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The Bible and homosexuality

The Bible and homosexuality

Overview
There are a number of direct references to homosexuality in the Bible.
In Mosaic law, male homosexuality is identified as an "abomination
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

".
In the New Testament
Homosexuality in the New Testament
In the New Testament, the gospels do not contain explicit discussion of homosexuality, but instead only of "sexual impurities" or porneia in general, which in the context of Mosaic law can be understood to include homosexual acts, but Christian views on the old covenant vary. The epistles of Paul...

, Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 condemns arsenokoitēs, a term related to male homosexuality that is open to much interpretation; it could mean male homosexual acts, male prostitution, or sex with men in general (hetero- or homosexual). Paul also makes reference to female homosexuality when he refers to "unnatural relations" between women in the Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

.

Chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

, which form part of the Holiness code
Holiness code
The Holiness Code is a term used in biblical criticism to refer to Leviticus 17-26, and is so called due to its highly repeated use of the word Holy. It has no special traditional religious significance and traditional Jews and Christians do not regard it as having any distinction from any other...

, contain the following verses:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

.(Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18 is a chapter of the Biblical book of Leviticus. It narrates part of the instructions given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The chapter deals with a number of sexual activities considered 'unclean' or 'abominable'...

:22 KJV)
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.(Leviticus 20:13 KJV)


The two verses have traditionally been interpreted by fundamentalist Christians as blanket prohibitions against homosexual acts.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

 in Genesis has traditionally been interpreted within Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality; Judaism regards it as a story about the need for hospitality.

The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 uses the word kedeshah for prostitute.
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Encyclopedia
There are a number of direct references to homosexuality in the Bible.
In Mosaic law, male homosexuality is identified as an "abomination
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

".
In the New Testament
Homosexuality in the New Testament
In the New Testament, the gospels do not contain explicit discussion of homosexuality, but instead only of "sexual impurities" or porneia in general, which in the context of Mosaic law can be understood to include homosexual acts, but Christian views on the old covenant vary. The epistles of Paul...

, Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 condemns arsenokoitēs, a term related to male homosexuality that is open to much interpretation; it could mean male homosexual acts, male prostitution, or sex with men in general (hetero- or homosexual). Paul also makes reference to female homosexuality when he refers to "unnatural relations" between women in the Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

.

Leviticus 18 and 20


Chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

, which form part of the Holiness code
Holiness code
The Holiness Code is a term used in biblical criticism to refer to Leviticus 17-26, and is so called due to its highly repeated use of the word Holy. It has no special traditional religious significance and traditional Jews and Christians do not regard it as having any distinction from any other...

, contain the following verses:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

.(Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18 is a chapter of the Biblical book of Leviticus. It narrates part of the instructions given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The chapter deals with a number of sexual activities considered 'unclean' or 'abominable'...

:22 KJV)
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.(Leviticus 20:13 KJV)


The two verses have traditionally been interpreted by fundamentalist Christians as blanket prohibitions against homosexual acts.

Possible references


The story of Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

 in Genesis has traditionally been interpreted within Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality; Judaism regards it as a story about the need for hospitality.

The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 uses the word kedeshah for prostitute. The meaning of the male form kadesh or qadesh is not entirely clear. Some translations imply a male cultic attendant
Religious prostitution
Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, or religious prostitution is a practice of worship that includes hieros gamos or sacred marriage performed as a fertility rite and part of sacred sexual ritual.-Ancient Near East:...

, apparently with some sexual implication. The account of the friendship between David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan were heroic figures of the Kingdom of Israel, whose covenant was recorded favourably in the books of Samuel. Jonathan was the son of Saul, king of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem and Jonathan's presumed rival for the crown...

 in the Books of Samuel
Books of Samuel
The Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...

, depicted by traditional and mainstream religious interpretation as a relationship of platonic love
Platonic love
Platonic love is a chaste and strong type of love that is non-sexual.-Amor Platonicus:The term amor platonicus was coined as early as the 15th century by the Florentine scholar Marsilio Ficino. Platonic love in this original sense of the term is examined in Plato's dialogue the Symposium, which has...

, has been interpreted by some secular writers as being of a sexual nature.

Romans 1


However, it says in verse 27, "In the same way...", which is a comparative phrase, meaning that the women in verse 26 practiced unnatural relations in the same way that the men in verse 27 did, through homosexuality. This passage is also debated, both in terms of its relevance today and in terms of its actual prohibition. Most Christian denominations maintain that this verse is a complete prohibition of all forms of homosexuality. However, some contend the passage is not a blanket condemnation of homosexuality at all, and some argue that Paul's writings must be considered fallible because of his support for slavery and the oppression of women.

Other Epistles


In the context of the broader immorality of his audience, Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 wrote in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,
The word arsenokoitēs has challenged scholars for centuries, and has been variously rendered as "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV), "sodomites" (YLT), or "men who practice homosexuality." Greek [arrhēn / arsēn means "male", and [koitēn] "bed," with a sexual connotation": there is no evident reason for Paul to choose this word to signify homosexuality, as Greek has the word androkoitēs for this meaning. It is likely that arsenokoitēs is taken from the Septuagint (LXX) reading of Leviticus 20:13 where the root forms (Greek [arrhēn / arsēn] and [koitēn] both appear. 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 (probably by the same author) in 1 Timothy 1:9–10:
Later Christian literature used the word to mean variously prostitution, incest or rape without any single clear meaning – Patriarch John IV of Constantinople
Patriarch John IV of Constantinople
John IV , also known as John Nesteutes or John the Faster, was the 33rd bishop or Patriarch of Constantinople . He was the first to assume the title Ecumenical Patriarch...

, in a passage dealing with coercive and non-procreative sex, speaks of "...many men [who] commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives". Other scholars have interpreted malakoi and arsenokoitēs as referring to weakness and effeminacy, or to the practice of exploitative pederasty.

See also


  • Religion and homosexuality
  • Homosexuality and Christianity
    Homosexuality and Christianity
    Christian denominations hold a variety of views on the issues of sexual orientation and homosexuality, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. In accordance with the traditional values of Abrahamic religions, most Christian denominations welcome people attracted to the same sex,...

  • Homosexuality and Judaism
    Homosexuality and Judaism
    The subject of homosexuality in Judaism dates back to the Torah, in the books of Bereshit and Vayiqra. Bereshit treats the destruction of the cities of Sedom and Amorrah by God...

  • Homosexuality in ancient Greece
    Homosexuality in ancient Greece
    In classical antiquity, writers such as Herodotus, Plato, Xenophon, Athenaeus and many others explored aspects of same-sex love in ancient Greece. The most widespread and socially significant form of same-sex sexual relations in ancient Greece was between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys,...

  • Women in Christianity
  • Malakia
  • Biblical law in Christianity
    Biblical law in Christianity
    Christian views of the Old Covenant have been central to Christian theology and practice since the circumcision controversy in Early Christianity. There are differing views about the applicability of the Old Covenant among Christian denominations...


Literature

  • Amsel, Nachum. Homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism.
  • Bahnsen, Greg L.
    Greg Bahnsen
    Greg L. Bahnsen was an influential Calvinist philosopher, apologist, and debater. He was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies.-Early life and education:He was the first born of two...

     1978 Homosexuality: A Biblical View. ISBN 0-8010-0744-5
  • Bahnsen, Greg L. 1994 In the Shadow of Sodom: Does the Bible Really Say What We Thought About Homosexuality?
  • Biblical Studies Press 1996–2005 The NET Bible.
  • Boswell, John. 1980 Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-06711-4
  • Brooten, Bernadette. 1998 Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-07592-3
  • Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Dabaq. The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.
  • Brunson, Hal. 2007 Lesbos, Narcissus, and Paulos: Homosexual Myth and Christian Truth. ISBN 0595405967
  • Catholic Answers 2005 Early Teachings on Homosexuality, iuniverse, 2007.
  • Dover, Kenneth. 1978 Greek Homosexuality. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674362705
  • Durns, John Barclay 2002 Lot’s Wife Looked Back. Journal of Religion and Society 4, p. 1–16.
  • Chapman, Patrick
    Patrick Chapman
    Patrick Chapman is an Irish poet, writer and screenwriter, born in 1968. His poetry collections include:* Jazztown, * The New Pornography Patrick Chapman is an Irish poet, writer and screenwriter, born in 1968. His poetry collections include:* Jazztown, (Raven Arts Press, 1991)* The New Pornography...

     2005 Homosexuals in the Bible: Jesus, John, the Centurion and the Slave?. Rainbow Journal Olympia, vol 2(1) (November 2005).
  • Crompton, Louis, et al. 2003 Homosexuality and Civilization. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-01197-X
  • Elliott, John
    John Elliott
    John Elliott may refer to:*John Elliott , English architect*John Elliott, M.D. , adherent of James II*John Elliott , Scottish physician* John Elliott , English artist...

     2004 No kingdom of God for softies? or, what was Paul really saying? 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 in context Biblical Theology Bulletin Spring 2004.
  • Gagnon, Robert A. J. 2001 The Bible and Homosexual Practice. Abingdon Press. ISBN 0-687-08413-X
  • Greenberg, David
    David Greenberg
    David Greenberg is a poet, songwriter and art critic.-Life:Greenberg attended Rutgers University from 1989 to 1993. In December 1989, Greenberg met poet Allen Ginsberg in New York City. Greenberg published two chapbook collections of verse in 1991: Flesh and Astronomy...

     1988 The construction of homosexuality. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-30628-3
  • Halsall, Paul. and Catholicism: A Partially Annotated Bibliography
  • Helminiak, Daniel
    Daniel A. Helminiak
    Daniel A. Helminiak is an author, lecturer, Catholic priest and theologian, and professor in the department of humanistic and transpersonal psychology at the University of West Georgia, near Atlanta.-Early life and ordination:...

     2000 What the Bible really says about homosexuality. Alamo Square Press. ISBN 1-886360-09-X
  • Hilborn, David. 2002 Homosexuality and Scripture. Evangelical Alliance
    Evangelical Alliance
    The Evangelical Alliance is a London-based charitable organization founded in 1846. It has a claimed representation of over 1,000,000 evangelical Christians in the United Kingdom and is the oldest alliance of evangelical Christians in the world....

    .
  • Horner, Tom. 1978 Jonathan Loved David. Westminster Press. ISBN 0-664-24185-9
  • House of Bishops 1991 Issues in Human Sexuality. Church of England. ISBN 0-7151-3745-X
  • Howard, Kevin L. Paul's View of Male Homosexuality: An Exegetical Study. M.A. thesis (unpublished). Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Deerfield, Illinois. June 1996.
  • Jennings, Theodore
    Theodore Jennings
    Theodore W. Jennings is an American scholar, theologian and author. He is Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology at the United Church of Christ's Chicago Theological Seminary, where he has previously served as Acting Academic Dean....

     2003 The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives From the New Testament. Pilgrim Press. ISBN 0-8298-1535-X
  • Johns, Loren 2004 Homosexuality and the Bible: A Case Study in the Use of the Bible for Ethics (The Academic Dean
    Dean (education)
    In academic administration, a dean is a person with significant authority over a specific academic unit, or over a specific area of concern, or both...

     of the Associated Mennonite
    Mennonite
    The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

     Biblical Seminary
    Seminary
    A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...

    ).
  • Koch, Timothy R 2001 Cruising as methodology : homoeroticism and the scriptures, In Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible, ed. Ken Stone, Pilgrim Press. ISBN 0-8298-1447-7
  • Martin, Dale. 1996 Arsenokoites and malakos: Meanings and Consequences, pp. 117–136. In Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality. Ed Robert Brawley. Westminster Press ISBN 0-664-25638-4.
  • Marston, Paul 2003 'Christians, Gays and Gay Christians'. Free Methodists.
  • McNeill, J. J.
    John J. McNeill
    John J. McNeill was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1959 and now is a psychotherapist and an academic theologian, with a particular reputation within the field of Queer Theology.-Academic career:...

     1993 The Church and the Homosexual. Beacon Press. (4th edn.). ISBN 0-8070-7931-6
  • Nissinen, Martti. 1998 Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective. Augsburg Fortress Publishers. ISBN 0-8006-2985-X
  • Ostling, R. N. 2003 Book claims Jesus had homosexual relationship Chicago Sun-Times 29 May 2003.
  • Robinson, B. A. 1996–2005 What the Bible says about homosexuality. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
  • Satlow, Michael 1995 Tasting the Dish: Rabbinic Rhetorics of Sexuality. Scholars Press. ISBN 0-7885-0159-3
  • Townsley, Jeramy 2003 All known references to arsenokoit*
  • West, Mona 2005 The Bible and Homosexuality. Metropolitan Community Church
    Metropolitan Community Church
    The Metropolitan Community Church or The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Protestant Christian denomination...

    .
  • White, James
    James White (theologian)
    James Robert White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, an evangelical Reformed Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books and has engaged in numerous moderated debates...

     and Neill, Jeffrey 2002 The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible's Message About Homosexuality. ISBN 0-7642-2524-3
  • Williams, Rowan
    Rowan Williams
    Rowan Douglas Williams FRSL, FBA, FLSW is an Anglican bishop, poet and theologian. He is the 104th and current Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury and Primate of All England, offices he has held since early 2003.Williams was previously Bishop of Monmouth and...

    2002 ’The Body’s Grace’, in Eugene F. Rogers (ed.), Theology and Sexuality: Classic and Contemporary Readings, Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-21277-9

Texts and definitions