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What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?

What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?


  1. The Bible explicitly labels homosexuality as sinful, primarily in Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27.
  2. Counterarguments suggesting cultural context or mistranslations are often refuted by traditional biblical hermeneutics.
  3. Historical and theological consistency in Christianity upholds the view of homosexuality as sinful.
  4. New Testament teachings, especially by Apostle Paul, reinforce the Old Testament stance against homosexuality.


In the ongoing debate about homosexuality and its place in society, the Bible’s stance has been a cornerstone for many. This article delves into what the Bible says about homosexuality, particularly examining the passages often cited as condemning it and exploring the traditional Christian interpretation of these texts. While acknowledging the perspectives that challenge this interpretation, the article aims to explain why these arguments are often seen as inconsistent with the broader biblical narrative and historical Christian theology. Understanding the biblical viewpoint on homosexuality is crucial for a comprehensive grasp of its role in Christian doctrine and ethics.


Biblical Passages Explicitly Labeling Homosexuality as Sinful

The Bible contains specific references that are commonly interpreted as condemning homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22, within the Old Testament, is one of the most explicit, stating, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” This passage is part of the Holiness Code, which outlines moral and ritual conduct for Israelites, emphasizing the distinctiveness of their relationship with God. Critics often argue that Leviticus’s rules are culturally bound and not applicable today. However, traditional Christian theology posits that the moral laws in Leviticus, as opposed to ceremonial laws, retain their relevance as they reflect God’s unchanging moral nature.

In the New Testament, Romans 1:26-27 is another critical passage. Apostle Paul describes homosexual behavior as “shameful lusts” and “unnatural relations,” often interpreted as a clear denunciation of both male and female homosexual acts. Some argue that Paul’s condemnation targets only exploitative or idolatrous homosexual acts, not loving, consensual relationships. However, traditional exegesis holds that Paul’s language is comprehensive, addressing the acts themselves rather than the context or nature of the relationships.

Historical and Theological Consistency in Christian Teaching

The historical stance of Christianity on homosexuality offers a strong backing for the interpretation of these passages as denouncing homosexual acts. Throughout history, major Christian denominations and prominent theologians have consistently interpreted the Bible as condemning homosexuality. This consistency is not just a product of cultural biases but is rooted in a theological understanding of human sexuality as designed by God for specific purposes, including procreation and the unique complementarity between men and women.

The counterargument that the Bible’s references to homosexuality are a reflection of ancient cultural biases rather than divine command overlooks the broader theological narrative of the Bible. Christian theology asserts that the Bible transcends its cultural and historical context, providing timeless moral guidance. While cultural contexts do play a role in interpreting certain biblical texts, the consistent and repeated denunciation of homosexual acts across both Testaments suggests a more universal moral principle rather than a contextually bound rule.

Rebuttal of Arguments Based on Cultural Context and Mistranslations

A common argument against the traditional interpretation of biblical texts on homosexuality is that they are misunderstood, mistranslated, or misrepresented. For instance, some suggest that the biblical passages traditionally interpreted as condemning homosexuality actually address issues like sexual abuse, idolatry, or specific pagan practices, not consensual homosexual relationships. However, this view is often challenged by scholars who argue that the original Hebrew and Greek texts are clear in their condemnation of homosexual acts, regardless of context or intent.

Moreover, the argument of cultural context—that biblical condemnations of homosexuality were specific to the cultural and historical setting of the time—does not align with the understanding of Scripture as conveying timeless truths. The Bible is seen by many believers as a document that transcends its cultural milieu, providing moral directives applicable across all ages. The moral teachings in the Bible, particularly those reiterated in both Old and New Testaments, are considered universally binding, not confined to the specific circumstances of ancient societies.

The Significance of New Testament Reinforcement

The New Testament plays a crucial role in reaffirming the Old Testament’s teachings on homosexuality. Beyond Romans 1:26-27, other passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 are often cited, where homosexual behavior is listed among other sins that are inconsistent with Christian living. This reinforcement in the New Testament is significant because it suggests that the teachings are not merely Old Testament legalism but are integral to the Christian ethical framework.

Critics who argue that Jesus Christ never explicitly mentioned homosexuality overlook the broader context of His teachings and the New Testament. Jesus affirmed the moral law of the Old Testament and focused on the spirit behind the law, emphasizing love, purity, and holiness. His lack of specific mention does not imply endorsement but rather an affirmation of the existing moral framework, later explicitly articulated by His apostles, particularly Paul, in their epistles. This continuity underscores the integral place of the traditional interpretation of these texts in Christian moral teaching.


In conclusion, the traditional interpretation of the Bible as viewing homosexuality as sinful is deeply rooted in both the specific texts of Scripture and the broader Christian theological framework. While alternative interpretations exist, they often struggle to reconcile with the historical consistency and textual clarity found in traditional exegesis. Understanding the Bible’s stance on homosexuality requires acknowledging its comprehensive narrative and moral teachings, which have guided Christian ethics for centuries. This exploration underscores the importance of engaging with these texts within their historical, cultural, and theological context to grasp their enduring significance in Christian doctrine.

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