Homosexuality and the Bible
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1983
Edited by David Sielaff, April 2004
Read the accompanying Newsletter for April 2004
There is one teaching of the Bible which rings loud and clear from Genesis to Revelation: homosexual acts are utterly condemned (Genesis 19; Romans 1:26–27). And though some people have struggled to find homosexual relationships between individuals whom God called righteous (such as the deep friendship that David and Jonathan had for one another), it is obvious that all situations mentioned in the Bible were ethically and morally proper. Had they not been, there would surely have been some record of lapse somewhere in the Bible. But there is none! This is because most of God’s servants had enemies on all sides watching their actions. The Bible itself is not afraid to point out the failings of its major characters. Indeed, there is not one hint of homosexual actions bearing any approval from the writers of the Bible. The very opposite is the case (Romans 1:26–27).
Today, however, there is a trend towards the acceptance of adults performing any act they please among themselves as long as others in society are not harmed by them. True, if people wish to do such things, even the Bible allows the individuals the privilege (Revelation 22:11), but verse 12 goes on to say that God will bring judgment upon those who knowingly do wrong!
As far as I personally am concerned, I agree with the Bible that people ought to be allowed to do what they want in private if no other person in society is harmed by their actions. But if people wish to take their sexual preferences into the public arena at large, then this (in my opinion) would be going too far. 1
It appears to me that most reasonable people within our western societies would feel that people should be allowed to do or to believe what they want as long as any of us is not impinging upon the social rights of others within the general public environment. The apostle Paul was a Jew to the Jews and a Gentile to the Gentiles in order not to offend their general societal beliefs. And if those who wish to choose sexual actions outside the accepted “norm” of society, they should show respect and consideration for other citizens by not offending them within the public areas of our societies.
If one, for example, wished to live in Saudi Arabia, the women would have to dress modestly in public and in no case is it proper to drink alcoholic beverages in public. We may call the laws antiquated and overly religious, and that Islam represents a culture alien to us, but that is what the majority of people in Saudi Arabia feel is right. It would only be proper there for a believer in the teachings of the Bible to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages in public. In the privacy of one’s home, however, it is always right for adults to do as they please — as long as everything is personal to them, and in no way involves others within the public sector.
Since most mature people would accept the reasonableness of the right of citizens to privacy, there is usually a latent fear of the general public in regard to the actions of homosexuals. The majority of the population no doubt regards such sexual desires as “deviant” but yet emotionally persuasive — especially to the youth of the nation. It is the nuances of persuasion from homosexuals that they (either consciously or unconsciously) might give to our youth that worries most parents and grandparents.
This was one of my worries when my two girls and boy were going to public school here Pasadena. My children told me they were well aware that some of their teachers were homosexuals. As a parent I was uneasy about such teachers instructing my children in history or mathematics. It was the probable offhanded remarks they might make to them that I thought could influence them in the wrong direction. 2
The key to rearing children is to establish a firm foundation of teaching in the home. Some parents complain that they tried to teach their children in proper biblical principles, only to discover that when they went to college or university, they came back being agnostics or atheists. The trouble is that the children were not taught correctly in the home in the first place. What parents must do in the home is to teach their children how to assume their roles as adults in the future, not how to be better children at the present! Of course, we all know that young children are indeed children (and we should not expect them to be adults), but the training in the home should lead them into adulthood — not perpetuate their childish behavior.
They should be taught how to cope with situations in the adult world they will be entering. They should be taught not to believe everything anyone tells them. They should learn to weigh all ideas and principles carefully and never to make up their minds haphazardly. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
If there is one thing that I want to do more than anything, it is to learn to love all in God’s creation in the way that the Bible instructs! It is not that we want to love the sin that people do, but we do want to love the people whom God has created. After all, Christ died for all people (2 Corinthians 5:14), and all people will one day be saved by the power of Christ (1 Timothy 2:4–6). But all of us have to straighten up our ways, with God’s help, in order to enter that exalted existence with Him in the future (Ephesians 5:5).
No one should be content with his or her sins and say: “God made me this way, so I will not change.” The whole principle of repentance involves the decided change in the attitude and direction of a person in the life that is led. Not a one of us is perfect, and none of us can cast any stones at others, but there is a reasonable ethical, moral, and social demeanor that God and society expect of people. It is important for one to be aware of the biblical standards and endeavor to adhere to them. 3
It is very easy to show what the biblical teachings concerning homosexuality are all about. It should be realized that there is nothing but condemnation of such acts from Genesis to Revelation. But when it comes to explaining clearly why the apostle Paul said that those committing homosexual acts are worthy of death (Romans 1:32), this is not so easy to determine.
For my own part, I can think of a hundred crimes against humans that are far worse than consenting adults to practice homosexual acts between themselves — and no way bothering the rest of us in society who do not do such things. Indeed, I may not be a proper judge to determine the reasons why homosexuality is wrong (other than reading that it is in the Bible), because I personally cannot understand why any two people of the same sex would want to be intimate with one another. Perhaps it is my upbringing (and I have always been thankful for the way my parents reared me), but I loathe the very thought of homosexual actions. However, this feeling of mine has nothing to do with the biblical revelation itself! I am fully aware that the Bible says such actions are wrong. (They would be “wrong” to me whether the Bible said it or not!) 4
We have received many apparently sincere letters over the last nine and a half years from men and women who have homosexual desires — and the majority of them have told me they cannot understand why they do. Many said they would readily give up the practice if they could, but they have no interest in the opposite sex. Why did they develop such attitudes in the first place? To most of those writing me, they believe that their urge is something inbred into them and that they have no control over the matter.
Some psychologists, however, feel it is early youthful experiences which prompted them to enter the homosexual arena. 5 An overpowering mother (and a weak father) are often cited as a prime environment for the development of homosexual tendencies in boys — and the opposite for girls. Of course, every situation is different in itself and it is not proper to make specific judgments on general principles.
Apparently, no one is sure just how much biological influences (and/or environmental ones) play in the development of homosexual tendencies. 6 It appears to me that environmental factors far outweigh the biological — and that the biological suggestion is only an excuse. This is simply a guess on my part, but it is difficult to me to understand why the inspired scripture would so utterly condemn homosexual practices if the people who have them inherited them from some biological fluke!
Whatever the case, people who wish to live by the principles of the holy scripture (as candidly interpreted) should never hate the sinner who violates the biblical teachings — though they may hate the sin itself. Christ Jesus came into the world to save all sinners (and that includes you and me). There is not a sin any worse than those sins which clutter up my life or yours. All of us need the redemption that can come from God’s grace. Christ Jesus died to save all people, and he will one day accomplish the task! True, we will not be saved in our sins, but from our sins (Romans 11:26–27).
We should all thank God that Christ died to pay the penalty for the sins which have separated us from Him. He will also save all homosexuals! Someway and somehow God will cause them to change their minds into conformity with the principles of the biblical revelation. God has the power to do it! We would hope that all of us might learn what are the correct activities in which to live, and to put them into action.
One thing we do know. When we all learn to love God and Christ with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors in an equal way (Matthew 22:34–40), then we will understand the mercy and grace of God working in our lives. Though God condemns homosexuality, he will one day rescue the person from his or her ways and establish a righteousness in them (and in us) which will redound to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Ernest L. Martin, 1983
Edited by David Sielaff, April 2004
That not only applies to homosexual acts but even heterosexual ones. ELM
The recent public revealing of popular singer Janet Jackson’s breast at the halftime show of the 2004 Superbowl football game, witnessed by hundreds of millions of people, has brought the issue of public propriety to the forefront. It appears that a large measure of American society was offended by the display and a movement has arisen to ensure such displays do not happen again. DWS
2 My fears, by the way, proved to be unfounded because my children, influenced by teachings at home, were fully on guard against any suggestive comments (if there ever were any). Our children put the comments aside as being “their problem.” ELM
3 We at ASK are not watchdogs over any of you to see that you, or anyone else, conforms to the standards of conduct that we think the Bible teaches. What we want to do is to teach the biblical doctrines as best as we know how, and leave it to you personally — and privately — whether you or anyone in the world wishes to abide by them. ELM
4 And I might say that though I am 51 years of age [Dr. Martin’s age at the time of writing this article], I am not “over the hill” yet in being interested, in a proper and uplifting way, in the opposite sex. But for the life of me, I cannot understand the homosexual urge. In no way does this make me “better” than anyone else (or any “worse”), but the homosexual tendency is very foreign to my nature. ELM
5 One theory is that the first sexual arousal when young, implants a particular initial sexual orientation. Studies of child sexual abuse have shown that a form of arousal can occur in very young children, even though they are physically immature. See the studies done by Alfred Kinsey, confirmed by later studies. DWS
6 This is still true in 2004. Some alleged discoveries of a genetic cause for homosexuality have been published, but they have not been conclusive. DWS
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