What Does the Bible Say about Homosexuality?
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs | © 2018
The Bible often discusses human sexuality and God’s plans for sexual purity. Regarding homosexuality, or sexual activity between two people of the same gender, we find the following teachings.
First, Christians are to flee sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18 notes, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” The context of 1 Corinthians 6 excludes all sexual activity except sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. This would include same-sex activity.
Second, some people, including some Christians, may struggle with same-sex attraction. After including a list of several wrongs in 1 Corinthians 6:7-10, the apostle Paul notes in verse 11, “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.”
Some of these early Christians had been involved in same-sex activity, but as believers were taught to no longer live this way. Paul must have needed to mention this because some still dealt with temptation in this area.
Others have argued that people are not born with same-sex attraction or that same-sex attraction is removed after a person becomes a Christian. However, this is not specifically noted in Scripture. As people living in a fallen and imperfect world, we all struggle in a variety of areas. For some, this may include same-sex attraction.
However, having a tendency in an area does not require acting on that tendency or desire. As 1 Corinthians 6:11 indicates, believers are to no longer live in ways that are sexually displeasing to God.
Third, homosexuality is listed as one of many wrongs in Scripture, not as a wrong that is worse or better than any other. Sexual immorality may include greater consequences, but God speaks of some things as right and other things as wrong without the degreesof right and wrong we often give in our culture.
Fourth, as with other sinful actions, those who persist in homosexuality are subject to God’s judgment. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 clearly indicate, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul’s words in this passage speak against unbelievers. However, these words also make it clear that believers are also not to be involved in same-sex activity. Believers who displease God through their actions do not lose their salvation, but will not live the abundant life God desires when living against God’s will.
It is also important to note there is a distinction regarding the way the Old Testament and New Testament handle the issue of homosexuality. Both the Old and New Testament oppose homosexuality among God’s people. However, the Mosaic Law under which the Jews lived included legal consequences for a variety sexual sins, including homosexuality, that involved punishment by death.
The New Testament is clear that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17). Christians are no longer bound by the Mosaic Law, but the New Testament speaks on God’s plan for marriage and sexuality. For example, Romans 1:26-27 call same-sex activity an unnatural sexual practice.
When questioned about divorce in Matthew 19, Jesus referred to Adam and Eve as God’s ideal plan for marriage. Sexual desires are to be expressed within the context of male-female marriage.
Otherwise, Scripture indicates a person should remain single and celibate. For example, 1 Corinthians 7:38 explains, “So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.” God’s desire is not for same-sex activity, but rather for people who live devoted to Him. This includes living a single, holy life or to live within a traditional marriage between a man and woman to express sexual desires.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.