Why does the Bible forbid same-sex marriage?

Why does the Bible completely forbid something like a homosexual loving marriage? It seems to be rather unfair to me.

Teleskoid

[Editor’s Note] This article is based on a comment on another article.

First, thanks for writing. I’m always aware that my perspective is limited, so I really appreciate hearing from you. Second, you’ve asked some good questions. I have two points to make here.

1. While it’s a good idea to understand the basis for the instructions we’re given, the job of the disciple is to be obedient…regardless of whether we fully understand. What you’re asking for is the rationale behind the Scriptural prohibition of homosexual behavior. That’s not a bad question, but it would be a mistake to base your obedience on whether you like the reasons you’ve been given, or whether they make perfect sense to you. I don’t really understand why we’re told to pray so much…but I pray all the time, trusting that I will understand later. I very much appreciate that you want to serve God with your life! I hope that you’re able to trust God with ALL of your life, and not just with the parts you understand and agree with.

2. I do have some information that might be useful. Marriage plays a very significant role in Scripture. It’s a big deal. Considering that, some find it odd that Jesus said that we won’t be married in Heaven. I wondered why, so I did some thinking and reading on the subject. I’ve kind of kept an eye out for more info over many years.

You see, a whole bunch of things in the Bible are substitutes for other things. The Temple – the place where God dwelled with His people – wasn’t just a temple. It also pointed to a future reality, when the Holy Spirit would indwell God’s people personally. This is why we read in 1 Corinthians that we are each a temple of the Holy Spirit. The physical temple was important, but it also pointed to a spiritual reality to come. There’s even more to it: the day is coming when all of God’s people will be in Heaven, dwelling where God is. The Temple in three different formats, if you will. Do you see how that works?

It’s the same thing with marriage. Marriage is important, but it also points to a greater spiritual reality. Our marriages aren’t simply important human relationships…they point to something bigger, and more important. First-century Jews understood this, but we need a bit of an explanation to get the point. You might be familiar with this passage:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

Jesus is telling His disciples that He’s going to Heaven to prepare a place for them. However: what we don’t see right away, that they understood immediately, is that these words came straight from a marriage proposal. This is what a young Israelite man would say to a young Israelite woman when he wanted to marry her. He would say this, then disappear for a while. He would build a new addition on his father’s home, making room for his new bride and their future children. Then, when it was finished, he would appear at his fiancee’s house and take her with him to live there. What does this mean? We see it everywhere in the New Testament, but we seldom think it through: Jesus is the groom, and we are the Bride. Our human marriage relationships mirror our relationship with God, and point to the future reality where we will be united with Him, living in His Father’s house.

When we think about marriage solely in human terms, we find it difficult to suggest that there’s ANY marriage that God would not bless. After all, our argument goes, isn’t marriage about love? Doesn’t God want us to love each other? How could a lifelong commitment to love another person ever be less than what God wants? The answer to these difficult questions is really pretty simple: just as the Temple wasn’t simply about animal sacrifices, so marriage isn’t simply about human love. Both are important, but the most important part is that they point not to us, but to God. There were very strict rules about what happened in the Temple. This wasn’t because God needed things on earth to happen in exactly one way, but because the Israelites would better understand Him by understanding the Temple. In the same way, the prohibition against homosexuality isn’t really about us. It’s about us understanding Him, learning through the tangible things we can see about the intangible things we can’t yet see.

The Sabbath was never really about resting one day per week. The Temple was never really about sacrificing animals. The priesthood was never really about having a mediator between God and man. Marriage was never really about a man and a woman. All of these things (and hundreds more) have always been about YOU and God, and ME and God. When we get these things mixed up, we misunderstand who God is…and we find it harder to trust Him. When we find it harder to trust Him, we find it easier to go our own way. God wants everybody to be saved, and so these things are of eternal importance. There are no mistakes in God’s system. As much as we might like things to be different, there’s a very good reason for the prohibition against homosexual behavior: truly, the fate of the world depends on it.

I hope that makes sense to you. Let me know if you’d like to talk further. I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m eager to serve.

I have homosexual feelings. Is that a sin?

Is it a sin for me to be attracted to the same sex even though I never act upon it?

Anonymous GodWords Reader

[Editor’s Note] Others have posted this article on Reddit a number of times, and it has been removed each time. The first part of the complaint is that I’m comparing homosexuality with bestiality. Even a quick, surface reading shows that this is true. However, I also compare heterosexuality and bisexuality with bestiality. The rest of the complaint suggests that homosexuality and bestiality are unrelated. They’re not…not when one considers that all kinds of sexuality are sexual in nature. Comparisons are not, by themselves, bad. They’re only bad when they’re incorrect. The strong emotional response to this article suggests that certain people believe any discussion of sexuality in the context of religion or spirituality is offensive. When you read, keep in mind that this article is in response to an actual question, asked by an actual person. While some might not feel such discussions are important, the anonymous man who asked this question is not among them.

Thanks for asking, anonymous GodWords reader! I’m going to give a short answer, and then a pretty long answer.

No, it’s not a sin to be attracted to the same sex. See? Pretty short. Now for the longer answer:

The truth is that, at some point, everybody is attracted to people of the same sex. We all have the capacity to be sexually attracted to almost anyone…and it’s not a matter of simple biology. Here’s what I mean:

  • Some people are attracted to the opposite sex
  • Some people are attracted to the same sex
  • Some people are attracted to both sexes
  • Some people are attracted to animals

There are two questions: WHY we’re attracted, and WHAT – if anything – to do about it.

WHY are we attracted?

We aren’t sure why some people are attracted to the opposite sex, and others to the same sex. Did you know that there’s exactly ZERO evidence that anyone is ‘born gay’? That’s right. Most scientists will freely admit that they’ve been looking for a gay gene for a long time, and that there simply isn’t one. Certain rich people are apparently paying scientists to keep looking, so some scientists keep looking…but it doesn’t look like they’ll find one.

If there’s no gay gene, then people aren’t born gay…so we can pretty much rule out simple biology. What then? Are we all to blame for our sexual desires?

Nah. All you have to do to blow that theory out of the water is to talk with homosexuals. Most of my gay and lesbian friends don’t remember NOT being gay…so they clearly didn’t DECIDE to become gay.

Of course, we CAN – clearly – develop and strengthen sexual appetites. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that people are born with sexual desires that include sheep, but some people clearly desire sex with them anyway. For that to happen, a person has to be willing to experiment and get past any awkwardness involving new and obviously strange desires. In other words, we can pervert ourselves if we want to.

So we’re not BORN gay, and we’re not born baasexual. Psychologists suggest that because sexual identity is formed in children between the ages of 3 and 5, certain disturbances during that formative time can lead to gender identity confusion. If that’s correct, it would explain why most homosexuals don’t remember NOT being gay, and show that homosexuality is not something that older children bring on themselves. Some people did NOT choose their sexual orientation, while others clearly have. What should we conclude? Simple: we don’t CREATE sexual desire, but we can AFFECT it. We may not have control over the fact that we desire sex, but we can control our actions.

WHAT should we do about it?

A lot of people believe that all of our desires are natural, and – as a result of that belief – believe that we should follow our desires without restraint. That sounds good until they hear that I’m naturally a selfish person who naturally likes to manipulate people, who naturally loves to lie and shoplift, and who could – if I let myself – be cruel and heartless. Those aren’t “politically correct” natural desires, and most people would say that I should definitely control myself in those areas…but, when it comes to sex, I should just let go and do what comes naturally.

The truth is that we should NOT do what comes naturally. Patience is not natural, but it’s a good thing to have. Kindness is good, but not natural…we learn it from kind people, and become convinced that it’s something we should offer to strangers. Self-control is not natural, either…and self-control is what’s prescribed for all kinds of desires, including sexual desires. We all like food, but everybody agrees that we should control our food intake. Lots of people like alcohol but believe that binge-drinking alcoholics should exercise more restraint. Sex is like any other desire: when we leave it unchecked (or when we purposefully misuse it), we face trouble.

I don’t know how strongly you believe that the Bible is God’s real instructions for all people, so I’m not sure exactly how to write this part. If you aren’t a big Bible person, let me point to what should be obvious: the misuse of sex causes MULTIPLE problems. We don’t like to think about it very much. In fact, we often try to escape the consequences of the misuse of sex, or to pretend that there AREN’T any consequences. Those who “sleep around” find that they bring extra emotional baggage to what otherwise might be a great relationship. Unintended pregnancies result in unwanted babies, or in the killing of unwanted babies. Sexually-transmitted diseases spread like wildfire and can cause illness, sterility, and death. Adultery breaks the trust in a relationship, destroys families, and damages reputations. I could go on and on with non-biblical reasons to see that self-control is the answer to the question “what should we do about our sexual desires?”.

If you ARE a big Bible person, let me point to what should be obvious: God wants to protect us from doing what ‘comes naturally’. The Bible explains what kinds of behaviors are damaging to us as people. Even though the ideas of self-restraint and obedience aren’t popular, they work. Many of my friends were sexually active before marriage, and consider that a factor in their failed marriages. Many of my friends have cheated on their spouses, and have suffered greatly as a result…they’re divorced, or in counseling, or are living in fear of discovery. Some have contracted diseases. Some have been blackmailed. All of them regret what they’ve done.

Not everyone has those same regrets, of course…so I can’t speak for them. I don’t know them. Everybody I know who’s willing to talk about their sex lives has suffered from doing what the Bible speaks against.

So IS homosexuality a sin?

No. Homosexuality is NOT a sin. Being attracted to someone isn’t a sin any more than it’s sinful to WANT to be selfish, to WANT to shoplift, or to WANT to be cruel. The Bible is clear that temptation and sin are two different things. Take a look at Hebrews 4:15…

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.

Jesus was tempted JUST AS WE ARE, but successfully resisted His temptation. When we are tempted to do something we should not, we face a decision: to give in, or to restrain ourselves. When we give in to temptation, that’s sin. When we don’t, that’s self-control. Temptation is part of life, and must be dealt with…but it’s NOT wrong to BE tempted.

We need to make a distinction between sexual ATTRACTION and sexual ACTIVITY. Sexual attraction is generally a good thing. God gave us these desires, and – as with hunger – we should fulfill these desires thoughtfully. Sexual activity is either right or wrong, and that depends on what we DO. The Bible describes homosexual activity as something unnatural…in fact, it describes ALL sinful acts as unnatural. Unfortunately, we’re broken people who live in a fallen world and – as a result – we have to deal with difficult situations that are often not our fault.

What should one do when faced with unnatural desires? When asked that way, it seems simple: we should exercise self-control, and ask God to help us do what is right. Unfortunately, not all desires are created equal. Sexual desire is closely tied to being social, and affects virtually all of our relationships with others. When virtually every relationship is affected by a desire we did not choose, our lives can be filled with struggle. I believe that homosexuality is NOT natural, and I believe that homosexuals are generally victims of sinful humanity. I can’t imagine how difficult life as a homosexual would be, even in the best of circumstances…so I’m very sympathetic toward those who struggle over questions of sexuality and godliness.

What SHOULD one do? Really, the answer IS simple…but it’s not easy. Regardless of which desire we’re struggling with, the answer is to seek God in all we do. Ask God to help you be the person you should be, and I believe that He will. That doesn’t necessarily make the struggle go away, of course…but we don’t have to face the struggle alone. God is with us, gives us strength and wisdom to face our problems, and comforts us when we fail. God transforms us from the inside out to become more like He is, if we just allow Him to change us. We cooperate with Him when we exercise self-control and avoid simply doing what comes naturally.

Does that answer your question?

Don’t Teach Homosexuality

Homosexuality is a “hot-button” issue…it often evokes a strong reaction. I’m not afraid of hot-button issues, so I’m going to tackle it head-on. Of course, I won’t try to do it in a single post.

I ran across an article (no longer available) by psychologist Trayce Hansen. it’s a letter to the Alameda (CA) School District Board, encouraging them to reject a proposed K-12 curriculum which promotes “acceptance and normalization of homosexuality and transgender behaviors under the guise of anti-bullying”.

This article echoes the words of another psychologist with a strong position on homosexuality, Dr. James Dobson. He believes that, because gender identity is generally formed between the ages of 3 and 5, environmental factors encountered during that time could be the catalyst for Gender Identity Disorder.

That makes sense to me. While it’s true that virtually any sexual appetite can be learned (and thus chosen), most homosexuals state clearly that they feel as though they’ve “always been gay”. If environmental factors at a young age make the difference, it follows that most wouldn’t remember thinking or feeling any other way at any time.

I’m of the strong opinion – and have been for years, based on years of online conversations on the topic – that the homosexual community has been misled and misguided on this issue. Religious folks of all stripes haven’t helped, of course…but GLBT folks have been sold a bill of goods.

The reasoning is as follows:

  1. I’m gay.
  2. I can’t remember not being gay.
  3. I must have been born this way.
  4. This must then be normal.
  5. If being gay is normal, everybody should know it.
  6. We will use any method available to gain full acceptance.

I feel very sorry for most gays. My homosexual friends have suffered greatly at the hands of those who should love them the most: family, friends, and (especially) the Christian community. I’m sure my opinions will be rejected by some, but that’s okay…I’m after the truth, not popularity. My gay friends can attest to my love for them, and that’s what matters most to me.

NJ Says No to Gay Marriage

New Jersey’s state senate has defeated a bill that would have legalized gay marriage.

The bill got only 14 of the 21 votes needed to pass. Gay rights advocates pushed hard to get it to pass, since Governor John Corzine (D) promised to sign it if it passed. Incoming governor Chris Christie (R) has promised to veto such a bill, should it reach his desk. So, for the foreseeable future, New Jersey will not have gay marriage.

New Jersey already offers civil unions the same rights as marriage. Five states have legalized gay marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Newsweek on the Bible and Gay Marriage

I’ve never considered Newsweek any sort of authority on theology, primarily because they’re not. Dedicating a section of your magazine to religion doesn’t mean you know what you’re talking about…especially when you’re well-known for being absurdly biased.

I’m biased, by the way…just not absurdly so.

Back to the point. The bad logic in this article should be obvious to all, but – I’m sure – some will miss it. Here’s the rundown:

  1. Newsweek claims that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn homosexual behaviors.
  2. Newsweek claims that even if the Bible does condemn homosexual behaviors, it doesn’t really mean it.
  3. Newsweek claims that since many people routinely ignore the Bible’s instructions on divorce, we shouldn’t bother paying attention to the parts about homosexuality.

Yep. It’s that bad. Here’s a quote for #1:

It probably goes without saying that the phrase “gay marriage” does not appear in the Bible at all.

Ah, the old ‘argument from silence’. Since the Bible doesn’t mention reverse mortgages, it has nothing to say about reverse mortgages. Such arguments ignore the actual content of the Bible and paint it as irrelevant to modern concerns. As anyone who’s read it with an open mind can tell you – whether believers or not – the Bible contains useful instructions on virtually every issue modern man runs across. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Here’s #2…talking about the New Testament passages where Paul strongly condemns homosexual behavior:

…Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. “Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all…

Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the text to substantiate such a view. It’s simply made up, imposed on the text, and accepted as true. Just as unfortunately, many will read that and say “Hmmm…I didn’t know that!”.

Here Newsweek tells us (#3) that we shouldn’t bother applying Old Testament passages about homosexual behaviors:

Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as “an abomination” (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world…

Their argument is that, since few people follow the Levitical instructions for cleanliness or for sacrificing animals, the portions that mention homosexual behaviors are “throwaway lines”. That’s a ridiculous claim, of course. Each passage must be taken in context to see to whom it would apply.

Again:

The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric.

The Bible does NOT endorse slavery as Newsweek’s readers would understand it. Had they done their homework, they would have seen that the kind of slavery that the Bible talks about is more like employement than enforced servitude…but it’s always been a stretch to think that Newsweek’s religion department would do their homework.

For the record: homosexual behaviors have been around for millenia, and my opinion won’t change that fact. To be honest, I really don’t have a serious objection to homosexual having civil unions or marriage ceremonies. Here’s what I do object to:

  • I object to ignorant and biased people pretending they know what the Bible teaches.
  • I object to politically-motivated loudmouths pretending there’s any scientific evidence that anyone has ever been born homosexual.
  • I object to people who have no interest in God telling impressionable people what God does or does not expect of them.

To all of my gay friends: I love you. I don’t condemn you. I accept you as you are…but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Gay couples in your church directory?

Church leaders are often faced with difficult decisions. In fact, they often have to make critical decisions on a weekly basis. Without taking sides in church politics, I feel for the folks at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Texas. They’re having trouble dealing with this issue:

Should gay couples appear in your church’s pictorial directory?

I realize that I’m opinionated, and that I don’t exactly fit the mold of a typical churchgoer…but this doesn’t seem like that tough a decision. If you’re going to welcome homosexuals into your church, and if you’re going to put pictures in your all-church directory, you should include them as well. Here are my reasons:

  1. A church directory is designed to make it easy to recognize and contact those who go to that church. Excluding anyone defeats the purpose of having a directory. They’re either welcome, or they’re not.
  2. Excluding someone from the church directory on the basis that they’re living a sinful lifestyle would make it more difficult for the average churchgoer to recognize and contact other members, including (but not limited to) the elders, deacons, presbyters and – in many cases – the church staff as well.

It seems to me that every church should welcome homosexuals. Jesus came for the sick, not for the healthy. Our churches should be a haven for those who are not yet fully Christlike, including me.

It also seems to me that purposely excluding anyone from your church directory is just a stupid idea. If you’re going to have to make decisions about who to include and who to exclude, why bother having one at all?

Discuss.