The Classic Interpretation of Homosexuality and Scripture

Before reading on, please review the rules here.

Today we will start by looking at the classic interpretation of certain Biblical passages about homosexuality without going into the original languages. I just want to point out what passages the age old prohibition on homosexual behavior has commonly come from Scripturally.

The first mention of homosexual behavior in the Bible occurs in Genesis 19. Two angels are visiting the city of Sodom, disguised as two men, and are offered shelter by Lot. During the night, men from the city come to Lot’s house and demand that he hand the two men over to them so that they can have sex with them. Lot refuses, but the men persist. The angels blind the men and escape with Lot and Lot’s family before God destroys the city. The classic interpretation of this passage is that God’s destruction is a punishment for the homosexual lust and attempted rape of the angels, and is a condemnation of homosexuality as a sin.

The Old Testament specifically condemns homosexual behavior in the Levitical laws (Leviticus 18 and 20) in which the Scriptures say:

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination,”

and

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

In my personal opinion, though, one of the most forceful passages is from the New Testament from St. Paul, in the letter to the Romans:

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 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 their own persons the due penalty for their error…though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.”

Later on in his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul lists homosexual offenders alongside idolaters, drunkards, adulterers, and others as people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

To traditional Christians, these passages all seem clear, but there are people who attempt to use the language of the original texts, along with other passages that seem to affirm homosexual behavior, in order to say that the modern notion of committed monogamous homosexual relationships is not condemned by the Scriptures. Tomorrow we will take a look at some of these contemporary interpretations.

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