Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor reviler, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Incidence of Homosexual Cohabitation
Since the early 1970s, there has been an increasingly visible and influential homosexual subculture in the United States. However, despite media impressions, the total number of persons engaged in homosexual lifestyles, as compared to the general population, is quite small. According to 2000 U.S. Census data, there were 594,391 unmarried homosexual households (about 1% of couple households), with 301,026 composed of male partners and 293,365 composed of female partners. Approximately 20% of male homosexual households and 33% of female homosexual households had children in the home. In North Carolina there were 16,198 unmarried homosexual households (about .9% of couple households), with 7,849 composed of male partners and 8,349 composed of female partners. Approximately 25% of male homosexual households and 33% of female homosexual households had children in the home.[FN1]
Sexual Orientations and Mental Disorders
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has defined sexual identity or orientation as "[t]he erotic, physical, and emotional attraction to members of one’s own gender, the opposite gender, or both genders and one’s conscious or subconscious decisions to define and label this affinity and attraction." Homosexual is a "[t]erm used to describe an individual with a primary sexual and affectional orientation toward persons of the same gender. Male homosexuals are often referred to as gay, whereas female homosexuals are referred to as lesbians." Heterosexual is a "[t]erm used to describe those individuals with a primary sexual and affectional orientation toward persons of the opposite gender. Heterosexuals are often referred to as straight." A bisexual is a "[m]an and woman with a sexual and affectional orientation toward people of both genders."[FN2] These definitions of sexual identity or orientation include homosexuals, heterosexuals, and bisexuals based on the person’s conscious or subconscious decisions to define and label this affinity and attraction.
Mental health practitioners define sexual identity and orientation quite differently. From its inception in 1952 until 1973, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (in it latest edition the "DSM-IV"), published by the American Psychiatric Association, which was and continues to be used by mental health providers to diagnose mental disorders, classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. It was in the sixth printing of the second edition of the DSM in 1973 that homosexuality was reclassified as acceptable behavior. Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, the psychiatrist who led the team to delete homosexuality from the diagnostic manual in 1973, believed at the time that any change in homosexual behavior or sexual orientation was unchangeable. However, in 2001 Dr. Spitzer released a new study at the American Psychiatric Association annual conference that reversed his earlier position. Dr. Spitzer concluded that "[c]ontrary to conventional wisdom, some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual orientation, and achieve good heterosexual functioning."[FN3]
Although homosexuality is classified as an acceptable sexual identity and orientation and is no longer considered a mental disorder, this is not the case with respect to a number of other sexual identities and orientations. The DSM IV continues to classify various sexual identities and orientations as mental disorders under the headings "Paraphilias" and "Gender Identity Disorders."[FN4] A Paraphilia is the involuntary and repeated need for unusual or bazarre imagery, acts, or objects to induce sexual excitement. Paraphilias involve either inanimate objects, suffering or humiliation, or sexual activity with nonconsenting partners.[FN5] Paraphilias include exhibitionism, fetishism, Frotteurism, pedophilia, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, transvestic fetishism (cross dressing), voyeurism, telephone scatologia (obscene phone calls), necrophilia (sex with corpses), partialism (exclusive focus on a body part), zoophilia (sex with animals), coprophilia (focus on feces), lismaphilia (use of enemas), and urophilia (focus on urine).[FN6] Gender identity disorder, often called transsexualism (not to be confused with transvestism), is a persistent feeling of severe discomfort with one’s own anatomical sex, accompanied by a strong wish to be rid of one’s genitals and to live as the opposite sex. Gender identity disorder occurs only one in 40,000 to one in 100,000 men, and one in 100,000 to one in 400,000 women. Since transsexuals actually perceive and experience themselves as belonging to the opposite sex, they prefer normal heterosexual partners of the same biological sex.[FN7]
Those in the gay, lesbian, and bisexual movement advocate to end all discrimination under their broad and vague definitions of sexual identity and/or sexual orientation. As noted above, the federal government loosely defines these terms in relation to three groups – bisexuals, heterosexuals and homosexuals. On the other hand, the psychiatric community, while excluding homosexual behavior, defines sexual identity and sexual orientation in a much more specific and broader sense to include certain mental disorders such as gender identity disorders and paraphilias. Those in the legislative and judicial branches of the government who are enacting and making new law must carefully define sexual activities, identities, and orientations so that deviant sexual activities are not legalized. For instance, since Lawrence v. Texas, there is some confusion about the sexual activities that have been decriminalized. The U.S. Supreme Court held the Texas fornication law unconstitutional because "by subjecting certain private sexual conduct between two consenting adults to criminal penalties it infringes on the rights of adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution."[FN8] If indeed the Supreme Court is saying that adults have a due process liberty interest to engage in private consensual sexual conduct, and it appears that is exactly what they are saying, then those diagnosed with paraphilias, including private exhibitionism, fetishism, Frotteurism, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, transvestic fetishism, voyeurism, telephone scatologia, necrophilia, partialism, coprophilia, lismaphilia, and urophilia may have a liberty interest to engage in such activities as well. The court in Lawrence, in addition to the limits that were imposed on the decision, should have specifically limited the holding to exclude deviant private consensual sexual activities that are classified as mental disorders. Certainly there were no strong public policies supporting a liberty interest to engage in such deviant and unhealthy sexual activities.
We also see the failure to properly define the terms sexual identity and sexual orientation in various ethical codes, proposed laws, and stated policies of professional associations. For instance, the American Bar Association (ABA) in February 1999 adopted a resolution saying it "supports the enactment of laws and implementation of public policy that provide that sexual orientation shall not be a bar to adoption when the adoption is determined to be in the best interest of the child." In a similar resolution in August 1995 the ABA resolved to support "the enactment of legislation and implementation of public policy providing that child custody and visitation shall not be denied or restricted on the basis of sexual orientation." To some it may appear obvious that the ABA is simply seeking to end discrimination with respect to persons with bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual orientations. However, to those in the mental health community, who are familiar with the diagnosis of mental disorders, it appears the ABA also supports ending discrimination with respect to persons who are classified with gender identity disorders and paraphilias. It is doubtful the ABA would have proposed or adopted such a resolution without clearly defining what was intended. Lawmakers who seek to eliminate discrimination with respect to bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual relationships must take care in clearly defining sexual activities and orientations so that the law does not legalize or condone deviant sexual activities or mental disorders.
The Call for Civil Rights for Homosexuals
Historically almost all cultures were hostile to or rejected homosexual behavior.[FN9] America’s views toward homosexual behavior began to change in the 1970s. In 1972 the National Coalition of Gay Organizations issued a Gay Rights Platform for the 1972 elections that included nine federal and eight state demands. The federal demands were particularly aimed at eliminating discrimination because of sexual orientation. However, the state demands included repeal of all laws that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit, the repeal of all laws prohibiting private sexual acts involving consenting persons, repeal of laws prohibiting prostitution, repeal of laws prohibiting transvestism and cross-dressing, and repeal of laws governing the age of sexual consent. The state demands included the "[e]nactment of legislation so that child custody, adoption, visitation rights, foster parenting, and the like shall not be denied because of sexual orientation," and "the extension of legal benefits to all who cohabit regardless of sex or numbers."[FN10] As homosexual activist Michelangelo Signorile writes, "The most subversive actions lesbians and gays can undertake – and one that would perhaps benefit all of society – is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely."[FN11] Although these demands of the Gay Rights Platform were not taken seriously in 1972, they have for over 35 years been the focus of the homosexual political agenda. It is evident that this agenda involves more than tolerance of homosexuals and adoption of laws that license same-sex marriage. If the homosexual agenda were successful, current morality laws that criminalize sexual activities such as bigamy, polygamy, statutory rape, solicitation of prostitution, fornication, and adultery would be repealed, and many sexual orientations that are now classified as mental disorders would be accepted as normal behaviors in American society.
In the early days of the gay rights movement, homosexuals referred to their same-sex desires as sexual preferences. However, those within the movement felt the term indicated some element of choice in their sexual identity. Lawmakers and others felt that if homosexuals truly had a choice, then why not choose heterosexuality which has none of the negative legal, moral, and social issues related to homosexuality? So those in the movement redefined their identity with the term "sexual orientation," primarily to dispel any notion that homosexuality was a choice or the result of environment, and to propagate the idea that homosexuality is genetic, inborn, and unchangeable from birth. As a result of the linguistic shift, the homosexual movement gained great momentum and political strength as many people have come to sympathize with anyone who is born with an orientation that he or she cannot change. As a result, many people have come to identify the gay rights movement as comparable to the civil rights movement, while others advocate for homosexuals as if advocating for persons who suffer from congenital physical or mental disabilities. By the late 1980s gay, lesbian, and bisexual activists began to successfully employee the following six-point strategy to radically change America’s perception of homosexual behavior:
1. Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and often as possible.
2. Portray gays as victims, not aggressive challengers.
3. Give homosexual protectors a "just" cause.
4. Make gays look good.
5. Make the victimizers look bad.
6. Solicit funds from major foundations and corporations to help the cause.[FN12]
Their strategy has been quite successful. Hollywood, television, the internet, print media, and numerous foundations and corporations have sided with the movement on various issues. Over the past ten years the movement has been cast in a positive light and received favorable policy statements on issues like parenting and/or same-sex marriage from professional associations such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Anthropological Association, American Bar Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, and North American Council on Adoptable Children.[FN13]
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual activists use social and political pressure to seek to silence those who oppose their views. Those who oppose the movement are often branded as intolerant, judgmental, bigoted, or as suffering from two non-existent mental disorders known as "heterosexualism" and "homophobia." Many people have been socially ostracized, denied employment, or fired from positions because of their stands against homosexuality.[FN14]Although the movement has made inroads in restructuring the theology of some churches, many churches have held to their traditional theology against homosexuality. Activists seek hate crime legislation in an effort to silence those who would speak against homosexuals or bisexuals. However, such legislation is likely to be challenged as violating the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unfortunately there appears to be no end in sight to the polarization in America resulting from issues related to homosexuality.
Health Concerns for Homosexual Lifestyles
The gay and lesbian communities have publicly portrayed their lifestyles as healthy and normal. They insist that a homosexual lifestyle is equivalent to a heterosexual lifestyle. So far the politically correct healthy and normal homosexual agenda has trumped the concerns of medical science. However, the medical literature and various studies indicate that this portrayal of the homosexual lifestyle may be changing. Perhaps the largest obstacles to the proponents of homosexual lifestyles are the physical and mental health risks associated with these lifestyles.
The Center for Disease Control indicates that HIV infection and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for 71% (19,620) of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005, even though only about 5% to 7% of male adults and adolescents in the U.S. identify themselves as MSM. An estimated 231,893 MSM in the U.S. were living with HIV/AIDS. In 2005 an estimated 7,293 MSM with AIDS died, accounting for 60% of all men and 45% of all people with AIDS who died. Since the beginning of the epidemic, an estimated 300,669 MSM have died.[FN15] A study conducted in five U.S. cities and released in 2005 found that HIV prevalence among black MSM was 46%, more than twice that among white MSM (21%).[FN16] According to the 2005 HIV Prevention & Community Planning Epidemiologic Profile for North Carolina, an estimated 28,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina. In 2004, 1641 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in North Carolina. North Carolina’s African-American population (22% of the total population) is eight times more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than their white counterparts. North Carolina has seen an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases since 2000.[FN17]
The HIV/AIDS health concern for female homosexuals is not quite so bleak. There are no confirmed cases of sexual transmission of HIV among women who have sex with women (WSW). However, case reports of WSW transmission of HIV and the well-documented risk of female-to-male transmission indicate that vaginal secretions and menstrual blood are potentially infectious and that mucous membrane (e.g. oral, vaginal) exposure to these secretions has the potential to lead to HIV infections. At the end of 2004 a total of 24,646 women were reported HIV infected, including 7,381 who reported having had sex with other women. Most WSW have other behavioral risk factors, such as injection drug use or heterosexual sex, which accounts for the diagnosis of HIV.[FN18]
The Center for Disease Control notes that substance abuse, depression and suicide, in addition to HIV/AIDS are major health concerns for gay men. Gay male adolescents are two to three times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide. Some evidence suggests lesbians have higher rates of smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, and stress than heterosexual women. The issues surrounding personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation can place a significant burden on mental health and personal safety.[FN19] In 2005 seven doctors in the Canadian medical community presented scientific evidence to the Canadian Parliament to show that homosexual sexual behavior is a health risk to Canadians. They warned that the new same-sex marriage law will result in the further normalization of homosexual sex which has already resulted in severe health risks and related costs to care for and treat persons affected by risky sexual behavior. They indicated that anal sex, practiced by most gay men, has a large number of diseases associated with it, "many of which are rare or even unknown in the heterosexual population," such as: anal cancer, Chlamydia trachomatis, Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, Herpes simplex virus, HIV, Human papilloma virus, Isospora belli, Microsporidia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C and others. These diseases are then spread to the heterosexual community as well. The doctors point to numerous studies to show that the homosexual population show much higher rates of psychiatric illness, such as depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts than among the general population. They refute the notion that societal prejudices such as homophobia were the cause of the high rates of psychiatric disorders and suicide attempts among homosexuals on the basis that higher rates of similar disorders are not found among ethnic minorities who are exposed to racism. They indicate that at age 20 bisexual and gay men have an 8 to 20 year less life expectancy than other men in the community. They site several studies that show a higher incidence of pedophilia among homosexual males. They note that a "gay" gene has not been found, and since homosexuality is associated with low fertility, persons who have homosexual sex would have no offspring to pass along such a gene.[FN20]
Causes of Homosexuality
Is being homosexual a choice, like deciding on vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate? Is it a product of our environment like the promiscuity resulting from the sexual revolution? Or is it a genetic tendency from birth over which a person has no control? There is much debate about the causes of homosexuality. Gay rights and transgender advocates have claimed that homosexuals, as a group, have a genetic or inborn sexual orientation that is unchangeable from birth. However, as discussed above, the gender identity disorder known as transsexualism rarely occurs. The Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender Commission, a gay lobbying group for the University of Washington, claims that "[h]omosexuality is not a choice any more than being left-handed or having blue eyes or being heterosexual is a choice. It’s an orientation, part of who you are. The choice is in deciding how to live your life."[FN21] In a publication entitled, "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth," endorsed by the American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association, National Education Association, and others, the author states, "Sexual orientation is one component of a person’s identity, which is made up of many other components, such as culture, ethnicity, gender, and personality traits."[FN22] The publication follows the views of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, known for the "Kinsey Scale," that places sexual orientation on a seven point continuum from heterosexual to homosexual with all possibilities in between. The publication takes the view that "Sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime – different people realize at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual."[FN23] Dr. John Money, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, states that there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that "homosexuals or bisexuals of any degree or type are chromosomally discrepant from heterosexuals."[FN24] Homosexuals and heterosexuals have similar physiological responses during sexual arousal and seem to be aroused by the same types of tactile stimulation. Investigators find no differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals in a wide range of attitudes, behaviors, and adjustments.[FN25] Despite several scientific studies that have shown a link between a person’s genes and a same-sex attraction or drive, "so far under peer review the studies have not been found conclusive by the scientific community."[FN26]
The hypothesis that a gene or genetic code alone produces homosexual behavior has not been scientifically proven. Having a gene, and having it produce visible behavioral affects, are two different things. The gene itself is a genotype. Whether it is expressed or becomes manifest in a person’s behavior is a phenotype.[FN27] Research has shown that genotype is not phenotype. Although identical twins have the same genetic code and share the same environment, they are uniquely different people. So having a gene that has an influence on behavior does not tell us to what degree it will be expressed, nor is it usually determinative of behavior even if expressed to the maximum possible influence. Human beings develop in a complex interaction that includes far more than genetic tendencies alone. Research supports the conclusion that there is an interrelationship between our genetic code, the environment, and our choices in the area of causation of particular behaviors. However, just because a person inherits a particular genotype, e.g., a gene that provides a tendency toward alcoholism, the degree, form, and existence of alcoholism in the person (phenotype) depends on how the environment and choices that are made affect the gene. Humans have the cognitive ability to decide whether to encourage or enable a particular genetic tendency. For example, the presence of a gene that communicates to us to overeat, because only a few generations ago food was scarce, does not force us to engage in gluttony. Even if such a gene exists, we still have the cognitive ability to choose salad over chocolate cake. Although there is a relationship between our genetic tendencies and behavior, our genetic code alone does not fully determine our destiny.[FN28] We can conclude that adult homosexuality, in its diverse forms, is "produced by many combinations of variables, including biological, cultural, psychodynamic, structural, and situational."[FN29]
A Biblical View of Homosexuality
If we assume, for the sake of argument, that a person could have a gene that produces a tendency toward a particular behavior, does the presence of such a genetic tendency justify the behavior? One might argue that God made me that way, and since he does not make mistakes, he must have intended that I act in accordance with my genetic tendency. But such a view ignores what the Bible has to say about man’s fallen and sinful nature.[FN30] It also ignores the idea that there are absolute moral truths that have governed society and behaviors since ancient times. Basing our laws on such a principle would mean that we should accept all forms of greed, pedophilia, sadomasochism, and other destructive behaviors to which people can be genetically inclined. Our innate desires or tendencies, even genetic tendencies, must not be confused with God’s will for our identities to be moral, righteous, and consistent with biblical truth. An innate desire or tendency may be morally appropriate and lawful in one context, yet highly immoral and unlawful in another. For instance, an innate tendency for sexual arousal with a spouse is considered morally appropriate and lawful, while sexual arousal with a child is not only immoral but criminal. We can conclude that although we are not morally responsible for having a particular genetic tendency or desire, we are morally responsible for what we act on and do.[FN31]
When we consider the biblical references to homosexuality, it is clear that the Bible’s moral imperative is a consistent condemnation of the practice. There are no less than 19 references in the Bible that allude to or specifically refer to homosexuality.[FN32] None of these references refer to homosexuality in a positive light. The most clear references to homosexual practices are found in the Old Testament (OT) in Genesis 18-19 as a cause for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the moral laws of Leviticus 18 and 20, and in the New Testament (NT) in the writings of the Apostle Paul in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy.
Homosexuality in the Old Testament
If you have a Bible handy, consider Genesis 18:17-19:29. In these verses God confronts homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah, divinely judges the people for their unnatural sexual conduct, and brings destruction on the cities. The passages clearly support the view that homosexuality is immoral and a subject for God’s wrath. Two alternative interpretations have been offered by biblical revisionists who are proponents of homosexuality. First, that God was not condemning homosexual behavior, but rather the uncontrollable sexual desires of the people for violent gang rape.[FN33] But a careful reading of the passage indicates that the people only formed an intent to rape, and that no violent gang rape ever occurred. So God would be unjust if he punished the people for sin they never committed, and God cannot be unjust because by his very nature he is holy and righteous.[FN34] Second, another suggested revisionist interpretation is that God was not punishing the sin of homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah, but rather the sin of not being hospitable toward strangers.[FN35] The key to this interpretation is the meaning of the Hebrew word yadda in Genesis 19:5. The term can be translated "to get acquainted with" or "to have sexual relations with." The latter translation makes sense in light of the context. In the verses Lot is the one who is inhospitable, yet it is Lot whose life is spared. Also, since the inhospitable Lot was a resident of Sodom, it makes no sense why God would destroy the inhabitants of Gomorrah as well. We can conclude that it appears highly likely that homosexual sin was the cause of God’s divine judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.[FN36]
There are two laws in the Holiness Code of Leviticus that specifically address homosexuality. First, Leviticus 18:22 says, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." Second, Leviticus 20:13 says, "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." These laws clearly proscribe homosexuality as "detestable" to God. God says that everyone who engages in such detestable conduct, as proscribed in Leviticus 18:22, has defiled the land, and he promises in Leviticus 18:28-29 that "... if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. Everyone who does any of these detestable things-- such persons must be cut off from their people." As noted in Leviticus 20:13, God invokes the use of the death penalty for homosexual conduct. Pro-homosexual revisionists who interpret these verses have suggested that these laws were given in a particular cultural context that makes them no longer morally applicable today. They have also suggested that the translation of abomination does not mean homosexuality is inherently evil, rather it suggests God’s prohibition of homosexual acts performed by Canaanite temple prostitutes as part of the worship of idols or false gods.[FN37] However, the same word for abomination is used in the same context for incest, adultery, and bestiality, so if a consistent hermeneutic is used, it is unlikely one could infer a different translation for abomination as it relates to homosexuality.[FN38] Others have suggested that no OT laws apply to Christians today.[FN39] However, an extensive analysis of this issue has concluded that this view should be rejected.[FN40]
Homosexuality in the New Testament
The Apostle Paul discusses homosexuality in the larger context of man’s universal sinfulness and rejection of God. In Romans 1:24-32, Paul writes:
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In 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. 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Paul wrote Romans (around A.D. 57) at a time when Rome was known for its sexual excesses.[FN41] He condemns both male and female homosexuality, and those who approve of the practice. In this passage Paul singles out homosexuality as an illustration of the judgment of God upon those who refuse to acknowledge his lordship over their lives.[FN42] Pro-homosexual revisionists have gone to extremes to try and reinterpret these verses. John Boswell has suggested that the term "what is natural" should be interpreted as what is natural for a heterosexual. In essence he is writing into the passage that homosexuals are doing what is "natural," and it would be "unnatural" for them to have heterosexual sex. However such a revision writes out the basic meaning of the biblical text.[FN43] Robin Scroggs, another pro-homosexual revisionist, suggests Paul is only speaking of pederasty, i.e. men with boys, and not of adult homosexual relationships. However, for the reasons discussed below, this suggestion holds no validity.[FN44]
At the time Paul wrote his letter to the people at Corinth, like Rome, Corinth was known for its sexual immorality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul writes, "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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." In a similar passage in 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Paul writes to the church at Ephesus,
8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.(NASB)
In both of these passages, Paul includes a list of proscribed conduct that includes homosexual conduct.
Today, the controversy surrounding both of these passages centers on how the Greek word for homosexual (arsenokoites) should be translated. Pro-homosexual interpreters have taken several views on the translation, which are stated and critiqued as follows: First, some interpreters contend arsenokoites should be translated as a very narrow offense in the cultural context, and they disavow the term has any connection with the legal prohibitions of homosexual conduct in the OT.[FN45] However, it is very unlikely that what is universally condemned in the OT, might in NT times, and at the present time, be considered acceptable.[FN46] We should not attempt to contort the word homosexual in Scripture to narrow its meaning to only one element of homosexual practice when the conduct proscribed by a biblical passage has the same moral connotations in ancient times as it has today. Second, some pro-homosexual interpreters claim arsenokoites refers only to the practice of pederasty, i.e., sex between an adult male and effeminate boy in the context of an ancient practice, which was condoned in the Greek culture at that time.[FN47] However, if Paul had written only to condemn the practice of pederasty, he could have chosen the Greek word for pederasty (men with boys) that existed at that time. As noted in the text of Romans 1, Paul not only disapproved of male-male homosexual relations, but he also disapproved of female-female homosexual relations, so it is unlikely he was referring only to pederasty since he condemned both practices.[FN48] Third, other interpreters say the translation refers only to homosexual practices and not to celibate homosexual relationships.[FN49] However, such a construction is inconsistent with the "natural" and the "unnatural" relations that Paul wrote about in Romans 1. By use of the term "unnatural," the homosexual union would have been a rejection of the biblical account of creation where God made them "male and female" so they could "be fruitful and multiply." So it is highly unlikely Paul would have approved of celibate homosexual relations since they would have been unnatural.[FN50] Fourth, still other interpreters limit arsenokoites by saying it condemns only the negative dehumanizing pattern of homosexuality prevalent in first century culture, and it should therefore not be applied directly to private, consensual, and non-exploitive homosexual relationships in today’s culture. Because of the difference in ancient homosexual relations and today’s homosexual relations, the word homosexual is no longer the appropriate word for arsenokoites, and is therefore not the appropriate word for a present day translation of the passage.[FN51] However, such a view is not supported by the culture of Paul’s day which also prohibited same-sex sexual conduct between free males. Also, as noted in the Romans 1 passage, Paul condemns not only the homosexual acts, but also the orientation, i.e., the underlying thoughts, passions, and lusts that he says results from debased minds.[FN52]
[FN1] These statistics are from the 2000 U.S. Census data. Due to errors in reporting, U.S. Census data may be slightly high as other research indicates the prevalence of male homosexuality in the U.S. at 2.1% of males and 1.5% of females, see S.E. Gilman, Am J Public Health, 2001; 91: 933-9.
[FN2] "A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals," published by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001), 165.
[FN3] "Historic Gay Advocate Now Believes Change Is Possible," National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, published May 9, 2001, and retrieved November 3, 2007 from http://www.narth.com/docs/spitzer3.html.
[FN4] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text revision, (Washington, DC: Author, 2000), 566-582.
[FN5] J. Maxmen & N. Ward, Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment (New York: W.W. Norton, 1995), 324.
[FN6] American Psychiatric Association, DSM-IV, 566-576.
[FN7] J. Maxmen & N. Ward, Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment, 329-30.
[FN8] Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 123 S.Ct. 2472, 156 L.Ed.2d 508 (2003).
[FN9] See discussion in John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today, 3d ed. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2004), 114-5.
[FN10] The 1972 Gay Rights Platform, retrieved 2007 from www.article8.org/docs/ general/ platform.
[FN11] Dorrian Horsey, "Domestic Partner Benefits: Chipping Away at Marriage and the Traditional Family," (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Family Policy Council, 2004), 1.
[FN12] Alan Sears and Craig Osten, The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003), 18.
[FN13] The list of professional associations and the policy statements are set forth on APA Online, retrieved 3 November 2007 from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publicaitons/lgpprofessional.html.
[FN14] See discussion in Alan Sears and Craig, The Homosexual Agenda, 167-87.
[FN15] CDC, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2005. Vol. 17. Rev. Ed. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC: 2007:1-46.
[FN16] CDC, HIV prevalence, unrecognized infection, and HIV testing among men who have sex with men – five U.S. cities, June 2004 – April 2005. MMWR 2005;54:597-601.
[FN17] 2005 HIV Prevention & Community Planning Epidemiologic Profile for North Carolina. HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
[FN18] "HIV/AIDS Among Women Who Have Sex with Women, CDC HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet, June 2006, retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv.
[FN19] Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health, Center for Disease Control, June 2007, retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/print/index.htm.
[FN20] "Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ a Health Risk Doctors Warn Parliamentarians," LifeSiteNews.com, February 17, 2005, retrieved November 3, 2007 from http://www.lifesite.net/Idn/printer friendly.html;
[FN21] See "Sexual Orientation: Fixed Or Changeable?" (Washington, DC: The Traditional Values Coalition, retrieved 2007 from www.traditionalvalues.org.
[FN24] John Money, "Genetic and Chromsomal Aspects of Homosexual Etiology," in Marmor, Homosexual Behavior, p. 66.
[FN25] J.W. Santrock, Life-span Development, 9th ed., (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), 455, citing A.P. Bell, M.S. Weinberg & S.K. Mamersmith, Sexual Preference (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1981).
[FN26] See discussion in James C. Peterson, Genetic Turning Points: The Ethics of Human Genetic Intervention (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 47-8.
[FN27] J. Maxmen, & N. Ward, Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment, 68-9.
[FN28] See discussion in James C. Peterson, Genetic Turning Points, 41-3.
[FN29] Evelyn Hooker, "Sexual Behavior: Homosexuality," International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, ed. David L. Sills (New York: Macmillan, 1968), 14:225.
[FN30] See discussion in Ted Peters, Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom (New York: Routledge, 1997), 63-94.
[FN31] James C. Peterson, Genetic Turning Points, 47.
[FN32] Genesis 9:20-27; 19:4-11; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17-18; Judges 19:22-25; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7; Job 36:14; Ezekiel 16:50; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7; Revelation 21:8; 22:15.
[FN33] Walter Barnett, Homosexuality and the Bible: An Interpretation (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1979), 8-9.
[FN34] Andreas J. Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 205.
[FN35] D. Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (London: Longmans, Green, 1955), 4; Harry A. Woggon, "A Biblical and Historical Study of Homosexuality," Journal of Religion and Health 20, no. 2 (Summer 1981), 158; see Ezekiel 16:48-50 where it appears there is little doubt that the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were inhospitable and heartless; see discussion in James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002), 28-52.
[FN36] Andreas J. Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 207-8; James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy, 40.
[FN37] Walter Barnett, Homosexuality and the Bible, 12.
[FN38] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 210.
[FN39] Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Another Christian View (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), 60-61.
[FN40] William J. Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 250; see discussion in James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy, 53-108.
[FN41] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 211.
[FN42] James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy, 111.
[FN43] John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 108-9; James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy, 125-7.
[FN44] Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 109-18; see discussion at footnote 47.
[FN45] John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, 108.
[FN46] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 216.
[FN47] Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality, 106-108.
[FN48] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 217-18; James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy, 130.
[FN49] D. Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition.
[FN50] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 218.
[FN51] Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, 61-5.
[FN52] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 219-20.