I call them the “Infamous Four”: The four verses in the Bible that ban homosexuality. Here they are in their entirety so that you can see them for yourself.
The first one shows up in a list of sexual prohibitions in the book of Leviticus.
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, that is detestable.
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…
1 Corinthians 6:9
And that is what some of you were.
1 Corinthians 6:11
Well there you have it. That seems pretty cut and dry. You can’t argue with those injunctions can you? But let’s look at what else Paul said in Corinthians, just a few verses later.
Now for the matters you wrote about. It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 1:1-2
Christians love to use this verse as a ban on Gay marriages, saying that true marriage is a union of one man, and one woman, but Paul is really just making concessions regarding marriage for those who can’t handle their morality.
I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:6
But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:9
Paul also has some other commands right alongside the ban on homosexuality, and I don’t see these rules enforced anymore.
Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors the head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off, and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.
1 Corinthians 11:4-6
Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:15
In Leviticus, there’s an injunction that says “Do not come near a woman during her period of uncleanness to uncover her nakedness.” Leviticus 18:19. I don’t hear that one preached from the pulpit too often. In Leviticus 20:18 the same injunction is repeated, just a little differently. “If a man lies with a woman in her infirmity and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has exposed her blood flow; both of them shall be cut off from among their people.”
n Leviticus 20:8 it reads, “You shall faithfully observe My laws. I the Lord make you holy.”
Let’s look at that closely. According to this passage, God’s laws are to be obeyed. But let’s understand this: there isn’t anything in this scripture that says “some of my laws.” Jesus even went so far as to say if you break one commandment, you’ve broken them all. In the Pentateuch, there are over six hundred laws, and if we want to take one out of there, then we’ve got to take them all out. That means you can’t show deference to the rich. You can’t sow two types of seed in the same field. You can’t eat blood if you eat meat. You can’t eat pork or crab or shrimp. There were many laws about sacrificial lambs and scapegoats, and holidays and religious ceremonies and cleanliness. You can’t just lift one of the scriptures out of this passage unless you’re prepared to use them all. This is true of Leviticus, and Corinthians.
We’ve also got to look at how the Bible was formed and handed down from generation to generation. We have strong evidence that there are at least three authors of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, also called the Torah). We see evidence of heavy editing and rewriting in these scriptures. It’s also probable that Leviticus was written not by Moses, but some time after Moses. I don’t have time here to go into all the details, but if anyone wanted to research it, it’s readily available.
It’s also been postured that the Pentateuch was further edited by non-other than Ezekiel in the 6th century b.c.e. In that case the Jews were trying to formulate their ethnicity and to separate themselves from the Babylonians, and this was one of the ways of doing that. Again, there’s so much to read on this issue, and I may someday tackle it in another writing, but I don’t have time for it here.
Note as well, that it was in this culture that Paul was coming out of when he wrote his letters, and therefore would have been highly influenced by them as a former Pharisee and teacher of the law.
And one more note before I move on, and that is that the Bible itself was not so much against sex. But they were a tribal culture who had to protect their identity and their heritage. The only way the father could tell if a child was his was that he married a virgin. Then, during the formation of Christianity, sex became an even greater taboo. Sex became so bad in fact that Mary suddenly went from being a “maiden” as the word is used in Isaiah, to being a “virgin” as the word is translated out in the Matthew. At some point, sex became all about pro-creation and the early Christians became very adverse to any form of sexual contact that wasn’t expressly for that purpose. Sex became evil and bad and all that we now hear expressed through the political pendants and those opposed to homosexuality and use the Bible in their defense.
But People have Changed!