Homosexuals & the Bible - Pt. 1 Intro, Romans 1
Thinking With Clarity
“Is homosexuality a sin? Doesn’t the Bible say so?”
There is more and more discussion about Disney which wants to have many more LGBTQ+ storylines and among many online Christian authors and speakers with the message that homosexuality is a plague and against the Word of God. This is a common understanding. But so was flat earth and blood-letting to relieve fevers.
Are you certain that you know what the Bible says or are you repeating what you have heard from others?
In my first article about homosexuality and the Bible: Ovaries? Requires a Dress, I discussed the current wrong meaning of the word Gender being used for Sex. Today, I want to begin investigating what the Bible means, beyond just what the words say in one of the most difficult of the only six Bible passages, or “hammer texts” as some people call them, that directly address the topic of same-sex.
Years ago, I wrote my “Coming Out” letter to my complete family including my minister-Grandfather. What I got back from my Grandfather was pages of Bible texts proving that I was going down a sinful path. The church didn’t want me any longer, and my family was so sad for me. My life took a drastic change, but that’s another post altogether.
In those Bible texts from my Grandfather, probably the most difficult passage for me to understand was Romans 1:18-27. It is a simple sentence on the topic, and yet one of the most challenging verses of scripture to understand. How could God condemn me to a loveless life because I was gay? But there it was in plain English. But is that really was Paul meant?
So You Ask Again…
Is homosexuality a sin?
Well, God made Eve for Adam, so sex between a man and a woman we can agree is OK.
But what if your spouse doesn’t enjoy sex for any number of reasons, and you have an affair on the side. Is that a sin? What about having a three-way? What about picking up a prostitute, or finding a hook-up on a website? Is that sin? What about going to a strip club? Is that sin? I think you would agree that all of these would be sinful. So let’s turn the question around:
Is heterosexuality a sin?
You can see that the answer is not so Black and White. In some situations heterosexuality is wrong. So, is homosexuality wrong? I think we will see that there are situations where it is absolutely wrong and sinful.
I ask you to temporarily suspend judgment and lay aside previous prejudices, and consider another honest approach by traveling with me through time to study the scriptures in the time when they were written.
This Will Take Some Explaining
As I have become older, I have taken to riding my bike a lot. Recently I had a flat tire so I started walking. After a little walking, my right hip started to annoy me, then it was discomforting enough that if I didn’t have to finish my errand, I would rather just go back and sit down. That not being an option, I kept walking. Eventually, it stopped hurting. This repeated several days in a row and before I knew it, I could walk about 5 miles and not have an ache at all.
I want you to know that as we dive into this scripture, some of the ideas may be new, like walking vs. riding the bike was to me. But sticking to it will prove successful.
I first submit that you cannot just read a verse of scripture and then link that with another verse of scripture and say, “the Bible says so”, without understanding and using several theological principles of exegesis, or critical interpretation.
Without solid knowledge and understanding, knowing how to associate text with text, you could easily take the scripture in Matthew 27:5, which says:
“And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself”,
with Luke 10:37, which says:
“Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise”,
a totally incorrect message from the Bible!
Three Principles To Understanding
I was talking to a friend recently about the inspiration of the Bible. He told me that the Bible was “The Inspired Word of God. Word for word, directly from God, through the hands of the prophets. That’s why I only use the King James Bible”. If it were only that easy! But we do need to have some measured way to understand scripture. And understand that the King James Bible was written over 400 years ago.
In my theology classes, we learned that there are three critical factors or principles to consider to come to a correct translation and understanding of the Word of God.
Understand who was doing the writing.
Understand who the receiving audience was.
Understand the situational context around the passage.
It takes determination and effort to go through the three steps above. It often takes a lot of explaining in contrast to the easy act of pulling a short verse from the Bible, and believe you are sharing a clear understanding of what the Bible says.
So to answer the question, “Don't you know that homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so”, we must lay a foundation of what the Bible actually means beyond the words we read to give an accurate answer.
The Cost of Anti-homosexual beliefs?
You don’t have to look far to find the effects of the homophobia which ultimately can be directly traced back to society’s overall misunderstanding of scripture.
Opinions voiced in churches are generally the same:
Homosexual conduct can result in significant damage to those involved who engage in such conduct.
All sexual acts between persons of the same gender are intrinsically evil and always objective mortal sins,” the Catholic Church teaches, and “[t]he promotion and spread of homosexuality is offensive to God and is gravely harmful to families, the Church, and society in general.
If you ultimately promote same-sex marriage and everyone started to go towards same-sex marriage, what would happen to society and the family?
A recent study of youth questioning their sexuality who said that religion was important to them, were nearly three times as likely to have attempted suicide recently, compared to questioning youth who reported religion was less important. (emphasis supplied)2
So the greater the influence of religion, the greater the likelihood of a suicide attempt by questioning youth. Do you wonder why that would be?
There can be no doubt that the LGBTQ community has made immense progress in being “OUT” and about. It wasn’t that long ago that eggs were thrown at people walking on the street between clubs. Abuse, being ostracized and ridiculed prompts many with the idea that suicide would be better than living.
Consider the following:
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people in the age group of 10 to 24.3
LGBTQ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.4
LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.5
Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average
Only recently have LGBTQ individuals been successful in finding some welcoming churches, but when you listen to the Radio or TV, there’s little wonder why they are pushed towards the exit door of the Church. And many churches teach that this LGBTQ message is of the devil and thereby, churches that welcome homosexuals and the like, are not following the principles of the scriptures.
Individuals supposedly representing the “Church” are always seen at public “Gay Events” passing on the message of God… they think.
So if you are still following along with me, let’s look at one of the only six passages in scripture that some people call the “Hammer Texts”, which carries along with it the implication that we’re going to hit these people really good with the Truth!
I want to restate the principles that must be applied to be able to understand the meaning of the words in the Bible:
Understand who was writing.
Understand who reading.
Understand the sociological context.
Why is this necessary? Why can’t we just believe what is written? The reason is very simple; a person, in this case, a Bible writer, only understands, when he can relate new information to something that he already knows and understands.
Consider these well-known pictures:
Do you see a young woman or an old woman?
People can often see what they want to see if their minds are so conditioned to accept things on a superficial level.
So let’s begin and cover Principle 1.
PRINCIPLE 1 - Who was writing?
We’re going to go back to see where Paul, the writer of Romans, was converted. Saul, as he was first known, was an intelligent, learned Jewish, Roman Soldier who was a fierce persecutor of the “Jesus followers”. He would roust them from their homes, killing some who would not recant. He would go from city to city forcing Jews to recant or he’d take them back to Jerusalem for a mock trial. He was at the stoning of Stephen.
But Saul, later known as Paul, was challenged by a rather miraculous event of a voice talking to him from a bright light shining down on him while walking on a desert road to Damascus. Very few of us have had such a memorable event happen to us as did Saul.6 On his way to Damascus, out of nowhere, came this bright light and a voice that said in Acts 9:4 “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
He responded, 5 “Who are you, Lord?”, recognizing that this was something way out of the ordinary.
And the response was, “ I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
That is taken from an expression of the day with the idea that animals that refuse to do what they should, or who kick or work against the goading or pricks, end up hurting themselves even more.
The Lord uses this phrase to infer that Saul should not continue persecuting Him or His people. To work against His Gospel, ignoring the overwhelming evidence of it as shown in the people, in the scriptures, and especially in the light of miracles, was irrational and would never succeed.
The Bible says, 6 “Trembling and astonished he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And the Lord said unto him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
The men traveling with Saul were dumbfounded by hearing a voice but seeing no one. Saul was struck blind by the light and he was led to the city where he remained blind and didn’t eat for three days.
Another disciple of Jesus, Ananias, had a vision and was told to go to the very street where Saul was staying. He was concerned because he had heard about Saul’s authority and reputation for persecuting the Christians in Jerusalem.
But the Lord told him in his vision, 15 “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.”
This is the first time that direction is given to take the message of the Gospel to people other than the Jews. Luke finishes relating this story in Acts 9:17-20:
17 “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
19 “And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
20 “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
Saul Became Paul
This was the amazing conversion from a fierce and mighty Jewish, Roman Soldier and persecutor of Christians to one of the most well-known messengers of Christ and inspired writer of many New Testament books.
The next post in this series about what the Bible really teaches about LGBTQ issues will discuss who the people were ro whom he was writing and the culture and surrounding society and practices of the Christian Jews.
I leave this song, really a prayer for the Holy Spirit to come to you and comfort you in whatever situation you may be in. Know that the Holy Spirit is here with you right now.
Heritage Singers / "Holy Spirit Rain Down" (Live from Prague)
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