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The Bible and homosexuality

Homosexuality | A reminder of what God’s Word has to say about homosexual conduct, a teaching many believers increasingly prefer to forget

Almost all Christians, young and old, prefer peace to war. In particular, most of us don’t like fighting a culture war—but sometimes, if we are to be faithful to biblical teaching, we have no choice. We do have a choice of tactics, and at times Christians have chosen poorly, but we still should not cry “peace, peace, when there is no peace.” That’s why it’s important to have teachers who remind us of what the Bible says, even when we’d prefer to skip pages.

We occasionally plan to run articles as reminders in areas where some Christians are weakening. Below is theologian and seminary professor Wayne Grudem’s article about homosexuality from the ESV Study Bible, used by permission from Crossway. —Marvin Olasky

God’s Original Design

In God’s original design, human sexual conduct was to occur within the context of marriage between one man and one woman. The first chapter of the Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he cre­ated him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Differentiation of the human race into two complemen­tary sexes (“male and female”) is the first fact mentioned in connection with being “in the image of God.” In Genesis 2, which describes in more detail the process summarized in 1:27, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Genesis then applies the example of Adam and Eve to all marriages: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This “one flesh” sexual union was thus established as the pattern for marriage generally, and Jesus cites Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as the normative pattern that God expects all marriages to follow (see Matthew 19:4–6). Fur­thermore Paul, as a good disciple of Jesus, likewise strongly echoes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in his two primary texts on homosexual practice, Romans 1:23–27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Jesus and Paul both assume the logic of sexual inter­course implied in Genesis: a sexual bond between a man and a woman requires two (and only two) different sexual halves (“a man” and “his wife”) being brought together into a sexual whole (“one flesh”).

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This is further emphasized in the story of the creation of Eve from Adam’s side:

“And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ There­fore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:22–24).

The word “therefore” connects the making of Eve from a part of Adam’s body with the “one flesh” sexual union between a man and a woman in marriage: it is the reunion of the two constituent parts of a sexual whole. It is not another man who is the missing part or sexual comple­ment of a man, but rather a woman. (Jesus emphasizes this connection between the two different sexes, “male and female,” in Matthew 19:4–6 and Mark 10:6–8.)

Prohibited Sexual Relations

Consistent with the pattern in Genesis 1–2, sexual intercourse outside of the marriage relationship between one man and one woman is prohibited. For example, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:18; cf. Romans 13:9; James 2:11). In addi­tion, other specific kinds of sexual intercourse outside of marriage are also prohibited, such as prostitution (1 Corinthians 6:15–18), incest (Leviticus 20:11–21; 1 Corinthians 5:1–2), and bestiality (Leviticus 18:23; 20:15–16).

Homosexual conduct is also viewed as a sin (something contrary to God’s will) in several passages of the Bible. Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination [Hebrew to‘ebah, actions that are extremely displeasing to God].” Similarly, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have commit­ted an abomination” (Leviticus 20:13; cf. Genesis 19; also Jude 7). These absolute Levitical prohibitions are grouped with other relevant sex proscriptions (incest, adultery, bestial­ity) and are considered first-tier sexual offenses that are grouped together in Leviticus 20:10–16.

In the New Testament, Paul speaks of homosexual conduct:

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural rela­tions for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26–27).

Taken from the ESV® Study Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright ©2008 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publish­ers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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