There are three passages in the Old Testament (Gen. 19: 1-13; Lev 18:22; 20:13) and three in the New Testament (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; I Tim. 1:10) that have traditionally been read as prohibiting homosexuality.
In this post, I will look up each of these passages and give my own response, followed by a general conclusion at the end. Like I have made clear in my post Why I am an Atheist: Secular Morality vs. Divine Command, I do not give any credence whatsoever to Biblical authority on anything much less morality. However, given that I am interested in what Christians believe due to my early immersion in the religion, and the fact that these controversies are affecting people’s lives even today, I feel a desire to respond.
Gen. 19: 1-13: I see no prohibition about homosexuality here. Maybe only a prohibition about allowing guests who have entered your home to be gang raped by a mob. But then, Lot seems to have little scruple about sending his virgin daughters out to be raped instead (I guess he felt he would have to send out someone?) I see this not as a message to modern Christians that homosexuality is immoral, but a message to everyone today that the morality in the Bible is just plain twisted.
Lev 18:22: This is an Old Testament law against male homosexuality (it says “do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman”) though I notice it says nothing about lesbians. Couched right between the rules against adultery and bestiality.
Lev 20:13: Essential the same as Lev 18:22, but with slightly different wording. And followed by specific instructions not to sleep with animals, see their siblings naked, or “take” their brother’s wife (Though wasn’t there a rule requiring the brother to sleep with his deceased brothers widow so the deceased brother would have an heir? I’ll have to look that up later…).
Rom. 1:26-27: Really not sure how to interpret this one. It sounds like it says God made people gay because they were degenerate sinners? I just have to quote the whole passage here… I remember this passage from Bible quizzing, but come to think about it I’m not even sure who Paul is talking about, unless it is just people who don’t believe in what he is preaching. But that doesn’t make much sense because being an unbeliever does not cause one to be attracted to members of the same sex. It sounds like just an inflammatory rant against those who didn’t believe his message. Not only are the disbelievers gay, but also they lack all natural affection, and are generally evil.
1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
And it also seems strange that Paul would condemn homosexuality as “unnatural” when he also said that the “natural man” was evil.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Paul lists below those who will not “inherit the kingdom of God” (presumed to mean, these people don’t go to heaven? The phrase “kingdom of God” is not really defined very well anywhere in the Bible.) Besides, what does it mean “effeminate”? Some people have translated this as “homosexual” but I have to wonder if this is due to their own prejudice more than what the word actually means. Perhaps an “effeminate” man doesn’t fit into the clear-cut gender roles required by Paul’s Christianity? Similarly, I don’t get what “abusers of themselves with mankind” is supposed to mean either and if this has anything to do with homosexuality or not. I’ve heard masturbation referred to as “self-abuse” but I see it as no such thing. Could Paul’s ickyness towards sex be what is really being revealed here?
6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
I Tim. 1:10: Meh, pretty much more of the same…lumping gays (I guess) in with sinners, murderers, and menstealers (??).
1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
From what I can see here, it looks like the Old Testament law prohibited homosexuality, along with other abominations like the eating of shellfish (Leviticus 11:9-12) and the wearing of mixed fibers (Leviticus 19:19). These laws should be irrelevant to the modern Christian since they are supposedly no longer under the Old Testament law. Or so I have heard. As for the New Testament passages (All coming from the same person in fact, assuming that letters to Timothy are not forgeries as suspected by many scholars.) I don’t see much here besides Paul’s distaste towards sex, especially when coupled with his admonition to his followers that it is better for them to be celibate and not to marry. (1 Corinthians 7)
In conclusion, regarding gay marriage, I see nothing in the Bible prohibiting it at least for modern-day Christians who are supposedly no longer “under the law” as Paul put it. I see assumptions but no declarations that marriage is between men and women. Though if you really look at the Bible, this “one man, one woman” notion is scarcely to be found. Also there is nothing saying that other sexual “sinners” like fornicators or adulterers should be restricted from marrying or doing anything else really. Regarding Paul’s libelous lumping in homosexuals with murderers, liars, and other sorts of seedy people, I only see his own prejudice and ever more reason why notions of “Biblical authority” should be tossed into the historical trash-bin of really bad ideas.
EDIT: I have been trying very hard not to edit posts after I have already published, because I always seem to think of one more thing to say after I have published. But it’s a point I have to make:
NONE of these passages that speak badly of homosexuals or lumps gayness in with murder and lying has anything to do with Jesus, or was attributed to Jesus. They were all either Old Testament passages or were written (or at least attributed) to Paul, who never met Jesus in the flesh and only made a very untestable claim to have had a vision of Jesus.
And now I will go back to my intention to make no further edits to posts after publishing.