Homosexuality


For many years, the issue of homosexuality and LGBT+ has been considered a closed issue. But now there are contentions, thoughts, and questions raised about this topic. Some say the Bible explicitly condemns it without question while others say the Bible nowhere condemns it and such ideas are humanist insertions as a result of long rooted bias. Some people think with their feelings or emotions which often flow subjectively while others think with their intellect, noting some discrepancies among certain words in translations. Nevertheless, before any harsh words are thrown around, let us consider Pro. 15:28:

“The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”

Let love also be considered. Agapaō (G25) or agapē (G26) is the “love” often seen demonstrated by God and Jesus in Mat. 22:36-40, John 3:16, Romans 13:8-10, 1 Cor. 13, and elsewhere throughout Scripture. This is the spiritual and moral love that is greatly needed. Christ still had agapē toward those whom he drove out of the temple (Mat. 21:12-17, John 2:13-22), those whom He repeatedly called hypocrites in public (Mat. 23, Luke 11:37ff), and to Peter whom He rebuked for rebuking Him, thinking that He need not be killed (Mat. 16:21-23, Mark 8:31-33). So while He did not always have phileō (G5368) toward them with fondness or affection, (cf. Pro. 27:6). As 1 John 3:18 says,

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

Loving in word or tongue is good, but let us do so in deed also! If Christians are to be a people of the faith that comes by hearing, and that by the word of God, (Rom. 10:17), we must acknowledge the Bible as our ultimate source of authority given by inspiration, or “divinely breathed” (G2315), by God, (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It is far from a “dead letter” given how much power God ascribed to it in Heb. 4:12. Otherwise, what could we know about God, marriage, worship, morality, etc. outside of it? If Jesus can rely on the tense of a verb, (Mat. 22:29-33), and Paul can cite the plurality of a noun, (Gal. 3:16), we would do well to study, (2 Tim. 2:15), and consider this issue carefully as the Bereans considered the issues of their day, (Acts 17:10-11).

Is the word homosexuality actually mentioned in the Bible?

The word “homosexual” is a modern compound word meaning “the same” from the Greek prefix “homo-” and “sex” from the Latin “sexualis.” There is technically therefore no Biblical Greek or Hebrew equivalent. Why? For one, a modern word can’t be used in a writing that predates it. Second, speaking literally, it could be said that, “a father and son are homo-sexualis,” which could be the same as saying, “a father and son are the same sex,” understood simply that they poses the same gender. However, the word “sex” in an individual context often carries with it more than just the idea of gender definition. This is why we define the modern word “homosexual” to mean a sexual preference or orientation for another of the same sex. Thus in Old and New Testament times, different words would have to be used to refer to those with a sexual desire toward those of the same sex. Likewise, equivalent modern day words such as “homosexual” would need to be used to properly convey this meaning when translated. However, there are some discrepancies over translations that make use of this modern word when translating words like “arsenokoitēs” (Strong’s # G733) in 1 Tim. 1:8-11 and 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

Here are the verses from the New King James Version:
1 Cor. 6:9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,”
1 Tim. 1:10, “for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,”

What does arsenokoitē mean?

1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 this word is often translated as “abusers of themselves with mankind,” (KJV), “sodomites,” or “homosexuals.” Like “homosexual,” “arsenokoitē” is also a compound word using “arsēn” (G730), and “koitē” (G2845). According to Greek lexicons:

arsenokoitē (G733)
Strong’s: From G730 and G2845; a sodomite: - abuser of (that defile) self with mankind. Thayer: one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual

One contention made here is that when the word “arsenokoitē” first appeared, it was never fully defined or understood. Thus to gain a better understanding, let’s consider the words defined separately.

arsēn (G730)
Strong’s: Probably from G142; male (as stronger for lifting): - male, man.
Thayer: a male

koitē (G2845)
Strong’s: From G2749; a couch; by extension cohabitation; by implication the male sperm: - bed, chambering, X conceive.
Thayer:
1) a place for laying down, resting, sleeping in
  a) a bed, couch
2) the marriage bed
  a) of adultery
3) cohabitation, whether lawful or unlawful
  a) sexual intercourse

Thus we have “male beds,” with the idea of sexual activity or cohabitation. Without the idea of sexual activity or cohabitation, we’re left with the condemnation of a physical object belonging to a male, which is of course nonsensical. But before we move on to immediate textual and historical context, let’s take a further look at how these words are used separately in the New Testament.

Independent Context and Usage of Arsēn and Koitē

“Arsēn” is used 9 times in the New Testament and translated “men” or “male” in Mat. 19:4, Mark 10:6, Luke 2:23, Rom. 1:27 (3 times), Gal. 3:28, Rev. 12:5, and v.13. Given these contexts, there is no practical debate that arsēn means a male with explicit distinction from a female. However, “koitē” is used 4 times in the New Testament and translated thus:
Luke 11:7 “bed” (N/KJV)
Rom. 9:10 “conceived”(N/KJV)
Rom. 13:13 “lewdness”(NKJV) “chambering” (KJV)
Heb. 13:4 “bed” (N/KJV)

In Luke 11:7, the idea of a physical bed seems most applicable since it would be quite accusatory and unfounded to suggest the idea of sexual activity between the man and his children, whether male or female. However, with respect to the other contexts, the idea of a certain closeness and cohabitation could also be considered. The possible and likely presence of the man’s wife could be considered, but this isn’t directly supported by the text and thus speculation. But should this man have at least one son, the idea of him being a condemned arsenokoitē likewise doesn’t seem very reasonable compared the word referring to a physical bed.

Rom. 9:10 makes a clear reference to sexual intercourse.

In Rom. 13:13, we see a negative reference made in association with lust or wantonness, thus sexual association rather than a physical object.

Considering Heb. 13:4, we see a unique usage referring to the marriage bed, or the associated special, intimate, and sexually exclusive relationship under the marriage covenant in contrast to fornicators and adulterers. To suggest the meaning refers to a physical bed, one must then be conscientious of the physical. But the verse particularly specifies, “the bed,” in harmony with it’s association to the marriage covenant and the context of the verse as a whole.

With respect to how the words “arsēn” and “koitē” are used individually, we can better understand their usage as part of the compound word “arsenokoitē.” Just as the word “sex” in “homosexual” typically carries with it more than just the idea of gender definition, so “koitē” often carries with it more than just the idea of a physical bed. But also like “homosexual,” “arsenokoitē” could likewise benefit from some historical context.

Historical and Immediate Textual Usage of Arsenokoitē

First let us note that historically, human nature itself generally hasn’t changed. Sexual desires outside of what God purposes have likely existed nearly as long as any other sin. But what were the prevailing trends of the day? The context of the verses of 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 themselves give some insight with the words “effeminate/homosexuals” and “whoremongers/fornicators,” or “malakos” (G3120) and “pornos” (G4205) respectively. According to Greek lexicons:

malakos (G3120)
Strong’s: Of uncertain affinity; soft, that is, fine (clothing); figuratively a catamite: - effeminate, soft.
Thayer:
1) soft, soft to the touch
2) metaphorically in a bad sense
  a) effeminate
    i) of a catamite
    ii) of a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man
    iii) of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness
    iv) of a male prostitute

pornos (G4205)
Strong’s: From περνημι pernēmi (to sell; akin to the base of G4097); a (male) prostitute (as venal), that is, (by analogy) a debauchee (libertine): - fornicator, whoremonger.
Thayer:
1) a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire
2) a male prostitute
3) a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator

With the word “menstealers/kidnappers” or “andrapodistēs” (G405) from 1 Tim. 1:10, we can get an idea that, at least as much as today, there was also sex trafficking of underage children. But these definitions are not exclusively confined to underage children. Thus to suggest that malakos condemned in 1 Cor. 6:9 were all prepubescent, (before puberty), despite being known for their sexual deviancy, isn’t logically founded. While it’s understandable given such circumstances that these things have been done to those held against their will regardless of age, this ignores those who do it willingly. Given 1 Cor. 6:11, “And such were some of you. ...” we can understand a choice was made.

Furthermore consider that these lists of sins are not only condemned when collectively present, but also individually. In the same manner, pornos, (prostitutes, fornicators), are not sinful only under the condition of prepubescence, involuntary slavery, exchange of money, and/or idolatry. That andrapodistēs, (kidnappers/menstealers), are sinful only if enslavement is involved would also be unfounded. Likewise, it is unreasonable to conclude that all these combined conditions, characteristics, and associations must be met for arsenokoitēs to be sinful.

In Rom 16:19 Paul wrote, “For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” The word for “simple” is “akeraios” (G185) which means “unmixed.” This matches our understanding that any sin in of itself is sinful without certain conditions or the presence of other associated sins.

Thus considering the textual and historical contexts of the surrounding words and their usage, “homosexual” seems to be the most applicable and appropriate translation of “arsenokoitē.” However, this does not consider the marriage relationship between two people, but those outside the covenant of marriage. As we have already referenced, Heb 13:4 says, “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled;...” So what about marriage between two people of the same sex?

Does Mark 10:1-12 and Mat. 19:3-9 address marriage or divorce?

People often cite Mark 10:1-12 and Mat. 19:3-9 as defining marriage in it’s entirety while others say the only issue being addressed is divorce. (I encourage a read of these passages before continuing.) While it is true that divorce is the immediate issue under consideration, this is not exclusive, otherwise Mark 10:6-8 and Mat. 19:4-6a would refer explicitly to divorce, which is of course nonsensical. Mark 10:2-5, 9, 11-12, and Mat. 19:6b-9 do deal directly with divorce. Therefore it can be understood that the institution of marriage is referenced here with respect to the relevant topic of divorce.

Of course these passages or the Genesis creation account that Jesus references do not define or establish all the various types of relationships that exist. Some note that Jesus himself left His father and mother but remained single. While this is true, it doesn’t correlate to these verses because it ignores the second conjunction “and” used in Mark 10:7 and Mat. 19:5, “a man shall leave ... and be joined to his wife.” These passages, (Mark 10:6-8 and Mat. 19:4-6a in particular), don’t address every type of relationship because the only particular relationship under consideration is that of marriage, (with respect to the topic of divorce).

If marriage, the only relationship understood to be sexually exclusive, is not defined here, then where else in the Bible is this relationship defined or established? Since Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate,” we can know what two people God will join together in this covenant. Jesus makes a clear, consistent, and explicit distinction between male and female, (even in Mark 10:11-12), when referring to this covenant relationship. Why?

To suggest the Pharisees were only asking about divorce with respect to heterosexual marriage, (a man and his wife in Mark 10:2 and Mat. 19:3), rather than divorce in general, would imply a qualifying distinction between divorce standards for heterosexual and homosexual marriages. This would mean double standards since no standard has been define for homosexual marriage. But if this is not the case, and Jesus is speaking on divorce with respect to marriage in general, why would Jesus make such a distinction in the sexes when speaking with respect to marriage?

Thus neutralizing or neutering His response to permit inclusion of homosexual marriage not only goes far beyond what is written but also carries with it damaging implications for double standards. These two passages, Gen. 2:23-24, and semi-figuratively in Eph. 5:22-33, (see v. 31), are the only passages in which sexual union, two becoming one flesh, something that God joins together, is lawfully permitted. An unlawful example is found in 1 Cor. 6:15-20 after 1 Cor. 6:9-11, a passage which we have already examined. Considering Col. 3:17,

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

... and God’s involvement in the marriage covenant, what authority do we have to go beyond one man and one woman for this special union and covenant of marriage?

Does Rom. 1:24-27 really condemn homosexuality or unnatural vile passions?

Rom. 1:24-27 (from NKJV):

“24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

There are a number of sinful things we can see in this passage. In v. 24 we see lust, v. 25 demonstrates a lie being purported and a form of idolatry, and v. 26 shows unnatural vile passions. We’ve already seen Rom 16:19 tells us to be “simple” or unmixed concerning evil, so we know that these sins would be condemned altogether whether collectively present or not. But a relation between these sins are evident. Because one has a lust or longing for something forbidden, they choose to replace the truth of God’s word for a lie, thus serving themselves as an idol so they can engage in their vile passions without regard for God’s standard.

Some have suggested that this passage refers to the sexual desire a heterosexual would have toward one of the same sex, thus making it explicitly unnatural for them. With this premise, it wold follow that a homosexual’s desire for one of the opposite sex would equally be unnatural. However, the idea of homosexuality or homosexual attraction being innately natural at all remains unsubstantiated before such far-reaching implications could be derived. Though studies have been done in an attempt to scientifically prove homosexuality to be natural, such studies have been questionable at best and intentionally misleading at worst.

But if such a thing were indeed natural and even motivated by love, respect, and compassion, one is left to ask what defines what is actually unnatural? Where would this leave those who describe themselves as transsexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc. and what would be unnatural and shameful for them? How would it be discredited that they were made that way, (or perhaps made wrong in the case of a transsexual), any differently than homosexuals? Thus if such sexual inclinations and orientations cannot be defined as natural compared to that which is Biblically understood as natural, it logically follows that homosexuality is the very thing which is considered unnatural in this passage.

Is Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 applicable today?

While the law of God given by Moses was nailed to the cross, as Paul wrote to the Christians in Colosse in Col. 2:11-14 and to Christian Israelites in Rom. 7:1-7, Paul also acknowledges it was written for our learning in Rom. 15:4ff. There were many laws and ordinances the Jews observed while under the Old Testament. Some were to set them apart form the nations around them, many were ceremonial, and some concerned basic fundamental morality that are repeated in the New Testament. Thus it is understandable why one would ask how something labeled an abomination could suddenly not be an abomination.

Some say there is some ambiguity of the Hebrew wording of the verb “shâkab” (H7901) followed by the noun “mishkâb” (H4904) which is derived from “shâkab.” So let’s take a look at some Hebrew lexicons:

shâkab (H7901)
Strong’s: A primitive root; to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose): -    X at all, cast down, ([over-]) lay (self) (down), (make to) lie (down, down to sleep, still, with), lodge, ravish, take rest, sleep, stay.
Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius’:
1) to lie down
  a) (Qal)
    i) to lie, lie down, lie on
    ii) to lodge
    iii) to lie (of sexual relations)
    iv) to lie down (in death)
    v) to rest, relax (fig)
  b) (Niphal) to be lain with (sexually)
  c) (Pual) to be lain with (sexually)
  d) (Hiphil) to make to lie down
  e) (Hophal) to be laid

[Note: Qal, Niphal, Pual, Hiphil, and Hophal represent the Hebrew verb tenses.]

mishkâb (H4904)
Strong’s: From H7901; a bed (figuratively a bier); abstractly sleep; by euphemism carnal intercourse: - bed ([-chamber]), couch, lieth (lying) with.
Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius’:
1) a lying down, couch, bier, act of lying
  a) couch, bed
  b) act of lying, lying down or sleeping room, bedroom
  c) lying down (for sexual contact)

We can see that each definition can carry with it sexual connotations. By merely considering the presence of the other two nouns “man” and “woman” with the resulting noun being “abomination,” we can deduce exactly what is already written in our English translations. To otherwise deduce that it would be abominable for a man to lay sexually with a woman would be nonsensical. But what about the historical context?

It can be cited that women of that age had a much lower social status than that of men and were often considered property. Sexually speaking, the norm expected a dominate male and subordinate female. Therefore it is argued that it was only wrong for a man to lay sexually with another man if either was treated as a woman in taking on a lower status and subordinate role, in effect defiling God’s image in which man is made.

However, this argument is not supported by the text which says “woman,” not “subordinate.” Likewise to make this historical context a key qualifier brings disconcerting implications in the following verses Leviticus 18:23 and 20:15-16. It is acknowledged that animals were more literally treated as property/currency and even subordinate with respect to women, but today enjoy a significantly higher social status, often considered as part of one’s family. But even in ages past, this could be the case as seen in 2 Sam. 12:1-3. While a slightly different and sexually explicit word is used in Leviticus 18:23 and 20:15-16, shekôbeth (H7903), (another noun derived from the verb shâkab (H7901)), this would be a textual consideration. To hinge the weight of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 on historical context is to ignore the text itself.

Therefore the text does not conflict or differ with what God has revealed in the New Testament concerning the special sexual union shared between a man and a woman, each having mutual authority over their bodies as seen in 1 Cor. 7:2-4. So a woman is not a subordinate, but the different roles God has given to men and women as seen in 1 Cor. 11:8-12, 14:34-35, Eph. 5:22-33, and 1 Tim. 2:8-15 must also be acknowledged and not ignored.

What about a faithful, committed, same sex marriage relationship between two males or two females of equal status?

Many people claim that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their homosexual practices, but is this true? The account of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction begins at Gen. 18:16 and ends at Gen. 19:29. Before the close of chapter 18, we see Abraham interceding for Sodom, that the city be spared for the sake of 10 righteous people, but the next chapter reveals less than 10 righteous could be found. 2 Pet. 2:6-8 tells us Lot “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.” Sin and lawless deeds have practically always been mankind’s biggest problem, but what made Sodom and Gomorrah’s sins unique?

As God declares His judgments against Jerusalem, Eze. 16:49-50 personifies the city of Sodom, saying,

“49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”

Jude 1:5-7 tells us that “...Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” In the account itself we can see violence and the desire for rape likely in the form of an orgy. While Lot sought to protect the two angels under his roof, (this being the reason he brought them inside and hospitality itself being held in high regard), the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were insistent on carnally or sexually knowing the men who were with Lot. But this of course was not the sole reason the cities were destroyed.

According to Ezekiel, pride and idleness plagued Sodom. As seen in Jude, sexual immorality and going after after strange flesh were also among the chief sins of these cities. They were completely content with theirselves to the disregard of others and had no desire for sexual restraint of any kind even to the degree of “strange flesh,” likely zoophilia. Given what God has revealed about marriage, the only covenant permitting a lawful sexual relationship between only two people of the opposite sex as already seen in the whole of Mark 10:1-12 and Mat. 19:3-9, this immorality would include every sexual relationship outside of that covenant.

But all the ideas considered thus far do not seem to be making reference to what would be considered a “faithful, committed, same sex relationship between males or females of equal status.” Can such a relationship be had? Yes! But without the idea of sexual activity, this could be seen as a deep, platonic friendship between those of the same gender. An example of this can be seen with Jonathan and David in the context of 1 Sam. 18:1-3 and 20:16-17. So, can such a relationship also be had with the occurrence of sexual activity between one to the other? Considering the only divine example given of what God will join together in holy matrimony, concluding that God would join together two or more people of the same sex under marriage is unfounded. So while it may be possible, it would not be approved of God by any means.

For this reason arsenokoitēs are condemned altogether without regard to marital status because no such relationship has been authorized under the marriage covenant God has indeed defined. Thus with the certain condemnation of homosexuality, understood to exist only outside the marriage covenant and being against nature, such a relationship would unequivocally be sinful and thus subject to eternal punishment.

Conclusion

To systematically trim down the meaning of “arsenokoitē” to the exclusion of homosexuality and neutering marriage as defined by the Bible to the inclusion of homosexuality opens a clear door for much more sexual deviancy than just homosexuality. If sins are only condemned when joined with the practice of other sins such as murder, idolatry, or rape and marriage is for all, what is really restrained? Such reasoning is perhaps how cities such as Sodom, Gomorrah, or even Pompeii came to be known for their wanton sexual activities.

After having closely examined the Scriptures with the accompaniment of logic and reasoning, we thus conclude what has already been clearly written for us, that homosexuality is indeed an abomination and among many other sins that will be condemned with eternal punishment. Thus be watchful for those who make the commandments of God of no effect as those in Mat. 15:4-9. Lastly, beware of those trying to make the words male and female ambiguous. For the purposes of this article, a male is defined as one who possesses at least one Y sex chromosome and a female is defined as one who possesses no Y sex chromosomes.
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