God has always given His laws to mankind for our benefit, but mankind has chosen his own way (Isa. 53:6). Men seem to believe that they know better than God what’s right and what’s wrong. As society degrades more and more, that which is good and wholesome in God’s eyes is deplorable, while that which is an abomination to God and His people is acceptable and praiseworthy. This is nothing new. Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20).
One such example that is quite prevalent today is homosexuality, ever increasingly praised by those who practice it, and becoming more openly accepted even by those who don’t. Lately it seems you can’t watch a television commercial that doesn’t include homosexual couples. Sometimes it’s less obvious that others, but sometimes it’s being flaunted before us.
While the world euphemistically calls this “an alternate lifestyle” or one’s “sexual preference,” the Bible calls these people sodomites, obviously a reference to the abominable perversions that occurred in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham and Lot, and for which these people are “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). You can read the disgusting details in Genesis 19, particularly verse 5.
The word sodomite or sodomites occurs five times in the Old Testament (KJV). It is defined by Strong as “a (male) devotee (by prostitution) to licentious idolatry: – sodomite, unclean.” Those who want to find biblical authority for homosexual behavior focus in on the “prostitute” part of the definition, claiming that God was only forbidding prostitution (particularly the temple cult practices so common in antiquity). They then improperly transfer this meaning to other passages that do not use the same word and clearly condemn all homosexual activity. For this article, we will be focusing on these clear biblical condemnations, both in the Old and New Testaments.
“Gay” and the Rainbow
Two beautiful things that have been hijacked and perverted by homosexuals are the rainbow and the word gay. The word gay, according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, still means “happily excited, merry, bright, lively, brilliant in color.” Of course, this is a secondary definition. The primary meaning is “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to people of one’s same sex.” As we’ll discuss momentarily, there is nothing gay about sodomy!
And what a disgusting theft to change God’s beautiful rainbow into a sign of filth. After God flooded the world in Noah’s day due to the pervasion of sin throughout society (Gen. 6:5), God graciously gave us the beautiful rainbow, still as mesmerizing to behold today as it was then, as a sign that He would never flood the world again (9:13-17). Maybe the sodomites’ display of a rainbow to represent their abhorrent lifestyle is nothing more than an arrogant claim that they know God won’t flood the world again because of their abominable acts. Either way, they need to consider what He said in 2 Peter 3:5-7, that while the world was destroyed with water before, the next destruction of sinful man will be with fire. Faithful Christians don’t fear this day; we look forward to it. But we do fear it for those who practice sodomy (and all other sin), and we earnestly desire their repentance before it is eternally too late.
What the World Says
So, what does the Bible say about the practice of sodomy? According to many sodomite apologists, it really says nothing. Let’s consider some thoughts from an article titled What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality? on the Human Rights Council website (https://www.hrc.org/resources/what-does-the-bible-say-about-homosexuality).
Near the beginning of the article, it says, “Before we can jump into how it is that Christians can maintain the authority of the Bible and also affirm sexual diversity….” Stop right there. No need to finish the article, or even the sentence. We already know that the goal of the author is not to determine biblical truth, but rather to harmonize the Bible’s clear teachings with his own unbiblical beliefs and desires. In other words, he has no interest in simple adherence to the Bible’s teachings. No wonder we find things like this:
While the six passages that address same-sex eroticism in the ancient world are negative about the practices they mention, there is no evidence that these in any way speak to same-sex relationships of love and mutuality.
Notice the admission that the Bible speaks negatively about “same sex eroticism.” We can be certain from the context that he has, therefore, taken all homosexual activity and divided it into two categories: that which is between two people who allegedly love each other, and all other such activity, which he calls eroticism. He then concludes that it must be this second category that is condemned by Scripture, not the first since, after all, these two men/women love each other. While the article claims it, the fact is clear that the Bible makes no such distinction in its condemnation of sexual activity between two people of the same sex (as we’ll see below).
So, what does this article say about these “six passages that address same-sex eroticism”? Not much. Watch how it attempts to dismiss four of these verses in two short sentences:
The injunction that “man must not lie with man” (Lev. 18:22, 20:13) coheres with the context of a society anxious about their health, continuing family lineages, and retaining the distinctiveness of Israel as a nation. Each time the New Testament addresses the topic in a list of vices (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10), the argument being made is more than likely about the sexual exploitation of young men by older men….”
So, God’s clear condemnation of all practice of sodomy in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 was actually given because of their health concerns, their needs to procreate, and the requirement to remain distinct from other nations? Interesting is the assumed admission that sodomite relationships bring health concerns and the inability to procreate! Of course, none of these things is mentioned as being the reason for God’s condemnation of sodomy. He simply condemns it…all of it. The article’s claim is false.
And, read 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 and see if you can find in these contexts anything about “the sexual exploitation of young men by older men.” As we’ll see below, the definition of one of the words in these two lists may include, but is not limited to this idea, but the other word used is in no way limited to such a specific sin; it is broad its meaning (and therefore condemnation) of sodomy. The author of this article simply hones in on it and ignores the broader sin being condemned. Again, the article’s weak attempt to redefine the context fails.
And don’t think that our author forgot about Paul’s resounding condemnation of sodomy in Romans 1. Let’s notice how he helps us understand that this is not a blanket condemnation of sodomy (like it clearly is):
…and what we read in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is a part of a broader indictment against idolatry and excessive, self-centered lust that is driven by desire to “consume” rather than to love and to serve as outlined for Christian partnership elsewhere in the Bible.
The passage to which he refers, Romans 1:26-27, speaks of Gentiles, who knew God and the truth (v. 20-21) but rejected it (v. 28) and became fools (v. 22), giving themselves over to numerous sins (v. 23-32). Included in this was their sodomite sin:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
According to our author, this is simply a broad condemnation of idolatry, excess, and those who just want to “consume” rather than love. Yet again, no such contextual limitations can be found in this passage. Rather, Paul is condemning many sins they committed, one of which was sodomite relationships. We notice that the inspired apostle called only one relationship “natural”, and that was a man with a woman. He says that the relationships of men with men and women with women are “against nature,” “unseemly,” and “error,” not to mention “dishonor(ing) their own bodies between themselves” (v. 24). And all of these are the result of “vile affections” (vile means “disgrace, dishonor, reproach, shame,” according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary). There is nothing in the context that could possibly lead an honest truth seeker to conclude that any sodomy relationship could be acceptable or authorized by God, regardless of how much these two claim to love each other. Any man who truly loves another man will do everything in his power to help him be saved rather than participating with him in activities the Bible clearly identifies as sin.
What we see in this article is the same thing we see so often in the religious world —mislabeling of the context of a biblical passage in order to water down its meaning. This is a popular tactic among false teachers and those whose goal is not to understand the purpose and meaning of a passage. This is why we have to be on our guard against such error. Each of us needs to fulfill his own responsibility to study each passage in its context (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15) and then do what it says (Jas. 1:22-25). An honest reading of these passages (as we’re about to do) will cause an open-minded Bible student to conclude that the practice of sodomy is in no case approved by God, but rather is an abomination to Him and will cause the impenitent participant to be eternally lost.
Scripture on the Topic
Now let’s let the Bible answer the question clearly regarding whether or not the practice of sodomy is authorized.
1. Leviticus 18:22 – “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” This is not ambiguous! There is no specific Hebrew word used here that can be defined more precisely in order to limit the context. It simply condemns a man for “lying” (obviously euphemistic for sexual intercourse) with another man in the same manner (i.e., sexually) that he would with a woman. There is no broader chapter context that would limit the meaning. Hence the author of the above article fabricated a very broad societal context of health, family lineage, and national distinction (see above).
2. Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
3. 1 Kings 14:24 (see also 15:12; 22:46; Deut. 23:17) – “And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.” As mentioned above, the definition of the Hebrew word for sodomite includes the idea of “temple prostitute,” which causes many to falsely believe and teach that every time the practice is condemned, it’s really only the pagan temple practice that’s being condemned. However, it’s crystal clear from these other passages that all sodomy is sin before God, regardless of any specific purpose.
4. Mark 10:6-9 – “…from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The only sexual relationship God authorized is between a man and woman (more on this below).
5. Romans 1:26-27 – “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” This has already been discussed (above).
6. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” “Abusers of themselves with mankind” (KJV) is translated from a compound Greek word meaning “man” and “coitus” (i.e., sex between men) and is translated “homosexuals” (NKJV) and “sodomites” (Young’s Literal Translation). Also in this list, “fornicators” refers to those who practice any unauthorized sexual activity, which includes sodomy.
7. 1 Timothy 1:9-10 – “…the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners…for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind…and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” “Whoremongers” and “them that defile themselves with mankind” are translated from the same two Greek words as in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 (see #6 above).
8. Jude 1:7 – “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” The “going after strange flesh” further defines the type of “fornication” to which Jude refers. “Strange” is translated from the Greek heteros, which means “different”; i.e., different than what is normal and “natural” (Rom. 1:26); different than what is authorized (i.e., unauthorized flesh). Sodom and Gomorrah, and all those who practice this sin, will suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire.”
What IS Authorized?
We’ve shown clearly that, in all three dispensations (Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian), God condemned the practice of sodomy. But, even if He’d been silent on this unnatural practice, He was not silent on the topic of sexual relationships and what He wants and authorizes for all mankind. God identified the one type of sexual activity that He authorized. No other such activity is permitted. Hebrews 13:4 says “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” The only sexual activity that is authorized is in the “marriage bed.” And He limited marriage to the union of a man and a woman.
Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” A man (Hebrew “iysh” meaning man or husband) shall cleave unto his wife (Hebrew “ishshah” meaning woman or wife). There is no authority here for two men or two women.
What did Jesus have to say about this verse?
Matthew 19:4-5 – Jesus quoted this verse when challenged by the Jewish leaders on the question of divorce and remarriage. He said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Jesus therefore makes it clear that a marriage is defined as one man and one woman, and that this union is to be for life (v.6f).
We can see then that God 1) specified the only type of sexual relationship He authorized, and that is between one man and one woman in their marriage bed, and 2) was not silent on any other kind of sexual relationship, but explicitly forbade and condemned them. Therefore, any other sexual activity (including but not limited to homosexuality) is unauthorized and forbidden by God. If a man or woman chooses to participate in such unauthorized and forbidden relationships, he or she violates God’s law, which is the definition of sin (1 John 3:4). Sin separates one from God (Isaiah 59:2) and will result in spiritual death (Jas. 1:14-16). In other words, sodomy (among all other unauthorized sexual activity) will lead the partaker to Hell.
As sinful and soul-threatening as the practice of sodomy is, we need to recognize that it is not an unpardonable sin; any homosexual can be forgiven if he obeys God’s plan of salvation, which includes repentance and ceasing the sinful practice (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11 – “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus…”). Nor is this sin any worse in the eyes of God than any other sin. Any unforgiven sin will result in eternal separation from God (Isa. 59:2). It’s important for the Christian, who should be disgusted by the practice of sodomy, to be just as disgusted by the practice of any sin.
Let’s also recognize that it is the practice of sodomy that is condemned. Many people today may have confused feelings of attraction for the opposite sex but refuse to act upon those feelings because they know such action to be sin. These people are to be commended for their refusal to participate in what they know to be an abomination to God. And they need the support of Christians to remain pure of the sin that tempts. It is certainly an important work of the church to evangelize the lost and encourage the saved.