Homosexuality and the Bible
When we begin to examine what is written in the Bible about “homosexuality” it is important to consider asking: Who were the people it was written to? Where did they live? When it was written? Why was it written?
And then, - How is it understood by most biblical scholars, who now have access to many researched sources that were unavailable in times past?
When the practice of biblical interpretation is grounded in a literal “word for word” interpretation of the Bible, these biblical references are used by church related groups (e.g. Fundamentalists) to judge and discriminate against those who identify as other than heterosexual. Most modern biblical scholars have agreed that none of these biblical references were referring to same gender, loving, relationships.
Today, when we read the few verses in the Old and New Testaments that seem to refer to homosexual practice, we need to remember that they were written to a people who lived in cultures in which sexual expression was often used in “cultic” worship of many gods. It was a culture in which young children, men, women, and slaves, were prostituted (and worse), for the temple worship of pagan gods, and were also used (i.e. abused) by other persons in power. Some of the god idols were specifically sexual “fertility” symbols and the worshipping of them required all sorts of sexual practices that we would find horrifying (examples of this can be found by a Google search of “Sexuality in the Roman Empire”).
If you would like further information related to this topic, a very good and thorough presentation can be found on the YouTube website :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mouJJyos-M where the Rev. Dr. Brant Hawke gave a lecture re “Homosexuality and The Bible.” He began with some general, background information and then continued with an examination of what he identifies as the eight sets of verses in the Bible which some religious traditions have used to condemn homosexuality. Although his lecture is rather long, it is very informative and thorough. (The whole lecture is well worth listening to, but the part where he begins to deal specifically with the Bible verses that seem to deal with homosexuality begins at about minute 57.)
Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, C.M. is an LGBTQ rights activist, Pastor Emeritus of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto [MCC Toronto, where he served for 40 years], and the founder of the Rainbow Faith & Freedom Movement.
One of the most powerful tools in the world is language. Words can be used for good, to build a world of understanding, love, empathy, and respect. They can build bridges between individuals and nations. They can soothe the soul, express our innermost thoughts and feelings, and connect us as no other tool can. However, words can also destroy. They can be used to express hate, bigotry, and exclusion, attacking individuals or nations with the sole purpose of belittling, insulting, or demeaning.
Language has a powerful impact on how we live with respect in God’s creation. The United Church believes gender and sexuality are God’s gifts – with all persons being made in the image of God. To be inclusive, it is important to understand the language used with respect to the LGBTQ community. Heterosexuals understand what it means to identify as male or female. For the LGBTQ community, there is a continuum of human sexuality with a host of labels to define their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Our journey of affirmation dictates that we understand the language that describes the experiences of all people. Times have changed and the range of descriptive labels has grown over the years and continues to change. It is important to remember that if there is any doubt, simply ask people what words they prefer to use to describe themselves and their experience.
We encourage you to read about “What does LGBTQ mean” found on pg. 3, About Language, in Open Hearts, Resources for Affirming Ministries.
The link is: Open-Hearts-AUSE_Final_May192020.pdf