Homosexuality and Bible
The passages of Old and New Testaments have six fragments that are regarded as prohibiting homosexual behavior because of its sinfulness. Bible texts describe sexual desires for the same sex in terms of human passions and lusts. The modern concept of homosexuality is not directly mentioned in the books of the Bible. Nevertheless, the attitude of Holy Scripture toward unnatural same-sex relationships is most clearly expressed in the passages about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were subjected to the punishment of eternal fire and commandments of the Law of Moses, contained in the book of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.
The story of the sin committed by people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the destruction of these cities is told in the text of Genesis 19: 4-11. This episode is one of the most common arguments against homosexual relations. Meanwhile, this interpretation of the history of condemnation of these cities raises a variety of contradictions and disputes. Sodom and Gomorrah are two of the five cities of the Jordan neighborhood, which had been destroyed by fire and brimstone. All these cities were in the Valley of Siddim, where now the Dead Sea is situated. The Bible negatively interprets the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, since they were wicked, annoyed, idle, and unmerciful sinners that commit lewdness. Wickedness and lawlessness of these people has led to the execution of their cities. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of what awaits the ungodly.
Homosexuality is a terrible phenomenon that poses a major threat to all people. First, sodomy has a detrimental effect on the lives of people as it negatively impacts physical health. Homosexuals are threatened by a few tens of specific diseases. Second, there is a risk of damaging influence on the moral health and common development of the society. God identified the family as a union between a man and a woman. Humans are designed in such a way that the anatomy of the female body complements the anatomy of the male, and vice versa. Third, the derivative of the union of a man and a woman is the offspring. The homosexual relationships cannot fulfill the commandment of the Lord to be fruitful and multiply. Finally, God determined for man and woman their (distinct) role in the family, which helps to strengthen the execution of family union. The wife was created to be a perfect assistant to her husband.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not initially associated with sexuality, despite the presence of the sexual component in the story. However, since the Middle Ages, a belief that one of the causes of the destruction of Sodom was homosexuality began to appear. This latter interpretation gained popularity and helped to coin the English term “sodomy,”, which technically refers to any sexual activity that does not lead to procreation. Most often, it is applied to male same-sex relationships.
According to the biblical narrative, on the eve of the destruction of cities, Abraham accepted the Lord, who appeared to him in the form of three men of the oaks of Mamre. Having learned about the impending punishment, Abraham, who has the nephew Lot that had settled in Sodom, asked the Lord to spare the city for the sake of the righteous who could there be, and received a promise that the city would be pardoned if they could find at least ten righteous men. The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom as he was a keeper of the gate. He was also the one who ordered the city rulers to protect the city, control the traffic through the gate, and do not let troublemakers. This was a serious post that has rarely been given to a novice or a foreigner. Nevertheless, it was entrusted to Lot who was a foreign newcomer. Apparently, he did not know that the people whom he greeted were angels.
Lot saw them and begged to stay with him for the night. In those days, it was unwritten law of hospitality, according to which travelers should be treated as one’s own family. Newcomers had to be invited into the house, fed, and protected even at the cost of own life. Furthermore, the Bible tells that the angels struck the people of Sodom with blindness and pointed to Lot and his family to escape to the mountain, but he offered to flee to a small town of Zoar, which was situated near the mountains. God agreed to the Lot's offer. Immediately after Lot’s fleeing with his family, fire and brimstone poured from heaven and everything was burnt.
The major issue related to the discussion of homosexual acts is homosexual harassment of Sodom and Gomorrah inhabitants toward Lot’s guests as well as the inhabitants of Gibeah toward Levite, and the subsequent group heterosexual rape of concubines. The main difference between conservative and liberal views on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is that conservatives believe that this text is relevant to the question of the biblical understanding of homosexuality, while liberals suggest that this text has no reason to be used in discussions about homosexuality. The residents of the cities were the Canaanites who were also idolaters. One of the most revered idols was Moloch – one of the most terrible of all the Canaanite deities. The size of his statue was huge, so not surprisingly, God was determined to destroy the cities. Thus, the proponents of homosexuality emphasize that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is misunderstood, emphasizing that the reason of destroying those cities was inhospitality but not homosexuality.
Conservative point of view focuses on two aspects. First, it is the unnaturalness of homosexual relations. Second, it is the fact that extreme corruption of the inhabitants of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had reached its climax in an attempt to make a group homosexual rape of guests, which is a terrible insult and disrespect toward them that blatantly contradicts the duty of hospitality. The entire problem of the criminal behavior of the Sodomites was the abnormality and perversion of sexual feelings that gave rise to unnatural vices.
Conservative authors argue that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed mainly because of unnatural sexual acts, while other reasons, including attitude to the guests, did not play a significant role. The interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as a violation of the laws of hospitality, but not a sexual sin, is rejected as manifestly inconsistent with the double use of verb yada (know) that describes sexual activities. At the same time, it draws attention to the fact that the narrative contained Lot’s offer to sacrifice his daughters for the sake of the honorable guests, clearly implying sexual relations. Anderson states that in the New Testament, in Jude 7, one can find a commentary on Genesis 19, in which it is stated that the key sin of Sodom involved “sexual immorality and perversion.” The representatives of the conservative theological position on the question of the destructive causes of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah underline the sinfulness of homosexual acts in themselves, irrespective of forms of their expression, and not voicing the other sins of these cities.
Genesis 19: 4-11 is not the only passage in the Bible that condemns homosexual relations. In the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, same-sex sexual relations are forbidden and referred to as an abomination. The book of Leviticus primarily raises questions relating to liturgical practices in the tabernacle, namely the different sacrifices and the offerings, clean and unclean foods, diseases and quarantine, sexual taboos, and rules for priests. The eighteenth chapter of the book of Leviticus contains a list of sexual taboos. The twentieth book complements it with the list of appropriate penalties. In these chapters, male homosexual relations are prohibited. “Neither shall thou lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” These are the only verses mentioned in the Old Testament laws affecting same-sex issues of sexuality between men. The book of Leviticus 20:13 states that homosexuals should be put to death. This Bible passage can be considered as a categorical prohibition of homosexual relations, since it is something quite contrary to the laws of God. According to Himbaza, Schenker, and Edart, “the sexual relation between men superimposes itself on the parental role that they must exercise and on the social position.”
The book of Leviticus was transferred to the children of Israel as a guiding thread during the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Along with these instructions, certain recommendations were given to maintain the safety of the offspring of the tribe. Therefore, people are instructed to use a chance for a new life instead of egoistic homosexual relations. The pro-homosexual advocates state that these prohibitions lost their relevance. If Christians strive to be consistent with the Old Testament codes, they should also have marital intercourse during woman’s menstrual period, wear mixed fabrics, and never eat rare steak. Naturally, some ceremonial laws such as diet or wearing cannot be applied to today’s life. However, moral laws, especially regarding human sexuality, are definitely relevant.
In conclusion, the story of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and commandments of the Laws of Moses contained in the book of Leviticus are the most vivid biblical passages that are usually associated with the subject of homosexuality. This story tells how God destroyed the ancient cities in a fit of divine wrath, because their inhabitants indulged in alleged sin termed as sodomy. The book of Leviticus directly prohibits homosexual relations. Thus, the story of condemning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as the book of Leviticus are used as an argument against the legalization of same-sex marriages or same-sex partnerships in a number of countries around the world.