I have a serious question; is there scripture in the bible that speaks directly against gay marriage/couples?
In all seriousness, the answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on who you ask.
I realize this is obnoxiously long, but it’s a complicated question. Sorry for taking over your dashboard. Here’s a link to save this to Instapaper to read later.
There are a handful (I think like 7?) verses in the entire Bible which talk about “something which has traditionally been translated as something like what we would now consider to be ‘same sex’ sexual activity.”
For example, Leviticus chapter 18 verse 22 says
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Then again, Leviticus chapter 19, verse 19 says
You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.
So if you’re wearing a cotton-polyester blend, you’re breaking an Old Testament law.
You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.
So if you have a tattoo, you’re breaking an Old Testament law.
Leviticus 11:10 says
But anything in the seas or the streams that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and among all the other living creatures that are in the waters—they are detestable to you
So that shrimp cocktail you had with dinner is an abomination before the Lord.
It should be pretty clear by this point that there are a whole lot of things which were considered to be an abomination before the Lord.
Also, there is a much stronger condemnation against divorce than their is against homosexuality. Try bringing that tidbit out at your next family gathering or Facebook status update. The Old Testament allowed for divorce, and when Jesus was asked about it, he said divorce was not allowed. (Jesus, by the way, said nothing about same sex relationships.)
In Mark chapter 10 Jesus and the Pharisees (religious conservatives) are talking:
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” [emphasis added]
Adultery, you may recall, is one of those 10 Commandments that some people are always wanting to have posted on government property.
Now, having studied these passages and the original contexts, I can explain to you why I think we should not condemn divorced people, and why they should be allowed to get remarried, and why they should be allowed to participate in church.
But I would also suggest that if you are willing to interpret Jesus’ clear words about divorce then you certainly should be open to interpreting what the Bible says about gay/lesbians.
Also, what is being described in those verses which may be about ‘same sex’ sexual activity, it may have actually been talking about things like “temple prostitution” a religious activity which Jews were suppose to abstain from. It is not entirely clear that what the Old Testament is talking about when it is talking about ‘same sex’ sex has a direct correlation to how we now understand people who are gay or lesbian.
So what about the New Testament? Well, Jesus said nothing about it. He seemed to be far more interested in condemning the powerful for exploiting the weak, the rich exploiting the poor, and the violent ruling over the peaceful.
The Apostle Paul is often quoted because of this section from his letter to the Christians in Rome (aka Romans 1) he talks about people who worship false gods:
Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. [emphasis added]
The assumption here is that all men are “naturally” attracted to women. Paul doesn’t spell out exactly what the women did when they “exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural” — it could mean ‘same sex’ sex, or it could mean anal sex with men, or it could mean oral sex (a topic on which the Bible neither allows nor disallows, as far as I can tell).
(Oh, by the way, having heterosexual sex while a women is menstruating is also an abomination before the Lord, according to Leviticus.)
The problem with Paul’s words in Romans 1 is that Paul was talking about a specific group of people he did not like and did not agree with. He said that they gave up ‘natural’ sex for unnatural sex. Shall we go into the problems with that?
Does this apply to everyone who has ‘same sex’ sex, or was it just these people?
What about people who feel that ‘same sex’ sex is natural, and feel no attraction to people of the opposite sex? Wouldn’t forcing them to have ‘opposite sex’ sex be “degrading”?
Oh, and just so we’re clear, Paul wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea of ‘opposite sex’ sex either. Read First Corinthians, chapter 7 and you’ll see that Paul really thought that the best way to live was to be single and celibate, and that you should really only get married if you couldn’t help yourself and absolutely had to have sex.
You might reasonably come away with the idea that Paul thought the entire idea of sexual intercourse was, in a word, gross and ideally would be avoided.
~ One last thing ~
The first “commandment” that God ever gave to anyone was that all of the men should be circumcised. That was Rule Number One and a sign of the “covenant” between God and God’s people. It defined the relationship between them. Circumcision was not a minor side detail mentioned in a handful of places, it was central and fundamental to the Israelites’ identity.
But something happened when Jesus came. He (and the Apostles after him) started reaching out to non-Jews. And these non-Jews wanted to become Christians, and there was a HUGE controversy in the early church about whether these converts needed to be circumcised or not.
Paul and Peter were divided over the issue. Paul said that they did not need to be circumcised because circumcision was part of the “law” (like Leviticus) and Jesus had come to free us from the condemnation that happened when we broke the law. Paul said if people were going to be circumcised then they had better fulfill all of the Old Testament laws. Paul went so far as to say that people who were saying that new converts had to be circumcised were actually going against the teachings of Jesus and he felt so strongly about it that Paul said (in effect), “Look, circumcision doesn’t mean shit, the only thing that matters is how you love people through faith… and if those other people feel so strongly about circumcision, I wish they’d cut their balls off, too.”“
Don’t believe me?
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!
(ASIDE: Paul clarified that just because Jesus set us free from the law doesn’t mean we can just do whatever we want: we are supposed to use our freedom to love one another:
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Paul and Jesus both spent a lot of time talking about how important it was for Christians to be defined not by their strict adherence to some set of laws, but by how they loved for and cared for one another.
The early church argued about circumcision for a long time, but they eventually agreed with Paul: circumcision was not necessary and was no longer required.
Think about that for a second: the early Christian church decided that the most central and fundamental law of the Old Testament no longer applied.
They went against tradition.
They went against Scripture.
They had no words from Jesus on the subject to back them up.
They had no direct message from God that circumcision was no longer required.
They stopped requiring circumcision because they decided that it was no longer relevant.
Period. Full stop.
Now, 2000 years later, we look back and think “Really? They argued about this?”
So, to sum up:
- the Bible has a very few verses which may be about ‘same sex’ sex but may not be
- the Bible has nothing to say about people who are naturally attracted to people of the same sex
- the Bible has a long list of obscure rules and laws that we don’t follow any more and don’t even think about following any more
- Jesus said nothing about ‘same sex’ sex but said that anyone who gets divorced and remarried commits adultery, which is one of the Ten Commandments
- Paul spoke against a certain group of men and women who “gave up” “natural sex” for “unnatural” sex, but his words are interpreted by some to apply to those who are naturally attracted to members of the same sex
- Paul wasn’t too keen on the idea of sex in general
- If you really want to get serious about following the law of the Bible, then circumcision should be the most important law but the early church eventually agreed with Paul that circumcision was not necessary.
~So why do people say that the Bible condemns homosexuality?~
Given that all of what I have said is easily discovered in a few hours of study, why do people continue to say that the Bible condemns homosexuality?
There may be a few academic scholars who have studied the texts in the original languages and still truly believe that the Bible considers ‘same sex’ sex to be immoral, and that there is some reason why it is still a rule that we need to follow when we don’t worry about shellfish or touching a football or wearing fabric made out of different materials or circumcision or divorce.
But for the most part, for the majority of the people who claim the Bible as the reason they are against homosexuality, I think the reasoning is much like the reason the Tea Party claims to hate taxes and health care and big government and reckless spending, but somehow didn’t mind the eight years when the previous president spent the biggest surplus we ever had into the biggest deficit we ever had.
The Tea Party, largely, hates Obama because he’s black, and they’d hate pretty much anything he did because he’s black. It’s ugly to think about and we don’t want to think that people can be so motivated by hate and discrimination, but when you see people talk about the “sanctity of marriage” in a world where heterosexual marriage is, by and large, a complete and utter disaster, you have to look deeper.
The majority of people who are “against homosexuality” are, I believe, simply disgusted by the idea of male homosexuality, just like the Tea Party is disgusted that the long chain of white presidents was broken.
A large amount of the population of this country has wrapped up ideas about masculinity with war and power and strength and domination. That is, I believe, why domestic abuse is still so prevalent and, in some sense, accepted. That is, I believe, why rape can be dismissed with jokes by shitty comedians. “Boys will be boys” and if sometimes they lose their temper and beat their wives/girlfriends, or if sometimes they rape their dates or strangers, well, that’s just in their nature.
These misguides images and ideals about masculinity are threatened by the idea of male homosexuality. I should add that I think all of this exists on a very deep and subconscious level. If you asked someone who is truly against homosexuality why they are against it, I am sure that they could pass a polygraph test saying that it was because they believed it was against the Bible. I also believe that, for the most part, the vast majority of them would be completely unmoved by the points that I have made here. They would see no irony in North Carolina amending their constitution to ban gay marriage when the only other time they had amended it was to bad interracial marriage. (Which, of course, people also said was against the Bible, and not that they were just bigots.)
But what has happened is that people who believed homosexuality was wrong went to the Bible to find validation for what they already believed. They ignored everything else and centered in on these few verses as support for their belief, because it’s much more safe to say “God says this is a sin!” rather than saying “I don’t like this.” There’s actually a term for this, it’s called Eisegesis which basically means “reading into” and refers to taking your preconceived ideas and reading them into the Bible.
Instead of looking at the Bible as a whole, instead of looking for guidance in the ways that Jesus told His followers to treat one another (hint: love, love, love, love, and love), instead of learning from our historical sins of racism and sexist to avoid repeating the same patterns in whichever new group has been deemed “Different” and “Unworthy” they look for support for what they already believe. And when they find it, they cling to it with all of their heart, because it is the only protection they have against admitting that they are prejudiced.