’t forget that Israel (and the ancient world at large) was a patriarchy. God’s commands were given to the men as head of the household, yet they were culturally understood to apply to the entire family, including the wife and children of both genders. Many things were not explicitly mentioned about women in the Torah but were still seen as applying to them.”

    Now this argument would work if these Israeli women were not specifically mentioned in other sexual prohibitions also listed in Leviticus, like incest, but they are. Even detailing specific prohibitions given only to these women and not to Israeli males. There is no ancient Jewish writing who saw Lev. 18:22 as inclusive of women. The very wording makes it impossible to include women. No one is downplaying Paul with women, but also it’s gross exegesis to say Paul used the absence of lesbianism in the OT to now condemn them in Romans, the only real place you can say lesbians are being talked about.

    You prove my point with saying the word “homosexual” was not in the earliest versions of Bible translations. My question is why is it now? The first time it was put in a translation was in 1946 in the NASV that today most consider the most “accurate” of Bible translations (disturbingly, maybe BECAUSE the word homosexual is in this translation is why this is the preferred translation). It’s translator and editor was a man named Bruce Metzger who’s personal dislike of homosexuality was pretty ugly. You have to understand that Bible translators were imperfect and very human men prone to mistakes like we all are who were very much a product of their time, they never claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    Though your argument of “contextualization” is absolutely true, I really don’t see what relevance it has here. This is not a changing of wording to make clearer something that is already stated, this is widening a prohibition of anal sex in Leviticus to include all homosexuality and widening the prohibition of cult homosexuality in Romans doing the same. A prohibition from absence with lesbianism.

    This is where you think I conflate homosexuality with a “do as you want” sexual ethic when nothing can be further from the truth. Like you, I believe the Bible in the inspired and infallible Word of God, including it’s dictation on sexual morality. I don’t know where you get from me in anything I’ve written that I believe in “boundless sexuality” that you spend most of your article talking about.

    You give more importance to the marriage institution than Jesus or Paul ever did. Jesus only bothered talking about it because it was brought up to Him and even then He makes exceptions for some who were born “eunuchs.” Paul said it is better not to marry and he says there in no more “Man And Woman” in Galatians. There is no marriage in Heaven. Sexuality is given to us by God, what we do with that sexuality is up to us. Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, can either be abused with pornography and promiscuity or it can be a union be dedicated to God with the same allowances and restrictions as a heterosexual union. I find it offensive that you would put homosexuality on the level of bestiality, pedophilia, and rape.

    I’ve already given the wording in Leviticus that in turn explains 1 Cor. and 1 Timothy with why the word “homosexual” shouldn’t be placed in those instances and Romans being in the context of Gentile idolatry unless you think all gays worship “birds and creeping things” in their homosexuality. I can gladly go more in depth, but let Romans unfold itself IN CONTEXT.

    You would be hard pressed to show most Christians don’t see homosexuality as a “greater sin’ when they obsess about it like no other topic. It’s interesting you quote Francis Chan when he said he would be open to changing his mind on homosexuality if a case can be made from the Bible, what most Christians won’t do.

    I’ll sum it up.

    Sodom had nothing to do with homosexuals other than to have a side note about rape that broke the ancient code of hospitality. Leviticus was only for the bloodline of Jacob while they were among the Canaanites. Paul says it over and over again that Leviticus are dead laws to us who are under a new covenant. Romans is about idolatry with Paul mirroring Deuteronomy 4:16-18. You don’t have to go outside of the Bible narrative to understand what “effeminate” (Malakoi) means in 1 Cor 6:9 when Jesus uses the same word to indict the character of the rich for their extravagance with clothing in Matt 11:8. And even if the word (Arsenokoitai) translated in 1 Cor 6: 9,10 and 1 Tim 1: 9,10 as “homosexuals” is a compound word from Leviticus, Leviticus is only talking about one, specific, sexual act (according to the writings of the ancient Israelites who existed in those laws) and puts it in the context of the idolatrous homosexuality of the Canaanites in verse 21 with ignoring female homosexuality altogether.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Thanks, Frank.

      First of all, if you felt I was accusing you personally of promoting “boundless sexuality,” please accept my apology. That’s not what I was insinuating at all. I didn’t know your personal position on sexuality and wouldn’t presume to put words in your mouth.

      Frank: “You prove my point with saying the word ‘homosexual’ was not in the earliest versions of Bible translations. My question is why is it now?”

      Rob: Because that is the English word that some translators feel best describes the meaning of the passages where it is used. This is the contextualization I spoke about. The original Greek word ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai) is made up of the words arsén (male or men) and koité (marriage bed, sexual intercourse). The modern English word that best describes that meaning is “homosexual.” (The prefix homo meaning same.)

      Frank: “Bible translators were imperfect and very human men prone to mistakes like we all are who were very much a product of their time, they never claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

      Rob: I won’t argue with that. This is why I regularly consult so many different translations, and why I tried to point our conversation to the teaching behind the passages, rather than the specific words used.

      Frank: “I’ve already given the wording in Leviticus that in turn explains 1 Cor. and 1 Timothy with why the word “homosexual” shouldn’t be placed in those instances.”

      Rob: I’m okay with the English word homosexual not being used in those passages. So are the translators of the KJV, NIV, NSRV, RSV and other versions.

      Frank: “Sexuality is given to us by God, what we do with that sexuality is up to us.”

      Rob: That’s true to a degree; God certainly gave us the freedom to do whatever we want. However, He also gave us boundaries, so not everything we are free to do is right. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal 5:13) Some of the things we humans choose to do with our sexuality are sinful. I believe you and I agree on that point since we’re both opposed to bestiality, pedophilia, and rape.

      Frank: “I find it offensive that you would put homosexuality on the level of bestiality, pedophilia, and rape.”

      Rob: I understand you find it offensive, but please understand that my intention was not to offend you. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” This prohibition against male homosexuality in verse 22 appears amid a long list of other sexual prohibitions in that same chapter which includes, at a minimum, incest and bestiality. Those types of sexual sins are put on the same level in Scripture. (Along with adultery and friends with benefits.)

      I agree with you that many in the modern church (sadly and regrettably) have a tendency to obsess about homosexuality. But like I said, it is not “greater” than any other sexual sin. Although the Bible does single out sexual sin in general, saying: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Cor 6:18).

      I happen to agree with you about the laws of Leviticus not applying to Christians today. (In fact, I wrote a book about the Law of Moses.) Those laws were for Israel. Like Francis Chan, I would be open to changing my mind on homosexuality if a case can be made from the Bible. Scripture is my authority, not culture and certainly not my own feelings on a given subject.

      That said, we modern Christians under the New Covenant have to consider passages such as Romans 1:18-32. While it certainly does touch on idolatry, as you mentioned, it also directly discusses sexual sin in vs. 24-28. The passage in 1 Cor 6:9 does as well. (Which by the way, uses both the words malakoi (soft, effeminate) and arsenokoitai (sodomite, homosexual).) So we still have to wrestle with what Paul means when he says, “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” There is also 1 Tim 1:8-11, which lists homosexuality (or, if you prefer, arsenokoitais) as a sin among other sins.

      Frank: “Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, can either be abused with pornography and promiscuity or it can be a union be dedicated to God with the same allowances and restrictions as a heterosexual union.”

      Rob: Given the NT passages we’ve discussed, I have to respectfully disagree with you. However, if you can point to any passages in Scripture that support your statement, I will gladly consider them. As I said, I personally know and love gay couples who are fabulous, loving people so, on a personal level, I would be relieved to find some grey area in Scripture on the topic.

      Interestingly, your statement above does not seem to reflect the position of the more vocal side of the LGBT community who celebrate promiscuity, pornography, and pride parades. Perhaps, like Christians who mistreat gay people, the “promiscuous and proud” wing of the LGBT movement is to be admonished as wrong and out of touch.

  2. Frank

    I accept your apology. It really was something to read how you went on and on with thinking I had no moral ethic. By the way, I’m no fan of ‘love is love’ either.

    You said yourself that ‘arseno” is translated as male so we don’t have to argue the prefix, but even you have to admit the term “homosexual’ is a far too broad term meaning males AND females to any person who sees or hears that word today. Do you think most Bible readers know the break-down of the Greek wording of ‘male’ (arseno) and ‘koite’ (beds)? No, the average reader will just see the general term of “homosexual” in the verse and assume Bible translators meant inclusion of both gay men and women with using the broad term of ‘homosexual.’ That’s deceptive from the translator. You’re right, the prefix “Homo” means same and that has absolutely nothing to do with this. 

    The title of this very article is “SHOULD “HOMOSEXUAL” BE IN THE BIBLE?” The answer to that specific question is a clear no.

    The other Bible translations you name that use the word “Sodomite,” are also in error when the Sodom story was never associated with homosexuality/anal sex until a much later date by Catholic church fathers and not from the actual Biblical witness and not from any ancient Hebrew writing on the Sodom narrative. I will say even though the word sodomite is also wrong in the verse, at least it clearly excludes women as it should. You say you are O.K. with the KJV’s version saying; “nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” and I’m fine with that as well.

    A snooty look, breaking promises, pride, and cheating (acts we have all done) are also listed as ‘abominations,’ but of course those are ignored in favor of equating homosexuality with the most horrific sexual offenses that would make anyone’s hair curl. 

    We whole heartedly agree with where the ‘Laws of Moses” stands with us as Christians. I’ve actually cut off fellowship from those who believe as I do on the Bible and homosexuality, but insist we are somehow still under the yoke of OT Laws. I would be glad to give you resources and names of theologians who make the case I do with the Bible and homosexuality including what I’ve written myself.

    Like I said with Romans, context. To get the reading you think you see in it is reversing the order it’s in. It’s not: Homosexuality = Worship of animals, it’s Worship of animals = Idolatrous homosexuality.If you remember my first post, I brought up ‘malakoi’ and how if any word can be irrefutably shown to prove translations have brought the word to what wasn’t a gay reading before, but now is, it’s what’s been done to that word. 

    I like to give my “ice cream” analogy to those who like you think because there are no outright passages talking about gay unions, probation from omission, they must therefore not be sanctioned:

    “If a man talks about vanilla ice cream, that’s doesn’t mean he thinks strawberry ice cream is a bad flavor, he just didn’t talk strawberry ice cream (let’s say vanilla was first and strawberry wasn’t created yet). Now if this same man specifically stated; “Vanilla ice cream is a good flavor AND strawberry ice cream is a bad flavor,” you could can say, without question, strawberry ice cream is a bad flavor. But you only believe strawberry ice cream is a bad flavor just because it isn’t vanilla ice cream. Making a flavor bad when it isn’t even mentioned.”

    On a personal level, please let me explain something. It’s not a Christian’s place to judge another’s promiscuity, gay or straight, or pride parades. The role of a follower of Christ is to be a loving neighbor to the homosexual and that love does not include beating them over the head with Scripture as if they were already believers to be corrected in the Body of Christ. The hypocrisy of Christians say “I love you, but I hate your sin” while they steal pencils from their office and bop the baby sitter when the wife isn’t around is why Christians have their name in the mud and not because they love Christ. The ones who should be admonished are those “Christians” who bear false witness against homosexuals with saying they cause natural disasters and are now to blame for Corvid-19. That gays “want to feed Christians to lions” and who “want to devour home and nation.” That somehow we all have some kind of “agenda” or live some kind of “lifestyle.”
    The reason why many gays hate God is because they believe God hated them first… and who’s to blame for that? 

    I pray you and your family are well and safe with what are very interesting times.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Yes, interesting times, indeed! We are well, thank you. I hope you and yours are staying healthy as well.

      Your ice cream analogy is well-received. I agree that proving a negative, or arguing from silence, is ill-advised. If the Bible does not specifically mention lesbianism, one cannot safely assume from that fact alone that it condones or condemns it. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that Christians should not be condemning their gay neighbors and hitting them over the head with Scripture. I hope you see how careful I have been to promote that posture in my writing. Modern Christians (including me) often need to be reminded of Jesus’ words, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5).

      While trying our best to love our gay relatives, friends, and neighbors, Christians also need to love God and honor His word. Scripture warns us that “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim 4:3). Respectfully, I am concerned that might be what is happening today in regard to sexuality.

      To wit: In the verses we’ve been discussing—1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10—the original Greek word used is arsenokoitai, which comes from the words arsén (male or men) and koité (marriage bed, sexual intercourse). In many translations, arsenokoitai is translated as “men who have sex with men.” But you make a great point that, in those Bible translations where the word homosexual is used, modern readers will understand it to mean both gay men and women. This brings up a couple of interesting questions:

      1. Do you see the two passages above as condemning male homosexual sex as sinful and wrong?
      2. Do you believe that Scripture as a whole teaches that gay female sex is right, while gay male sex is wrong?

      1. Clay

        I think that the philosophy of earlier Christians and the treatment of the law of homosexuality can shed light on the meaning of the Bible as these Christians were much less removed from the Bible than we are. The law seems to support the sort of distinction that Frank is trying to dry. While male homosexuality has been unlawful before the offenses were repealed in English law, female homosexuality has never been unlawful under either church or civil law, either at Common Law or in Statutory Law. This seems to also be a distinction that is supported in the laws of some other European countries. Since the Church was essentially independently sovereign and prosecuted people for religious crimes, its stands to reason that earlier Christians did see a distinction.

        1. R. L. Solberg

          Thanks, Clay! That’s an interesting observation. It seems to me that female homosexuality is also deemed sinful in Scripture:

          “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)

          And because Paul’s teachings are so grounded in the moral teachings of the Hebrew Bible (our OT), I would submit that female homosexuality was also considered sinful in the OT, although it was not explicitly stated. Indeed, many commands that all Israelites were expected to obey were only given to males in the Biblical text. Further, the principle underlying God’s commands against homosexuality is that it is an abuse of His created order for mankind, and that applies to either gender, as Paul’s words above show.


  3. Frank

    We are doing well Rob, thank you for asking.

    I’m glad you were fair with the ice cream analogy. As you know writing about the ancient world, there was also no such thing as a cross-gender “friendship” and there is also no account of it in the Bible (Paul did speak dearly to the women in the church he felt a debt to, but this was a group greeting and not Paul striking up a independent friendship with women). So to say; “Men and women can’t be friends because the Bible doesn’t give an account of this kind of relationship,” is ridiculous.
    A gay relationship that is loving between two Christian men who desire to be mates with each other also doesn’t break the edict of “loving your neighbor as yourself,” what we are to measure all we do in.

    I see your point with 2 Tim 4:3 because I agree with you, but while you see that as maybe the acceptance of promiscuity with wanton sex, I see it more as a spiritual occurrence with our political climate today. The Bible says in the end-days even the elect will be fooled, I don’t see that with homosexuality when many Christians are becoming even less loving and more damning towards the homosexual. Remember, this is the Church being talked about with what they WANT to hear with itchy ears and not unbelievers outside of It.

    To your points.

    No, I don’t believe either Scripture is making this broad condemnation of homosexuality because the claim that it is? Is a ‘new thing.’
    This is important. EVERY SINGLE TIME the word “arsenokoite” is used outside of Paul’s two uses, it denotes either exploitation (the Sibylline Oracles that uses the word around the same time Paul does, puts the word as an economic exploitation), homosexual rape (Babylonian Talmud) or molesting of boys (Didache, Maimonides). Even the German 1968 Jerusalem Bible translation puts the word as “child molesters.”

    A theologian made this point:

    “It was during the 4th Century the word became confused and lost it’s original significance, so by the 6th Century it was used to designate activities as different as child molesting and anal intercourse between husband and wife.”

    Also understand that Paul could have used the Greek words for an aggressive and passive homosexual and even just an adult homosexual that would have left no question to his audience who he was condemning, but he doesn’t use those words.

    No, lesbianism is not condemned because in Romans these women are called “their” women, as in the women being discussed belong to the men who are participating in this homosexual idolatry and not independent women doing their own thing with other women.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Frank: “A gay relationship that is loving between two Christian men who desire to be mates with each other doesn’t break the edict of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself,’…”

      Rob: Agreed. It does not break that edict. However, it does break the teachings found in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, among other passages.

      Frank: “No, I don’t believe either Scripture is making this broad condemnation of homosexuality because the claim that it is is a ‘new thing.’”

      Rob: If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that the interpretation of these passages as condemning homosexual behavior is a new claim. In other words, you believe that when Paul originally wrote those passages, he was not referring to male homosexual behavior, but something else.

      I think you would agree that, while the use of the English word “homosexual” is historically recent, the concept or idea of homosexual behavior is not. It goes at least as far as back as the book of Leviticus. And in every place it is brought up in the Bible, it is treated as a vice. The idea that Paul was referring to—namely, men having sex with men—is an ancient concept, not a modern addition. The use of the specific English word “homosexual” is new because that word itself is new to the English language. It is the modern word that many translators have determined best relays the meaning of the original Greek text to modern readers.

      That said, what I find even more important than that specific word is the fact that homosexual behavior does not align with the Bible’s overarching position on sexuality. From the beginning, the Bible teaches that God created man and woman in beautifully complementary ways so that they form one flesh (Gen 2:24). He created man and woman and commanded them to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Thus, Scripture teaches that sexual intimacy was designed by God as part of the covenant union of marriage between a man and a woman, and an important part of God’s intended purpose for sex is to produce children. Moreover, even though Christians are no longer under the Law of Moses, Scripture takes a clear moral position on homosexual sex in Leviticus 18. These were not ceremonial or civil prohibitions, they were moral. It’s an extremely tall order to argue that what God once called immoral is now acceptable. There is a clear and consistent picture of sexuality in Scripture that runs from the Old Testament to the New, and it does not include the idea of sexual intimacy between people of the same sex.

      So even if for the sake of argument, I granted you the point that Paul intended the word arsenokoitai to specifically refer to something like homosexual rape or molesting of boys, the Bible as a whole still places male homosexual sex outside the boundaries and purposes that God established for sexual intimacy. As I wrote earlier, if you can point to any passages in Scripture that support your position, I will gladly consider them. But I’m not aware of anywhere in the Bible where homosexual sex is referred to as good, or acceptable, or standard, or even morally neutral. As far as I can tell, it’s only referred to as a vice.

      Again, please don’t hear me singling out homosexual behavior as the worst of all sins. In our fallen world, we all struggle with temptations to express our sexuality in sinful ways, me included. Homosexuality is just a part of the human brokenness that we all share. Which is why all need Jesus!

  4. Frank

    I give you the Leviticus passage as how it is properly translated, I explain Romans as an idolatrous homosexuality being spoken about, and I explain to you arsenokoite with showing it’s multiple meanings and what’s the first thing you say? “… (homosexuality) however, does break the teachings found in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, among other passages.”
    What!? It’s like I never said or explained to you anything in my prior postings here that for the most part you agree with.

    I understand that I can’t make pages and pages of arguments on your blog comment section to change your mind, so I rather give you the resources that will do it for me.

    K. Renato Lings has an almost 800 page book on changing and biased Bible translations and he does a good job of covering the OT verses (the creation account, Sodom, Leviticus, etc):


    This is solid research with naming the SPECIFIC idolatry cult Paul is talking about in Romans 1:


    Mark Brustman gives one of the most exhaustive studies on “Born Eunuchs” (Matt. 19:12) being homosexuals:


    David Gushee is a renown theologian who argues on my side of the Bible and homosexuality debate and is a great resource to check.

    Bio from his blog:


    Saul M. Olyan of Brown University is also one to check out.


    For the lay person who’s first putting their toe in the water of this debate, I suggest they start with Colby Martin:


    I see no further with going on in our discussion with what I now feel is hitting a wall.

    Brother, I understand what I am asking of you. That your understanding of homosexuality with the Bible is wrong because the church has been wrong on it for centuries. That’s a big and hard pill to swallow and it sounds like I’m asking you to believe in a different doctrine, but this Biblical truth and not a doctrine of men that has informed you and so many in the Body of Christ. I ask you pray with an open heart, that you ask the Holy spirit to reveal what’s true. God gives knowledge and His people die without it

    My time is done here and I can’t tell you how invaluable our conversation has been and the graciousness you’ve shown me.
    You will be in my prayers.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      You’re a kind and gracious man, Frank. Thank you. I try to prayerfully pursue the truth of Scripture and recognize that I have my own biases and cultural influences that I can inadvertently bring to the text. So input from fellow believers like you is gratefully received. I certainly recognize that I don’t have all the answers and I am not right about everything. (Just ask my wife :-))

      I pray we are both relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truth to us, and that what lies at the heart of both your quest and mine is God’s Truth rather than our personal happiness. To paraphrase Lewis, “Aim for God’s Truth and you will get personal happiness thrown in. Aim at personal happiness and you get neither.” Either way, I want you to know that I respect you and consider you my brother in Christ.

      What’s interesting is that your position on what Scripture teaches about homosexuality actually resolves tension in both our lives. For you, as a gay Christian, it allows you to love and serve Jesus and also live out your sexuality in a way that feels natural to you. For me, as a straight Christian with gay friends and family members, it allows me to take a highly-explosive issue off the table. In social situations, LGBT issues can be like an armed IED; one tiny wrong move and the whole thing blows up. Sexuality is not an issue I care a lot about or bring up, but invariably there comes a time when a comment is made or a question is asked of me. In that moment, it would be a huge relief for me if God’s word sanctified homosexual behavior.

      To that end, I appreciate the literary references you shared. I am not familiar with any of the authors, but I see that at least one is a Ph.D., so I expect there is a great deal of valuable information and insight to be found. One thing that jumped out at me is that they were all published within the last 20 years and the authors are all gay American males or men known for their social activism in the LGBT community. Does that mean that these gentlemen are unable to produce accurate, unbiased exegesis? Absolutely not! But it does reveal that the pool of scholarship you cited is narrow and quite homogeneous.

      I would encourage you to consider the wider body of Judeo-Christian scholarship on this issue. There are hundreds of brilliant luminaries whose names are widely known that have valid insight to share, as well. Their work spans 35+ centuries and includes thinkers from multiple ethnicities, countries, languages, eras, and cultures who have come to a different conclusion about the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality than the authors you cited. Are scholars always right? Of course, not. But it would challenge credulity to claim that every scholar and biblical translator over the past 3,500 years who concluded that homosexual behavior is sinful was completely wrong on the issue. This is why it’s such a difficult task to hold a heterodox position in light of the depth of scholarship (both historic and modern) we have at our disposal.

      That said, what’s more interesting to me than trading scholarly sources is two men sharing their personal thoughts on what Scripture teaches. I have shown you how the Bible teaches from beginning to end that sexual intimacy was designed by God as part of the covenant union of marriage between a man and a woman, and an important part of God’s intended purpose for sex is to produce children. I pointed out that nowhere in the Bible is homosexual sex referred to as good, or acceptable, or standard, or even morally neutral; it’s only referred to as a vice. I pointed out that Scripture takes a clear moral position against male homosexual sex in Leviticus. If I’ve not exhausted your patience, I would love to hear your thoughts on that level.

  5. christian

    thank you rob for that insightful look at homosexuality just one question I didn’t quite understand how are we supposed to relate to gay and lesbian peole in our lives our how are we to relate to our own homosexuality if we have these struggles?

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Thanks, Christian. This article was not intended to address the issues you raised, but they are very good questions! I highly recommend you check out this podcast interview with Sam Allberry, who wrote the book Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With? In the interview, Sam walks through some biblical insights on sexuality and shares his own journey of living faithfully to Christ despite experiencing same-sex attraction.

      As for my own thoughts on your questions, I believe Christians are supposed to relate to gay people in our lives the same way we relate to non-gay people: love them, treat them with respect, do life with them, serve them. We should recognize that people who are gay are loved by God every bit as much as straight people. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), so we don’t need to judge them, especially when we’ve got our own sin to work on (Matt 7:5). At the same time, if the issue comes up, we should not minimize the Bible’s teaching that homosexual behavior is a sin. We need to speak honestly about it, but do so in love, with gentleness and respect.

      As far as relating to one’s own homosexuality or same-sex attraction, that’s a very sensitive subject, especially in today’s hyper-sexualized society. So I want to approach the issue carefully and in love. Our culture teaches that if we are gay, that is our identity. But that’s not true at all. To base our identity as a human being on who we are sexually attracted to minimizes us as a person, and it blinds us to the amazing life that God has given us. If we follow Jesus, our identity is found in the fact that we are a son or daughter of God Himself! (John 1:12, Rom 8:14, Gal 3:26, 1 John 3:1)

      I do not believe that being attracted to the same sex is a sin. That’s merely temptation and the Bible says that even Jesus was tempted. Scripture teaches that it’s homosexual behavior that is sinful. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the incredible power of sexual temptation in our lives today. I have gay friends who love Jesus and it’s a literal battle for them to resist sexual temptation. I also know straight men who were very promiscuous before getting married and their battle is to remain faithful to their wives. And for every single young man out there, the battle is not to have sex with anyone at all unless or until you marry them. The struggle is real. But the battle can also be won. Check out that Sam Allberry interview linked above.

      God bless you, Christian!

  6. Alex

    Well, I would use logical reasoning from other bible verses and proper historical context. The actual word used by the Greeks to describe “having sex with a man,” was Androkoites. What’s more the word was used to describe the partner, not the one doing the activity. It could be a male or female “having sex with a man.” As there was no concept of sexuality during that time period. The word Arsenokoites didn’t exist prior to Paul’s use of it. What’s more it has only been used 80 times in history since. Other uses of the word have shown it to mean anything but homosexual, or sex between men. Though there is no context to use to understand the word as originally used in the Bible, later uses show it cannot mean homosexual.

    Then there are other aspects of scripture such as Romans 1:20, “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.”

    We now know for a fact that nearly every species of animal engages in homosexuality. Some species are hermaphrodites, some are entirely bisexual. So stating homosexuality is against the Bible and unnatural directly contradicts the fact that Gods creation was his first missionary.

    Clearly we know people during that time period were not zoologists who went out and spent months studying and documenting these animals. But our modern study has shown these animals to be equally as likely to be gay or bisexual. It is easy to draw the conclusion from this that has those who transcribed the words likely did so without full understanding of God’s creation.

    Then of course there is Galatians 3:28, “ There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Phew, talk about an information-packed response! Thanks for taking the time to respond, Alex. While I don’t have the time or the inclination to parse every one of your many claims, I think it’s important to address the conclusions you arrived at as a result of those claims.

      1. You concluded, “Though there is no context to use to understand the word as originally used in the Bible, later uses show it cannot mean homosexual.” I’ve demonstrated the opposite in the article above and in my original article on the subject, which show that the Biblical teaching on this issue is quite clear and unambiguous. Regardless of the English word that is used, the concept of “men having sex with men” is what is considered a sin in Scripture. In fact, the specific English word “homosexual” isn’t used very often. It’s much more common to see descriptive phrases such as “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman,” “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman,” “men who have sex with men,” etc.

      2. Regarding “homosexuality” in animals, that is not something the Bible has labeled a sin. God has issued no moral laws for animals. His moral laws were only given to us humans. And I would add that animals also kill and eat one another, and I’m sure that’s not something you would condone as acceptable human behavior.

      3. Regarding Galatians 3:28, I’m unclear on its relevance to the topic at hand. That verse comes from a beautiful, longer passage in which the apostle Paul is teaching about the purpose of the Law. He is telling the Galatian church (and by extension, us) how the coming of Jesus has broken down ethnic and class divisions. His point is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew or a Gentile or slave or a free person or a man or a woman, if you belong to Jesus, then you are a member of God’s people.

  7. Amy

    Hello, I stumbled on your original blog post and have been following all of the comments and replies. I’m no biblical scholar so I will attempt to articulate my questions I’d like to pose.
    I once heard a pastor refer to the OT laws and regulations as to be noted but not followed to the “T” (I’m paraphrasing of course.) As believers after AD we have the Holy Spirit inside of us instructing what is wrong and right (clean and unclean.) In so many words the pastor had new tattoos on his arms and he was referring to the OT that said not to make scars for the ancestors but his tattoos were not to honor his ancestors they honored God in Hebrew. So we, post NT believers, should honor the “spirit” of the laws and not the actual laws. Why did God want the fat of the offerings? Maybe because that’s the delish smell of the meat and it gives us heart disease? Why was pork unclean? Parasites? Why is it ok to cut sideburns? Why was it not ok to pull out (spill the seed?) God wanted babies? Why was homosexuality so wrong? You couldn’t make babies? Well, guess what? You can now. You can adopt the surplus of babies who are in foster care and abandoned around the world. Gay people can hire a surrogate to carry a baby and they can also get married. The spirit of the law/mandate above the letter of the law.

    My main question is this, how much of the letter and literal translation are we supposed to subscribe to and how much should be our own promptings of the Holy Spirit who does the personal promptings of right and wrong in our lives?
    By the way… The Holy Spirit has convicted me for not picking up a piece of trash that He prompted me to do and you don’t find a mandate in the Bible for that.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      You raise some fascinating questions, Amy. Thanks for bringing this up! The first thing that jumped to mind is that, as believers under the new covenant, Christians are technically not obligated to follow any of the OT laws. The Law of Moses was only given to the nation of Israel, and only for a time (Gal 3:23-26); it was fulfilled by Jesus and is now obsolete (Heb 8:13). Because God is perfect and holy, His nature does not change, so the new covenant’s nature is the same as the old (Deut. 6:5; Matt 22:36-40). But the specific laws of the OT, particularly the ceremonial and civil laws, no longer apply. So, in Christ, we have incredible freedom. That said, we are warned, “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Gal 5:13). And within our freedom, there is still a need for obedience. Jesus told us, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).

      The topic of “personal promptings” is a challenging one. I agree with you that there is not a mandate for every ethical situation we find ourselves in (such as picking up trash). Scripture is true and the inspired Word of God, but it is not comprehensive, nor does it claim to be. I think at least part of the reason for that is because God wants us to be in a relationship with Him, to depend on Him, and spend time with Him daily, seeking His guidance. And certainly, the Holy Spirit does prompt and guide us (Rom 8:26). But at the same time, we know we can’t always “follow our heart,” because it often leads us astray (Jer 17:9, Matt 15:8; Mark 7:20-23). So how do we know if we’re following the prompting of the Holy Spirit, or our own desires, or the cultural forces at play in our lives?

      I think the first way is by checking Scripture. If what we’re feeling led to do is contrary to what the Bible clearly teaches, we know it’s our own desires leading us astray. For example, any sexual activity other than one man and one woman in marriage is outside of the moral boundaries that God has placed around human sexuality. This is a clear teaching that is found in both the OT and NT. Second, if the Bible does not have a clear teaching on a topic, we can then consider the “spirit” of the law. For example, the Bible does not specifically tell us that we are not to berate and curse the driver who cut us off in traffic, almost causing an accident, which is what our heart might want to do when we’ve been wronged. But to do so would not seem to reflect the spirit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that we are called to in Galatians 5. Lastly, there is what theologians call adiaphora, which refers to issues that are not essential to the faith and which Scripture neither mandates nor forbids. This might include things like smoking, tattoos, and picking up trash. Here God can use these things as matters of obedience to His prompting to help us grow in our faith, rather than issues of moral right or wrong.

      Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves if our inner motivation is to bring glory and honor to God by obeying and trusting Him. Or is it to get what we want or think we need? In the end, pleasing ourselves should be far less important to us than pleasing our Heavenly Father. Which is why Christianity can be so hard! And our obedience and faith are tested the greatest on those issues where we don’t agree with God or don’t like what He is telling us. I imagine this is how Abraham felt when God told Him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Despite what his heart wanted, Abraham chose to obey and trust God, and for that act of faith, he was blessed greatly by God (Gen. 22:1-18).

  8. Amy

    I can conclude, by the example you shown here, if a gay person were to lay down their homosexuality on the alter God would honor him with the thing he gave up and increase it. A gay man in a loving committed home with acceptance, who loves God and got to bear fruit (children) and witness/testify of His mercy and grace how is that any different than a heterosexual man and woman family following God and bearing fruit? The “spirit” of the teaching is to go forth and be fruitful.
    Paul wrote about staying single but if you can’t help yourself to go and get married. To me, marriage is a license to lust. If marriage was for sex and sex is only for procreation why are older people allowed to have sex? Shouldn’t they stop? They won’t produce a baby.
    So, why would God force anyone not making children to grin and bear not having a way out of lust? The Bible says God makes a way when we are tempted. Why would God build our bodies in such a way that we crave human intimacy (lust) so much so that even the holiest among us fall pray to it. To me, it’s a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t senario and The Holy Spirit should guild us as to what He accepts and rejects for your lives. Someone spiritually minded will love God with all their heart and soul regardless of who their physical bodies lay with.
    In addition, I agree with God not sanctioning homosexuality before because it would have wiped out our our ability to keep our population going. We would not have reproduced at the rate we can when we are heterosexual. In modern times this is no longer the case. Scientists are able to create embryos and implant them into surrogates. No other time in history has this option been available to the homosexual population. I still find flaws in the homosexuality is an abomination interpretation for modern times like ours now.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Thanks, Amy. I think there are some misconceptions here about the nature and purpose of both sex and marriage from a biblical perspective. The two ideas you mentioned—marriage is only for sex and sex is only for procreation—are not taught in the Bible and should be rejected. Marriage is not merely a man-made, legal construct enforced by the state. It is something instituted by God in the order of creation that was given to us as a foundation for human life. Marriage is the bedrock foundational human relationship at the core of family, community, society, and human flourishing. Scripture begins and ends with a wedding (Gen 2; Rev 19). And the union of marriage is patterned on the union of God with his people; the church is Christ’s bride (Eph 5). This makes marriage a living picture of the gospel of grace because it points us to the future hope of Christ returning to claim his bride. In other words, according to the Bible, marriage is a sacred, God-ordained institution.

      Sex is an important part of marriage, for sure. But Scripture’s teaching on sex is not merely a matter of reproduction. It is first and foremost about intimate friendship. It is about cleaving to your God-given other and becoming “one flesh,” which is a Hebrew term that implies more than, but not less than, physical union. It means almost becoming one person. Sex is about pursuing physical, emotional, sexual, and ontological union. God made humans as sexual creatures; sex was invented by God as a pure and good thing. That said, He has put clear boundaries around it. This fact alone shows that sex has significance beyond the mere replication of our species. There is a moral component involved as well. Both the OT and NT are clear that sex outside the boundaries of a man and a woman in marriage is a breaking of the boundaries God gave us. This includes not just homosexual sex, but also sex before or outside of marriage, adultery, prostitution, rape, and so on. Why does God care who we sleep with? There are many theories, but the bottom line is that He does. So as much as reproduction science has evolved in recent decades, that has no bearing on the boundaries God put around sex. To say that “someone spiritually minded will love God with all their heart and soul regardless of who their physical bodies lay with” is an anti-biblical position. Whether or not we know why, and whether or not we agree with it, Scripture is clear that it matters who our physical bodies lay with.

      “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor 6:15-20)

      Blessings, Rob

      1. Amy

        I appreciate your thoughtful response and tone. I’ll definitely have to keep praying about it and seeking all the wisdom i can find on this subject. I still don’t have peace about my stance on homosexuality. It doesn’t sound like the God I serve. The things God mandated make sense in hindsight. 2000+ years later, you can see the hindsight.
        Promiscuity comes with disease risks, and emotional issues, we have meds and therapy for it now. Cause and effect implications that science has provided remedies and treatments for.
        Yes, abstaining from such practices would make you more focused and healthy to continue to serve God but there’s no allowance for children who grew up to have issues coping with sex and sexuality in a biblical way. I think these rules and mandates are wonderful and beautiful for someone who grew up with these expectations and securely modeled them in a godly environment. I know from experience that children who were abused and abandoned don’t always grow up to have a healthy relationship with sex (heterosexual or homosexual)

        Just as I am a mother of my Child, I know her so well that I know she is capable of making straight A’s 100% of the time. She loves to be diligent and complete her projects and assignments. I hear from other parents that they don’t have children who are the same. They may have one child who you celebrate a C with because they struggle so much in school. My point is this, I truly see God as a loving Father, intimately involved in My daily life. I am still not convinced that blanket statements in The Bible for that society thousands of years ago can be translated as black and white for our modern lives. Should The Holy Bible be our Truth we aspire to asimílate to? Yes, the rule? Yes!
        I truly do believe (As of now) The Holy Spirit is the ultimate authority to interpret the Spirit of the teachings in the Bible and how they apply to our unique set of circumstances within our own lives.
        Thank you for hearing me out and engaging in dialogue. I have taken your words to heart and will meditate and pray about them. Ultimately I just want to see every beautiful human come to know our beautiful loving Savior Jesus Christ who saved us by making the Holy Spirit available to us.

        1. R. L. Solberg

          Amen, Amy! Thank you for your thoughtful insight. I get how the teachings of Scripture on sexuality don’t sit right with you. I have gay friends and relatives that I love who are in committed relationships. I’ll admit that God’s boundaries certainly fly in the face of our modern culture’s posture on sexuality.

          Here’s my concern. If we dismiss certain moral teachings of the Bible as not appropriate for our modern culture, and we accept other moral teachings as still relevant, we are putting ourselves in a position of authority over the Bible. We are saying that the inspired Word of God is (at least to some degree) outdated and no longer relevant. I think it’s far more likely that our modern culture has drifted so far from our loving Father’s original intent for human sexuality that we barely recognize it anymore. It now feels foreign to us.

          My wife and I have worked with a ministry called Celebrate Recovery for over ten years now, and we’ve seen first-hand the incredible damage that childhood abuse and abandonment can cause to someone’s life, including in the area of their sexuality. Not everyone will (or wants to) overcome those wounds, but we’ve seen God heal so many people who have chosen to turn their lives over to His care and control and walk that tough road of recovery. I’m talking about survivors of incest, rape, and other heinous forms of abuse. From my perspective, I would say that the rampant hyper-sexualization of our culture (via movies, TV shows, advertisements, music, books, magazines, pornography, etc.) plays a far more significant role in our children growing up with unhealthy relationships to sex than the Bible does.

          In the end, I’m with you: I just want to see every beautiful human come to know our beautiful loving savior, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life to save us and set us free. Blessings!

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