What the Bible says about homosexuality

As I mentioned in this morning’s blog, What if your son asks, “Am I gay?”, I wrote two chapters on the topic of homosexuality for my book The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book: Not-so-stupid questions about your bodyThe book was written for boys heading toward and through puberty and their parents. The two chapters I submitted were not printed in the book, as the publisher felt the material was a bit “too mature” for young boys. See if you agree or disagree.

By the way, tomorrow I’ll blog on How I wish the homosexuality debate would go and the Christian Medical Association’s Statement on Homosexuality. Tuesday I’ll tell you a story of How I addressed homosexuality with a dying patient one Christmas day. But, for now, here’s the second of the two previously unpublished chapters:

Homosexuality is one of the most controversial issues being debated in America today. Some denominations and churches have become advocates of homosexuality–while others teach that homosexual acts are morally wrong and stand steadfastly opposed to homosexuality.

When I want to know what God thinks about something, I look into the Bible—the Word of God in written form, inerrant and infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

The truth about homosexuality, as outlined in the Bible, is that homosexual acts are expressly and unconditionally forbidden. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines homosexuality as sexual preference for and sexual behavior between members of the same sex, and says that homosexuality is:

… considered to be an immoral life-style and behavior pattern throughout the biblical revelation. Only heterosexual preference and behavior patterns are approved in Scripture as conforming to God’s plan in the creation of man and woman. Moreover, all sexual behavior is to take place in the context of marriage. Sex is considered good so long as it takes place within these parameters.

The Holman Bible Dictionary also explains:

(The Bible) makes no distinction between what some today refer to as homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. Homosexual desires or feelings are never mentioned as such in Scripture, but homosexual behavior is strongly condemned as a deviation from God’s will for human beings. Therefore, it stands to reason that any homosexual inclination, feeling, or desire must be seriously dealt with as a potentially dangerous temptation much like those temptations of a heterosexual nature such as the desire to commit fornication or adultery.

One counselor wrote this to me:

I used to lump homosexual temptation and homosexual acts together. I am adamant against all forms of homosexual acts. However, with the ton of counseling I have done with homosexuals, I have heard enough testimonies from guys who say from their earliest days they were fascinated with other boys and no matter what they did, how they prayed for deliverance, dated girls, etc, they are still attracted to males instead of females.

Therefore, I think it is important to distinguish between homosexual thinking/fantasies and homosexual sexual acts. To be tempted is not a sin. To give into the temptation is. All forms of sexual acts are forbidden outside of marriage—abstinence is the same for heterosexuals and homosexuals. Sexual acts outside of marriage for anyone is, “No!”

There are some people who say, the Bible does not condemn homosexual acts—that only intolerant religious people do. Are they correct? I don’t think so, for Scripture is clear that homosexual acts are sin.

In the Old Testament, homosexuality was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:13), and was included in the list of sexual practices that were to be avoided (Leviticus 18:22). In fact, Leviticus 18:22 speaks of male homosexuality as an abomination—the strongest word used of God’s judgment against an act. This verse is sufficient to indicate the severity of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality.

In the New Testament, Paul, in Romans 1:22-27, wrote about how displeased God is toward those who practice homosexual acts:

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that those who practice homosexual acts—along with those who persist in certain other sins—will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is incredibly strong language.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

The Greek word arsenokoitai that is translated homosexual offenders, homosexuals, or practicing homosexuals means a man (person) who lies with (has sexual acts with) another man (person of the same sex). So, according to the Bible, homosexual acts are clearly wrong.

Now this verse also teaches that those who steal or are selfish or repeatedly get drunk or slander others or swindle others are just as guilty of sin. However, sexual sins, either homosexual acts or fornication or adultery, have the unique aspect of defiling the sexuality of yourself and also someone else. To me, this means that sexual sins, which impact us and another person, have far worse consequences and are often more far-reaching.

Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 6:10, Paul wrote, And some of you were like that, but now you are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by God’s Spirit. So the Bible teaches that there is forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation for anyone from any of the categories mentioned—including homosexual acts—who choose to trust Christ, to become followers of Jesus, and both admit and turn from their sin.

Some say that Jesus was silent on the issue of homosexual acts—probably because the problem never arose during his ministry among Jewish people. Yet, there are many other sexual acts that Jesus did not mention (including incest [having sex with a family member] or rape). Obviously, as the Bible teaches, these are wrong.

However, Jesus always upheld the Old Testament moral law (Matthew 5:17-19), which strictly condemned homosexual acts. And he affirmed celibacy as the only legitimate alternative to heterosexual marriage (Matthew 19:12). He very clearly taught that sexual acts are to be reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.

The Bible has a lot to say about marriage—the one flesh union of one man to one woman for life. The Bible is clearly in favor of heterosexual marriage. However, the Bible never says anything in favor of homosexuality. Therefore, even if, in the future, homosexual acts are shown to have a biologic cause, the Bible is still clear that it is wrong.

Theologian and seminary president Albert Mohler writes:

The biblical witness is clear: Homosexuality is a grievous sin against God and is a direct rejection of God’s intention and command in creation. All sin is a matter of eternal consequence, and the only hope for any sinner is the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, who on the cross paid the price for our sin, serving as the substitute for the redeemed.

There are homosexuals who believe that anyone who speaks against homosexuality is wrong—even hateful. They give those who speak against homosexual acts or write about homosexuality’s negative effects a wide variety of  labels, including homophobic; gay-bashers; self-righteous, narrow-minded, bigots; intolerant; and even spewers of hate speech. Are they correct?

Here’s what the Bible says, James 5:19-20, about people who sincerely, and motivated by love, try to help someone deal with this temptation and overcome this sin:

He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

The response of the Bible-believing follower of Jesus to persons involved in homosexual acts must be marked by genuine compassion. As a follower of Jesus, you should never aim slurs or unkind words at any other person. You can’t love someone and then ridicule or mock him or her by calling them fag or gay. The central characteristic of genuine compassion is love. And this involves lovingly telling the truth to those practicing sinful acts.

Some may try to convince you that the homosexual cannot change his or her sexual orientation because it is part of his or her very nature and that God would not expect him or her to change. The Bible begs to differ. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul wrote, Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral … nor homosexual offenders … will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The Bible makes it clear that God expects us, as Christians, to cease committing any sin. God promised that there would always be a limit to the strength of our temptation and he always provides us a way of escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our choice—every time we are tempted—is whether to give in to the temptation or flee it.

How should we feel about homosexual acts? First and foremost, our opinion should be guided by the best science and the best Biblical interpretation. To that end, my blog tomorrow afternoon, will contain the view of the experts at the Christian Medical and Dental Associations that I hope think you’ll find it useful.

Second, I think it’s important to understand that there are people who call themselves Christian and who hate and slander people involved in a homosexual acts. But hate is both un-Biblical and un-Christian. It has no place for in the thoughts or speech of followers of Jesus. I believe we are to, like Jesus, be friends of all sinners (see Matthew 11:19). We do not have to condone sin or agree with any person’s sin. But we are to love them.

Dr. Albert Mohler wisely encourages us when he writes:

The church is not a place where sinners are welcomed to remain in their sin. To the contrary, it is the Body of Christ, made up of sinners transformed by grace. Not one of us deserves to be accepted within the beloved. It is all of grace, and each one of us has come out of sin. We sin if we call homosexuality something other than sin. We also sin if we act as if this sin CANNOT be forgiven.

As a young man who claims to be a follower of Jesus, you cannot settle for truth without love nor love without truth. The Bible could not be clearer. As a genuine Christian you must both recklessly flee sin and revolutionarily love those trapped in it. Ask God to help you develop both courageous compassion and compassionate courage.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, Godhaters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

 And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

6 thoughts on “What the Bible says about homosexuality

  • Adam Howorko

    Dear Dr. Larimore,
    Over the years that I have been following your blog and I have appreciated your contributions to the Christian community. It saddens me that the publisher has chosen to leave the first chapters out of your book. I have a practice as a counselling psychologist and teach in a secular university and I am “in the world but not of the world” and have many opportunities to provide the other perspective to mainstream society that is counter to our biblical understanding of sexuality. Even five and six year olds are being taught in grade school it is “OK to be gay”; therefore, it is imperative that orthodox biblical Christian material be made available because frankly, the world needs it. The world is pouring its counter-biblical message into the culture and I appreciate that you have something God wants the world to know there is another message. Thank you and bless you in Jesus’ name.

  • Adam, appreciate your comments. They are an important observation. I’ve always hoped that those on the different sides of contentious issues would be able to disagree agreeability. But, moreover, my prayer has been that my advice and views would be both Biblically-sound and medically-reliable. I hope that Jesus’ prayer for you and me, of John 17, will continue to manifest as we both labor to be salt and light.

  • Michael Vaughan

    Dr. Larimore – I fully support what you’ve said in your blog and believe the publisher is of the wrong mind to leave that material out of a book for young men. They need to be given the facts and you have done so in a kind and fair way. Keep up the wonderful work. Blessings

  • Larry E Miller

    The material definitely should have been included. It is NOT too advanced for the target group. It appears to me that the publisher “wimped out.”

    As evanelgical, Bible-believing Christians we do not need to be ugly or hateful in our approach, BUT we need the courage to speak and write what our culture needs to hear and what our Chritian brethren need to be better informed.

    Larry Miller

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