Understanding the Bible and Homosexuality

By Tom Thorpe
Understanding the Bible and Homosexuality

Jesus never made any pronouncements about homosexuality. Or, if he did, those comments were never written in any of the Gospels. There are statements about homosexual acts in the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly known as the Old Testament) and in several of the letters of the Christian Scriptures (commonly known as the New Testament) that condemn homosexual acts. None of those passages refers to a mature, committed love relationship between people of the same gender. 

When you read the passages carefully, I hope you'll notice that either they are much more about violence and the exploitation of one person by another than they are about sex, and/or that they include homosexual acts along with a long list of so-called sins, some of them activities that no one would call sinful today. Those lists don't make any differentiation among the sins they condemn.

Centuries ago, I've been told, left-handedness was condemned by the church, to the extent that left-handed people could not be ordained. (The Latin term for "left" is "sinister.") When I was a child, 60 years ago, my left-handedness was considered unfortunate, and efforts were made to "heal" it by well-intentioned family members. 

We need to understand the Biblical attitude toward homosexuality in the context of the time in which the Bible was being written. It was not written with any awareness of the society of the 21st century and does not really speak to our time in terms of dictating behavior. The writers of the Bible knew nothing of mature love relationships between members of the same sex.  Even heterosexual marriage in Biblical times was not considered in the same way as it is now. Women, for example, were very definitely subordinate to their husbands.

Within my lifetime, it was illegal in a number of states for two people of different races to marry.  I suspect that the present societal aversion to mature, committed same sex relationships will one day appear as strange as condemnation of left-handed people and interracial marriage.

Rev. Tom Thorpe is a Unity minister.