Annual Subscription Single Issues. Man soliciting boy for sex in exchange for a purse, tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, 5th century BCE, Metropolitan Museum.
William O Walker Jr. Mainline Christian denominations in this country are bitterly divided over the question of homosexuality. For this reason it is important to ask what light, if any, the New Testament sheds on this controversial issue.
Most people apparently assume that the New Testament expresses strong opposition to homosexuality, but this simply is not the case. The six propositions that follow, considered cumulatively, lead to the conclusion that the New Testament does not provide any direct guidance for understanding and making judgments about homosexuality in the modern world. None of the four gospels mentions the subject.
This means that, so far as we know, Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and we simply have no way of determining what his attitude toward it might have been. Moreover, there is nothing about homosexuality in the Book of Acts, in Hebrews, in Revelation, or in the Biblical references homosexuality new testament attributed to James, Biblical references homosexuality new testament, John, and Jude.
Further, homosexuality is not mentioned in ten of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul. It is only in Romans 1: Similarly, 1 Timothy 1: There was mother rapers.
In somewhat similar fashion, the catalogues in 1 Corinthians 6: It should also be noted that different catalogues tend to be remarkably similar in content. This means that the New Testament writers may not actually have composed the lists in 1 Corinthians 6: These may simply be conventional lists, taken and adapted from earlier documents and used here for rhetorical purposes.
In any case, neither of the catalogues—1 Corinthians 6: They just list, in miscellaneous fashion, various types of behaviors that are regarded as unacceptable. Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit
Biblical references homosexuality new testament kingdom of God. Sometimes it did, but certainly not always.
But we cannot be at all certain that malakoi refers to homosexuality in First Corinthians 6: People have assumed that malakoi does refer to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians primarily because the next term in the list is arsenokoitai defined below —the assumption being, of course, that the two words are somehow linked in meaning because they appear side by side in the list.
Biblical references homosexuality new testament
This, however, is by no means necessarily the case. But even if malakoi and arsenokoitai are somehow linked in meaning, it is not at all clear just how arsenokoitai should be translated. It comes from two Greek words: Martin has pointed out that the meaning of a compound word cannot necessarily be determined by breaking it apart, looking at the meaning of each of its parts, and then simply combining these meanings to determine the meaning of the compound word.
Numerous other examples could be cited, but I want to mention one that is closer to the topic under consideration. In fact, the word normally does not refer to sexual activity at all. Though generally viewed as highly pejorative, it is sometimes used in a more-or-less neutral sense or even, in some circles, as a term of admiration or perhaps affection.
The point is, however, that its original sexual meaning is often not apparent in its actual usage. And the same thing may very well be true of the Greek word arsenokoitai.
Martin has made a study of how the word is actually used in ancient Greek Biblical references homosexuality new testament. It is a rare word. According to Martin, though, when the word does appear independently, it typically found in conjunction not with sins of sexual immorality but rather with sins related to economic injustice or exploitation.
We often use sexual language to talk about things that have nothing to do with sex. The bottom line is that we simply do not know what the word meant or how it was used in the first century. And arsenokoitai might or might not refer explicitly to homosexuality. Therefore, we cannot be certain that First Corinthians 6: The same is true of First Timothy Biblical references homosexuality new testament It might not refer to homosexuality either.
Furthermore, if this is the case, then we simply have no way of knowing what the New Testament writers might have said about a non-exploitive, non-coercive, loving, committed, monogamous homosexual relationship.
We cannot know because New
Biblical references homosexuality new testament writers are not talking about that kind of homosexual relationship.
In the final analysis, we cannot be certain that these passages refer to homosexuality at all. And if they do, they do so only in passing in more-or-less miscellaneous catalogues of various types of behaviors that are regarded as unacceptable. The passage in question is Romans 1: Earlier in this chapter, the author is talking about idolatry, the worship of false gods. Then, beginning in verse 24, he talks about the results of idolatry.
Then, verses 26 and 27 spell out in more detail the nature of this lust, impurity, and bodily degradation as follows New Revised Standard Version:. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another.
Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. Following verses 26 and 27, the remainder of the chapter lists some of the other results of idolatry, and the list is rather similar to the catalogues in 1 Corinthians 6: In other words, homosexuality is but one among other types of unacceptable behaviors. What must be emphasized, then, is that the passage, taken as a whole, is not about homosexuality.
It is about idolatry. The only reason Biblical references homosexuality new testament mentions homosexuality at all is because the author assumes that it is a result of willful idolatry. Knowing full well that there is one true God, people nevertheless freely choose to worship false gods. Thus, in a sense, homosexuality is not so much a sin as it is a punishment for sin.
This should mean, however, that no monotheist would ever take part in homosexual activity—no practicing Jew or Christian or Muslim. Only worshippers of false gods would engage in such activity. This was a fairly assumption within first-century Judaism, and it is one of the dubious presuppositions that underlie Romans 1: Clearly, however, it is not consistent with what we can observe in the world around us.
The passage also makes at least two other assumptions that point to its essential irrelevance so far as modern discussions of homosexuality are concerned. Second, the passage assumes that homosexuality is an expression of insatiable lust. People turn to homosexual activity because heterosexual activity simply fails to satisfy them. Martin points out, it is somewhat like gluttony: Homo sexuality is essentially excessive sexuality. If such is the case, then the passage would appear to have little relevance for people whose sole orientation is homosexual.
In light of the assumptions that underlie Romans 1: And a second question is this: What would the author of Romans 1: I think the answer has to be that we simply do not know, because, once again, the author is talking about something quite different.
To the extent that it does talk about homosexuality, the New Testament appears to be talking about only certain types of homosexuality, and it speaks Biblical references homosexuality new testament the basis of assumptions about homosexuality that are now regarded as highly dubious.
Perhaps, then, we could paraphrase what the New Testament says about homosexuality as follows: If homosexuality is not necessarily any of these things, however, then it would appear that the New Testament has nothing to say about it in any direct sense. Speaking specifically of the Pauline letters but in words that are applicable to the New Testament as a whole, the Pauline scholar Victor Paul Furnish puts it as follows:.
Shall practicing homosexuals be admitted to church membership? Shall they be accorded responsibilities within a congregation? The Apostle never asks or answers these questions. On these points there are no proof texts available one way or the other. In short, there is nothing in the New Testament that tells us directly whether homosexuality per se is a good thing or a bad thing or simply a fact of life.
To "Biblical references homosexuality new testament" sure, when we consider its overall message, the New Testament may provide some indirect guidance regarding homosexuality.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, there is neither homosexual nor heterosexual; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I learned in Bible School that the toughest, cleverest, most illustrious warrior of the Bible was David. People today widely believe that the Bible condemns being gay.
They get this idea from, well, reading the Bible. The American Psychological Association, The Moral Teaching of Paul: Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation. Westminster John Knox Press, Westar Institute fosters collaborative, cumulative research in religious studies and communicates the results of the scholarship to a broad, non-specialist public.
Strictly speaking, the New Testament says nothing at all about homosexuality. At most, there are only three passages in the entire New Testament that refer to what we today would call homosexual activity. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Some people say, “You Christians pick and choose which verses of the Bible you
Biblical references homosexuality new testament to obey. The New Testament says nothing about dietary restrictions or animal.