A Theological Defense of Homosexuality

A Theological Defense of Homosexuality

As someone who likes to keep his finger on the Christian pulse, I often browse Christian forums, and browse through Christian questions on Quora, Reddit and other major social media websites.

Too often, I see the same post. Someone is homosexual, Christian, and the conflict they think exists between the two is having a horrible effect on their lives. Most posts show really raw desperation, and are clearly made by someone at their wits end – about half of these posts mention suicide or suicidal thoughts – which is heartbreaking. Yet this text is not borne out of a sympathy-driven desire to carve out some exception, rather this text is to provide what I feel to be the most obvious interpretation of the New Testament. There simply is little to no support for homosexuality being a mortal sin, and a vast body of evidence that Christ would have no problem with a homosexual Christian. 

I will address every New Testament verse listed in the Wikipedia page of anti-gay Bible verses, and clarify the Christian relationship to Old Testament law. I will address every major argument made by Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin, then I will show my reasoning for why I think it’s demonstrably not a sin. If you think I have not addressed any argument, leave a comment below and I will address yours too.

To begin with, I think if you have not read the Bible you should first read this text, to understand that Christ fulfilled the Old Law, that is to say the laws of the Old Testament, Torah being the Hebrew word for Law, and superseded it with his Word. If you already agree that Christians are not bound by Old Testament law, then read on.

Old Testament law being superseded, we do not need to worry about whether or not the Old Testament banned homosexuality, the same law that was used to justify the murder of Jesus Christ is not still law to Christians, as every major denomination agrees, the Catholic, Orthodox and most Protestant churches are in agreement here that we do not follow Old Testament law.

I do not believe every opinion given in the New Testament is part of the new law, as the apostles and early Church leaders quoted in the scriptures often disagree with each other in the New Testament. If the apostles disagree with one another, how can a modern Christian take every opinion, even contradictory ones, as law? It would require the impossible. Rather, I take every word of Jesus Christ as immaculate law, with the words of the Apostles held in extremely high regard in interpreting Christ’s law. A good analogy to me is that Christ’s words are law, and the Apostles acted as a supreme court, as those most acquainted with the law, who’s words can change the interpretation of the law but not change the law itself. As an example of the kind of disagreements the apostles had, since I just mentioned the above fulfillment of the law, there is the famous disagreement between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2 regarding that fulfillment. For those who have not read the New Testament in full yet, Cephas is Peter. Peter in Koine Greek means rock, and Cephas is rock in Aramaic, the language of Christ. Paul is writing this:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong. Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision.And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Peter eventually sided with Paul. You can see what I mean to demonstrate here, not that they were not working in unison, they were focused and all acting on the same team for Christ, but they had disagreements. Since the apostles had disagreements on interpretation, we cannot take all of their opinions as law without believing two contradictory ideas. That is not to say you can ignore any word from the Apostles, every word they spoke was codified into the New Testament for a reason without exception, yet conflicting rulings need to be weighed and considered in the light of the new law. The historical context needs to be weighed as well, to avoid religion’s most common mistake, worshipping a time period rather than the teachings of a religion.

We cannot make the same mistake of ignoring our religions teachings in favor of worshiping our religions time period.

As proof of concept, because it is easier to identify flaws in the logic of someone else than in yourself, take some of the trends in Islam. Muslims believe that Mohammad is the perfect man, and so they emulate him every way they can. That is how Islam was explained to me by a Muslim. Since Mohammad grew a beard, they also let their beards grow in emulation of him. Yet of course, what Mohammad really did was adopt the facial hair standards of his time, differentiating himself by actions and not appearances. Therefore, Muslims who grow their beard out are worshipping Mohammad’s time period, rather than Mohammad. If they were emulating him, they would do what he did and adopt their facial hair to the culture they are living in, distinguishing themselves not by their physical appearance but by whatever ideal actions they aspire too. It’s easy to see this almost obvious flaw in others, what’s hard is to see somewhat similar logical flaws in ourselves. 

In the time of Christ, who never mentioned homosexuality at all, and the apostles, who made only passing mentions of homosexuality, homosexuality was a rather different activity in pragmatic terms. In a time where there is no knowledge of blood borne illness, where hygiene nearly did not exist, where there was no contraception effective against STDs and where every sexual encounter carried a risk that was not understood nor able to be mitigated against, homosexual sex used to be an objectively bad decision. It’s not a surprise at all that most of the early Church leaders were against homosexuality, since they also preached celibacy from straight sex, and indeed some only reluctantly accepted that sex within marriage was OK, let alone recreational straight sex.

As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9:

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

As you can see, Paul was not exactly enthusiastic about straight sex either, advising those not already married to never marry and never have sex, only reluctantly allowing that they might get married, lest they burn by committing adultery. 

How many anti-Gay Christians do you know that engage in sex outside of marriage, which has just as strong and much more numerous condemnations in the New Testament? I can only speak to my own interactions, but every anti-Gay Christian I know has no problem with straight sex outside of marriage. 

Let’s go over the New Testament sections where homosexuality is condemned. I will address every one in the Wikipedia list without exception, which to my knowledge is a full list.

ROMANS 1

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

This text by Paul in which homosexuality is regarded as a sin, starts off with him saying “God gave them over to shameful lusts.” Paul then says that men and women have abandoned what he considers ‘natural’ relations, in exchange for unnatural relations. While it’s clear Paul considered this shameful and unnatural, we need to understand what Paul means when he says shameful and unnatural based on the other times he used these words. He uses both words in a similar manner in 1 Corinthians 11:14, KJV:

 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

So we have Paul saying that a man with long hair is against nature, and is a shame unto him. Remember that next time a Christian shames you for having what Paul considers shameful and unnatural relations, that Paul also considered long hair shameful and unnatural, and most Churches have Jesus on the cross looking like a California surfer, hair all the way down his waist. They have no problem at all saying that now, in these times, long hair is not a shame, therefore they are not sinning by portraying Christ in a way Paul says is wrong. They understand that although Paul said it was shameful and unnatural for a man to have long hair 2,000 years ago, now it is not shameful and unnatural, so they show Jesus Christ himself as having long hair.

Now if they could retain that logic once the conversation turns to what else Paul thought was unnatural and a shame, less innocent homosexuals would be suicidal, and far more would remain Christian rather than discarding Christianity the moment they accept the inevitability of their sexuality. As long as sex is consensual and between adults, it’s not a shame unto anyone.

With that understood, let’s look at what else Paul condemns with the exact same level of seriousness, in the exact same passage, right after mentioning homosexuals.

They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy

These I have bolded, combined together, will apply to the vast majority of Christians. ‘Disobeying their parents’ alone is perhaps half, throw in arrogant or boastful or gossips and slanderers, who is not condemned by this passage? I wonder if those who gossip about a gay person, understand that the exact same passage they are using to condemn that gay man or woman condemns them specifically with the exact same level of seriousness? Yet I know from constant experience that a Christian who gossips will not have any worries forgiving themselves right after, before denying that same forgiveness to the person they are gossiping about.

All that hate won’t work.

1 Corinthians 6

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. 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.

So the entire premise of Paul’s admonishment is he is angry at those quarreling among themselves in the Church, sound familiar? During his dressing down of those he believes are quarreling and involved in lawsuits with each other, he admonishes their actions, and compares or accuses them of the following, saying that they will not inherit the kingdom of God if they are:

Sexually immoral. Idolaters. Adulterers. Homosexuals. Thieves. Greedy. Drunkards. Slanderers. Swindlers. 

Why then, are drunks not treated as committing a mortal sin by major denominations? Or for that matter – why not those who argue in the Church, or those who lodge lawsuits against other Christians, you know, those he is actually trying to shut down with his comparisons? The entire comparison is meant to admonish those causing strife and division in the Church.

1 Timothy 1

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

This verse which is given as an example of why homosexuality is evil, is rather the opposite. First, Paul identifies that “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” I agree! 

Then he says:

For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”

There is no better way to describe countless ‘moral authorities’ who choose to spend a majority of their goodwill alienating all Christians from everyone else and making it much harder to interact with and convert atheists, raging against what are passing mentions in the New Testament,  when these mentions are only listed as one in long lists of sins, and those other sins specifically mentioned in the exact same sentences are ignored entirely. In fact, most homophobes are committing many of the sins such as slander, gossip and lying listed in the exact verses they are quoting against homosexuals, just in the course of criticizing those homosexuals alone.

Despite the following chapter not mentioning homosexuals, to me it was the most important to understand, being the word of Christ. 

Matthew 19

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

It’s important to understand that this is concerning marriage, not sex, however, Jesus did make it clear that he viewed all lust, straight or gay, that could lead to immoral actions as sinful, yet he himself clarifies his statement in the same chapter.

This chapter is used by those who believe homosexuality is a sin, because it shows Jesus, when banning divorce explicitly except for adultery, refers to marriage as between a man and a woman.

To say that Christ’s banning of divorce between a married man and a woman was actually him giving a definition of marriage rather than an explanation of marriage, is disingenuous. Think of that logic being used for any other subject. If, as a hypothetical, Christ said that a mother should love her children and not let them leave the house until they are old enough because the children came from the mother, would we ban adoption?

What is not up for debate, as Christ was very direct, is that divorce should not be granted unless one partner cheats. Understand in those times only a man could ask for a divorce, so a divorce was often a tool of abuse and an implied threat. A husband could threaten his wife with divorce, as in that ancient male dominated society being divorced meant a woman might be unable to remarry and left alone with little more rights than a slave. That is why Christ says “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, because your hearts were hard.” It’s clear he considered divorce an act of cruelty, so it’s important we keep that context in mind.

If one is to claim that just because Christ referred to marriage between a man and a woman in the course of answering a question about marriage between a man and a woman, that means marriage can only be between a man and a woman, then we would also have to say that only a man can divorce his wife for adultery, not the other way around, as that is the only context in which he referred to divorce. “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Since Christ only referred to divorce in the context of a man divorcing a woman, does that mean only a man can divorce a woman for adultery, never the other way around? Of course not. 

Christ then explains that although marriage should never end in divorce except for adultery, not all will be able to achieve his standard.

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.

So Christ finishes off by acknowledging not everyone can accept this word, then he acknowledges his standards are high, and that only those to whom it has been given will be able to do so, and finishes off by saying the one who can accept this, should accept it. Christ is understanding. 

As for New Testament verses considered to condemn homosexuality, that’s it. No, really, that’s all of them, if you have more post them below in the comments. In the 184,600 words of the New Testament, a very very long text of which most of the content is about what you should or should not do and why, these are the only mentions. I hope I have thoroughly addressed them. 

There are, on the other hand, around 100 verses related to sexual immorality in a straight context.

 Ecumenism is so necessary on every level. Petty divisions are the greatest threat to Christianity, and it’s no wonder Christianity is shrinking worldwide when the actions of Christians are so disassociated from the core teachings of Christ. The reason I say this is so you understand my position and you can feel whatever way you feel about whatever bias that creates. 

Most, but far from all, opposition against homosexuality comes from the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the hardline conservative Protestant movements in the deep south USA, and Mormons. Here I give my comments to those churches. 

Roman Catholic & Orthodox Churches

The Church, however, considers “homosexual acts” to be “grave sins”, “intrinsically disordered”, and “contrary to the natural law”, and “under no circumstances can they be approved”.

The Catholic Church, and the Orthodox Church whose teachings on this topic are very similar, are in disagreement with much of their laity. Both the Catholic and Orthodox Church generally speaking believe that Peter was granted the only keys to heaven and earth, and thus they specifically are the inheritors of the power to bind and seal only. As the inheritors of the supreme court of the disciples, while they cannot override the word of God, they can interpret it, and as homosexuality is a topic that was not specifically addressed except in passing mentions, yet those mentions being against homosexuality, it’s not too surprising that they are, as courts often do, deferring to past rulings.

Yet in light of the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, one wonders why they as a group feel there is any need to draw lines in the sand with words like “grave sins,” ascribing what seems to be a far greater weight to this sin than the apostles did, regardless of which way you interpret the original context? All mentions were among a plethora of sins, some regarded as trivial today with some much greater, so insofar as I can see decisions were made to rank some as grave and some as not, and not by the early disciples. The vast majority of clergy are amazing and kind hearted servants of God, there are around 419,000 Catholic priests alone, that is larger than the population of many countries, and that is just priests, not counting the millions of clergy and support generally speaking. To stereotype them based on the actions of a few evil men would be as illogical as claiming that because Liechtenstein or Monaco have sexual predators (both contain less than 1/10th the population of just Catholic priests alone) all members of Liechtenstein or Monaco country are evil. The vast majority of clergy really do mean well. 

Yet the optics and hypocrisy here are undeniable. The Vatican appears nowhere near competent enough to detect and disable serial pedophiles in their own ranks, yet they are condemning consensual sex between adults based upon rather simple interpretations. It just can’t be. The situation is approaching absurd. Predictions have made fools of far smarter men than myself, but I expect that Catholics will refuse to recognize homosexuality as acceptable until after Priests are allowed to marry. A lifelong virgin, while able to meditate more fully on the perfection of Christ, is not going to be able to appreciate and understand a modern sexual relationship, and to him denying a sexuality makes perfect sense, as he himself is denying all forms of sexual expression.

I do hope that the Holy See updates their rulings to be in accordance with the commandment of Christ to love all and to better reflect modern reality, I do not expect a group of mostly elderly men who have led a life of celibacy to be comfortable with homosexuality, I merely expect them to do what is best for the Church. The enormous stain on the history of the Church, of some clergy preying upon the laity, and the subsequent uncovering of cover ups, neutralizes the inertia of their sexual moralizing, and without that inertia their accusations fall flat against the gravity of the situation. 

I mentioned above that Peter, whom the Catholic Church derive their authority from, has a name that means rock and stone, and he is described as the cornerstone that Christ built his Church upon. I don’t disagree, but Christ said that it is he who is without sin that should cast the first stone, which perhaps might work as a reminder that the Church should not use Peter’s authority as a weapon. Instead of throwing stones, let’s build upon the foundation that has been and will be firm, building the body of Christ to incorporate all of those with love and faith in their heart. 

The Mormon Church

In 2015, the Mormon Church introduced a policy that homosexual Mormons were apostates, and their children could not be baptized. They withdrew this policy under pressure, but this by itself shows how real homophobia is in the Mormon community. Joseph Smith did not follow even the most basic tenants of marriage given in the New Testament. This is a man who married two sisters in the same house, without telling each one that he married the other. He married an already married woman, after sending her husband on a mission – he returned after 8 months working on Joseph Smith’s orders, to find his wife Marinda was married off to Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith married 40 women, or should I say girls, as the youngest was only 14 years old and by all accounts her consent was not considered nor were the 40 treated the way the New Testament commands, in fact every additional wife was adultery according to the plain word of Jesus Christ. Three passages in the pastoral epistles (1Timothy 3:2, 1Timothy 3:12 and Titus 1:6) state that church leaders should be the “husband of one wife.”

We know Christ spoke in Matthew 19:

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Divorce is a requirement to remarry, and we know Christ strengthened that mandate. If a man could treat his wives as a slave and marry as many as he wants, what would even be the purpose of divorce? The divorce was so a man could marry another woman, and Christ was clear he would not allow that after marriage was granted, to reinforce marriage as a lifelong bond and prevent men treating wives as disposable objects. Not only did Joseph Smith disobey Christ by remarrying 39 times, he didn’t even clear the minimum requirement of divorce before remarrying. Joseph violated this basic tenant in many ways that are immoral by any Christian or secular measure, and as recently as 2015 the Mormons declared gay couples in consensual relationships with a loving partner apostates? Refusing to baptize their children?

I don’t need to make an argument here – whatever logic you use to forgive Joseph Smith, use to forgive the homosexual members of your congregation. It’s the truth.

American Evangelical Churches

Your clergy make up the vast majority of those who are prominently anti-gay yet are caught in homosexual affairs, why? My concern goes beyond just theology. Take Pastor Ted Haggard and Pastor George Alan, for example. They were both the heads of mega-churches in the south, and what I found interesting about both of them being exposed as gay, was that it was not singular incidents that were exposed – there were multiple year long gay affairs with escorts in both of their situations. Now, do you think two of the most famous and rich pastors in these rural areas, where they have the biggest stadiums in miles, seating 10k, were having affairs for years with nobody noticing the gay escorts? What is more likely – they were suddenly exposed after their many years long gay affairs were discovered all at once, or they were compromised, controlled for years, probably by multiple people, and they were unable to contain the situation and their house of cards collapsed? How much Church money was and is misused by Pastors who have committed no crime, but find themselves beholden to doing whatever they can in their power to stop the truth from coming out?

A reminder:

Matt 22

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

Jesus said to him,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *