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Bible and Homosexuality

What Does the Bible Really say?

The survey has been out for about three weeks. Although the response has been less numerous than the one on religious freedom—I had hoped to get this into the hands of a few more Protestants—the results are quite hopeful.

About 90% of the 250 people who responded reject attempts to reinterpret the Bible to support homosexuality or to neutralize the Bible's condemnation of homosexual behavior. The survey puts Scripture and the "new arguments" in context so as to discern the intended meaning of God's Word regarding human sexuality and marriage. This survey successfully explored the reflective response of individuals to various Bible passages that often get "re-interpreted" to support homosexuality and "gay marriage."  It now challenges the secular polls by getting people's direct reaction to the major Bible passages dealing with homosexuality. The hope is that it will lead to greater clarity and understanding on this sensitive issue. 

Before reading the results, please take the survey on surveymonkey if you have not done so already:

We address questions of methodology on the page: Socratic Surveys.

Survey's Results (Preliminary)

As of October 10th, 2012, 246 people have responded to this survey. Of those responding, 87% were Catholic, 11% Protestant, one Jew and 3 non-believers. Amazingly, 95% of those responding attend religious services more than once each week. This identifies the people most motivated and interested in this topic. About 95% considered themselves “straight,” normal, or preferred no labels, 1.6% same-sex attracted, 2% “gay,” 0.8% bisexual. It seems as though the sample size was too small to include lesbians.

Marriage and Sexuality in Creation

Considering the two creation stories in Genesis (question 2a and 2b), there was quite a consensus on what the Bible teaches us:

    • Marriage and sexuality are sacred, reflecting God's image and likeness in man (92%);
    • Human dignity is based on being made in God's image and likeness (87%);
    • Within marriage, sexuality and the exposed human body are not shameful (87%);
    • Man cannot change the nature of marriage, because it was created by God to reflect his image and likeness (85%);
    • Man's image and likeness to God includes the complementarity of being male and female (84%);
    • Creating man as male and female pleased God greatly (81%);
    • Sexual immorality distorts God's image and likeness in man (80%);
    • Man responds to his dignity by being fruitful (74%);
    • Alone, man would not fully reflect God's image and likeness (60%).

Only 2% considered these passages mere allegory, such that no conclusion could be reached.

Christ’s Teaching on Marriage and Sexuality

Next we considered Christ’s general teaching on marriage and sexuality. Considering Christ’s words: "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:27-29). From this, we got a general consensus:

    • Lustful thoughts and desires can replace our thoughts for God and “kill” the soul’s relationship with God (87.0%);
    • We should struggle, with God's grace, to avoid such thoughts and desires at all costs (86%);
    • Lustful thoughts and desires are as serious as adultery (86%);
    • Such thoughts can drive one to hell, eternally separating us from God (77%);

Seven people thought that Christ encouraged people to gouge out their eyes, although I question how serious they were in saying that. One person suggested that I add how Christ chose to perform his first miracle at a wedding between man and woman, but I did not as the survey was already quite long.

Jesus Did Not Innumerate Every Immoral Act

Then we considered the fact that Jesus never condemned either bestiality (sex with animals) or homosexual acts. Regarding bestiality, 93% saw Jesus’ silence NOT as some form of acceptance, but thought that Jesus would condemn bestiality as immoral because the Old Testament does, and because this is consistent with Christ's teaching on adultery, lust, and life-long, faithful marriage base on mutual consent and respect. Only 1.4% thought that Jesus’ silence meant that bestiality was morally OK, while 5% where unsure. 

Regarding homosexuality, the percentage of those viewing Christ’s silence as a form of acceptance jumped to 8% and those unsure dropped to 3%. Yet the number of those who see Christ’s teaching on adultery, lust, and marriage as clearly supporting the Old Testament condemnation of homosexual acts remained high at 89%.

The Old Testament “Purity Code”

A common argument against the Old Testament condemnation of bestiality, sacrificing children, incest, and homosexuality is that it is part of what some Bible scholars call the “Purity Code.” The scholars say that this portion of the Bible is not to be followed because it reflects a bias against many pagan practices, including mixing cattle breeds, sowing two kinds of seed together, and bans tattoos. Yet only 1.8% bought this line of thinking to dismiss the Bible’s condemnation of bestiality (3.7% used it to dismiss the Bible’s condemnation of sacrificing children, of incest, and of gay sex). Most (93% and 94%) considered the Bible’s original condemnation of bestiality and its condemnation of sacrificing children, of incest, and of gay sex as still valid today.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Sometimes we hear reinterpretations to the Sodom and Gomorrah account (Genesis 19) saying that the sin was not really about homosexuality, but about inhospitality toward strangers. Yet putting it in the context of other Scripture passages that mention the account, only 4% bought the argument of inhospitality. 82% clearly though it was about the homosexual rape of two holy men from God. 14% were unsure.

Although some "scholars" discount the Sodom and Gomorrah account because Lot seems to offer his virgin daughters to be raped by the men of Sodom, 96% agreed that the passage taught that only one thing could be more horrific for a Lot than to see his daughters raped in front of him, and that would be the homosexual defilement of two holy men of God—it would be like raping God. Only 2.2% thought that the Bible was teaching that raping women is not a big deal and another 2.2%, that it taught that raping men is worse than raping women.

Modern, Loving, Committed Relationships

One way to dismiss the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior is to say that the Bible never addressed modern, loving, committed forms of homosexuality. So we noted how the Bible never addressed modern, loving, committed relationships between siblings who are consenting adults; the Bible only condemns abusive forms of lustful incest. 2.6% thought that Christians therefore should not use the Bible to condemn modern forms of marriage between siblings, just as it would be wrong for Christians to use the Bible to condemn modern forms of nuclear warfare or weapons of mass destruction, which are also not mentioned in the Bible. 93% thought the Bible develops a consistent view of marriage, sexuality and human dignity, and therefore any sexualized form of sibling relationships would distort the divine image and likeness in us.

Regarding modern, loving, committed forms of homosexuality, 3% thought the Bible could say nothing regarding this. 93% thought the Bible develops a consistent view of marriage, sexuality and human dignity, and therefore any sexualized form of homosexual relationships would distort the image and likeness of God in us.

Efforts to Reinterpret St. Paul

Efforts have been made to neutralize St. Paul’s clear teaching on homosexual behavior by claiming that the Greek terms he uses really don’t refer to such behavior. After presenting the texts of St. Paul—putting them alongside the Greek version of Leviticus that St. Paul employed—93% concluded that St. Paul is using the Greek arsenokoitai to explicitly reference and reaffirm Leviticus 18 and 20, condemning men (arsenes) lying  (koitai) with each other as with a woman. In other words, the term was not ambiguous at all. 4% disagreed and 1.5% discounted St. Paul as a “homophobe.”

What Would Jesus Do?

To answer that, most (97%) agreed that Jesus would treat people engaged in homosexual activity just as he did with the woman caught in the act of adultery: forgive and save him, then tell him to go and sin no more (cf. John 8:2-11). 

We should too! We should treat each person as a child of God, love them as they are—even as sinners, for we are too—but we should challenge them to overcome their sinful ways. We should do the same with the porn-addict, the alcoholic, those with uncontrolled anger, etc. To just let them continue in their self-degrading or other-degrading behavior is not charitable.

We should try to be faithful and obedient to all that God reveals, loving one another from the heart (97% agreed). This includes condemning name-calling and humiliating others with hurtful insults; such a person damns himself as doing so to Christ (74% agreed). The Biblical truth about sexual morality is truly compassionate and liberating, as it helps us avoid behavior that enslaves us (86% agreed).

My Apologies

This survey was longer than I would have wanted. I just saw no other way to cover the issues with the proper depth. In the comments, one person who identifies himself as a “gay” Christian wrote: “this is the worst survey ever.” Others say: “Perfect!” another “Very well done,” and several “thank you.”

I also apologize for some typos that took time to clear up. This is not a big time operation but a one man show, one man who has a few other evangelizing responsibilities. Let’s pray for one another and for greater clarity regarding this difficult topic.


What Drove Us to do this Survey?

Many Christians feel conflicted regarding the issue of homosexuality. On the one hand, no one wants to be labeled a self-righteous "homophobe," and on the other hand, the Christian wants to be faithful to Christ and his teachings as revealed in the Bible and transmitted by the Church.

Many of us know and love family members and friends who either struggle with same-sex attraction or who are openly gay or lesbian. Many more know those who have children who have "come out of the closet" to live the gay lifestyle. As Christians we don't want to push them away with the truth of the Gospel. So, many Christians choose to remain silent instead of pursuing "the truth that will set us free." 

Polls may add to the sense of "conflictedness," as no one wants to go against the majority:

  • LifeWay Research recently polled 2,144 adults, finding that 44% of Americans believe that homosexual behavior is a sin. Yet almost the same percentage (43%) believe that it is NOT a sin (i.e., not contrary to God's moral plan for us); 13% were not sure. 
  • A Gallup poll says that 56% of Americans consider gay and lesbian relations morally acceptable.

    Also, most of us don't want to contradict leaders we respect:

      • President Obama (who calls himself a "Christian") and Vice-president Biden (calls himself a "Catholic Christian") recently voiced approval for same-sex marriage, basing this position on the Golden Rule: to "treat others as you would want to be treated." 
      • The CEO of gave over a million dollars to fight a pro-marriage referendum in Washington State, so as to make "gay-marriage" the law of the State. 

      We can easily see why some have sought a new interpretation of the Bible so as to resolve this tension. But apparently those new interpretations do not hold water for most Christians, Catholic and Protestants.


      “Although the Church says ‘No’ to Gay Marriage, It Still Says ‘Yes’ to You.”

      This is a wonderful and short video on the Catholic position on homosexuality: