The next four blogs will be addressing the LGBTQ+ conversation. This is a difficult topic for many, but I believe it is important to approach the topic with openness in truth and grace. I encourage you to join the conversation with love. Please read and study the Biblical verses offered as well as the references and resources at the end of each blog. I pray this helps us move our relationships forward in love for God’s glory.
Let’s dig into a sampling of the most known and graphic Bible passages on LGBTQ+ behavior. These verses are from the Bible but might not be appropriate for younger ages to read, so I suggest parents and mentors read and study these passages prior to your younger children.
Before jumping into the verses, I want to affirm the Bible is God’s Word written by people, but they were guided by God Himself by his Spirit in writing these words first to help people hear the plan of salvation and trust Jesus as their Savior (John 3:16, 20:30-31) and second, the Bible gives instructions on how to live faithfully for God. It is our primary authority for living because it is from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21), so we need to take its instruction very seriously in all areas of life, including sexual relationships.
SODOM AND GOMORRAH | A GENERAL WARNING AGAINST SEXUAL SIN
The story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is very old and shows up in Genesis 19. Two “men” visit the city of Sodom and Lot (Abraham’s nephew) takes them into his house. All of a sudden the men of the city bang on Lot’s door saying they want the men to come out so they can have sex with them (Genesis 19:5). Lot goes outside and attempts to get the mob to go away, but they only get more angry. Lot’s guests are not actually men, but heavenly angels and they strike the mob with blindness. What does this have to do with homosexuality? Well, no one had sex with anyone, but men outside wanted to gang rape the “men” inside the house. This story is tragic, wrong, and graphic, and really doesn’t help us with a good response to the LGBTQ+ community. It is about homosexual gang rape, not consensual LGBTQ+ relationships.
Instead, Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is used as a warning metaphor in other places in the Bible including from Jesus (Ezekiel 16, Leviticus 18, Matthew 11, Luke 10, Jude 7). It is clear what the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah represented was sinful sexually and against the Kingdom of God. Thus, they were used as a warning not to follow.
LEVITICAL LAW | WHY IS STILL MATTERS
The book of Leviticus mentions homosexual behavior clearly as God’s instructions to the Israelites. “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22). The next passage reads, “Suppose a man has sex with another man as he would have sex with a woman. I hate what they have done. They must be put to death. Anything that happens to them will be their own fault.” (Leviticus 20:13).
Wow. These verses are straight forward and easily understood. God is sharing in the Old Testament how his people, the Israelites (Jews) should behave. He shares what they should do and not do in relationship to Genesis 2 with the foundation of marriage being between a man and a woman. The Leviticus passages are about consensual sex between same sex individuals, not rape, so it addresses the topic clearly of homosexual relationships. What makes this complicated is the list of other things in Leviticus that Christians don’t obey today like not eating catfish, not shaving a man’s beard off and other dietary details. Wise Bible believing followers of Jesus need to wrestle with what is still binding for us today from Leviticus (and the whole Old Testament) and what not to obey today.
A good biblical interpretation rule is if the topic is mentioned the same way in the New Testament from Jesus, the disciples, Paul, or other authors, it is a strong case for universal guidance on how to live faithfully for God.
When it comes to the “sex chapters” of Leviticus 18-20, we see different kinds of relational rules that are all still valid for today. Do not steal, lie, cheat, slander, participate in witchcraft, do not let your daughter have sex with another for money, and more. It is clear that God is being consistent with marriage and sex being with one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2). The real proof that these “sex laws” are still valid today is that they are repeated in the New Testament of the Bible by the Gospel writers, Paul, and others, so they are guidance to live by today. For example, Paul tells us to “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18). This is still true today. Here’s one more example from Jesus. He said, But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:18). Pursuing sexual purity between a man and a woman continues from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
WHAT JESUS SAYS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY
Many people and authors have pointed out that Jesus never said anything directly about homosexuality. This is true, but then the same people jump to the conclusion that Jesus must be okay with LGBTQ+ lifestyles-Not true. Why? Jesus never mentioned rape, either, but surely no one thinks that Jesus was ok with this universally, and biblically, prohibited perversion of sexuality.
Another option why Jesus did not address this topic is that it never came up in conversation and was not recorded in the Gospels because it was assumed to be wrong based on the whole of Scripture. For the Jews, the Scripture was the Old Testament. The Jews assumed the matter was closed because the Torah and the Prophets gave specific instructions on sexual relationships in contrast to the surrounding Roman and Greek cultures of Jesus’ day. It is clear from the teachings of Jesus as a whole that same-sex behavior and relationships were sins against God. Jesus didn’t need to say anything because this was the universally held belief of the culture in which he was operating.
Keep in mind, Jesus did talk about marriage many times (inferring a sexual relationship in covenant) between a man and a woman referencing the creation, thus it was assumed that sexual intimacy outside of biblical marriage was not what God intended (Genesis 2, Matthew 5:31-32, 5:45-46; 19:1-12; Luke 16:18).
CULTURAL CONTEXT | HOMOSEXUALITY IN ANCIENT GREECE
Paul addressed the lifestyle of homosexuality in the New Testament. Keep in mind, Jesus was first sharing his life and salvation with the Jews, God’s promised people who already knew homosexual behavior was outside of God’s plan, but Paul was going to the gentiles who lived a very different lifestyle. Homosexual behavior was widespread in the Roman and Greek gentile world where Paul was taking the Gospel. Romans 1 addresses the issue by saying men have sinned against God by turning to other men in sexual relations (Romans 1:26-27). Paul is saying very clearly that consensual homosexual behavior and relationships are unnatural and against God. Again, this affirms Genesis 2 where marriage is between a man and a woman for life and thus sexual interaction is within this marriage relationship.
Paul shared to the church in Corinth, a very sexually open Greek culture, that homosexual behavior was wrong. He appeals to them not to be fooled and says explicitly that men should not sleep with other men (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He continues saying, sexual immorality is wrong and affirms again that sexual behavior and commitment is between a man and a woman referencing the creation account again. He ends with saying, “honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
Paul shares with Timothy (to the church of Ephesus) like in Corinth a list of sexual sins that people should ask for forgiveness from to come close to God. He addresses homosexuality specifically as sexual immorality (1 Timothy 1:9-10). To double down, Paul says this is against “sound doctrine” for the church (9:10).
When you read these verses in their context of the whole of Scripture, I believe we can come to the conclusion that God does not single out LGBTQ+ sexual behavior from the crowd, but shares same sex behavior in the list of sins included in sexual immorality. The whole story of God beginning in Genesis all the way to Revelation shares what marriage between a man and a woman is all about.
God implores people to repent of these acts and turn back to Himself. These are God’s words with authority to live by because he has our best interest in mind. God loves us and his instructions are life-giving. God warns of the devastation of living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle or any sinful lifestyle (Romans 6:23). This should cause our hearts to break. Anything that separates us from God is a terrible tragedy, not just homosexual behavior, but all sin. We all fall short of God’s standard of perfection (Romans 3:23; 6:23). We should be grateful God gives us the forgiveness and guidance to live fully alive with him in Jesus (John 10:10).
This was a broad overview of what the Bible teaches on sexual immorality and thus the LGBTQ+ lifestyle.
In the next blog, I will talk about how LGBTQ+ intersects with adolescent development in the next generation.
Questions to Contemplate
1. Which Bible verses surprised you relating to the LGBTQ+ conversation?
2. Are there other Bible verses not listed that you believe speak to this topic?
3. How does the teaching on marriage throughout the Bible speak to this conversation?
4. How can we use the Truth of God’s Word with love in the conversation with LGBTQ+ individuals and groups?
5. What will your next steps be in this conversation?
REFERENCES + RESOURCES
✍️ Credit :: Jeff Baxter
Next Gen Pastor
🎨 Credit :: Matt Rhodes
Creative Associate Director