Is Homosexuality a Sin?
A Biblical Answer
By: Thomas J. Harris
Please remember that this is a research book. It is not a novel. Research often takes a reader down many paths and through the mountain before returning to the original subject matter. It does however return to the subject. All avenues of information must be travelled to attain a full knowledge of a given subject. Please do not expect to be simply handed the information in this book. This book explores the information with you so that you can make an educated decision.
Conventional Christianity teaches that homosexuality is a sin. They use 10 verses to prove their theory. But their explanations of those verses have always fallen short of the mark.
Unlike most people when told that "It's clear what God says, it's right there in black and white" I didn't just accept the status quo, I set about the task of understanding what those verses truly had to say.
Strangely enough the young man that spoke those words had no idea just how right he was. The answer is clearly stated in black and white but it is badly misunderstood and grossly misrepresented. "Is Homosexuality a Sin?" The simple answer is "No, the Bible does not support the theory that homosexuality is a sin."
Most people would be happy just to have someone tell them that their lives were not inherently in sin. They would like to know that love is love and God is a big fan of love in all of its manifestations. But there are others who would like to have more information and for them my book is available. My work is completewith over 200 references that are listed in the back and where they are used. There are no surprises or shady dealswith this book. It's straight forward and honest. Even if you give no credence in the Bible the rest of the western world uses it to judge homosexuals. It behooves every educated person to know what the Bible really says concerning such a vital issue.
Below is the synopsis that convinced the publishing company that they should take a chance on this book.
The issue of homosexuality sparks huge controversy throughout the world and certainly in the United States as is clearly seen in the news today and of the past. The loudest voice here in the United States in opposition to homosexuality iswithout a doubt the mainstream Christian Church. Most Church leader's use a few verses of scripture to validate or prove their anti homosexual positions. They claim that these few verses prove the sin nature of homosexuality and hence the disapproval and hatred of God towards the homosexual. They use the verses in the book of Leviticus to claim that God would have all homosexuals stoned to death because he sees them as ‘abominations’ and they use a few verses in the first chapter of the book of Romans to prove that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’ and therefore worthy of death. There are other verses in the New Testament that used to show that a homosexual will never be redeemed or inherit the kingdom of Heaven. All of these ‘arguments’ serve only to alienate homosexuals and effectively remove them from the presence of God. To some people this claim is of no consequence, but to others it is devastating. Regardless of the manner in which individual homosexuals perceive this isolation from God the argument is used very effectively as a fuel to those that would persecute or oppose the freedoms of a homosexual individual. Many times laws are passed solely based upon the ‘religious’ argument against homosexuals.
The religious argument is not reserved only for the adults in a congregation or on the street. The rhetoric of the churches is pressed upon the young from the earliest ages that they can be reached. Whether it is through the congregations, or parents, politicians, teachers or other influential adults many children are taught that homosexuality is a sin and as such should be shunned. The social pressures that a young person must dealwith today are staggering to those who grew upwith Norman Rockwell and their inabilities to copewith the steady stream of new demands cause many to fall into depression. How much more pressure is added when one is homosexual? According to a new study done in the United Kingdom homosexuals are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in some kind of substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. The study suggests that homosexuals may by ‘pushed into’ depression or substance abuse because of an ‘anti-gay’ environment and/or ‘anti-gay’ domestic pressures. According to the Center for Disease Control, depression is a leading cause or contributing factor in suicides. In the year 2004 there were 4,599 deaths attributed to suicide in children and young adults ages 10-24. The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 30% of these deaths are homosexuals. Unfortunately the actual number is impossible to accurately determine, there is after all no box on a death certificate to check that would indicate sexual orientation.
The numbers for hate crimes against homosexuals are no less alarming than the suicide rates. In 1995 there were 7,947 incidents of hate motivated crime in the United Stateswith 1,019 incidents against 1,347 homosexual victims. This is a total of 13% that was based upon a bias against homosexuals. Most of these crimes, 72% were crimes directly against the person; luckily 41% of those offenses were just intimidation. That does mean however that 59% of the offenses were not intimidation. The other 59% included simple assault, aggravated assault, rape and murder. These statistics are alarming but what is even more alarming is that they are old statistics; from 1995, the numbers today have surely grown exponentiallywith the population.
What is the cause of all this dissention, hate and anger? Once again we find ourselves looking at the ‘Christian’ Churches. It is their rhetoric and beliefs that are catalyzing the uninformed, the fearful and yes the bigots of this country. According to some studies three out of four Americans identify themselves as Christian, and most Christian Churches have taught that homosexuality as a sin for decades. The ramifications of this seem obvious. B. A. Robinson concluded that if homosexuality somehow found complete acceptance in North America,within just a few decades of not teaching sin and hate homosexuality would become ‘a normal expression of human sexuality’. I do not have such optimism. The United States already has the perfect model for this sort of scenario; the equality of the African American. Nearly half a century has passed since Martin Luther King Jr. told us that he had a dream and yet racial hatred that goes both directions is still alive and well. Nonethelesswith that being said, living conditions and social opportunity has improved greatly for the African American since the time of Dr. King.
Like Dr. King I also have a dream. I dream that all Americans regardless of color, sex, creed, social background or even sexual orientation enjoy the right of being equal as our Constitution promises. And like those who came before who fought for their right to vote or their very right to be called a ‘man’ and not property I know that there is a fight ahead of us. The fight that we must win is against a belief system that alienates an entire group of people from the presence of God. Those that assert this belief do so from a position of error. The verses that they use to support their position do not mean what they are claiming. The entire belief system and the interpretation of those few select verses have been handed down from one century to the next and beganwith a group of men that were just beginning to build their own power base in history. They had personal bias and personal preferences many of which we would consider ludicrous today and yet the churches cling desperately to an ancient rhetoric that when taken apart and examined, as I’ve done in this book, simply falls apart.
The book ‘Is Homosexuality a Sin?’is written from the unique viewpoint of someone who was once inside one of the largest Church organizations in the world, but is no longer. It is written in laymen terms so anyone can understand the simple logic applied. Each verse that is used by the Christian Churches to condemn homosexuality today is taken apart word by word and examined both for each words specific meaning but also for its usagewithin the context of the verse and the versewithin the chapter or section. I’ve delved into secular history to examine the circumstances and conditions that existed during the time that the verse is referring to. The ‘players’ have also been looked at and their situations are factored into the overall meaning. Difficult words or passages have been examinedwith extra care by also utilizing historical and other secular writings of the day that also used those words, so that a clear meaning of the usage would come to light.
I begin at the beginning in my bookwith the authority of the Bible. In chapter one I delve into this question, “Who gives the Bible the authority to determine our values or to dictate morality”? It is after all the Bible that is used to add credence and validation for the hatred, violence and condemnation that is leveled against the homosexuals of our country.
In the second chapter I begin to research the Bible concerning the topic of homosexuality. Chapter two beginswith the verses in Leviticus concerned idolatry and acts of homosexuality, what I found here was that homosexual acts were used in ritual worship and they were committed by heterosexuals in a religious fertility rite. These acts the Lord Jehovah would of course find abominable and would condemn such people to stoning until dead. But the churches never address the verses that would explain this to the people.
Chapter three finds me taking on the onerous job of unraveling the first chapter of the book of Romans. I found that once again the text is referring to idolatry. But in this instance the offenders were the Jews that did not accept Jesus as their Lord. They thought that they knew it all but in truth they knew nothing. They took to worshipping gods that they could see, since Jehovah is spirit and cannot be seen. They strayed from their natural purpose which was to be God’s people and then their thoughts became erratic and unsound. That is when they began to experimentwith sex that was not natural to them, because now that they had forsaken their true nature, of loving God, they also abandoned all that was ‘natural’ to them. This abandonment also included the abandoning of their women and/or wives; the men ‘became’ weak or effeminate. They were no longer in a strong position and the women no longer found them worthy of their love or attention so they began consortingwith females, but they would have preferred men had there been a true man in the house.
The fourth chapter explores the remaining controversial verses that are found in the New Testament. In the books of I Corinthians and I Timothy I found that there had been some error in understanding. Firstwith the word ‘effeminate’ which today means a completely different thing than it did when the word was translated from the Greek. Thenwith a word that occurs, as far as I can tell only in the Bible. The word is translated into English as ‘abusers of themselveswith mankind’ or ‘defile themselveswith mankind’. Both of which are the same composite word that had not been joined before. These were difficult to understand so I relied upon the context and the other wordswithin the verses and also on sources outside the Bible that used the words that made up the compound word. Ultimately the verses are referring to the sale of humans as slaves and prostitutes, which included male prostitutes. The fact that it includes the male prostitutes and the catamites in the verses only emphasizes the fact that the society was patriarchal in design and the writers of the verses were concerned mainlywith the males in the society. It is not a reflection of godly importance.
Recently because of the issue of homosexual marriage a verse in the book of Hebrews has been mentioned in associationwith that topic. The verse itself has absolutely nothing to dowith homosexuality or even male prostitutes. It applies to the marriage bed in which the participants, the married couple must remain monogamous in every aspect. The verse indicates that God considers the bond of marriage to be sacred. He therefore does not condone extramarital relationships even if it iswith a hired person like a prostitute. Neither the verse nor the section make any reference or allude to homosexuals in any manner. It does not include them or preclude them, it is simply not mentioned.
In chapter five I finally reach the most controversial and the most used or rather misused section of scripture that is applied to this topic. The account of the cites of Sodom and Gomorrah are the topic of this chapter and their story is an interesting one. This is a story that has been changed so much in the millennia that has passed since they existed that it is almost unrecognizable. Here I found that there were really five cities of which Sodom and Gomorrah were only representatives because they were the largest. The churches would tell us that the cities were destroyed because of sexual perversity, especiallywith the Angels that came to visit Lot, but this is not true. The cities had been condemned long before the Angels ever came to Sodom. God originally sent the Angels to Sodom to make certain that what He was seeing from His throne was exactly what was happening. Sodom was chosen for the Angelic visit because it was the largest city and it would become the city upon which the fate of the other four would rest. It would also become the city that God uses throughout the Bible as an example of what not to do unless you really want to burn in hell. As I said the Angels were originally sent to see what they could see and to carry out the execution if it was deemed necessary. But before God sent them He took them out to lunch at Abraham’s house. God really liked Abraham and respected his opinion on things so when Abraham began to barterwith God over the fate of the cities He listened carefully. Abraham argued that God could not destroy an entire city or citieswithout taking into account the thousands of righteous that lived in them. God agreed that He would save all of the cities if Abraham could actually find these so called thousands. Abraham recognized his error immediately and strategically went about talking God down to only ten righteous people in Sodom. If they could be found then God would spare the cities. So the mission of the Angels changed from one of discovery to one of seeking. They found only Lot, his wife, his two daughters and their husbands to be righteous. The rest of the city was fully takenwith all manner of idolatry, greed and debauchery. Their lifestyle was so excessive that historians were still writing about it well into the 3 century.
In the sixth chapter, having exhausted the controversial verses used against homosexuals I deviate from Biblical Research and delve into the question “Why are homosexuals, homosexual?” It is a fitting topic for this day and time and it is on the lips and minds of many. The controversy between those that believe a person is born a homosexual and those that believe otherwise is as heated as the issue of the sin nature of homosexuality. But the answer is out there for those that wish to visit the subjectwith a clear and open mind. I look at the research and opinions from pioneers and other top minds in the field and reach a conclusion based upon the evidence provided. Some ministers claim that homosexuality is a product of satanic possession, while Doctors from many different fields have attributed homosexuality to a mental condition, an abnormality and even from a birth defect. All of these and more are examined in this chapter.
In the seventh and final chapter I offer a brief conclusion to the findings and for the first time I offer to the reader my own personal opinion and my initial reaction to the results.
In short in every verse that is used to prove the sin nature of homosexuality I have found absolutely nothing that indicates that it is even mentioned in the Bible. The sections that talk about man on man love are clearly referring to heterosexual persons doing something outside of what is natural to them to further some other purpose. This information is not entirely new, but I disagreewith the findings of many others concerning many of these verses and I believe that I have handled the verses in a more honest and unbiased way. But let’s look just for a moment at some of the other books offered on the subject. In 1903 a Chicago Theological Seminary Professor by the name of Robin Scroggs wrote “New Testament and homosexuality”His thesis began in a near clinical tone. When I say that I mean that the beginning did not reflect his personal views. But as the short book of less than 200 pages continued his outlook becomes all too clear. Some would say that he becomes very emotional. Passion for ones work and outlook is of course not a crime and can often be a great asset but in the field of research you cannot allow our own passions to rule or taint the outcome. It was clear that Mr. Scroggs approached the topicwith a clear agenda in mind. He concluded that regardless of what the Bible said or did not say the ‘rules’ are archaic in today’s value system and should be ignored much as the ‘rule’ concerning divorce has been. This type of book makes for a fun read and it may even provide some weak ammo for the pro homosexual camp but it is hardly solid scientific research and even at that it only addresses the New Testament which is not honest.
In contrast to Professor Scorggs’ work I made a diligent effort to keep my personal views out of the findings and in fact found that my own personal beliefs were spun on their proverbial head by my conclusions.
Dr. Daniel A Helminiak a Catholic Priest wrote “What the Bible really says about Homosexuality”in 1994. Throughout most of the book the research is sound but it is shallow, often only scratching the surface of the truth. Dr. Helminiak relies heavily upon the research of others seldom if ever doing any of the work himself. His ‘examination’ of a verse does not go beyond the verse itself although to be fair he does add some history and knowledge of the local customs to the equation. But when confrontedwith a difficult section he simply promotes the simple answer or the popular explanation and when confrontedwith a word that is difficult he states that “no-one really knows what it means”. For example; in the book of Leviticus he claims that the verses in question fall under the ‘holiness code’ which is a body of ritual uncleanness laws of the ancient Jews. This code does not apply to these verses. If Dr. Helminiak had read the entire chapter from verse one and had just a bit more knowledge concerning figures of speech or Orientalisms he would have come to an entirely different conclusion. In another section he encounters the Greek work ‘arsenokoites’. He concludes that because this word is only used twice in the Bible and it appears nowhere else in literature that ‘no-one really knows what it means’. This statement is a ridiculous thing for an honest researcher to say. It is a lazy thing for a researcher to say, and worse to accept. The definitions of words don’t just miraculously appear inside a dictionary. Someone took the time to see how the word was used and in what context it was used and if it is a compound word such as this one they found the meanings of all the words that comprised the one and extrapolated a meaning. I will grant that finding the meaning of a word that is nearly 2000 years old from a language that is just shy of dead is a bit of a daunting task. But a true researcher that cares about their work would only see a challenge when confrontedwith this dilemma. As I stated previously I took this word apart and diligently looked for more information so that I could reach an honest definition. I offer my research of this word and the definition in my book.
Dr. Helminiak’s conclusion concerning the story of Sodom and Gomorrah shows more laziness in research. He concludes as so many others that the sin of Sodom was hospitality. He states that since no-one but Lot offered the Angels any hospitality the cities were destroyed. This is a preposterous conclusion. As I have stated previously the Angels weren’t there looking for a meal. They were there looking for ten righteous people. If anyone had offered them hospitality they would only have succeeded in saving themselves and perhaps their family but the city was doomed long before the Angels arrived (unless the Angels could find 10 righteous people).With this conclusion Dr. Helminiak once again shows his lack of a simple knowledge of the scriptures and his lackadaisical research methods.
After he has discussed the controversial scriptures he goes on to speculate about biblical same sex partners which appears to be an ineffective way of validating homosexualitywith the Bible. In my opinion he succeeds only in weakening his already shaky research. In short I think that his work was landmark and even risky especially considering his religious affiliations and it was probably personally liberating but it shows a distinct lack of any true scientific discipline.
In comparison, I personally took four years to research the topic and utilized everything that I could find to help me form complete conclusions. I looked at the work of others and quoted many but regardless of whether or not I agreedwith them I still conducted my own research. I found many passages and words to be problematic but I worked through the problems taking special care not to taint the workwith my personal beliefs or any preconceived agenda. Unlike many biblical scholars I am not afraid to consult ‘secular’ pieces of work such as plays or speeches that were written around the same time as many parts of the New Testament to get a better understanding of how a word was used in common vernacular or how certain social groups were perceived by the local populace. The characters and events of the Bible did not occur on some remote island where they never interactedwith the rest of the world. They happenedwithin a full society that interactedwith other societies. One cannot be removed from the otherwithout losing a great deal of understanding. It waswith this in mind that I approached the topic of homosexuality in the scripture.
In 2006 Jack Rogers a Professor of Theology at the San Francisco Theological Seminary wrote “Explode the Myths; Heal the Church” His work is a very sad excuse for ‘research’. But to Professor Rogers’s credit he himself says that he is a “Theologian not a Biblical Scholar” and it shows. For the most part he does not actually ‘study’ or ‘research’ anything he rehashes what has already been done and adds his ‘two cents’ worth. The book is a good read and has some compelling arguments but it is not in any way shape or form a ‘research’ book and hence is little more than yet another person’s opinion.
We have lots of opinions in the world today on the topic of homosexuality and I am sure some of those opinions are wonderful. But what we really need is the facts. People are drowning in opinion and starving for a lack of honest clear facts. Once upon a time there was an opinion that members of the black race had one less chromosome than whites and were therefore inferior human beings. This opinion was probably responsible for a lot of hate, misunderstanding and violence against the blacks. Today we know the facts and those alone have changed the way that many people view them. One of the biggest opinions concerning homosexuals today is that God hates them and considers them abominations that should be stoned to death. This is an opinion that was derived erroneously from scripture and widely taught by the Christian Church and it needs to be correctedwith the facts. My book addresses this type of misinformationwith the facts.
It is said that the Christian teaching is indirectly responsible for nearly 500 youth homosexual suicides a year. How many more hate crimes could this erroneous teaching be responsible for? How many pieces of legislation that limits or denies the God given and constitutionally promised rights of the homosexual individual find their roots in this teaching? I think that it is time to remove the authority of Divine displeasure by shedding an honest light upon the false doctrines that poison our society. That is why I took the time to study this topic in such detail. I believe that I have found some truth in my research that can liberate thousands from social and religious oppression.
"I never had a low self-esteem that would make me gay. At one point, though, the reverse happened. Being homosexual led me to have a loss of self-esteem when I first became aware of society's attitudes about homosexuality." --Aaron Fricke, Reflections of a Rock Lobster
In my experience children do not know that they are supposed to disapprove or hate until someone that they trust tells them that they should. Most children do not see color until someone points it out to them. Most do not see ‘different’ than them as a bad thing until they are told that it is something to discourage. Children grow into adults and the moralities and beliefs that they learn when young follow them into maturity. We are the only ones that can change the course of the United States. We are the only ones that can teach our children something other than intolerance. For us to facilitate legal reform we need the tools. We need the information that is contained in ‘Is Homosexuality a Sin?’ so we can correct the wrong teaching and bring about moral and social reform.
 “Suicide trends among youths and young adults age 10-24 years- United States 1990-2004” Center for Disease Control, 2008.  “Uniform Crime Reports: Hate Crime-1995” United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division 2009.  “Cause of suicides according to religious liberals, therapists, etc:” B. A. Robinson, Religious Tolerance, Suicides Among gay and lesbian youth; section 4, paragraph 2. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, August 1, 2008.  “New Testament and Homosexuality” Robin Scroggs, 1983.  “What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality” Daniel Helminiak, 1994, 2000.  “Explode the Myths; Heal the Church” Jack Rogers, 2006.  “Cause of suicides according to religious liberals, therapists, etc:” B. A. Robinson, Religious Tolerance, Suicides Among gay and lesbian youth; section 4, paragraph 5. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, August 1, 2008.