The Old and New Testaments in the Bible condemn homosexual behavior, but God offers forgiveness to those who repent of gay sexual relationships.

On January 1, 2017, Gallup reported that 4.1% of all Americans identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). That number continues to rise in our post-Christian culture and there’s no sign of the trend reversing. In addition to the growing number people identifying as homosexual, public opinion has shifted in favor of homosexuality in recent decades. Though homosexual activists view these as positive trends, the Bible has a different take.

In this post, I aim to review the Bible’s unanimous condemnation of homosexual behavior in the Old and New Testaments and show how God offers forgiveness to those who repent of homosexual behavior and put their faith in Christ.

Note: Though homosexual behavior is often connected with “being gay”, the Bible does not conflate identity with behavior. ‘Gayness’ is a modern construct. I am not aiming to dismantle gay identity, but to present the biblical case for why homosexual activity is a sin. Gay identity and the Bible is a separate issue deserving it’s own post.

The Old Testament Condemns Homosexual Behavior

Merriam-Webster defines homosexual as “of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between persons of the same sex.”

Whenever the Bible mentions homosexual behavior, Scripture condemns it without exception. There are 6 passages that cover homosexual behavior directly: Genesis 19:4-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:24-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:8-10. In each passage God is clear: he identifies homosexual practices as sin or with severe censure.

The Old Testament is unanimous in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. All three passages addressing homosexual behavior is found in the Pentateuch, or the first five books of Bible – aka The Mosaic Law. (Genesis 19:4-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13)

So-called “Gay Christian” apologists excuse the Mosaic Law passages condemning homosexual behavior suggesting they are not applicable today. Theologians differ on the exact application of Old Testament verses today, but most theologians throughout church history have taught sexual morals flow through both the Old and New Testaments. In other words, when the Law condemns beastiality (Exodus 22:19), adultery (Deuteronomy 5:18), or homosexual sex (Leviticus 20:13) those commandments continue in the New Covenant and, by implication, today.

Jonathan McLatchie in addresses the objection that the Mosaic moral code in Leviticus 18 was not applicable today when he wrote…

“It is thus abundantly clear from the context that the chapter is describing universal moral prohibitions. Indeed, it is violation of those prohibitions that has led God to punish and drive out the nations before Israel. God gives Israel a warning about what will happen to her if she falls into the practices of the nations before her.”

McLatchie refers to the continuation of the moral aspects of the Mosaic Law, something that most Christian theologians concur. When God addresses moral behavior in the Pentateuch, that opinion does not change in the New Testament or beyond. Homosexual behavior was condemned then and it is prohibited now.

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

The New Testament Condemns Homosexual Behavior

Homosexual activity wasn’t just prohibited in the Old Testament, it’s also denounced in the New Testament.

In three separate passages, the Apostle Paul condemns homosexual behavior in no uncertain terms. In 1 Corinthians 6, he puts those who practice homosexuality in the camp of the the unsaved. In 1 Timothy, he itemized homosexual behavior with another list of sins. And in Romans 1, Paul further expounds upon homosexual activity as being a sign of judgment. Where it is mentioned in the New Testament, homosexual behavior is emphatically condemned alongside other forms of sexual immorality.

Sam Allberry is a British pastor who admits to struggling with homosexual temptation  He has studied both Old and New Testament passages regarding homosexual conduct and Allberry has concluded

“Attempts to read these texts as anything other than prohibitions of homosexual behaviour do not ultimately work. The plain reading of each passage is the right one. It is homosexual practice in general, rather than only certain expressions of it, which are forbidden in Scripture. To attempt to demonstrate otherwise is to violate the passages themselves.”

Though Allberry has fought against same-sex attraction, he cannot deny the clarity of the Bible in this area. The passages that address homosexual behavior unanimously treat it as wrong.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral…nor men who practice homosexuality…will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Eternal Hope For Those Guilty of Homosexual Sin

Thankfully, homosexual sex is not an unforgivable sin. Christ offers total forgiveness to anyone who comes to him, confessing sin, and turning away from it (1 John 1:9). God removes the sins of every repentant person as far as the east is from west – including homosexual sin (Psalm 103:12). In the Bible, homosexual sin is one of several sexual sins, all of which are able to be forgiven.

This Scripture is still true today: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus died and was resurrected for adulterers, fornicators, liars, thieves, idolaters, and even practicing homosexuals. Regardless of your sin background, everyone who calls out to the Lord can be saved (Romans 10:13).

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

But like every sexually immoral person, if someone continues in their homosexual sin God will judge that person (Hebrews 13:4). Turning to the Lord necessarily means turning away from sin. You don’t have to be perfectly “straight” to turn to Christ. But you must know what you’re doing is wrong and seek God’s forgiveness while turning away from your sin. The same is true for those struggling with homosexual lust as well as heterosexual lust – every sinner, including me, needs to repent of sin in order to truly turn to Jesus.

If you are struggling with same-sex attraction, you are no different anyone else who is tempted in this area or other areas. Your temptation is not unique (1 Corinthians 10:13). The same prescription applies to you as to everyone else in sin:

Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. (Mark 1:15).


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