Since President Joyce Banda indicated that government intends to repeal the laws that criminalise homosexuality in Malawi, the issue has re-emerged as a hot topic for public discussion. In this article, Lehman Strauss, presents what he calls a Christian perspective of homosexuality.
What is homosexuality?
Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desire towards a member of oneâ€™s own sex or the erotic activity with a member of the same sex. A lesbian is a female homosexual. More recently the term “gay” has come into popular use to refer to both sexes who are homosexuals.
How does one determine if the practice of homosexuality is right or wrong?
That depends upon who is answering the question. The Christian point of view is based solely upon the Bible, the divinely inspired word of God. A truly Christian standard of ethics is the conduct of divine revelation, not of statistical research nor of public opinion. For the Christian, the Bible is the final authority for both belief and behaviour.
What explicitly does the Bible teach about homosexuality?
This question I consider to be basic because, if we accept Godâ€™s word on the subject of homosexuality, we benefit from His adequate answer to this problem. I am concerned only with the Christian or biblical view of homosexuality. The Bible has much to say about sex sins in general.
First, there is adultery. Adultery in the natural sense is sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than his or her own spouse. It is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 20:14; I Cor. 6:9, 10). Christ forbids dwelling upon the thoughts, the free play of oneâ€™s imagination that leads to adultery (Matthew 5:28).
Second, there is fornication, the illicit sex acts of unmarried persons which is likewise forbidden (I Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; Ephesians 5:3).
Then there is homosexuality which likewise is condemned in scripture. The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that homosexuality “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9; 10). Now, Paul does not single out the homosexual as a special offender. He includes fornicators, idolators, adulterers, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, revilers and extortioners. And then he adds the comment that some of the Christians at Corinth had been delivered from these very practices: “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, and by the spirit of our God.” (I Corinthians 6:11). All of the sins mentioned in this passage are condemned by God, but just as there was hope in Christ for the Corinthians, so is there hope for all of us.
Homosexuality is an illicit lust forbidden by God. He said to His people Israel: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “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.” (Leviticus 20:13). In these passages, homosexuality is condemned as a prime example of sin, a sexual perversion. The Christian can neither alter Godâ€™s viewpoint nor depart from it.
In the Bible, sodomy is a synonym for homosexuality. God spoke plainly on the matter when He said, “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 23:17). The whore and the sodomite are in the same category. A sodomite was not an inhabitant of Sodom nor a descendant of an inhabitant of Sodom, but a man who had given himself to homosexuality, the perverted and unnatural vice for which Sodom was known. Let us look at the passages in question.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house around, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. (Genesis 19:4 8)
The Hebrew word for “know” in verse 5 is yaâ€žda`, a sexual term. It is used frequently to denote sexual intercourse (Genesis 4:1, 17, 25; Matthew 1:24, 25). The message in the context of Genesis 19 is clear. Lot pled with the men to “do not so wickedly.” Homosexuality is wickedness and must be recognized as such else there is no hope for the homosexual who is asking for help to be extricated from his perverted way of life.
You said that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is condemned in the Bible. How do you explain marriage ceremonies in which two persons of the same sex are united by an officiating clergyman or justice of the peace?
There are cases on record where a marriage license was issued to persons of the same sex. I recall one such incident in Phoenix, Arizona. A marriage license was issued in the Maricopa County clerkâ€™s office to two men 39 and 21 years old respectively. The two men are reported to have “married” in a private ceremony.
However, to call a union of two persons of the same sex a “marriage” is a misnomer. In the Bible, marriage is a divinely ordered institution designed to form a permanent union between one man and one woman for one purpose (among others) of procreating or propagating the human race. That was Godâ€™s order in the first of such unions (Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:24; Matthew 19:5). If, in His original creation of humans, God had created two persons of the same sex, there would not be a human race in existence today. The whole idea of two persons of the same sex marrying is absurd, unsound, ridiculously unreasonable, stupid. A clergyman might bless a homosexual marriage but God wonâ€™t.â€” www.bible.org