homosexuality and the bible

Among the most frequent questions we receive from people who have just discovered the open and affirming Metropolitan Community Churches are ones that concern dealing with what the Bible says--and doesn't say--about homosexuality. Let's explore what they should have taught you in Sunday school...

Picking and choosing (and misinterpretting)

Does it sometimes seem as if Christians tend to choose passages from scripture to support a certain political or theological position? It's common to find Christian leaders who make claims about what the Bible says about homosexuality by pointing to the same six Bible verses--none of which describe loving, consensual relationships between same-sex partners. Many Biblical scholars are now arguing that these passages are often misinterpreted and used to push anti-LGBTQ agendas. They urge us to think about the Bible in its original social and historical context.

Insights from scholars

"The homosexuality the New Testament opposes is the pederasty of the Greco-Roman culture; 

the attitudes toward pederasty and, in part, the language used to oppose it are

informed by the Jewish background."

Robin Scroggs, Professor of Biblical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York City.

"One cannot be absolutely certain that the two key words in I Corinthians 6:9 are meant as references to

male homosexual behavior."

Victor Paul Furnish, Professor of New Testament, Perkins School of Theology, Dallas.

"The strongest New Testament argument against homosexual activity is intrinsically immoral has been derived traditionally from Romans 1:26, where this activity is indicated as para physin. The normal English translation for this has been 'against nature.' Two interpretations can be justified concerning what Paul meant by the phrase. It could refer to the individual pagan, who goes beyond his own sexual appetites in order to indulge in new sexual pleasure. The second possibility is that physis refers to the 'nature' of the chosen people who were forbidden by Levitical law to have homosexual relations."

John J. McNeill, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Union Theological Seminary, New York City.

"A close reading of Paul's discussion of homosexual acts in Romans 1 does not support the common modern interpretation of the passage. Paul did not deny the existence of a distinction between clean and unclean and even assumed that Jewish Christians would continue to observe the purity code. He refrained. However, from identifying physical impurity with sin or demanding that Gentiles adhere to that code."

William Countryman, Professor of New Testament, Church Divinity School of Pacific, Berkeley.

"The word ‘homosexuality’ is a modern term and did not exist during biblical times. Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today."

Rev. Dr. Mona West, The Bible and Homosexuality The Bible and Homosexuality

Click here to read more about homosexuality and the Bible in an article

from the Human Rights Campaign.