The Bible Christianity and Homosexuality

by Rev. Justin Cannon (Inclusive Orthodoxy)

Introduction

What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? Should the Church allow the blessing of homosexual marriages/unions? Should a homosexual in a committed relationship be ordained a priest or even consecrated bishop? What about tradition? What should I tell my friends or relatives who are gay? Must they remain single for their whole life? We all have pondered at least one of these questions at some time or another.

This study is the end product of much research, dialogue, and prayerful reflection. I sat down one day and decided: I want to know once and for all what the Bible really says about homosexuality. I would like to share with you a study of the six Bible verses that have often been used in reference to homosexuality, as well as explore homosexuality within the context of Christian tradition.

Regardless of whether or not you are Bible scholar; whether or not you can read Greek; or if you know everything or nothing about Christian tradition, you will be able to follow this study of: The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality.

Terminology

Homosexual: The English word homosexual is a compound word made from the Greek word homo, meaning “the same”, and the Latin term sexualis, meaning sex. The term “homosexual” is of modern origin, and it wasn’t until about a hundred years ago that it was first used. There is no word in biblical Greek or Hebrew that is equivalent to the English word homosexual. The 1946 Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible was the first translation to use the word homosexual.

Sodomite: There is no word in biblical Greek or Hebrew for “sodomy.” A Sodomite was simply an inhabitant of Sodom, just as a Moabite was an inhabitant of Moab. Any translation of the New Testament making use of the words “sodomy” or “sodomite” are clear interpretations and not faithful translations.

Looking At The Bible

There are six Bible accounts that have in recent years been used in reference to homosexuality. These include:

(Creation Account)
(Sodom Account)
(Holiness Code)
(Letter of Paul)
(Letter of Paul)
(Letter of Paul)
The Sodom Account ()

The story of Sodom is an appropriate text to begin with, as it has taken a central role in the study of homosexuality. We must understand the context of this account. God, according to this story, sent two angels to warn Abraham’s nephew, Lot, about the approaching destruction of Sodom. Let us stop here for a moment. Even before sending the angels, God intended, according to this story, to destroy Sodom. Whatever the reason for the city’s destruction it had to do with the sin of Sodom before this event.

The story continues: The angels came to the city of Sodom and Lot welcomed them to his home and prepared a meal for them. Then a grouping of men surrounded the house and asked where the angels who had come to the house were. They basically shouted, “Where are those men who came to your house? We want to have sex with them!” Lot refuses but offers his daughters instead, giving the reason: “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. Don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” (19:8). The crowd of men insisted on what they wanted and tried to break through the door. The angels ended up pulling Lot into the house and blinding the crowd.

First of all, in interpreting this event we must take into account the entire situation. Whatever is happening here it is a form of rape. The crowd of men wished to sexually assault or “gangbang” the angels. The situation is also sewn through with appalling violence. Many assert that Lot’s offer of his daughters instead of the male angels implies that homosexual sex would have been worse than heterosexual sex, but Lot himself gives his reason for his action: “Don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” In our time, this does not make entire sense, but in Lot’s time, hospitality was a nearly sacred concept, and it is that distinction that Lot expresses: the visitors are his guests.

Nonetheless, if we were to accept that the distinction is gender-based, we could only conclude homosexual rape of angels is worse than heterosexual rape. To use this story to condemn all homosexual behavior is unfounded and truly stretching this story outside of its historical framework, but that is exactly what has happened. As Jeffrey S. Silker, in reference to such distortion of this text, wrote in his article in Theology Today, “David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba does not make all heterosexual expressions sinful!”

An interesting (dis)connection to this story:

In the 1508 Wycliffe translation of the Bible into Middle English, the Greek word arsenokoitai (arsenokoitai) in was translated “synn of Sodom.” Wyclif’s own interpretation was that arsenokoitai had something to do with the Sodom story, though nothing is implied as such in the New Testament text. The author could very well have written “sin of Sodom” if he had wanted to. If your Bible translation has “sodomites” on that list in it is because of Wyclif. We will look more closely at the word arsenokoitai below in our study of the 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy texts; however, it is remarkable to see how the story of Sodom, filled with rape and violence, has taken such a central role surrounding the topic of homosexuality and more precisely in the development of the word “sodomite” as what it means today.

Important Term:

Arsenokoitai (arsenokoitai) – This Greek noun is formed from the joining together of the Greek adjectival prefix for male (arseno-) and beds (koitai). Literally then it would mean, “male beds.” It is found in and . This is the first appearance of the word in preserved Greek literature and outside of these two verses this word does not appear in the New Testament. The Greek word arsenokoitai is mentioned in both  and  and its meaning is debated. Because of the obscurity of this word and the lack of outside sources to shed light on its meaning, we must derive its meaning from the text.

“Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…” (RSV)

Let us keep in mind that the word translated sodomites is the Greek word arsenokoitai. Our question right now should be, “What is this talking about?” In order to answer this question, we will begin by breaking up the phrase into its structural pairs. You will see these groupings reflected below in the English as well as the Greek. (The New Testament, by the way, was originally written in Greek)

(ENGLISH, RSV)

A: Lawless and disobedient
B: Ungodly and sinners
C: Unholy and profane
D: Murders of fathers / murders of mothers / manslayers
E: Immoral persons / sodomites / kidnappers
F: Liars / perjurers / and whatever else

As we see in the English there seems to be a relationship between the words in each rows A, B, C, D, and F. What about row E, though? What do “immoral persons, sodomites, and kidnappers” have in common? To answer this question we will need to explore the Greek. The three Greek words present in line E are: pornoi (pornoiV), arsenokoitai (arsenokoitaiV), and andrapodistai (andrapodistaiV).

Some commonly read Bible translations include King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), New King James (NKJ), Revised Standard Version (RSV), and New English Bible (NEB). These words were, respectively, translated in the following manner:

pornoi arsenokoitai andrapodistai
whoremonger them that defile themselves with mankind men-stealers
NIV: adulterers perverts slave traders
NKJ: fornicators sodomites kidnappers
RSV: immoral persons sodomites kidnappers
NEB: fornicators sodomites kidnappers

As we see there is no clear-cut agreement as to what these words mean, though the above translations agree on the general sense of such words. To determine the precise meanings, a lexicon will be used. A lexicon is a scholarly dictionary used to determine the meaning of biblical words. A search through the online Greek lexicon available at searchgodsword.org gives the following information on the Greek term pornos, which is the stem of the word pornoi, the first of the three words:

Pornos derives from the verb pernemi meaning “to sell” and the following three definitions are given:

  • a male who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire
  • a male prostitute
  • a male who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator

Andrapodistes, the stem of the word Andrapodistai, the third word, returns the following definitions:

  • slave-dealer, kidnapper, man-stealer
  • of one who unjustly reduces free males to slavery
  • of one who steals the slaves of others and sells them.

Arsenokoitai, as previously indicated, is made up of the Greek words for male (arseno-) and beds (koitai). In Greek, the word koitai, literally meaning beds, is commonly used as a euphemism for one who has sex. Arseno- is an adjectival prefix, thus literally we could translate this as “male bedder.”

We should now be able to derive an exact understanding of the word arsenokoitai based on the two words that surround it. We have, first of all, the enslaved male prostitute, the “male-bedder” (arsenokoitai), and the slave dealer. The New American Bible offers a footnote that might shed some light on the historical context of the time:

“The Greek word translated as boy prostitutes may refer to catamites, i.e. boys or young men who were kept for the purposes of prostitution, a practice not uncommon in the Greco-Roman world. In Greek mythology this was the function of Ganymede, the “cupbearer of the gods,” whose Latin name was Catamus…” (NAB)

There was a common practice in which men of Paul’s time would have slave “pet” boys whom they sexually exploited. These boys were prepubescent and without beards so they seemed like females. Today, this practice is referred to as pederasty. Regardless, however, the pornos is clearly a prostitute.

Keeping this in mind, let’s look back at what we have so far: the enslaved male prostitute, the “male-bedder” (arsenokoitai), and the slave dealer. This contextual dynamic leads one to understand arsenokoitai as being the one who sleeps with the prostitute, the man who literally lies on the bed with him. It is as if Paul were saying, “male prostitutes, men who sleep with them, and slave dealers who procure them…” Not only does the syntactical and historical context point to this understanding, but also the very literal sense of the word arsenokoitai itself.

If this translation of arsenokoitai is correct, it should also make logical sense where it is also used in , either confirming or refuting our understanding of this word.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (RSV)

The term translated “sexual perverts” in RSV is actually two different words. The first word is malakos, which is the singular form of the word malakoi, and the second term is arsenokoitai.

Some commonly read translations include…

malakos arsenokoitai
KJV: effeminate abusers of themselves with mankind
NIV: male prostitutes homosexual offenders
NKJ: homosexuals sodomites
RSV1952: homosexuals
RSV1977: sexual perverts
RSV1989: male prostitutes sodomites
Jerusalem Bible: catamites sodomites

The term malakoi, as an adjective, literally means “soft.” In it has been used as an adjective in reference to clothing. In this text, however, it is used as a noun and its meaning is debated. Does our understanding of arsenokoitai as revealed in as “men who sleep with male-prostitutes” make sense next to this word malakos which is translated by both NIV and RSV as male prostitutes? The Jerusalem Bible even translates the term malakos as catamites, those young softprepubescent “pet” boys mentioned earlier. The syntactical and historical context of reveals the meaning of the word arsenokoitai as men who sleep with prostitutes, and the fact this also fits the context of seems to confirm that we have found the meaning of these obscure words. It makes perfect sense that Paul would rebuke not only the prostitute, but also the “male-bedder” or the man who sleeps with that prostitute.

As we see, these two verses are about this practice of prostitution and possibly pederasty, but what about . It clearly says, “…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 their own persons the due penalty for their error.” Isn’t this clear enough? There are no obscure Greek words. How are we to understand this?

24     Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
25     because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
26     For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
27     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 their own persons the due penalty for their error. (RSV)

To understand what Paul is writing about we must look at the event as a whole and not isolate a single portion of it. Each verse in this story gives us a glimpse into the situation.

  • : “Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.” If we are painting a picture, it begins with the image of LUST.
  • : “…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Now there is a FALSEHOOD as well as IDOLATRY involved (i.e. worshipping something other than God).
  • : “God gave them up to dishonorable passions…” Now DISHONORABLE PASSIONS are presented. Looking back at this now we see this as a situation of lust, falsehood, idolatry, and dishonorable passions.
  • and 27 continue: “Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another…”

Looking at the men first will help to clarify the passage: “The men likewise gave up natural relations with women…” Stop. Did you see that? They gave up natural relations with women, which implies that these men were heterosexuals by nature. The phrase translated as “gave up” is the Greek word aphente (afenteV) meaning to leave behind, forsake, neglect, or divorce. These men, therefore, divorced themselves from their own nature, that of heterosexuality, and were consumed with passion for one another. Women did likewise. As we see, Paul is talking about heterosexual individuals engaging in homosexual sex, which is contrary to their nature.

Why would men do that? As any biblical scholar will tell you: “Context is everything.” This is a situation of lust, falsehood, idolatry, and dishonorable passions. In this account there are a number or men and a number of women, both plurals. This would most definitely be an orgy…everyone filled with lust and “dishonorable passions” having sex with whomever however. But why would Paul be talking about orgies? A little research uncovers the pagan practice of “sacred sexual orgies.” Baal was the Canaanite deity that was worshipped with sexual orgies on Mount Peor in Moab, with which Paul would have been familiar. With this contextual understanding let us read this story again:

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 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 their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

Anyone who isolates the phrase “natural relations” to declare homosexual relations unnatural is interjecting their own prejudice and reading entirely outside of context. Even if we were to isolate that phrase it could only be used to condemn heterosexuals who go against their own heterosexual nature and engage in homosexual activity. As Peter J. Gomes, preacher to Harvard University, further clarifies in his book The Good Book, “It is not clear that Saint Paul distinguished, as we must, between homosexual persons and heterosexual persons who behave like homosexuals, but what is clear is that what is ‘unnatural’ is the one behaving after the manner of the other” (page 157).

So far we have looked at all three of the New Testament scriptures used in reference to homosexuality as well as the Genesis narrative about Sodom. That leaves us with two other scriptures that are mentioned when this topic is brought up: The Creation Narrative () and (& parallel ).

The Creation Narrative ()

This is a story about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!! We’ve all probably heard that somewhere. The fact is, it was Adam and Eve. In The Good Book, Gomes writes the following pertaining to the creation narrative:

“…the authors of Genesis were intent upon answering the question ‘Where do we come from?’ Then, as now, the only plausible answer is from the union of a man and a woman…The creation story in Genesis does not pretend to be a history of anthropology or of every social relationship. It does not mention friendship, for example, and yet we do not assume that friendship is condemned or abnormal. It does not mention the single state, and yet we know that singleness is not condemned, and that in certain religious circumstances it is held in very high esteem” (pages 49-50).1

In other words, Adam and Eve is the only relationship for this specific account that makes sense. It is a story about creation, and only a procreative (i.e. hetero-sexual) relationship would be appropriate for this particular story. If someone, in spite of this, were to base his or her opinion of homosexuality on the Creation story alone, their stance would not only be out of context, but also based on a weak argument.

That leaves us with two Leviticus laws: & parallel .

Let us look at a few different translations of

  • KJV: “Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
  • NIV: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

Living Bible: “Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.”

The questions we should ask are, “What does this really say, and what is the context of this law?” Leviticus is the book of the law. It contains everything from commandments for men not to shave the edges of their beards; orders not to have intercourse during menstruation; not to harvest different crops in the same field; as well as strict dietary laws. The Holiness Code, as it is called, was written to distinguish the Hebrews, morally and ritually, from the Babylonians and Canaanites. They are often referred to as the purity laws. Now let us look at what the New Testament says about the law:

“Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (RSV ).

“Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed.  So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian [i.e. The Law]. For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (RSV ).

Other New Testament Scriptures on the Law include: ; ; , .

If we are “not under the law” does that mean we can lie, cheat, steal, etc.? In Paul answers this question himself, “By no means!” Didn’t Christ himself in say that he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it? So what is the law? Jesus was once asked, “Rabbi, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (RSV )

Paul would later echo this idea in Romans as he wrote

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (RSV )

Christian tradition has distinguished Old Testament laws that pertain to “purity” and those that pertain to “morality,” the latter of which still apply. If love is the true fulfillment of the law, then for Christians should not love be the measuring stick for determining by which laws we are to abide (i.e. which are “moral laws”)?

Now let’s look back at the verse. Literally translated from Hebrew reads: “And with a male you shall not lay lyings of a woman.”

First of all “lay lyings” has no clear interpretation. The only way of making sense of this is to insert something to produce a smoother, more commonsense English translation. For example, one can insert “as the” or “in the” after the first lay as showed below:

  • “And with a male you shall not lay [as the] lyings of a woman.”
  • “And with a male you shall not lay [in the] lyings of a woman.”

Even if we accept the NIV or KJV translations, (KJV: “Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.”) we still must understand the historical context of how a man laid with a women, for this is the qualifier of the phrase. Rabbi Arthur Waskow explains, “The whole structure of sexuality in the Torah assumes a dominant male and a subordinate female.” 2 The status of women in that time was much lower than that of men, and women were even considered property of the men. This belief regarding gender relations is rejected by most of the Christian church today, but in order to make sense of this specific Jewish law we must keep in mind this context in which it was written. We simply cannot ignore the second half of the phrase, “as with a woman” as most interpretations tend to do.

For one of the men in the sexual encounter to be treated as one would treat a woman, the man would have been taking a lower status. To do so would have been reducing him to property and in effect defiling the image of God, which man was considered. To fully understand this law, we must consider the historical context in which it was written.

The Old Testament was initially a part of the Hebrew Scriptures of the Jewish people. The Septuagint was an ancient translation of the Old Testament from its original Hebrew into Greek. It was the “version” of the Old Testament that the New Testament writers quoted from when they cited Old Testament scriptures. The Hebrew word in this specific law we are looking at that was translated into English as “abomination” was translated in the Septuagint into the Greek word bdelugma. A quick search through a lexicon for the word bdelugma brings up the following definition:

  • a foul thing, a detestable thing
  • of idols and things pertaining to idolatry

This seems to point to the idea that this specific law has more to do with a matter of ritual purity and with the Hebrews not being like the idolatrous Babylonians or Canaanites. As we see, this law isn’t as simple as it appears. First of all we have a very unclear law (“And with a male you shall not lay lyings of a woman.”). Second of all, we must consider the historical context of how men treated women in sexual encounters. Thirdly, as revealed through Christ, the fulfillment of the law is truly love. Rape, stealing, hating, etc. are immoral because they are not in line with the Law of Love, which Christ frames so perfectly when questioned about the law. Is a committed homosexual relationship in violation of this law? We could become like the Pharisees and Sadducees trying to pick apart this law forever, but if we look closely, Christ’s life truly reveals the Spirit of the Law. Surely this is what Paul meant when he wrote, “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (RSV ).

Scripture Study Conclusion

As we see, the Bible really does not fully address the topic of homosexuality. Jesus never talked about it. The prophets never talked about it. In Sodom homosexual activity is mentioned within the context of rape (raping angels nonetheless), and in we find it mentioned within the context of idolatry (Baal worship) involving lust and dishonorable passions. 1 Corinthians 6:9 and talk about homosexual activity in the context of prostitution and possibly pederasty. Nowhere does the Bible talk about a loving and committed homosexual relationship. The only thing the authors of the Bible knew about homosexuality was that which they saw expressed in the pagan worship of Baal, the temple prostitution, et cetera. To use the Bible to condemn homosexuality, as we see, involves a projection of ones own bias and a stretching of the Biblical text beyond that of which the scriptures speak. Historically, however, the Bible has been taken out of context and twisted to oppress almost every minority one could imagine including women, African Americans, children, slaves, Jews, and the list goes on. Do we truly understand the greatest commandments? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (RSV Mat. 22:36-40)

Church Tradition

Tradition, however, has held that marriage is a sacrament designed for a very specific purpose. The following is taken from the article Homosexual Marriage by United Methodist clergyman Tex Sample:

“To address Christian homosexual marriage, attention must be turned to the tradition of the church, and here I am indebted to the work of Daniel M. Bell Jr. St. Augustine is the major figure in the teaching of the church on marriage. For him marriage is an office, a duty in which one serves the church and the larger society. This office serves three ends. First is the procreative end, which is understood by Augustine as raising children for the Kingdom of God. It is not primarily having children of one’s own in a biological sense. The second end is the unitive end in which couples learn faithfulness to each other and to God and become thereby witnesses to an ‘order of charity.’ The third is the sacramental end, which for Augustine relates more often to the indissolubility of marriage.

These three ends are sustained in the later Middle Ages. While Augustine sees marriage as serving to restrain lust, in the later Middle Ages a more positive view develops in which marriage contributes to growth in holiness…

The point is that marriage in the Christian tradition serves a number of ends: procreation, fidelity, sacrament/al, mutual support and companionship, mutual society, and loving companionship. What is striking is that all of these ends can be met by homosexual marriages, even the procreative end when the procreative end is understood as raising children for the Kingdom of God and not primarily as a function of nature [a biological function]. On these grounds, it is appropriate for gay and lesbian Christians to be married in the church, and it is not in violation of Scripture or tradition.

The objection to this argument by some Christians is to raise up where Jesus states that “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The argument is then made that this is the only form scriptural marriage can take. The issue addressed in this passage, however, is divorce. Jesus is responding to a hard-hearted test of his authority. Extending his response to a blanket denial of homosexual marriage goes well beyond the text. Moreover, it is uttered by a single Christ who did indeed leave his mother and father to engage in his Incarnate mission. So long as we are dealing with a single Christ who left father and mother for a different reason, we must be open to other possible options, especially options that fulfill the ends of Christian marriage traditionally understood.

In conclusion, biblical teaching does not address a host of same-sex practices, among them homosexual marriage. Moreover, the ends of marriage as understood in the tradition of the church are ends that homosexual marriage can fulfill. So the issue in the confirmation of a bishop in a homosexual relationship is not whether he or she is gay, not even whether he or she is a practicing homosexual. The question is: is he or she married to this partner, and if so, does this marriage meet these ends.”3

The Sacrament of Sex

There are those who would say that this topic is really much simpler and just comes down to sex. They might ask, “Isn’t the inherent function of sex procreation, an end which homosexual sex does not fulfill?” The 1958 resolution of the Ninth Lambeth Conference, on the subject of intercourse wrote:

“Sexual intercourse is not by any means the only language of earthly love, but it is, in its full and right use, the most revealing…It is a giving and receiving in the unity of two free spirits which in itself is good…Therefore it is utterly wrong to say that…such intercourse ought not to be engaged in except with the willing intention of children.” 1

Sex within marriage can fulfill two divine functions: the procreative and the unitive. If homosexual sex can fulfill one of the two divine ends of sex, is that not reason enough to bless lifelong homosexual unions/marriages? Regarding the two divine ends of sex (i.e. the procreative and the unitive), if you can’t do one, does that mean you should not do the other? By no means! Interestingly enough, The Roman Catholic Church, as well as most other churches, permits the marriage of infertile couples, as well as the marriage of women past childbearing age, both of which close the possibility of procreation. As Boston College Professor of Theology Charles C. Hefling, Jr. summarizes this beautifully: “Sex can be productive without being reproductive.”1

Conclusion

As we have seen, Scripture does not really have much to say about homosexuality. Furthermore, we have come to see that homosexual sex within a marriage can fulfill one of the divine ends of sex (i.e. the unitive), and that such a marriage also fits within the traditional Christian understanding of the sacrament of marriage. I would like to leave you with a short story adapted from an oral rendition by Natalie Graber:

Once there was an old man who had to carry water up the hill from the river to his house each day. One of his water jugs, however, had a crack in it, so that, by the time he arrived at the top of the path, most of the water was lost. His neighbors laughed at him: “Why don’t you buy a new water jug?” Even his wife criticized him: “Why don’t you buy a new water jug?” But the man said nothing.

One day, he said to them, “Come with me,” and led them, skeptical but curious, down the path that ran from his back door to the river.

“Almost every day,” said the man to his wide-eyed companions, “on my way to the river, I scatter seeds. On my way home, water leaks from my precious jug to nourish them.”

To their amazement, the entire left side of path was in bloom. A riot of color—flowers of every hue and tone— made the path a paradise.

Is not homosexuality similar to that second jug? It may appear broken from one individual’s limited and restricted perspective, but truly what appears to be “brokenness” is indeed a hidden virtue. Could one even imagine that the jug is not necessarily “broken,” but rather God, out of abundance and creativity, created more than one type of jug for more than one purpose?

On another note, we accept that it is true that we are not only spiritual and mental beings, but also physical and sexual beings. Does it make sense then that a large percent of God’s children should live in denial of a fundamental part of who they are? Should this group be forced to live without the affection and intimacy that comes with committed partnership? Nonetheless, that is precisely what is happening. Homosexuals in the church are not only among the most marginalized groups, but are often victims of violence or driven to suicide because they cannot make sense of their emotions in the light of what they believe or are told their Bible says. Or because of a lack of understanding of what the Bible truly says (or doesn’t say) they are, more often than not, driven to leave the church.

We need to embrace and support this group of people, not despite scripture and tradition, but in light of scripture and tradition. We need to open the doors of the church setting aside our own human prejudices, so that we can truly live according to the law that Christ taught us. The problem, however, is rooted in fear and lack of awareness. Gomes concludes, “The combination of ignorance and prejudice under the guise of morality makes the religious community, and its abuse of scripture in this regard, itself morally culpable.”1

For homosexuals and heterosexuals Christians alike it is imperative to know what the Bible says about homosexuality, as both groups desire to live according to the direction of the Bible, as understood through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. With looming constitutional amendments in opposition to homosexual marriage, and division in the larger Church surrounding this issue, it is our responsibility to be as informed as possible. It is my prayer that we may set aside our fears and prejudices and open our minds and hearts to the truth which the Holy Spirit longs to make known to us all. I offer this study as one seeking that truth. May the Spirit of peace, which surpasses all understanding, guide our hearts and minds as we continue to prayerfully consider this issue.
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You can contact the author of this study by emailing him at justin@truthsetsfree.net or point your browser to www.truthsetsfree.net


1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)


19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. (ESV)


22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13

22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13

13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (ESV)


24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 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. (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (ESV)


What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. (ESV)


10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (ESV)


27 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. (ESV)


24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 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. (ESV)


24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, (ESV)


25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (ESV)


26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; (ESV)


26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; (ESV)


1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)


22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (ESV)


1:1 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

10 “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, 11 and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar, 13 but the entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

14 “If his offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. 15 And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. Its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He shall remove its crop with its contents and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. 17 He shall tear it open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. (ESV)


1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)


22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (ESV)


1:1 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

10 “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, 11 and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar, 13 but the entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

14 “If his offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. 15 And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. Its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He shall remove its crop with its contents and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. 17 He shall tear it open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. (ESV)


22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (ESV)


22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (ESV)


Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (ESV)


23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (ESV)


who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (ESV)


13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (ESV)


For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (ESV)


10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (ESV)


15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (ESV)


17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (ESV)


36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)


Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (ESV)


22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (ESV)


Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (ESV)


24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 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. (ESV)


10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV)


‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. (ESV)

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2013 Affirming Church Survey
2014-church-report-sidebar-graphic1We've crunched the numbers, sifted through the data, and are pleased to present this year's Affirming Church Survey. Click here to read all the details.