The Bible and Homosexuality
by Curt Wildy
Return to Part One
In order to understand God’s view of homosexuality as declared in the Bible, one must understand God’s view of sexual misconduct in general. You will find that when discussing homosexuality, God often addresses other sexual sins in the same breath. We see this in Leviticus chapter 18; the overall thrust of this chapter is obedience towards God and the sanctity of the family (protecting it from sexual sin). We find staunch prohibitions against sexual activity that 1) causes psychological, emotional, and spiritual turmoil within the family (and thus within the tribe and society at large); 2) breaks the trust that should be inherent in all familial relationships; and (3) heightens the risk of diseases and biological disorders within the family. In this chapter, God starts off with one of the most hideous of sexual sins…
The first grouping of prohibited sexual acts has to do with incestuous relationships; both Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 detail the prohibitions. In these passages we see that God prohibits multiple forms of incest. He also prohibits certain forms of non-incestuous sex involving the taking of sexual partners that are near-kin to current or former sexual partners. The prohibitions cover incest between:
|§ Mother and Son
§ Step-mother and Step-son
§ Aunts & Nephews by blood
§ Aunts & Nephews by marriage
§ Mother-in-law and Son-in-law
|§ Father and Daughter
§ Step-father and Step-daughter
§ Grandparents and Grandchildren
§ Uncles & Nieces by blood
§ Uncles & Nieces by marriage
§ Father-in-law and Daughter-in-law
|Also, a man is prohibited from sleeping with:§ Any woman and her daughter/grand-daughter;
§ Any woman and her sister
We read in Leviticus 18:6-18:
6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. 7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. 9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. 10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. 11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman. 13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman. 14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. 15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness. 17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. 18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.
11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. 12 And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them…14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you…17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity….19 And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity. 20 And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21 And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.
God considered such activity to be heinous; the vile nature of it is clearly shown in God’s view of Canaan. He deemed that land to be defiled due to, amongst other things, incest and other sexual perversions committed by the original inhabitants. As a result, God drove them out, giving the land to the Israelites. Many speculate, and it may just be speculation, that one of the reasons why the original inhabitants were deemed to be defiled was due to the sexually transmitted diseases and genetic disorders that would have been likely in environments wherein such lewd and debaucherous activity ran rampant. In light of our modern-day problems, if you were to imagine the effects of incest, homosexual intercourse, adultery and bestiality on an ancient society that did not have access to modern medicine or prophylactics, one could surely appreciate the possibility of such a view of defilement. Many in the ‘gay’ community do not like to see homosexuality linked with these other forms of sexual activity, but we shall see that God Himself links them. He links them because of the common thread between them and the common ill-effects of them.
Concerning incest, some may argue that before the Mosaic law was handed down, some of these prohibitions did not exist (e.g., Abram married his half-sister Sarai). They then infer that there is nothing to indicate that these laws still apply in the post-Mosaic era. Some also point to Deuteronomy 25:5 to show that these rules were not always firm. We read:
Deuteronomy 25:5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
God’s word is clear; he tells us precisely what he expects from us in accordance with His law. Wherever there are “exceptions to the rules,” the Spirit of God clearly documents them in Scripture (as with the passage above). We also see that absent a clear biblical exception or repudiation, mankind continues to be held accountable for these moral laws. In fact, we read in
1st Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
Clearly this New Testament passage reinforces the seventh and eight verses of Leviticus 18. Clearly if these verses are upheld, the related verses should likewise be deemed upheld given the absence of anything to the contrary.
Some may wonder why Abram was able to marry Sarai in pre-Mosaic days; why did God change His laws? As mankind degenerated genetically from their Golden Age in Eden, prohibitions against incest became necessary to prevent the various disorders associated with inbreeding. Also, given the exceeding importance of the family, laws were needed to prevent the sort of sexual relations that would inherently create friction and distrust within it. Remember, Israel was a Kingdom, but it was also a family. All of (national) Israel were the sons and daughters of Israel (Jacob), the son of Abraham, the son of Shem, the Son of Noah, the son of Enoch, the son of Seth, the son of Adam (by son I do not mean immediate parent/child relationships, but rather the prominent amongst the ‘royal’ family lineage). Clearly such sexual relationships as those listed above would create ill-will, jealously, feelings of betrayal, and other emotions that would lead to all manner of societal ills. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Jerry Springer or any related low-grade talk show would be hard-pressed to argue against the reality of such effects.
Sexual Intercourse During Menstruation
One may wonder how sex during the menstrual cycle ties-in with homosexuality; the simplest answer is uncleanness. God yokes the two, along with other forms of sexual misconduct, to create a greater picture for us. Regarding menstruation, consider the following verses:
Leviticus 18:19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
Leviticus 20:18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
To reiterate the point, when God spoke of the wickedness of Israel and how far they transgressed against him, He stated in Ezekiel 22:9 “In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. 10 In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. 11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.”
When God states ” in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution,” He is reiterating the precept that man should not lie with a woman during her menstrual period. Besides the inherently gross nature of such action, the risk of spreading disease is greatly multiplied by the blood flow. Anyone who is familiar with the hazards of sexually transmitted diseases knows that blood exposure during the sex act greatly increases the risk of transmission. As with intercourse during the womanly cycle, certain forms of homosexual activity likewise increases the exposure to blood. The risk of disease, especially in those days before modern prophylactics, was enormous; it is no wonder that both acts would be deemed filthy and unclean. It is because of such sexual immorality, in addition to other grievous sins, that God states in the same chapter: “14 Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it. 15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.” We should have the same thoughts of revolt concerning adultery and homosexuality, as we do towards menstrual sex and bestiality.
Adultery, particularly sleeping with another man’s wife, is deemed a most egregious act in the Bible. We read:
Leviticus 18:20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.
Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Deuteronomy 5:18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
Deuteronomy 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
God states that a man should not commit adultery with his neighbors wife. By neighbor, God does not mean just the man next door, He means anyone in the society. Strong’s dictionary defines rea, the word translated as neighbor (see Strong’s #07453) as neighbour 102 times, friend 42 times, another 23 times, fellow 10 times, companion 5 times, other 2 times , and brother, husband, lovers, each one time. So we see that to sleep with any living man’s wife is seen as an abomination before the LORD.
In fact, adultery was deemed to be such an abomination in the eyes of men, that Abraham and Isaac thought it more likely that even a king would commit murder to obtain their wives than to simply take them in an adulterous relationship. Moreover, we see the strength in which God was willing to punish adulterous activity. Consider the following passages:
Genesis 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine [was] grievous in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou [art] a fair woman to look upon: 12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This [is] his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13 Say, I pray thee, thou [art] my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. 14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she [was] very fair. 15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What [is] this [that] thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she [was] thy wife? 19 Why saidst thou, She [is] my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take [her], and go thy way. 20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Genesis 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She [is] my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou [art but] a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she [is] a man’s wife. 4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5 Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. 6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. 7 Now therefore restore the man [his] wife; for he [is] a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore [her] not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that [are] thine. 8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. 10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? 11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God [is] not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. 12 And yet indeed [she is] my sister; she [is] the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This [is] thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He [is] my brother. 14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave [them] unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.
Genesis 26:6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7 And the men of the place asked [him] of his wife; and he said, She [is] my sister: for he feared to say, [She is] my wife; lest, [said he], the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she [was] fair to look upon. 8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac [was] sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she [is] thy wife: and how saidst thou, She [is] my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10 And Abimelech said, What [is] this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11 And Abimelech charged all [his] people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
As with the above prohibitions against sexual misconduct, we can see clear societal benefits to such a law against adultery. Sleeping with another man’s wife causes emotional, familial, tribal, and societal turmoil (not to mention the wrath of man and the wrath of God). It can lead to disease infecting the innocent party (i.e., the spouse). It can lead to unwanted pregnancy, confused pregnancy (there were no DNA paternity tests back then), and a whole host of other issues that can breakup households, spawn criminal activity, etc. Homosexuality has like consequences; it can bring about shame on the families, break the trust of husband and wife (if the husband is engaged in such wickedness on the “down low” or “sly”), bring disease upon the innocent party, lead to criminal activity by those who oppose such folly, etc.
I find it very interesting that in the midst of discussing sexual misconduct, God refers to child-sacrifice in the same passage. We read in:
Leviticus 18:21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
In that day, the hellish practice of burning children alive as a sacrifice to false gods was not uncommon. Needless to say, such activity has a tremendously adverse impact on the psyche of individuals, families, and societies as a whole; it is one of the most abhorrent atrocities that can be perpetrated by one soul against another. Although most people in our day would wince, even cringe, at the thought of comparing adultery, intercourse during menstruation, or homosexuality, with burning children alive — in God’s eyes, all are sin, all are abomination. I will not pretend to know how much more grievous one sin is over another in the sight of God, but I do know that God does all things for a reason; there is a reason why He put this seemingly unrelated verse in the midst of the others. As I stated before, I believe it is there to reiterate just how important the family is to Him and just how abominable these other acts are to Him. We can cringe at human sacrifice, especially when children are involved. However, most in our day and age do not cringe at adultery, homosexuality, and the like nearly to the same degree. By including these sins in the same passage, it serves to give us a better view of how God sees things. Remember James 2:10 wherein we read “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” Child-sacrifice is a grievous manifestation of idolatry; self-love; hatred toward God; the breaking of the familial trust (could the sacrificial child trust their parents for safety and comfort?); and of the total breakdown of the morals and ethics of the society — but so are each of the other transgressions listed.
Most homosexuals despise the comparison between homosexuality and incest, but how much more do they hate the comparison between same-sex intercourse and bestiality. Yet both are strange flesh; it is God who brings the subject up in the same passage; both are unclean, detrimental to society, and abominable in His eyes. Please consider the following
Leviticus 18:23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
Leviticus 20:15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast. 16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Bestiality, whether it be a man with an animal or a woman with an animal, is clearly forbidden. Given the inherently demeaning and filthy nature of this act, coupled with the risk of spreading diseases from ‘species to species,’ it is clear why God would prohibit such behaviour. Again, one can argue how unrelated bestiality may be from adultery, homosexuality, or ‘sexual intercourse during menstruation’ according to human eyes; however, they are all lumped together as sexual abomination by God. They all represent confusion (perversion); God says that the doers of such activity are worthy of destruction (being cut-off from God and His people). Tebel, the word translated confusion, means both “a violation of nature or divine order” and “perversion, as in sexual sin” (see Strong #08397). These acts are all against nature and against the original design of God; hear His warning against them:
Leviticus 18:24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit [any] of these abominations; [neither] any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: 27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which [were] before you, and the land is defiled;) 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that [were] before you. 29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit [them] shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that [ye] commit not [any one] of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I [am] the LORD your God.
Lord willing, in Part Three we will consider the matter of homosexuality itself, as discussed in Leviticus 18 and 20.
Continue to Part Three