Is homosexuality really sin?

There is great debate in our culture and in our churches right now over whether homosexuality is really sin. Many in our culture insist that it is a state of being, that they are “born that way,” and many in our churches are choosing to believe and accept that as truth.

However, we have only one source of absolute truth: the Scriptures. It is here, and only here, that we must search to discover what God has said, and once we discover that, we must accept that as God’s final word.

So, “what does Scripture say?”

First, we should note that the Scriptures always speak of homosexuality as an action, not a state of being. The Scriptures do not see “gay” as a valid state of being, only male and female (biologically) and unregenerate, carnal, and spiritual (spiritually). “Gay” is just a deceptive feeling perpetrated by a depraved mind. The only thing inherent about “being gay” is being a sinner by nature, and that is true of every human.

Following is a brief summary of five key passages in this discussion. I may break them out further at a later time, but this summary will do for now. Please use the comments section for questions, discussion, and (civil) debate.

Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 – Interestingly, this is the only sin in all of Leviticus that God called an abomination (other things are called that elsewhere in the Old Testament). The fact that we are not under the Mosaic Law does not change God’s view of this sin. Those who say that we must now accept homosexuality because we eat bacon are grossly mishandling the text and do not understand Bible interpretation (which is a different post).

Now, to be sure, if this were the only place it was mentioned, we would seriously have to take pause, but it’s repeated in the New Testament, which solidifies it for all time. Frankly, I rarely go here first because people misuse it, but I’m taking these passages in order.

Romans 1:24-32 – In the first four verses (24-27) homosexual activity is called impurity, a dishonor to our bodies, a lie, false worship, dishonorable passions, unnatural, shameless acts, and error. I can’t think of another action that is so soundly repudiated this way anywhere else in Scripture. Interestingly, homosexuality seems to be linked to idolatry here as well, which makes sense, because it’s essentially self-worship.

In verse 28, Paul continued saying that “they did not see fit to acknowledge God,” that they had “a depraved mind,” and that they “do what should not be done.” At some point their rejection of God ultimate leads to God fulfilling their desire to be completely free to wallow in their depravity.

Finally, in verse 32 Paul referred to those who know God’s truth yet “approve of those who practice” these sins. Since the whole context is actually talking about unbelievers (starting in verse 18), how much more should believers not participate in or celebrate and approve of these sins?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Although recently there has been a push to reinterpret Paul’s last two words in verse 9 to mean something else, the ancient people knew what these words meant and used them the way the NET translates them: “passive homosexual partners” and “practicing homosexuals.”

The first word with no context can simply mean “soft.” In general reference to a man it means “effeminate” (the KJV and NASB translations). But used in conjunction with the next word it means the submissive male partner. In fact, it was used in ancient times as a crass insult, much like “fag” (please pardon the use).

The second word literally means “to bed a male” or “in bed with a male” and can refer to homosexuality in general or, when referring to them individually like in this case, to the dominant male partner.

The great news is that Paul said this was activity that some of the Corinthians had participated in during their pre-Christ lives, but in salvation they were “washed…sanctified…justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This again speaks to the fact that it’s an action, not a state of being, and certainly not something that cannot be changed by God’s power.

1 Timothy 1:8-10 – The second word from above is used here in verse 10. The NET translates it again as “practicing homosexuals” and can refer to both partners, since the passage doesn’t refer to them separately. In this case the people who commit these sins are classified generally with “lawless and rebellious people, the ungodly and sinners, the unholy and profane…any who live contrary to sound teaching.”

In addition to these specific passages, “sexual immorality” (which covers all sexual sin) is mentioned frequently throughout the New Testament. Galatians 5:19 lists sexual immorality first in its “works of the flesh,” noting that these are always against the Holy Spirit and that those who live according to the Spirit will not be able to do these works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26).

Conclusion

To say that the Bible doesn’t speak to homosexuality at all or that it doesn’t really condemn it if it’s between two loving people misses the point, at best, and completely rejects it, at worse.

Unless a person comes to the Scriptures with his mind already embracing homosexuality, it is impossible to read these passages and not see homosexuality as a sin against God.

May our churches and those who claim to know Jesus embrace the Scriptures and stand firm in this culture, always pointing people back to Jesus.

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