Are the Bible Teachings Right or Wrong About Gays?
The first order of business here is to clarify exactly what the teachings of the Bible are about gays. A lot of people including some gays I have encountered actually think the Bible doesn’t actually condemn homosexual relationships, that such things are just a dogmatic misinterpretation.
Actually, there is not much to interpret here for the Bible makes itself pretty clear.
Here was the law spelled out in the Old Testament:
“If a man lies with a male as he lies 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 NKJ
That is pretty clear. Not only was homosexuality against the law, but it was seen to be deserving of the most extreme of punishments – death.
How about the New Testament written after the time of Jesus? Is it equally harsh?
It doesn’t recommend the death penalty but still condemns the act.
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Cor 6:9-11 NLT
Obviously Paul did not support the death penalty here for he said of his followers that, “Some of you were once like that.” In other words, some of his fellow Christians were converted homosexuals and were now accepted as long as they lived up to expectations.
Apparently, there was a softening in the view toward homosexuals. It was still harsh by today’s standards but lenient by Old Testament commands.
Why the change?
Many explanations have been given but the basic one is that Christ brought a new focus on the spirit of the law rather than the letter. The author of Hebrews gives an interesting take:
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Heb 7:11-12
So, according to this the coming of Christ brought a new priesthood that changed the old black and white laws of Moses. An upgrade in the law seems to have taken away with the death penalty for many minor infractions in the Law of Moses, but the New Testament writers still condemn homosexuality.
All this brings about several items of thought. Let us first consider the Draconian approach of the Old Testament. What is the explanation for them? Here are several popular ones.
(1) God hates the sin of homosexuality and wants them put to death so they will not contaminate the people.
(2) God loves all people, including homosexuals, but because Israel worshipped the golden calf when Moses was on Mount Sinai, God dealt with them harshly to teach them a lesson of strict obedience. This included drastic measures that do not apply to us today. This is kind of like a parent disciplining his kid for disobedience telling him that he cannot play on his computer, but in normal times playing on the computer is fine.
(3) Even though the Bible was inspired parts like this just came from the minds of men to deal with the attitudes of the time.
(4) The whole Bible was conjured up by the minds of men and this proves it.
Now how about the New Testament? Even though it is not so harsh, it still condemns homosexuality with a firmness with which many disagree. What is the explanation? Here are some opinions.
(1) God condemned homosexuality in the Old Testament as well as the New and is still against it today and always will be. It is a sin, plain and simple.
(2) Just as punishments on it softened after Jesus, even so today we are justified in taking a new look at how to treat gays.
(3) Both the Old and New Testament teachings on the subject are outrageous and out of date and need to be ignored.
That said, the question now is what is the real truth of the matter here?
Since we have concluded that sin is really error we must ask where the error is in homosexuality if we are to call it a sin?
First, is it a sin to be born with homosexual tendencies?
Some see this in itself as a sin but all of us have natural tastes and tendencies toward all kinds of things good and bad as we go through life. It is not our natural desires that corrupt us but the misuse of them. All of us like food but too much of it can lead to an early grave.
So, are sexual relations between homosexuals an error then?
Since society reasons that there are a number of sexual practices that are wrong for heterosexuals then obviously homosexuals can also misuse their sexual energies.
Instead of decreeing what is right or wrong with various sexual behaviors, I’ll just give several guidelines so the reader can judge for himself.
Guideline one: Does my behavior create harm, or cause myself or others injury or hurt?
For example, we can all agree that adultery causes a lot of hurt to the spouse, kids and maybe others.
Guideline two: Do my actions disturb my inner sense of peace?
Deep within the core of our being is a sense of whether or not our actions are taking us the right direction. We sometimes cover them up because of our own corrupt desires. For instance, the drug addict ceases to reflect on his inner self and just thinks of what he wants at the moment.
Reflecting on that deep part of yourself that has a connection with God will always lead the seeker correctly.
“But,” says one, “All you have to do is read the Bible and do what it says.”
Answer: The Bible is good to use for inspiration, but the seeker gets into trouble if he attempts to follow it too literally without balancing it off with inner guidance and good judgment. It certainly doesn’t feel right to the spirit within most of us that we should follow the Bible literally and put gays to death or even point them out and scorn them as sinners.
If there is a choice between inclusion of our brothers and sisters, or exclusion, it is best to error on the side of inclusion.
Copyright by J J Dewey 2014
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