Gay Theology: Did God Really Say, “You must not…”
by James R. Aist
“But if I were a Christian homosexual, I think this one question would disturb me the most: am I trying to interpret scripture in the light of my proclivity, or should I interpret my proclivity in the light of scripture?” (Morris, 1978)
At the heart of the so-called “Gay Theology”, is the claim that the Bible does not condemn homosexual acts that occur within the context of loving, committed, enduring homosexual relationships. This, despite the fact that the Bible does appear to condemn all homosexual acts and that the Christian church has steadfastly held this position since Jesus Christ established His church almost 2,000 years ago. In effect, what gay theology is asking, rhetorically, is, “Did God really say that sex within the context of loving, committed, long-term homosexual relationships is wrong?” If the phrase “Did God really say…” sounds familiar to you, it is probably because that is exactly what Satan said to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he was trying to get her to commit the first sin: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). And that is exactly what is happening in the Christian church today, in the form of gay theology. Satan is using gay theology to get Christians who are homosexual to continue to practice homosexuality and feel good about it, rather than repent of it. In this article, I will present some of the most important claims of gay theology, point-by-point, and show why each claim should be summarily rejected by all Christians as false doctrine. In doing so, I will draw heavily on Dallas (1991) and Davies & Rentzel (1993).
Refutation of Gay Theology
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The claims of gay theology can be distilled down to four major points: 1) In Romans 1, Paul could not have been referring to the loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships that we hear about today, because he knew nothing of such relationships; 2) Paul, in Romans 1, was, instead, referring to temple prostitution resulting from idolatry, homosexual acts committed by a heterosexual person, and/or impersonal sex (i.e., sex without love); 3) Because Jesus did not have anything to say about homosexuality, He must have approved of homosexual acts within the context of loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships. If He did not approve of them, He would have said so; and 4) Since Jesus emphasized the “law of love”, He must have approved of homosexual acts within the context of loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships. Now let’s take a look at these four claims in the light of the biblical witness.
Claim # 1: In Romans 1, Paul could not have been referring to the loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships that we hear about today, because he knew nothing of them. Response # 1: The Apostle Paul (5-64 A.D.) was a well-educated Jew (Acts 22:3) and a citizen of the Roman Empire (Acts 22:27), traveled extensively in Greece and Italy, and would certainly have been aware of loving, lasting, committed same-sex relationships occurring both before and during his lifetime, as the following historical facts would suggest: 1) In the early Roman Imperial period, some male couples were celebrating traditional marriage rites in the presence of friends. Same-sex weddings were reported by sources that mocked them; the feelings of the participants were not recorded. Both Martial and Juvenal referred to marriage between men as something that occurred not infrequently, although they disapproved of it; 2) The Roman Emperor Nero (54 A.D.) celebrated two public weddings with men, once taking the role of the bride (with a freedman Pythagoras), and once the groom (with Sporus); there may have been a third in which he was the bride. These wedding ceremonies included traditional elements such as a dowry and the wearing of the Roman bridal veil; and 3) Same-sex unions were well known in Ancient Greece and Rome. These same-sex unions continued until Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century (Click HERE, HERE and HERE). So, despite Paul’s apparent knowledge of the existence of such homosexual relationships — loving, lasting, and committed – he did not endorse them as morally acceptable; rather, he consistently condemned all homo-sexual relations as sinful. Response # 2: For this claim to be true, the Holy Spirit would have had to be either tragically forgetful or grossly incompetent by allowing Paul to omit from his teaching on homosexuality that homosexual acts within the context of loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships are the exception and, therefore, to be allowed. Secondly, God would have had to let this oversight go uncorrected for 1,900 years, all the while leaving the loving homosexual couples to live in terror of going to hell, unnecessarily. I don’t know what god you believe in, but the God of the Bible is not incompetent, forgetful, or cruel! Response # 3: Jesus promised that, “…the Advocate,the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26). In this prophetic promise, “all things” would have included the exception that homosexual acts within the context of loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships are to be allowed, if God had meant for Jesus to sanction them. Instead, what Paul did was just the opposite: writing after Jesus had returned to the Father, he very specifically and unequivocally condemned all homosexual behavior as sin. This was in keeping with Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit “… will remind you of everything I have said to you.”, because Jesus had said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…” (Matthew 15:19-20), where the Greek word used here for “sexual immorality” (porniea) refers to all sexual sins, including homosexuality and lesbianism. Response # 4: Even if Paul himself had not known about loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships, God’s Holy Spirit knew about them all along — even to the present day – and yet He did not enlighten and inspire Paul to include an exception for them. So we see that Claim # 1 is nothing more than a fanciful assumption, and one cannot prove a point by appealing to an assumption!
Claim # 2: Paul, in Romans 1, was referring only to temple prostitution resulting from idolatry, homosexual acts committed by a naturally heterosexual person, and/or impersonal sex (i.e., sex without love). Response # 1: If we take a closer look at Paul’s condemnation of homosexual behavior, we find that the Greek word translated “homosexual offenders” (1 Corinthians 6:9) or “perverts” (1 Timothy 1:10) is “arsenokoites”. When this Greek word is broken down into its component parts, its etymology (i.e., derivation) expressed in English is “male-bed-person”, which clearly indicates that, in Paul’s writings, “arsenokoites” refers to “a man who goes to bed with another man to have sex with him”, without reference to the motive, sexual orientation or nature of their relationship. In other words, “arsenokoites” refers to all occasions of homosexual behavior, including loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships. And this has been the accepted meaning of “arsenokoites” from the time of ancient Greek literature. Furthermore, if there was any exception intended, then Paul, writing under the inspiration and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, would surely have mentioned it in these passages. But he did not. Response # 2: If we read Romans 1 carefully and critically, and without reading anything into it, we see that Paul refers to homosexual desires and behavior as “vile affections”, “against nature”, and “unseemly” in and of themselves. There is not even a hint that he might have been referring exclusively to temple prostitution, homosexual acts committed by a naturally heterosexual person, and/or impersonal sex (i.e., sex without love). To suggest otherwise is nothing more than an assumption without any scriptural basis in the context of Romans 1. Response # 3: The Apostle Paul was, himself, a highly educated, well-informed and zealous proponent of Judaism (Acts 22:3). It is a documented, historical fact that among the religious Jews there has been, and still is, an unusually low incidence of homosexual behavior, relative to other people groups (Whitehead and Whitehead, 2012). Homosexuality as a component of temple idol worship has long since disappeared from the religious landscape, and yet homosexuality among religious Jews still occurs at an unusually low rate. These facts, taken together, clearly indicate that Judaism has, from its earliest days to the present, considered homosexual behavior to be sinful in and of itself, as a natural reading of the relevant Old Testament passages indicates. And that explains why homosexual behavior was and is taboo across the Jewish culture, and not just as it was manifested in temple idol worship; Judaism has always considered homosexual behavior to be sin. So, when Paul discussed homosexual behavior in the New Testament, he was teaching from his historical, Jewish understanding of the sinful nature of homosexual acts per se, as well as from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So we see that Claim # 2 is nothing more than a fanciful assumption, and one cannot prove a point by appealing to an assumption!
Claim # 3: Because Jesus did not have anything to say about homosexuality, He must have approved of homosexual acts within the context of loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships. If He did not approve of them, He would have said so. Response #1: While the Bible does not record Jesus singling out homosexual acts per se, as sexual sins, one of His teachings, as recorded by Matthew and Mark, implies that He did consider them to be sin: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…” (Matthew 15:19-20) and “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23). The Greek word translated “sexual immorality” in both accounts is “porneia”, which, according to Strong’s Concordance, refers to all forms of illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality and incest. It would be presumptuous, at best, to conclude that, out of all the sexual sins that this Greek word refers to, Jesus meant to exclude homosexual acts. If He had meant to exclude homosexual acts from the list, He could have said something like “…sexual immorality (“porneia”), except homosexuality (“arsenokoites”),…”, but He didn’t. The implication, from the context, is that He meant to include homosexual acts among the sins to which He was referring. If this implication is not correct, then Jesus — the man who is also the Divine Son of the all-knowing God — did not say what He meant and therefore mislead His hearers! I would suggest that if you believe that about Jesus, then you may just believe in a “different Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Response # 2: Paul declared that “the wicked”, including unrepentant “homosexual offenders”, “…will not inherit the kingdom of God…” (I Corinthians 6:9-10), and went on to say that “the wicked” were all washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 6:11). So think about it: if God really made some people homosexual, approved of homosexual behavior, and wanted them to remain gay, then why did He change them in the name (“name”: literally, power and authority) of the Lord Jesus Christ? I think you and I both know why He changed them. And if Jesus approved of homosexual behavior and wanted them to remain gay, how could they have been changed by His own power and authority? Obviously, Jesus also wanted them to be changed. Why? Because the homosexual offenders were wicked (I Corinthians 6:11)! Response # 3: This claim presumes that the recorded words of Jesus are more authoritative than the words of Scripture elsewhere and that Jesus does not agree with what the other writers of the Bible have to say about homosexuality. But it is the Holy Spirit of God who inspired all of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16), including epistles like Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy, where homosexual behavior is specifically and directly addressed and condemned as sin. And, the role of the Holy Spirit in us is conviction of sin, not denial of sin. Moreover, Jesus and the Holy Spirit co-exist in the Godhead — in fact, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9 ) – and have been in perfect and eternal communion and harmony all along. Therefore, we can be confident that Jesus agrees with everything the Holy Spirit revealed in the Bible about moral issues, including homosexuality. Response # 4: The Bible does not record all that Jesus did (John 20:30) and it does not claim to have recorded all that He said. An assumption based on the lack of a specific reference to homosexual sins in particular cannot be used to prove a point. So we see that Claim # 3 is nothing more than a fanciful assumption, and one cannot prove a point by appealing to an assumption!
Claim # 4: Since Jesus emphasized the “law of love”, He must have approved of homosexual acts within the context of loving, committed and enduring homosexual relationships. This claim assumes that the presence of caring and committed love in a relationship sanctifies any and all kinds of lovemaking in that relationship. This is, in fact and unfortunately, the prevailing view in our secular culture. But is this secular view compatible with the biblical view? Response # 1: If this claim is true, then, to be consistent and fair, Jesus would also approve of such sexual sins as fornication, adultery and incest, since all of these relationships can, and often do, involve love, apart from lovemaking. But the Bible condemns all of these other sexual behaviors as sin, despite the presence of love in such relationships. There is no rational basis for claiming that homosexual relationships are the exception. Response # 2: Nowhere in the Bible is it recorded that Jesus even hinted that a motive of love can justify any kind of sinful behavior, including homosexual behavior. Rather, Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:23) and that if we do not love Him, we will not obey him (John 14:24). And since Jesus did, in fact, agree with all that the Bible says about homosexuality (see responses to Claim # 3), to obey Him includes abstention from homosexual acts and to not obey Him includes refusing to abstain from homosexual acts. Jesus did not come to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. So we see that Claim # 4 is nothing more than a fanciful assumption, and one cannot prove a point by appealing to an assumption!
Perhaps the most powerful argument against the homosexual lifestyle is theological, based on Genesis 1:27,
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Those who live homosexually blaspheme the image of God, for this is a heterosexual image. “How can male and female have anything to do with the image of God?” you may ask, since God is not a sexual being. Here’s how: God is the creator of human life; that is part of His “image” (i.e., who He is). So, in order for us to be created in that aspect of the “image of God”, He created us male and female, so that we could participate with Him in the creation of human life through heterosexual acts. Homosexual acts cannot
create human life and, therefore, blaspheme the image of God in us.
I would guess that very few Christians are aware that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin, but it does (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality will, someday, have to answer to God for it. If that’s you, then now is the time to repent!
If you are interested in exploring gay theology and its refutations in more detail, then I recommend that you check out the references and links listed at the end of this post. And, if you are a homosexual Christian who is unwilling to repent of (turn away from) your homosexual behavior, or if you are a heterosexual Christian who approves of or encourages homosexual behavior in any way, I hope that you will be willing to read, carefully and thoughtfully, the following Bible passages and re-think that:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15)
“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6)
” … find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:10-12)
” … offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
” … the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” (Psalm 1:5)
“He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the Devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the Devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:19)
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. What do different cultures tell us about homosexuality? (click HERE)
Dallas, J. 1991. Desires in Conflict. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. pp. 267-282.
Davies, B. & L. Rentzel. 1993. Coming Out of Homosexuality. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. pp. 183-189.
Morris, P.D. 1978. Shadow of Sodom. Facing the Facts of Homosexuality. Tyndall House. 164 pp.
Recommended Links for further study:
Pro-Gay Theology Overview (click HERE)
Gay Revisionist Theology: Did God Really Say…? (click HERE)