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Homosexuality – Natural or Unnatural?

By Dr Errol Wagner

Preface

What has motivated me to write this booklet? Who should read it? Who am I? What qualifies me for dealing with this subject?.  

Let me answer these questions as briefly as possible.

Let me begin by answering the first two questions. What motivated me to write this booklet? Today the subject of homosexuality has become a very emotional issue. It is one where Christians are not only confused, but also polarized in different ‘camps’. On the one side are those Christians who don’t know what to make of the new openness of society to homosexual behaviour. On the other side, are Christians who believe that this ‘openness’ marks a maturing in society. What confuses the issue is the fact that both groups claim biblical support for their position. I have written this booklet to assist those who are confused about what the Bible teaches about this matter.  Let me make it quite clear that this booklet is intended for Christians. It should not be used as an evangelism tool. Nor is it intended as a ‘weapon’ to wage against practicing homosexuals.  

Who am I? I am the pastor of a local fellowship of believers, in George. With 25 years of pastoral experience, this subject is not just something that merely interests me academically or apologetically. It is one that has interested me for many years, from the first time I was became conscious of the existence of this condition. What knowledge do I have of the subject? Over the years I have met those who have struggled with their homosexuality and in some cases I have been privileged to form good friendships with some of them. In addition I have been involved in counseling Christians who have been confused with their homosexual orientation. This has given me some insight into a very complex condition. So I have written out of deep concern not only for the truth, but also out of deep concern for those Christians who are struggling with their sexual orientation. This booklet is also an appeal for love, but ‘tough love’.

Introduction

There is no doubt that the issue of homosexuality is one of the ‘hot’ issues being debated in society in general and in the church in particular at the moment. Increasingly homosexuality is being accepted as normal. Scientific studies are offered to prove that homosexuality is hereditary and that 10% of the population is exclusively homosexual. In schools, part of the curriculum on sex education presents homosexuality as an alternative life-style, just as legitimate as heterosexuality. As a result, more and more homosexuals are coming out of the closet and publicly declaring their homosexuality. Instead of resulting in shock, these people are being acclaimed as brave and are admired.   

Move to same sex ‘marriages’

The debate has become more sharply focused in South Africa because 18 gay couples, together with the Gay Equality Project have challenged the common-law definition of marriage in the Johannesburg High Court. In another case brought before the Supreme Court of Appeal by Marie Fourie and her partner Cecelia Bonthuys, the court declared the common-law definition of marriage to be unconstitutional (Sunday Times: Dec 2004). Under South African common law, marriage is defined as ‘the union of one man and one woman’. This could now be changed to read: ‘Marriage is the union of two persons to the exclusion of others for life.’  However, this has not yet been taken up in the Marriage Act of 1961. So legally homosexual ‘marriages’ are not yet recognized, but may become legal if the Act is changed. Of course, changing laws cannot make something that is wrong, moral. There is no necessary link between law and morality, as we in South Africa well know. For years immoral acts were legal, e.g., the Pass laws and separate development.

Societies’ view of homosexuality

This is yet another step in forcing society to change its attitude to homosexual practice. I use the word ‘forcing’ deliberately, because there is no question that the majority of people in society still believe that homosexual behaviour is wrong (immoral) and unnatural. It is a matter of fact that a HSRC representative national survey of 4980 adults (aged 16 and older) conducted during September and October 2003 indicates that 78% of South Africans feel that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender are ‘always wrong’. What is significant is that the disapproval rating is highest among black Africans (81%) (HSRC: 2004).  

It is interesting that the ANC at their 93rd Annual Meeting in Umtata in January 2005 criticized Judges for not taking the opinion of the masses into account in their judgments. Whilst not advocating that Judges should tailor their judgments according to public opinion, or that morality should be based on majority vote, to be consistent, our law concerning same sex marriages should also reflect public opinion, which would mean the marriage act would not be changed to allow for same gender marriages.  

Role of media

There are signs that there is a concerted effort by the media in the West, including South Africa, to change society’s attitude to homosexual practice. Our TV, for instance, regularly features films and programmes where homosexuality is depicted as normal and even admirable. Alongside this, television regularly portrays those who reject the homosexual lifestyle as bigoted and hateful and usually labeled as radical ‘fundamentalists’ who are guilty of discriminating against homosexuals.   

The agenda of the media is quite clear in a pro-gay article on ‘gay marriages’, which appeared in the Sunday Times on December 5th,

 ‘…the real problem will lie in persuading society to accept gay couples to be allowed not only to love each other, but to exchange vows and enjoy the same benefits as heterosexual couples’(Sunday Times: Dec 2004)

Professor Ronald Louw, of the law faculty at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in the same article is quoted as follows;

‘There is no doubt that civil society will resist this [same-sex marriage] and that it is going to be viewed as a very unpopular judgment by a large residue of homophobes across all racial group’(Sunday Times: Dec 2004).  From this one can only conclude that 78% of South Africans at the present time are ‘homophobes’ and should be pressured into changing their views.  

Of course, it could be argued that the media should not simply reflect society as it is, but to project society as it ought to be. This is because the media considers itself to be more objective, enlightened and progressive than society as a whole. To an extent one cannot deny that there have been instances where this has been true. We only have to look at the role the media played in ‘Apartheid’ South Africa. While, generally speaking, white South African society accepted and practised discrimination based on colour and race, there is no doubt that the media played an important role in challenging this unjust attitude to race relations. In other words, it played a positive role in changing South African society. Thus, one can say that the media in seeking to change societies’ attitude to homosexuality is doing what it has always done.

However, the assumption that the media is more objective, unbiased and progressive cannot go unchallenged. For example, some of the media in South Africa (e.g., television) helped to promote and support apartheid ideology. It all depended on who was in control. Journalists, like the rest of human kind reflect their own biases, presuppositions and sometimes yield to influences exerted on them. It was in the 1970’s that well-known journalist, commentator and lecturer, Malcolm Muggeridge warned,

‘As our country in particular, and the Western world altogether, moves further and further away from the Christian assumptions on which our way of life has hitherto been, at any rate ostensibly, based, the difficulties of those responsible for the conduct of the media will grow ever more acute, unless, as seems to be probable, if not certain, they relapse into acceptance of whatever comes along, contenting themselves with, at most delaying our seemingly inexorable descent into moral vacuity…. on the way throwing up a smokescreen of talk about justice, freedom, tolerance, compassion, and an artist’s right to refuse to be harnessed to current mores in fulfilling his duty to indict the present and proclaim the future’ (Muggeridge 1977: 18).

Muggeridge believed that,

‘The media in general, and TV in particular, are incomparably the greatest influence in our society today…. This influence is, in my opinion, largely exerted irresponsibly, arbitrarily, and without reference to any moral or intellectual, still less spiritual guidelines whatsoever’ (Muggeridge: Preface).

It is therefore naïve to think that the media, in its self-appointed role of influencing society to accept homosexuality as a legitimate and viable life-style, represents an unbiased enlightened and progressive change.

Response of the ‘Church’

How has the church responded to these changes? Responses have varied widely, ranging from denunciations of persons experiencing a hint of homosexual orientation, to an acceptance and permissiveness that might be interpreted as encouraging homosexual behaviour and commitment. For example, over the past two years some denominations have even been prepared to ordain practising homosexuals to the Christian ministry. In the United States, the Episcopal Church in November 2003 consecrated Gene Robinson, a self-confessed practising homosexual, as bishop in New Hampshire (ChristianityToday.Com: 11/07/2003). Reaction to this in the Anglican Church has been mixed.  Here in South Africa, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of The Church of the Province of Southern Africa said,

‘We would like to congratulate Gene Robinson and pray for him’(CT: Nov 2003). This response stands in sharp contrast with other Anglican communities in Africa. Primate Peter Akinola of The Church of Nigeria [Anglican Communion] said, ‘We are appalled that the authorities within the Episcopal Church USA have ignored the heartfelt plea of the Communion not to proceed with the scheduled consecration of Canon Gene Robinson’. As a result, they have broken ties with the Episcopal Church (CT: 2003). The Church of the Province Uganda called the consecration of Gene Robinson ‘unacceptable to the church’ (CT: 2003). The Church of the Province of Central Africa stated that this consecration has brought ‘darkness and disappointment’ to the church (CT: 2003). The Anglican Church of Australia ‘will not recognize him [Gene Robinson] as an Anglican bishop’ (CT: 2003).   In its response to the Supreme Court of Appeals decision regarding same sex marriages, The South African Council of Churches’ (SACC) attitude was reflected by its General Secretary, Molefe Tsele’s statement that ‘the core teachings of Christianity do not explicitly prohibit the validation of faithful, loving same-sex relationships’ (The Witness 3 December 2004: 4).  

This ambivalent attitude to homosexuality by the certain sectors of the institutional church has confused many Christians who always believed that homosexual behaviour is a sin. What has exacerbated the confusion is the fact that many texts in the Bible that have always been interpreted as condemning homosexual practice have been reinterpreted. In the midst of the debate, two sectors of the church have consistently maintained that homosexual behaviour is a sin, the Roman Catholic Church and conservative Christians or evangelicals who insist that the traditional interpretation of the Bible affirming that homosexual behaviour is contrary to the will of God remains decisive for Christian morality today.  

This does not mean that Christians support homophobia (defined as fear of homosexuality) or discrimination of any form, or the denial of civil rights, against those who are practising homosexuals. We acknowledge that in the past Christians have been guilty of rejecting and isolating homosexually orientated persons. We have been guilty of putting homosexual sin in a category by itself. Such an attitude has no justification in Scripture. We have also been guilty of defining homosexuals in terms of their sexuality, ignoring the fact that they have the same needs and interests as other people and that homosexuality itself does not prevent a person from being a productive and functional member of society. We believe that all people, whatever their sexual orientation, because they are created in the image of God, should be treated with respect, and their dignity recognized.   Whilst rejecting homosexual practice, we do not believe it is the ‘unforgivable’ sin. The example we are called to follow is that of our Lord Jesus Christ who welcomed all sinners without prejudice.

What the popular media often chooses to ignore is that not all those who reject homosexual activity are homophobic or discriminate against homosexuals. Although there are some Christian groups who are guilty of these things – not all are. Rejection of homosexual practice should not be equated with homophobia or discriminating against homosexuals. This point must be stressed simply because the media have been guilty of caricaturing Christians who consider homosexual activity to be immoral as hateful and bigoted. It is not simply bigotry that causes many Christians to reject homosexual behaviour, but principle. We believe it is immoral but that does not mean we hate homosexuals, or feel uncomfortable in their company, refuse to work or mix with them, or have them living in our neighbourhoods.  To state that homosexual activity is inappropriate is one thing; to act with fear and hostility towards homosexuals is quite another matter. In an article, Greg Koukl, a strong opponent of homosexual behaviour exemplifies this, ‘If someone asked me what I felt about homosexuality, I’d answer: I honestly don’t feel uncomfortable simply because someone is a homosexual. Some homosexuals are likeable, some are not. I treat persons as individuals. If I were asked what I think about homosexuality, however, my answer would be different. I think that homosexuals are human beings that should be treated with respect, should not be bashed or called names, and should be given the same rights that any other citizen has. That’s what I actually think. I also think, though, that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral. I say this not as a personal preference, but as a personal conviction – I think that statement is actually true. I’m also glad to give you reasons why I think so. This is my moral, cognitive conclusion about homosexuality, as opposed to what I feel’(Koukl: 1998).

Let us also be quite clear that love does not mean acceptance of wrong. God’s love is demonstrated precisely in the fact that He rejects our sin and did something about it.

In this context all serious Christians are looking for answers. What should our attitude be to homosexuality in general and homosexual behaviour in particular? Are we outdated in our beliefs in condemning homosexuality as sinful? Is it normal? Is it an alternative life style?   How can we condemn those who have been born with a homosexual orientation? How can we condemn those who really love each other? In this booklet we seek to explain why Christians have traditionally believed homosexual behaviour to be unnatural. We make no apology for stating that our basis of evaluating anything remains the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments. Every single person has some criteria on which they base their convictions and opinions. Our purpose is also to encourage Christians to reach out in love with the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.

Definitions

What is homosexuality? Basically it refers to men or women who are sexually attracted to members of their own sex, though lesbianism is the word normally used to distinguish female homosexuality. Sherwood Cole defines homosexuality ‘as the sexual/erotic expression between two people with the same external genital anatomy and physical appearance’ (Cole 1997: 359).   John White, who was Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, explains that,

 ‘A homosexual act is one designed to produce sexual orgasm between members of the same sex. A homosexual is a man or woman who engages in homosexual acts’ (White 1980: 105).

Homosexuality however, should be distinguished from homosexual behaviour. There are cases where someone has a homosexual orientation but does not engage in homosexual acts, choosing to live a celibate life. In other words, it is important to draw a distinction between personal orientation and behaviour. Some people with a homosexual orientation never put their desires into practice. The Bible says nothing about homosexual orientation, but it does condemn homosexual acts forthrightly (as we propose to show). It is a fact that often homosexual orientation may be due to factors beyond a persons’ control, whereas, behaviour is within a person’s control.

We must also distinguish between homosexual orientation and what we can call ‘situational homosexuality’. There are situations where someone who has no homosexual orientation, engages in homosexual acts, like for example, in a prison where heterosexual men or women are isolated from the opposite sex. Homosexual behaviour is then situational and not inherent in the person. It is also important to realize that there are degrees of homosexuality and that some people for example are ‘sexually attracted to individuals of both biological sexes, as distinguished from heterosexual and homosexual orientations’ (Hart 1990: 91).   However there is a great deal of controversy over whether this type of sexual attraction actually exists (Hart 1990: 91).

We should dispel two popular ‘myths’ about homosexuals. Firstly, there are no ‘typical’ homosexuals. In other words, it is simply not true that there exists some sort of correlation between homosexuality and effeminacy in mannerism or passivity in behaviour, or between lesbianism and masculinity in appearance or aggressiveness in behaviour (Jennings 1990:  533).  Secondly, it is not true that homosexuals are more prone, than heterosexuals, to seduce minors or to engage in coercive or violent sexual activity (Jennings: 529).

Clarifying some claims

Before we look in detail at relevant passages dealing with homosexuality in the Scripture, it is important to deal with certain claims made by pro-homosexual activists. Invariably these claims are conveyed as factual and beyond question.  

Ten Percent of the population is homosexual

A claim that is often made is that ten percent of the population is homosexual. Is this true? What is the basis of this claim? This figure derives from a survey done by A.C. Kinsey in 1948 of white American adult males. From his survey he found that 4% were exclusively homosexual in their behaviour after puberty, while 8% were exclusively homosexual for at least three years. His figures for females (1953) were lower and based on a smaller sample; he discovered that 13% had behaved homosexually at some point in their lives before the age of 45 (Field 1995: 450). However, Kinsey’s data is generally believed to over-represent male homosexuality because his sample came from prison inmates.   In other words, his sample is considered to be biased. William Simon, formerly a research associate at the Kinsey Institute, suggested that only ‘2 to 3 percent of the male population has a serious long term homosexual pattern’ (Hunt 1974: 308). Bieber suggests that 1-2%  of the adult male population is exclusively or near-exclusively homosexual (Bieber 1976:  215). Hunt puts the figure at 2-3% (Hunt 1974: 308). Time magazine, referring to the work of the Battelle Human Affairs Research Centres in Seattle, says that one of the most thorough studies on male homosexual behaviour found that only 1% of 3321 men surveyed said they considered themselves exclusively homosexual (Time Feb 15 1993: 46). Newsweek reports,

‘Some gay activities now concede that they exploited the Kinsey estimate for its tactical value, not its accuracy. “We used that figure when most gay people were entirely hidden to try to create the impression of our numerousness,” says Tom Stoddard, former head to the Lambda Legal Defense Fund’ (Newsweek April 26, 1993:  27). Of course, even if the 10% figure is accurate (which it is not) it proves nothing, for morality is not determined by surveys or Gallup. Moral principle is based on a more reliable foundation than public whim.

Recent research proves that homosexuality is not a pathological disorder

Much is made of the fact that homosexuality was removed from the approved list of pathological psychiatric conditions by the American Psychiatric Association [APA] in 1974. Thus, neither the APA nor the American Psychological Association considers homosexuality a pathological disorder. The impression has been created that this was in response to the findings of scientific research. However, it is important to understand the history and context which led to the APA’s action.

First, while the deletion of homosexuality from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) was in response to a majority vote of the APA, it appears that the majority of the APA membership viewed homosexuality as pathological in spite of the vote. Four years after the vote, a survey found that 69% of psychiatrists believed that homosexuality ‘usually represents a pathological adaptation’ (Bayer 1981: 167). The editor of the journal that published this survey suggested that the 1974 vote ‘might have been affected by socio-political considerations’ (Bayer 1981: 167). The vote may have been a demonstration of support for homosexual civil rights and not the views of psychiatrists about the pathological status of homosexuality.  

Second, the vote was called at a time of tremendous social upheaval and change. The volatility of the social order may itself have been an inappropriate influencing factor in the decision process (Bayer 1981: 167). Third, the vote was taken under conditions of explicit threats from the gay rights establishment to continue disruptive demonstrations which would impede APA conventions and research (Bayer 1981: 167). Finally, it was an action taken with such unconventional speed that normal channels of consideration of the issues were circumvented (Bayer 1981: 167). In other words, no research has established whether or not homosexuality is a psychopathological condition or not. 

Homosexuality is genetically determined

Researchers have tried for decades to identify a biological basis for homosexuality. Quite obviously, if biology explains homosexual orientation, it means that individuals cannot be held responsible for behaviour over which they have no control. In fact, it can be argued that it is “natural”. Cole in a footnote points out that

‘This argument is clearly reflected in ….comments made by a psychologist at a major convention. He states that to assume a biological basis for sexual orientation is the best track for convincing the legislature, judiciary, and public that homosexuals should be treated like anyone else and protected against discrimination in public policy’ (Cole 1997: 356) (Quoted from Scott Sleek, “Research Lights Path to Policy Changes,” APA Monitor 17 [1996]: 54).

However, as I shall show, in spite of extensive research, there is no evidence to either prove, or disprove that homosexuality is genetically determined.   

Early research seemed to suggest that there was a genetic component in the causation of homosexuality. To support this hypothesis, the findings of Kallman (1952) are often cited. However these results have not been replicated and Kallman himself later called them a ‘statistical artifact’ (Jones & Workman 1989: 218).  

More recently, new research was carried out by Simon LeVay, a biologist at San Diego’s Salk Institute of Biological Studies (Time 1991: 58). In a study of 41 brains taken from people who died before age 60, LeVay found that one tiny region in the brain of homosexual men, namely the hypothalamus, which is associated with sexual behaviour, was found to be more than twice as large in heterosexual men. In other words, it was similar in size to that found in women (Time 1991: 59). However many technical aspects of the study are questionable, as LeVay himself concedes. For example, there is no certainty as to whether all the heterosexual men in the study were heterosexual. Furthermore, since AIDS attacks the brain, the size difference may have nothing to do with sexual orientation. Anne Fausto-Sterling, professor of medical science at Brown University in Rhode Island commented, “My freshman biology students know enough to sink this study” (Time 1991: 60). In another study carried out by a Dutch research team they discovered that a different group of neurons in the hypothalamus is larger in homosexual than in straight men. However, some scientists maintain that this group of neurons controls daily rhythms and not sexual behaviour (Time 1991: 60). This means then that ultimately the evidence is still far from clear.

What about other causes of homosexuality? There is no consensus about the causes of homosexuality. However, most experts agree that homosexual orientation for the most part is learned, and is usually traceable to early childhood, and attributable to some form of deficiency in the parent-child (most often same sex) relationship. According to Bieber, who has worked exclusively with male homosexuals in therapy, ‘In every case I have examined, studied or treated, homosexuality was the consequence of serious disturbances during childhood development’ (Bieber 1976: 164).   He maintains that homosexuality is ‘due primarily to a profound disturbance in parent-child relationships’ (Bieber 1976: 164).

Jeff Collins, executive director of the Annapolis, Maryland-based Love and Action, a ministry to people with AIDS said all he has experienced personally and in ministry supports the view that homosexual orientation is learned. ‘Ninety-five percent of the AIDS patients we have worked with who are homosexual had absentee fathers’ said Collins. ‘or their parents were divorced. Or for some reason they were deprived of normal parent-child relationships’ (Christianity Today November 1990: 57). As a generalization then it could be said that homosexuality can often be traced to an unhappy home life, usually involving confusion in sexual identity. More specifically, if there is a common thread, it seems to be a home where the mother is dominating, overprotective and possessive of her son, while the father withdraws from the son. In the case of lesbianism, the vital attachment to the mother is missing.  

Dr Elizabeth Moberly, who contributed to Psychogenesis – Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic (James Clarke 1983), affirms that,

‘No-one has ever yet proved any direct or definitive link between genetic or hormonal research and homosexual orientation. However, there is considerable evidence of early family difficulties in the background of the homosexual. It would be unscientific to ignore these difficulties…’ (Moberly 1993: 3)

In an article ‘First Aid in Pastoral Care XV. Counselling the Homosexual’ Moberly states, ‘My data leads me to conclude that the homosexual—whether male or female—has been unable to meet the normal developmental need for attachment to the parent of the same sex. In the earlier years of life, some difficulty in relationship—perhaps temporary separation—has led to the repression of the child’s attachment to the parent of the same sex. Needs for love, dependency and identification that are normally met through this relationship, remain unfulfilled’ (Moberly 1985: 262)

Moberly believes that, ‘In effect, this means that the male homosexual is like a boy who is still looking for his father’s love. The lesbian is like a girl who is still looking for her mother’s love. These needs are normal developmental needs’ (Moberly 1993: 3).

Having said this, there are cases where homosexuality occurs in a seemingly happy home where no obvious distortion in parent roles can be observed. In other words, although there are some common factors, this condition is complicated and there may be other causes so that absolute conclusions are not available.

Condemning homosexuality robs homosexuals of their dignity

It is often stated that in condemning homosexual practice we are robbing them of their dignity and personhood.   According to Patrick Henry ‘By declaring that their identity as homosexuals is odious in God’s sight – we are failing to guard the dignity and saving the pride of many of our brothers and sisters’ (Henry 1976: 37).

Are we to infer from this statement that a person with homosexual orientation defines his or her identity in terms of their sexual preference? Is this true? No it is not, for the dignity of a person is not connected to sexual orientation.   One’s dignity is based on one’s humanity. Homosexuals are human beings before they are homosexuals. By condemning homosexual practice we are not declaring that the identity of the homosexual is odious, only the practice. Does declaring a certain life style sinful degrade someone’s dignity or rob them of their dignity? To say murder is wrong, does not rob the guilty person of his or her dignity as a human being. Identity is connected to humanity and not sexuality. What if someone’s life style is bestiality or pedophilia – if we declare it morally wrong, are we undermining that person’s dignity or does that person’s actions not undermine his or her own dignity?

Gay ‘Marriage’ as a means of protecting legal rights

One of the reasons put forward to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples is that it will afford them the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. However, this ignores the fact that the law, as it exists, allows same-sex couples the right to a Civil Union whereby they enjoy the same rights as afforded by marriage. In other words, there is no need to change the definition of marriage to protect the legal rights of homosexual couples who wish to enter into a long-term union.   

While homosexuals are entitled to legal protection against discrimination by society, we have to be careful not to make these laws the basis of moral judgment for then those very laws can conflict with the individual rights of those who have moral convictions regarding homosexual practice. It would mean that those who believe homosexual behaviour to be immoral will not be able to make public statements about the moral unacceptability of homosexual behaviour. In other words, such a law would infringe the Christian’s freedom of conscience and speech.

Homosexuality and the Bible

For the Christian, the only basis of evaluating anything should be the Scripture. Traditionally Christians have accepted without question that the Bible condemns homosexual behaviour. However, today, there is a significant group of church leaders who now support homosexual behaviour. How, one would ask, can this be when the Bible so clearly condemns homosexual behaviour? The fact is that some Bible scholars have recently challenged the traditionally negative conclusions drawn from these biblical passages and have actually found approval for homosexual behaviour on the basis of the Bible. The relevant passages of Scripture have been reinterpreted. On the basis of these revised interpretations, the traditional interpretations have either been rejected or considered as irrelevant for the modern age.

The question is; have these scholars found any evidence that our traditional interpretation has been faulty? The answer is negative. What has happened is that the texts have been reinterpreted out of their contexts. It is on the basis of these reinterpretations of the relevant texts that Patrick Henry declares without any substantiation “The explicit biblical statements on homosexuality are simply not a substantial basis for a moral judgment” (Henry April 1976: 35).   What is significant is that he does not even deal with the biblical passages; he simply dismisses them. 

On the other hand, Klyne Snodgrass – Bible professor at North Park Seminary in Chicago states, “Nothing in Scripture suggests that homosexuality is a viable lifestyle. In all references to homosexual practice, the Bible speaks negatively”(CToday. Nov 5 1990: 57). We will discuss some of these interpretations and give a response to them.

Genesis 19:1-11

This is the account of the visit of two angels to the city of Sodom to warn Lot and his family of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot pressed the strangers to stay over at his home for the night. However, it was not long before the men of Sodom heard about the strangers. In the fourth and fifth verses we are told that,  Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."  

The literal reading of verse 5 is,   And they called to Lot, and said to him, “Where are the men which came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may know them”.  

According to the traditional interpretation the word ‘know’ refers to sexual intercourse, thus an obvious reference to homosexual sex, which is the meaning given by the NIV translation of the Bible. However, recently some scholars have questioned this interpretation. For example, Yale historian John Boswell believes that the problem was that Lot was violating the custom of Sodom by entertaining guests within the city walls at night without obtaining the permission of the elders of the city.   When the men of Sodom gathered around to demand that the strangers be brought out to them, ‘that they might know them’, they meant no more than to ‘know’ who they were, and the city was consequently destroyed not for sexual immorality but for the sin of inhospitality to strangers (Boswell 1980: 107-117).

Shirwin Bailey in an influential book “Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition” likewise denies that the verb ‘know’ has a sexual connotation.   He argues that the men of Sodom wanted to interrogate Lot’s guests to see if they were spies.   In particular he claims that the word, ‘know’, simply means, ‘to become acquainted’.  Thus, Lot’s protest was against the discourtesy of interrogating his guests and God punished them for breaching the rules of hospitality, and not sexual perversion (Bailey 1955: 38). Support for this interpretation is found in Ezekiel 16:49-50 where the sin of Sodom is described,

`Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Christopher Wright draws our attention to the problem when he states, ‘Ironically, the one thing for which Sodom is most famous in traditional Christian interpretation, the attempted violent homosexual rape in Genesis 19, is the one thing Ezekiel does not mention explicitly’ [Wright 2001: 148).    The sin of Sodom is her lack of social responsibility for the ‘poor and needy’.   Brownlee puts it even more strongly,

‘Thus ‘sodomy’ (so-called) in Genesis is basically oppression of the weak and helpless; and the oppression of the stranger is the basic element of Genesis 19:1-9…’ (Brownlee 1986: 248).

Having said this, Brownlee does make the point that,

‘the threatened homosexual attack upon the visitors in all its abhorrence was simply “the straw which broke the camel’s back”’ (Brownlee: 248).

Although Bailey’s arguments have attracted a strong measure of support, commentators on the text do not support his arguments.   According to Derek Kidner

‘The doubt created by Dr. Bailey has traveled more widely than the reasons he produces for [the doubt]. Not one of these reasons, it may be suggested, stands any serious scrutiny’ (Kidner1967: 137).  

What are our reasons for rejecting this revised interpretation?  

Evaluation of arguments

First, Sodom and Gomorrah were judged because of grave sin. This is clearly stated in Genesis 18 verse 20, And the Lord said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave’.   Indeed, not even ten percent righteous people could be found in the city. It is interesting that this was no isolated incident - it was prevalent in those cities for we see how the whole town was involved - young and old. Secondly, although the word ‘know’ is not always used in a sexual sense, it is the context that is determinative when it comes to the meaning of a word. What is significant is that the same word “know” is used in verse 8, quite obviously in a sexual sense,   Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man. I pray you, let me bring them out to you, and you do to them as you see fit. But do nothing to these men, for this is why they came under the shadow of my roof. Furthermore, we may well ask why Lot offered his daughters to the men of Sodom simply because they only wanted to see the credentials of the two strangers.  

Thirdly, we have no other instance in Scripture where God wiped out or judged a nation for the sin of bad manners. There is no textual evidence that inhospitality was a capital crime. However, homosexuality was punishable by death in Israel.  We can come to no other conclusion than these angels were obviously very attractive to these homosexual men in Sodom and they wanted to rape them.

Of course, it could be argued that the men of Sodom were only judged for promiscuous behaviour - but homosexuality per se, where there is a stable, loving relationship, is accepted. However, Jude refers to this incident in this way: In a similar way Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. [verse 7]. 

If Jude had meant rape, he could have stopped at word fornication [pornia], translated sexual immorality in the NIV, and need not have added ‘going after different flesh’ - translated in NIV as perversion.   The sin was fornication, which was manifested in doing something unnatural - homosexual sex. Thus, the very act of sexual relations between those of same sex is forbidden. That is why God punished them.

But what about the omission of homosexuality in Ezekiel? How do we account for this? Because Ezekiel plays such an important role in this revised interpretation, it is necessary to deal with this passage in some detail. It is one of the general rules of interpretation that in order to understand any passage in the Bible (or any other piece of literature for that matter) it is necessary to look at the context in which it appears. The context of this passage is oracles about the sins of Israel and Jerusalem and God’s impending judgment. In chapter 16 we find that Ezekiel gives an account of Israel’s spiritual history in the form of an allegory, which serves to justify God’s decisive judgment upon Jerusalem. Ezekiel shows that in spite of God’s great love and care, Jerusalem has been unfaithful to Him. In a comparison designed to shock the people of Jerusalem, they are told they are worse than despised Samaria in northern Israel (which had been destroyed over a century ago), and debauched Sodom (which had been destroyed centuries before).  

The question remains, why does Ezekiel describe Sodom’s sin in the way he does?  Why does he not refer to their homosexuality? The reason becomes clearer if we look at the historical situation. At that time Jehoiakim was king. According to John Taylor, ‘Jehoiakim was a thoroughly irresponsible ruler as far as his people were concerned and he earned Jeremiah’s utter contempt especially for his grandiose scheme for palace improvements and the imposition of forced labour to carry it through (Jeremiah 22:13-19)’ (Taylor 1978: 30). Jeremiah accused the king of oppression of the poor and weak, and injustice. What the king was guilty of was current in society at that time. This too was the sin of the northern kingdom (Samaria), which was the burden of the prophet Amos. In other words, Ezekiel specifies the actual sins of which Jerusalem was guilty. To stress the seriousness of these sins, Ezekiel mentions both Samaria and Sodom who also incurred God’s judgment for injustice and oppression. To make his point he deliberately omits Sodom’s homosexuality. Israel would know the tradition of Sodom’s homosexuality and would agree that this was a sin deserving God’s judgment. However, Ezekiel wants them to know that Sodom was also destroyed for injustice and oppression. Just because Ezekiel does not explicitly mention homosexuality does not mean that they were not guilty of this sin. One cannot base an argument on silence. However, it is reasonable to assume that homosexual sin ‘is doubtless included in the broad expression they did detestable things’, especially if one looks at the sexual coloring of the allegory (Wright 2001: 148). In any case, by no stretch of the imagination can one equate lack of hospitality with injustice and oppression.  

Leviticus 18:22, 20:13

In Leviticus 18 verse 22 we read,

`Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

On the face of this, we have a clear condemnation of homosexual sex. However, it is pointed out this condemnation of homosexual intercourse also includes the prohibition of intercourse with a menstruating woman in verse 19, `Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period. On this basis it is argued that these stipulations have nothing to do with moral behaviour but concern ceremonial uncleanness, like eating certain ‘unclean foods’. Thus if we are going to call one of these prohibitions a binding revelation of the divine will then we must treat the others likewise.  In other words, it is inconsistent to focus on this prohibition against homosexual practice while ignoring the other regulations in the Holiness Code.

Evaluation of arguments

However this argument ignores the whole context. Israel was going into a land that was notoriously sexually perverted.   This was one of the reasons why God commanded Joshua to totally destroy the Canaanites. God was not just being capricious or ridding the land of its people to make way for Israel. Their destruction represented God’s judgment upon their sin. It was a judgment long in coming, in fact, 400 years. It is a historical fact that sexual perversion was closely associated with their religion. What is highlighted here, are certain specific sins that were characteristic of the Canaanites. What was prohibited? 18:6-19 interfamily sexual relations. 19:19 Sex with menstruating woman – causes ceremonial uncleanness. 18:20 adultery 18:21 child sacrifice 18:22 homosexual sex which is called detestable or an abomination. This term speaks of strong disapproval in Hebrew and is used 5 times in this chapter.   It comes from a root meaning ‘to hate’ or ‘to abhor’. An abomination is literally something detestable and hated by God (Wenham 1979: 259).

It is significant that the prohibition concerning homosexuality is sandwiched between adultery [20], child sacrifice [21], and bestiality [23].   Was Moses merely saying that if a priest committed adultery, had sex with an animal, or burned a child on Molech’s altar he should be sure to wash up before he came to the temple? Obviously not. One cannot escape the conclusion that these verses show, at the very least that homosexual behaviour is among the things that God detests. Those who try and reinterpret this passage ignore the fact that this list also includes other acts that are clearly wrong, even in our permissive age, like child sacrifice, incest and bestiality.

But even more important is the fact that Leviticus 18 must be read in the context of Leviticus 20, which makes the distinction between what makes one unclean ceremonially and what is immoral, by prescribing death for acts like homosexuality, child sacrifice and bestiality. Lev chapter 20 prescribes the death penalty for the following:  20:1-5  child sacrifice 20:9 cursing father and mother 20:10  adultery 20:11/12 certain degrees of incest 20:13  homosexual sex  20:14  certain degrees of polygamy  20:15/16 bestiality.

So Leviticus itself makes the distinction and homosexual sex is considered so seriously that it warrants the death penalty along with adultery, child sacrifice, certain degrees of incest and bestiality. Well, that was the OT - what about the NT?   Perhaps there is a more positive approach to homosexuality.

New Testament - Jesus

It is true that Jesus said nothing directly about homosexuality. However, it is clear from the Sermon on the Mount, that Jesus affirmed the continuing validity of the law (Matthew 5:18-19). Leon Morris commenting on this passage, points out that,

 ‘There are some strong words for anyone prepared to break even the least of the commandments and to teach other people to do the same’. (Morris 1992: 107).

Furthermore, we should not ignore his statement in Luke 17:29, It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. This means that Jesus understood the wickedness of Sodom and in particular its sexual perversion.   He obviously accepted their judgment as right.

It is also true that there are many sins Jesus did not condemn as such for he was far more concerned with the root cause of all sins, the heart and the mind. He rebuked the Pharisees, who were concerned about the outward and totally ignored the inward (Matthew 15),   What goes into a man's mouth does not make him `unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him`unclean.' " 17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.' 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man `unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him `unclean.' "

Romans 1:26-27

Romans 1:26 and 27 has long been considered to be the classic passage dealing with homosexual behaviour. Paul, referring to the godlessness and wickedness of humanity for deliberately rejecting God and choosing to worship idols, states that in judgment, God hands them over to own their sinful desires. In other words, he simply allows them to sink deeper into their sin by removing all restraints. It is in this context that Paul states, (starting in verse 24), Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They 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. 27 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.

According to John Murray, who represents the traditional understanding of this passage,

‘Here we are for the first time informed of the specific type of vice which the apostle had in mind when he referred to ‘uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves’ (vs. 24) and to ‘passions of dishonor’ (vs. 26a). At least, he defines what he had in mind as the most aggravated forms of uncleanness and vile passion. It is apparent that what is in view here and in verse 27 is the homosexual abomination.’ (Murray 1959: 47). This settles the matter for most Christians because this passage so clearly condemns homosexual behaviour. However, a new approach to this passage has emerged. Part of this new approach focuses on new ways of understanding the meaning of ‘nature’ (physis) in vv 26-27. One can identify three different interpretations, all of which seek to prove that the traditional understanding of these verses is incorrect and that Paul is not condemning homosexual behaviour as such.

1. Some interpret ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ in terms of one’s personal ‘natural’ orientation. It is argued that Paul is condemning heterosexuals who, in the context of idolatry and lust, engage in homosexual practices. He is referring to heterosexuals who perversely choose to behave homosexually.   For them homosexual practice is unnatural. However, for homosexuals, sex with the same sex is quite natural and therefore acceptable. Paul does not condemn this. In other words, Paul is not condemning true homosexuality.

2. Similarly others argue that Paul was not aware of homosexuality as an inherited trait or inherent condition due to psychological or glandular causes, and consequently he considered all homosexuality as a perversion.

It is argued that Paul, being a child of his time, did not know of a settled homosexual orientation.  In other words, he was unaware of constitutional homosexuality. According to Patrick Henry, ‘Christian ethics must be prepared to modify in certain major respects its notion of what is ‘natural’ in the light of modern findings’ (Henry 1976: 36). The ‘modern findings’ he refers to is of course modern psychology and the experience of gay people. Paul’s condemnation is therefore irrelevant in the light of modern knowledge.

3. Paul is condemning pederasty and not homosexual love between consenting adults.

Evaluation of arguments

How are we to answer the contention that ‘natural’ means ‘what is natural’ to each individual? In the first place, nowhere in normal Greek usage of the word physis, is there any suggestion that it has the meaning ‘what is natural to me’ or ‘orientation’ (DeYoung 1988: 430).   DeYoung, professor of New Testament language and literature at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon states, ‘One searches in vain for a commentator who gives physis this meaning’ (DeYoung: 438) ‘According to nature’ means ‘normal’, while ‘against nature’ means ‘abnormal’ (DeYoung: 431).

These phrases in particular are used in ethical judgments, especially regarding sexual abnormality. For example, Plato condemns pederasty and marriage between men as para physin (against nature) (DeYoung: 431).   

What about Jewish and Christian usage? It is interesting that the Jews did not have the Greek conception of nature because they referred all existing things to creation or to the Creator God (DeYoung: 432). In other words, the meaning of nature or natural was based on God’s creation. The writings of Philo and Josephus provide additional insight into Jewish thinking about physis.  For Philo sexual aberrations were ‘contrary to nature’. For Josephus marital intercourse and childbirth correspond to the order of nature [kata physin], but sexual deviation is para physin and he speaks of the ‘violence and outrage of the Sodomites and that homosexuality deserves the death penalty’ (DeYoung: 432/3).

Secondly, to argue that ‘natural’ means what is natural to the individual and is therefore acceptable raises the question; who defines what is natural? Perhaps raping is natural to the rapist or paedophilia is natural to the paedophile. What if an adult’s sexual relationship with a child is mutual, tender and affectionate? Perhaps even a loving physical relationship with one’s sister is natural for some. Whose definition applies? What is natural can only be defined by God, which is in fact Paul’s understanding of natural in Romans chapter 1.

In the third place, revisionists of Romans 1 totally ignore the context of the passage, namely the universality of sin and man’s need of the gospel of grace revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.   Writing against the backdrop of society of that time, Paul delineates the sins of Gentiles and Jews, pagans and God-fearers, immoral and moralists. He comes to the conclusion,

There is no one righteous, not even one; RO 3:11 there is no one who understands,  no one who seeks God. 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Every single person stands condemned before God and needs the gospel.

It is in Romans 1 from verse 18 that Paul deals specifically with the sins of the Gentiles. He explains their sin as deliberately rejecting God and worshipping created things rather than the true God (idolatry). For this reason, Paul maintains, man is under the judgment of God (wrath of God).   He explains that God’s judgment is manifested in removing all restrains to sin.  God abandons man to his sinful desires. Stuart Olyatt, commenting on this passage states,

‘They become enslaved to their own ungodly desires, and reap the consequences. The things which they have chosen have evil effects, and so they themselves become revoltingly degraded’ (Olyatt 1979:  13).

According to C H Dodd, Paul  ‘sees the most signal proof of the moral rottenness of pagan civilization in the prevalence of homo-sexual perversion, with its disastrous consequences…’ (Dodd 1963: 54).

Paul’s condemnation of homosexual practice must be viewed in this context, of sin and judgment. Part of that judgment was abandonment to sexual impurity. A particular form of that impurity is expressed in lesbianism and homosexuality. he apostle identifies this as ‘unnatural’. He says the women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones (v26b) (para physin). The men abandoned natural relations with women.

It is interesting that Paul has a play on the words ‘changed’ and ‘exchanged’. In verse 23 he states that people ‘exchanged’ the glory of the immortal God for the images. In verse 25, they ‘changed’ the truth of God. It is this that results in a change from natural sexual relations to unnatural sexual relations. This play on words is deliberate on the part of Paul and is his stylistic way of stressing that something has changed from the norm. Because people do not acknowledge what is correct and true, namely worship of the true God, He abandons them to that which is wrong.

We have seen that revisionists argue that ‘natural’ means what is natural to the individual.  We have also seen that this was not the way the ancient Greeks and Jews understood this word. Thus, the question is surely, how the apostle Paul would have understood these words. We must remember that Paul was a Jew who was steeped in the Jewish culture in general and more specifically, the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus his thinking would obviously have been guided by the Old Testament Scriptures. As we saw earlier, for the Jews, ‘natural’ was defined in terms of creation. They believed that it was God who defines what is natural and unnatural.  It is not too much to assume that Paul would have had the creation account in mind and in particular the institution of sexual relations between Adam and Eve. Thus, Paul would have thought of man and woman as God created them.  This would be Paul’s understanding of ‘natural’.  By ‘unnatural’ he would understand unnatural to humankind in God’s creation pattern. And that pattern he clearly understood, according to Genesis, to be heterosexual. For him, in the light of Genesis, homosexual relations would be ‘unnatural’. It would represent an ‘exchange’ from what was creational (normal).  Therefore natural relations must be interpreted in the context of creation. De Young asserts,

 ‘This means that physis refers to what is the constitution of man, his being, as derived from the Creator (Genesis 1-2). Note how the Creator and creation immediately precede the context (Romans 1:19-23) (DeYoung: 438). We must relate our understanding of nature to the doctrine of creation. To ask whether homosexuality is natural is to ask whether God made it. And the answer to that has to be in the negative.

We have seen that the revisionists argue that Paul is not condemning those for whom homosexuality is ‘natural’ but those for whom heterosexuality is ‘unnatural’. However that is directly contradicted by a straightforward reading of Paul’s statement in verse 27 where he states, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another”. Notice Paul does not say, ‘In the same way the men abandoned their natural relations with women’. If Paul were concerned about heterosexual men abandoning natural relations with women, he would have been more specific. But he is making a general statement and the implication is clearly that what is natural, is men’s relations with women and what is unnatural, is men’s relations with other men.

Furthermore, it is also clear that Paul did not have in mind some capricious sex swapping where heterosexuals sought fresh stimulation in homosexual sex. He uses some very strong words which clearly show that Paul was describing a dominant lifestyle. He states in verse 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. This is a gnawing and unsatisfied lust, an insatiable hunger and an ardent longing which cannot be satisfied. It speaks of a condition where a person cannot get enough of the object of his or her desire. The desire so dominates the person that it controls him or her and takes control of their lives, their thinking and actions.  

What about the contention that Paul is condemning pederasty and not homosexual love between consenting adults?   Paul writes literally “males with males committing indecent acts”. He does not say “men with boys”. The terms “toward one another,” “men with men”,  “in themselves” and “their error” all argue for adult reciprocal mutuality and mutual culpability, which would not be true of pederasty.  

I Corinthians 6:9 

This is another passage that has been revised. Here Paul is concerned about the lack of church discipline in the Corinthian church. In particular, it is clear from chapter 5 that they condoned sexual immorality in their midst. It would seem that they were being influenced by the lackadaisical attitude to sexual morality prevalent in Corinthians society. Paul has to therefore issue stern warnings against this kind of attitude. In chapter 6 verses 9 and 10 he warns,  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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

It is interesting that here the apostle gives us insight into the background of some of these Corinthian believers.   Among those who will not enter the Kingdom of God are male prostitutes and homosexual offenders. The specific words Paul uses are malakoi (translated male prostitutes, abusers, effeminate, pervert, those who make women of themselves, homosexuals) and arsenokoitai (translated homosexual offenders, abusers of themselves with men, sodomites, men who practice homosexuality).  

Ralph Blair argues that Paul was not against homosexuality per se but against homosexual abuse, or perhaps better—homosexual sins related to abuse of the body and comparable to heterosexual sins such as adultery and fornication (Blair 1977: 6).   Blair maintains that Paul’s discussion of homosexuality is similar to his allowance for temperance in drinking without requiring abstinence (cf.  1 Tim 5:23 ).

‘One should not assume uncritically that there is in the Corinthian passage a proof-text against all homosexuality or even all homosexual acts. Of course, homosexual behavior can be perverted and sinful and exploitative just as heterosexual activity can be—or any kind of activity can be—but this is not the same as rejecting either sexual orientation or specific acts as sinful as such’ (Blair: 6). Likewise, Joseph Weber, in “Does the Bible Condemn Homosexual Acts,” suggests that Paul’s vice-lists in  1 Corinthians 6  and  1 Timothy 1  were expressions of doing harm to one’s body (Weber 1975: 31). In particular he argues that Paul had pederasty in mind.   Similarly John McNeill believes that Paul refers here to male prostitution (McNeill 1976: 52-53).

However, none of the accepted Greek Lexicons give these words the meanings suggested by Blair, Weber and McNeill.   For example, Louw and Nida give the following meanings:

Malakos/Malakoi, ‘pertaining to being soft to the touch’ (Louw/Nida 1988: 704) and in this sense it is used in Luke 7.25 with reference to luxurious clothes.   The other meaning they give is ‘the passive male partner in homosexual intercourse’.    It is in this way they suggest the word is used in I Corinthians 6:9 (Louw/Nida: 772).  

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines malakos under the broad definition of ‘soft’ and they identify its meaning in I Corinthians 6:9 as ‘effeminate, of a catmite, a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness’ (Thayer 1977: 387).

‘Arsenokoites/tai, ‘a male partner in homosexual intercourse’ (Louw/Nida: 772). Louw and Nida state that this is the meaning in I Corinthians 6:9 They go on to make the point, ‘As in Greek, a number of other languages also have entirely distinct terms for the active and the passive role in homosexual intercourse’ (Louw/Nida: 772/3).

Another Greek Lexicon, Liddell and Scott list nothing under the spelling of arsenokoites,  the reader is told to cross reference to arrenokoites.  Under arrenokoites they provide the definition of ‘sodomite’ with a reference to 1 Corinthians 6:9 (Liddell/Scott 1968: 247). The only conclusion one can come to, is that the words Paul uses here covers any homosexual behaviour, even that which takes place in a stable “loving” relationship between two people of the same sex.

Conclusion

Although these ‘pro-gay’ interpretations of these biblical passages have been influential, the overwhelming weight of scholarly opinion contradicts these liberal interpretations. According to Field, ‘After a comprehensive, non-polemical survey of the evidence, Peter Coleman concludes that if we ask what the biblical writers actually meant, the answer is clear. They intended to put a ban on all homosexual behaviour’ (Field 451). He maintains that the Bible’s ban on homosexual acts is still relevant today.

Marriage and the Bible

Apart from the passages we have considered, perhaps the most important biblical evidence against homosexual behaviour in general and homosexual “marriage’ in particular, is the Scriptural view of sexuality and marriage.

The basic question we have to ask if we take Scripture seriously is: What was God’s intention when he created humankind? Our starting point is the presupposition that God is there, that he created all things and continues to sustain all things.  The apex of his creation was humankind whom he created to be in relationship with him, and as a consequence, God revealed himself to humankind in actions, words and ultimately in and through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This revelation was written down for us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This is the Word of God, which reveals His will for humankind.  

An important implication of this is our belief that sexuality, marriage and family are creational and not cultural. In other words, our understanding of sexuality, marriage and family must be defined and understood in the context of creation. In the creation of humankind we see God’s intention for us. According to Andreas Kostenberger in his book God, Marriage and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation,

‘In exploring the biblical teaching on marriage, there is no more important paradigm than God’s intended pattern for marriage presented in Genesis 1–3…. the early chapters of this book provide the parameters of the Creator’s design for marriage in every age. This is reflected in Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching and applies to our own age as well’ (Kostenberger 2004: 31).

A Biblical worldview’s understanding of marriage and family

Let us go back to the beginning, when God created humankind. This is how the event is recorded in Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth,n and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What is relevant to this discussion is the stress laid on the distinction between the two sexes, “ male and female he created them”.  Both man and woman were created in the image of God. The image of God is reflected, in part, in the differentiation of humanity in two sexes. In other words, God built in a clear difference between the sexes. The difference inherent in our very make-up is obvious in our physiology and even more obvious in the physiology of male and female sexual organs. A man is not provided with a uterus or ovaries and a woman is not provided with gonads, or sperm or a scrotum. And even if either a man or woman undergo hormone treatment and sex change surgery, reproduction and other normal sexual functions of the genitals is still not possible. It is obtuse to deny that male and female sexual organs were specifically designed in such a way that the points of maximum erotic sexual pleasure are stimulated only by heterosexual intercourse. The male sexual organ was specifically designed for the female sexual organ and not the anus. The walls of the anus are a good deal thinner than the walls of the vagina, making anal sex (which is the common practice among homosexuals)3 dangerous as it easily results in tearing and bruising of the anal wall and even to permanent damage of the anus. In this connection, Dr Paul Cameron, in an educational pamphlet entitled “Medical Consequences Of What Homosexuals Do”, states,

‘Rectal sex is dangerous. During rectal intercourse the rectum becomes a mixing bowl for 1) saliva and its germs and/or an artificial lubricant, 2) the recipient’s own feces, 3) whatever germs, infections or substances the penis has on it, and 4) the seminal fluid of the inserter. Since sperm readily penetrates the rectal wall (which is only one cell thick) causing immunologic damage, and tearing or bruising of the anal wall is very common during anal/penile sex, these substances gain almost direct access to the blood stream. Unlike heterosexual intercourse (in which sperm cannot penetrate the multilayered vagina and no feces is present) rectal intercourse is probably the most sexually efficient way to spread hepatitis B, HIV syphilis and a host of other blood-borne diseases” (Cameron 1999: 2).

Today there is a concerted effort to obliterate the difference between the two sexes. However, the difference is not just a matter of genitalia – the difference lies in the very make up of the sexes – it is rooted in our very being. Some men claim to be trapped in a woman’s body, and dress as women, take hormone treatment and eventually undergo operations to change their sex. You can change a man’s genitals, give him hormone treatment so that his body begins to change, dress him up like a woman – but he remains a man – that is the way God created him and the same applies to a woman who wants to change into a man. God’s perfect creation maintains the difference and the difference reflects the glory of God.  According to Kostenberger,

‘…these functional differences are part of the Creator’s design, (and) it is only when men and women embrace their God-ordained roles that they will be truly fulfilled and that God’s creational wisdom will be fully displayed and exalted’ (Kostenberger: 36).

It is in this context that we must consider what is ‘natural’ and what is ‘unnatural’. ‘Natural’ is grounded in God’s creation and ‘unnatural’ is contrary to God’s creative purpose.  By creating them male and female, God set out the parameters of human sexuality, marriage and family.  This is the way God made us and it is when we ignore His revealed will, we end up with chaos.

The distinction between male and female is again stressed in chapter 2 where the focus falls specifically on humankind and the creation of woman.  At the beginning Adam was alone for we read in chapter 2:18,

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Here is the first time that God said something was not good. Now notice that Adam must have already enjoyed an intimate relationship with God, and yet, God said that was not enough. He needed another human being – he needed a companion, a helper, someone to stand by him, to support him, to complement him. God created man a social being. It was never his intention for man to be alone. Man needed a companion – that was brought home to Adam as he ‘named’ the animals – what he saw was that for each animal, there was a male and female, a counterpart. Furthermore, he realised that he would not find companionship with any of the other creatures God had made; GE 2:19-22 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

God created a woman as ‘a suitable helper’.   Kidner commenting on this passage asserts,

‘…the sexes are complementary: the true partnership is expounded by the terms that are used (a helper fit for him, 18, 20, RSV; literally ‘a help as opposite him’, i.e., ‘corresponding to him’), by the fruitless search elsewhere, as man discerns the natures (expressing them in the names, 20) of other creatures, and by the fact that Eve is of the very stuff of Adam and yet wholly new being’ (Kidner 1979: 65/66).

When Adam awoke from his sleep there was a woman. Not another man. It is a woman who complements him, not a man.   Kostenberger points out that

‘God’s creation of Eve demonstrates that God’s plan for Adam’s marriage, as well as for all subsequent marriages, involves a monogamous heterosexual relationship. God only made one “suitable helper” for Adam, and she was female. What is more, it was God who perceived Adam’s aloneness and hence created the woman. The biblical text gives no indication that Adam himself was even conscious of being alone or discontent in his singleness. Rather, God is shown to take the initiative in fashioning a compatible human companion for the man. For this reason it can truly be said that marriage is God’s idea and that it was God who made the woman of his own sovereign will as a “suitable helper” for the man (Gen. 2:18, 20).

Kostenberger asks,   But what is the force of the expression “suitable helper”? A contextual reading of the expression in its original setting suggests that, on the one hand, the woman is congenial to the man in a way that none of the animals are (Gen. 2:19-20; she is “bone of [his] bones and flesh of [his]flesh,” 2:23), and, on the other hand, that the woman is placed alongside the man as his associate or assistant. On a personal level, she will provide for the man’s need for companionship (2:18). In relation to God’s mandate for humanity to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth and subdue it (1:28), the woman is a suitable partner both in procreation (becoming “one flesh” with him [2:24]) and in the earth’s domestication’ (Kostenberger: 34).

In this regard, Michael Green maintains that ‘Homosexuality is wrong because it frustrates that complementarily between male and female in which the divine image is to be seen’ (Green, Holloway, Watson 1980: 21).

In verse 23 we have Adam’s response when God brought Eve to him, The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman,'  for she was taken out of man."

In the original Hebrew, this comes out as a joyful exclamation – ‘At last, this is bone …’.  When Adam saw Eve, he immediately realised that here was the one he was longing for, the one who would make him complete.   When God brought Eve to Adam he recognised that she was in fact part of him and he part of her.   GE 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  

Here is the Biblical description and definition of marriage. It is a one-flesh relationship.   

The concept of ‘one-flesh’ focuses on the essence of marriage. It stresses the fact that marriage is not an external, legal arrangement – it is something far deeper, it reaches down to the very core of our being. It represents the merging of two people. A great theologian speaks of it as making two people indispensable to each other. This ‘one flesh’ understanding of marriage is proved by the fact that this term is used by our Lord and also by the apostle Paul when referring to marriage. In Matthew 19, our Lord speaking about the seriousness of divorce states, "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,5 and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate". Mark renders our Lord’s words like this, Mar 10:6  But at the beginning of creation God `made them male and female.' `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Paul warning about the spiritual dangers of extra-marital sex with prostitutes (something the Corinthians were apparently guilty of) writes,   I Cor 6:16-17 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. In Ephesians Paul also speaks of marriage as a one flesh relationship;

31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."  

No-where is this one flesh applied to any other relationship except marriage between a man and a woman.   In other words, this is God’s definition of marriage. There is no other definition of marriage. In this regard, Hugh Wetmore, who participated at length in the SA Law Commission’s process on the Marriage Act, argues that,

‘Marriage’ is defined heterosexually in every dictionary. Words have meaning. We do not live in an Alice-in-Wonderland world where we can change their meaning to suit us. Granted that words do over time change their meaning, but such changes occur naturally, by socio-linguistic processes, and not by arbitrary legislation forcing the change in meaning from the top down (Wetmore 2005: email).

Together with this understanding of marriage is the fact that sexual relationships are only legitimate in marriage. This one flesh union was also manifested in another way, look at how this chapter ends

GE 2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. What did this mean? They felt no shame before each other, they could be completely open with each other, they had no secrets, and there was no need to hide anything from each other. They were completely transparent in their relationship with one another because they could trust each other completely.    

There are two essentials for this one-flesh relationship to develop – leave and cleave. On the one side, both parties must leave their families. They create a new unity – cleave. They form a new primary unit. This forms the basis of the family, which usually eventually includes children. However we do not marry to have children ‘but to find ‘bone of my bones’ (Stafford 1993: 78). But marriage brings with it responsibility to have children. God commanded them,

GE 1:28 "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Kostenberger maintains that, ‘The first man and the first woman were thus charged to exercise representative rule in part by procreation’ (Kostenberger: 33). He continues, ‘Together they are to multiply and be stewards of the children given to them by God. And together they are to subdue the earth by a division of labor that assigns to the man the primary responsibility to provide for his wife and children and to the woman the care for and nurture of her family’(Kostenberger: 33). Marriage and family are therefore creational – it is not cultural. It does not change according to our whims and fancies.  This is how God has structured human relationships. Colson puts it succinctly: ‘The implication is that to be husband or wife, a father or mother is not an artificial or arbitrary role separate from our ‘true’ self, a threat to authentic personhood. Instead, these relationships form an intrinsic part of our fundamental identity, of what makes us fully human’ (Colson 1999:322).

Marriage is the basis of the family unit and also the very foundation of all relationships. It ties society together. It is the glue that binds society. If there is a breakdown here, the whole of society begins to disintegrate. In this connection Charles Colson observes, ‘Out of sheer self-interest, if for no other reason, nearly every civilization has protected the family both legally and socially, for it is the institution that propagates the human race and civilizes children. Yet in postmodern America, the family is being assaulted on many fronts, from books to popular magazines, on television and in moves, through state and federal policies’ (Colson 1999: 318).

Wetmore confirms Colson’s point when he states,

The most widely esteemed and credible Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948), protects heterosexual marriage and does not imagine same-sex marriage. Article 16 “Men and women…have the right to marry and found a family…The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state” (Wetmore).

This breakdown in the nuclear family has resulted in serious social problems.  Colson quoting statistics asserts,

‘Children in single-parent families are six times more likely to be poor, and half the single mothers in the United States live below the poverty line…. Children from disrupted families have more academic and behavioral problems at school and are nearly twice as likely to drop out of school. Girls in single-parent homes are at much greater risk for precocious sexuality and are three times more likely to have a child out of wedlock’ (Colson: 323)

According to David Popenoe, there is a clear correlation between fatherless households and crime and substance abuse.   He points out that no less than 60% of rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of all long-term prison inmates came from fatherless homes. (Popenoe 1996: 63).

What about South Africa?   Some years ago, a committee representing The Church of the Province of Southern Africa, The Methodist Church of Southern Africa and The Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, brought out a report entitled ‘Family Life – (The Church’s Response to Breakdown)’.  The report indicated that there is a serious breakdown in family life in South Africa leading to serious social problems in society.  (Family Life: Report).   This report quotes Dr Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury as follows,   ‘If we solved all our economic problems and failed to build loving families, it would profit us nothing. For the family is the place where the future is created – good and full of love or deformed’ (Family Life: 11).

An analogy

Perhaps an analogy will clarify the importance of understanding sexuality and marriage in the context of creation. We are familiar with purchasing some technical item, like a motorcar, or an electrical appliance.  At the time of purchase we are provided with the manufacturer’s handbook. It is usual in the manufacturer’s handbook to issue a warning that any warranty on that item will be invalidated if the equipment is not used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  The warning is usually worded as follows: “For this warranty to apply, check and follow the instructions in the Service Warranty Manuals”. Let us use a motorcar as a specific example.  

We know that there is a specific place for fuel, for oil, for water, and for transmission fluid and the owner is expected to carefully follow the instructions when it comes to refueling etc. Of course, the owner has the freedom to fill the fuel tank with water instead of petrol.   However, he is not free from the consequences of not following the manufacturer’s instructions. In the same way, God (the manufacturer) has created us and he has issued instructions of how we should live. We are free to disobey him.  But we are not free from consequences of not following his “instructions”.  

Guiding Principles

In seeking to both understand and help those who are struggling with homosexuality; it is necessary to keep some important principles in mind.

1. We must distinguish between the condition of homosexuality and homosexual behaviour

Scripture’s condemnation focuses on behaviour and rather than orientation.   As we have seen, in many cases homosexual orientation is caused by factors over which the person has no control.  David Watson affirms that although ‘the Scriptures are unanimous in their assertion that homosexual acts are sinful’, nevertheless, ‘a vital distinction must be made between homosexual tendency and homosexual activity (‘being’ is not the same as ‘doing’). (Green, Holloway, Watson 1980: 134).

It is also important to bear in mind that if a homosexual comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, all personality traits may not be sorted out.   This may take time, involving counseling and encouragement. It is not sinful to be tempted.   No one is morally or spiritually in the wrong until he or she gives in to the temptation. Nevertheless, even though temptation itself is not sin (unless one deliberately puts oneself in its way), allowing the temptation to take root in the mind, leading to lustful thoughts, is equivalent to the act.  In other words, even if a person is not engaged in homosexual acts as such, he or she may still be guilty of homosexual sin.   This is the point that Jesus made when he stated,   "You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart  (Matthew 5:27-28). Thus anyone with a homosexual orientation should avoid any situation, read any literature, and mix with anyone that can lead to temptation and lustful thoughts.

2. There is a need for balance

It is sometimes assumed that homosexuality is the ‘unforgivable sin’.   As we have seen, homosexual acts are sinful, but homosexuality is not a greater sin than other sins (I Corinthians 6:9-10).   It is therefore wrong to think that this sin is more serious.   It does not require special treatment in God’s plan of forgiveness. Of course, the consequences may be more serious than say pride or jealousy, but in the sight of God it is no more serious than the others. In fact, we should take note of what is stated in Proverbs

PR 6:16 - 19 “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

It is significant that sexual sin is not mentioned.  It is also significant that even in Romans 1, which we have dealt with earlier; Paul is not dealing with homosexuality per se. He deals with the universality of sin and raises homosexuality as an issue probably because he wanted to confront the pious Jews with their own double standards. Having dealt with homosexual sin, he immediately states,   ‘You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things’ (Romans 2:1).  Of course, Paul is not accusing moralists and Jews of homosexual sin. His point is that all of us are equally guilty of sins, which he lists as including greed, envy, gossip, arrogance and boasting. Before we single out homosexual behaviour, we should bear in mind that  ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God’ (Romans 3:10-11). Heterosexuals can find no grounds for comparing themselves favourably with homosexuals.  Although our sins may differ, we all stand guilty before a Holy God.   Watson reminds us that ‘Whatever our orientation may be, all of us need to surrender our sexuality to God, so that he may be fully in control of that powerful gift he has given us – a gift that can be so creative or so destructive’ (Green, Holloway, Watson: 143).

3. Homosexuals can change

What hope is there of change for the homosexually orientated person?  The Bible says that through the Holy Spirit we can change established behaviour patterns. It is the gospel that offers both complete and total forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ and also radical resources for control.  We receive power from the Holy Spirit. In some instances delivery from the bondage of homosexuality may be immediate and total, while in other instances the delivery may be more gradual and extremely difficult.  

Elizabeth Moberly, who is the originator of a new reparative therapy for homosexuals, insists that homosexuals can change. (Moberly 1993: 2).   However, she conceded that

 ‘there are no “quick fixes” for homosexuals…. Time and commitment and hard work are required. And people may relapse, just as in any other form of therapy’ (Moberly 1993:2).

Much depends, of course, on whether person struggling with homosexuality wants to change. Commitment is required.   Moberly maintains that

‘Growth and change for the homosexual depend both on motivation and perseverance, and on getting the right therapeutic help. Mere attempts to stop homosexual behaviour, without adequately focusing on underlying developmental issues, have been relatively ineffective’ (Moberly 1993: 2).

According Cole, 

“While change may not be easy, its reality is well documented in the personal accounts of many former homosexuals.” 1

However, as Cole points out, “Unfortunately evidence for such change is covered up by the popular media in order to mislead the public into believing that a change in sexual behavior is not possible. Furthermore the clinical debate on the appropriateness of trying to change homosexual behavior is a heated one to say the least. The premise that homosexuality is a treatable disorder is in conflict with the position of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association on sexual orientation. Thus the possibility of change in the lifestyle of homosexuals is not likely to be given a fair hearing so long as professional organizations continue to deny the evidence for and the desirability of change” (Cole 1997: 359-360). There are many organizations which today provide counselling and help for those struggling with homosexuality. 2

4. Prevention

Of course, prevention is far better than cure.  A wholesome family life will go a long way in prevention. As children grow up they need a loving, same sex model with which to identify.   Essential is a loving home. Dr James Dobson maintains,

 ‘The best prevention is to strengthen …home life. Homosexuality can occur in a loving home...although it is less likely where parents are reasonably well adjusted to one another. I don’t think it is necessary to fear this unfortunate occurrence as a force beyond our control. If parents will provide a healthy, stable home environment, and not interfere with the child’s appropriate sex role, then homosexuality is highly unlikely to occur in the younger set’(Dobson 1982: 451).

The Church and Homosexuality

The current discussion concerning homosexuality and the ‘Church’ has led to an unfortunate polarization. The result is that neither side is listening to the other side. In many ways ‘battle lines’ have been drawn.  

What has confused the issue is that the ‘Church’ does not speak with one voice on this matter. As we have seen some sectors of the church have accepted homosexuality to such an extent that they are prepared to ordain practicing homosexual clergy and to ‘marry’ homosexual couples. This sector of the church is therefore considered open, tolerant, loving and accepting. Ultimately, however, from the viewpoint of this study, this sector of the church offers no real hope for the homosexual. There is no need for the homosexual to change his or her lifestyle.   At best, he or she must refrain from promiscuity and seek to live in a committed relationship.  

However, we have seen that many Christians hold the traditional view of homosexuality to be morally wrong and sinful. It is quite true, as we have admitted, that some of these Christians, in their rejection of homosexual behaviour, reject homosexuals themselves.   The accusation that they are intolerant, bigoted and unloving is justified.   With this kind of attitude, the ‘church’ can play no part in helping those struggling with homosexual problems. In fact, they have no message of hope. Their only message is one of condemnation.  This is no gospel at all.

As we have also seen, homosexuality is a complicated condition, which means there are no simple answers to the problem. There are many men and women, who are struggling with their homosexual orientation. Loneliness marks homosexuals.  Where can they go?   Too often the ‘Church’ in its judgmental attitude has been a place of rejection rather than a place of acceptance, a place of hurt rather than healing. In this connection, John White poignantly asks,

Have you ever paused to think what kind of quandary this puts the Christian homosexual into? To whom can he turn for help if he wants it? Where can he go for the warmth and understanding he yearns for? The straights either despise him or are embarrassed by his approach. The gays open their arms wide to him. If the non-Christian homosexual faces a social dilemma, the Christian homosexual’s dilemma is far more difficult. (White1977: 127)

It is often for this very reason that those struggling with their homosexuality have returned to former friends and acquaintances or to those ‘churches’ that accept homosexuals and their behaviour.  Homosexuals need not only acceptance, but hope of change.  Ultimately, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that offers real hope. It is a message of forgiveness and of power to change.  

But for that message to get through Christians must manifest that compassion shown by our Lord Jesus Christ when the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in the very act of adultery before him.  The law commanded that anyone guilty of adultery should be stoned to death.  John records that Jesus challenged her accusers  (John 7:53-8:11), "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Jesus did not reject this woman, who we must assume was guilty.   He accepted her, forgave her and then commanded her to leave her life of sin.   These are hard words.   But Jesus said them with love and acceptance. David Watson observes,

Too often the Church has had the correct hard words, but has not had the love with which to say those words. (Watson: 134)

This is the gospel we must convey to those struggling with homosexuality. Homosexuals seeking to change their life-style need fellow believers to accept, help, support, forgive and love them. It is the contention of this study that hope for the homosexual means, on the one hand, understanding that homosexual behaviour is sinful, and on the other hand, believing that through the Lord Jesus Christ, we can experience the transforming power of the gospel.  He came precisely to this broken world to heal and transform broken people.

This is precisely the message of the Church. It is in the Church that men and women are reconciled to God, drawn into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit and drawn into relationships with other believers.  According to Samuel Southard,

One of the characteristics of the Christian church is its ability to demonstrate God’s love through human relationships. In the Christian fellowship a believer may find tangible expressions of the supernatural grace that endows his life…. The church is a school where men learn to live a new life. (Oates 1957: 28)

Bibliography

Bayer, R.  1981  Homosexuality and American psychiatry: The      politics of diagnosis. New York: Basic. Bailey D S 1955  Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition:     London: Longmans, Green Bieber, I 1976  “A discussion on homosexuality: The ethical Challenge”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 44 Ralph Blair,   1977  An Evangelical Look at Homosexuality , rev. ed.      (New York: Evangelicals Concerned, 1977). Boswell J  1980  Social Tolerance and Homsexuality. Chicago:    Chicago University Brownlee W H 1986  Word Biblical Commentary – Ezekiel 1-19.  Word      Books, Publisher: Waco, Texas. Cameron P/  1981  “Social Psychological Aspects of the Judeo- Ross K P    Christian Stance Toward Homosexuality”      Journal of Psychology and Theology. Spring     1981. 9 (1).  Cole S O   1997  “Biology, Homosexuality, and Moral Culpability”.      Bsac 154 #615- July 97 Coleman Peter  1980  Christian Attitudes to Homosexuality. London Colson Charles 1999  How Now Shall We Live? Tyndale House               Publishers Inc. Wheaton, Illinois.   De Young J 1988  “The meaning of ‘nature’ in Romans 1 and its Implications for biblical proscriptions of homosexual behavior”.  JETS 31/4 (December 1988) Dobson James  1982  Dr Dobson Answers Your Questions. Kingsway      Publications. Eastbourne. Dodd, C H  1963  The Epistle of Paul to the Romans. Fontana Books. Field D H  1995  “Homosexuality” New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (Editors Atkinson D J, Field, D H). Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England. Field D H  1979  The Homosexual Way-A Christian Option.      InterVarsity Press. Downers Grove Illinois. Frame R  1990  “The Evangelical Closet”. Christianity Today. Nov     4, 1990 Green M,  } 1980  The Church and Homosexuality. A Positive Answer Holloway D,  }   to the Current Debate. Hodder and Stoughton, Watson D. }   London. Hart P P  1990  “Bisexuality”. Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling (Editor Rodney Hunter). Abingdon Press, Nashville. Hunt, M.  1974  Sexual Behavior in the 1970’s. Chicago: Playboy Jennings  T W  1990  “Homosexuality”.  Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling (Editor Rodney Hunter). Abingdon Press, Nashville. Jones S T/ 1989  “Homosexuality: The Behavioral Sciences and the Workman D Church”.Journal of Psychology and Theology. Vol 17, No. 3 Kidner, Derek  1979  Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Inter-      Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. Kostenberger A J 2004  God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the      Biblical Foundation. Crossway Books. Wheaton,      Illinois. Koukl G  1998  “Homosexuality: Giving Your Point of View”.      Stand To Reason. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Liddell H G/  1968  A Greek-English Lexicon: With Supplement, 9th Ed. Scott R.    Oxford: Claredon. Louw & Nida  1988  Greek-English Lexicon – Volume 2, United Bible     Societies. Malick D E  1993  “The Condemnation of Homosexuality in I      Corinthians 6:9”. BibSac V150 #600, Oct 93, 483 Moberly E  1985  “First Aid in Pastoral Care XV. Counseling the      Homosexual”. The Expository Times. Moberly E 1993  “Helping Homosexuals to Change” . Carer and Counsellor. Vol 3, Number 1, Winter 1993. Morris L  1992  The Gospel According to Matthew. Inter-Varsity        Publishing Company. Grand Rapid, Michigan. Muggeridge Malcolm 1977  Christ and the Media. Hodder and Stoughton: London, Sydney, Auckland, Toronto Murray John  1959  The Epistle to the Romans – Vol 1. Wm Eerdmans      Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Oates Wayne (Ed) 1957  An Introduction to Pastoral Counseling, S. Southard, ‘The Purpose of the Church and its Counseling Ministry’, Broadman Press. Nashville, Tennesse. Olyott S  1979  The Gospel as it Really is. Paul’s Epistle to the      Romans simply explained.  Evangelical Press: England. Patrick H  1976  “Homosexuals: Identity and Dignity”. Theology      Today. Vol. XXXIII. No. 1 April 76 Popenoe D  1996  Life without Fathers: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable For the Good of Children and Society. Free Press. New York. Sheed K S  1976  The Church and the Homosexual. Andrews and     McMeel. Taylor J B  1978  Ezekiel – An Introduction and Commentary. Inter-     Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill. Thayer J H  1977  Thayer’s Greek-Englush Lexicon of the New Testament. Baker Book House Grand Rapids, Michigan Weber J  1975   “Does the Bible Condemn Homosexual Acts,”      Engage/Social Action, May 1975, 31. Wetmore H  2005  Report to Baptist Christian Citizenship Committee. Wenham Gordon J 1979  The Book of LEVITICUS. Hodder and Stoughton:     London White John  1977  Eros Defined. Inter-Varsity Press Wright C J H  2001  The Message of Ezekiel. Inter-Varsity Press,      Leicester, England.

Internet

Cameron P. www.familyresearchinst.org. “Medical Consequences of what Homosexuals do”. Rule S     “Rights or wrong? Public attitudes towards moral      Values” HSRC Review Vol 2 No 3. www.hsrc.ac.za Christianity Today. www.christianitytoday.com. “The Gay Bishop’s Fallout. Christianity Today. www.christianitytoday.com. “Methodists Strengthen Stand Against Homosexual Practice”.

Newspapers and Magazines

Christianity Today. September 1998: “Anglicans Deem Homosexuality ‘Incompatible with Scripture’”. Newsweek, April 26, 1993 Sunday Times. December 5 2004. “Gays still have a long walk to the altar”. The Witness. 3 December 2004 .   Time. Vol. 138 No. 10. September 1991: “Are Gay Men Born that Way?” Time. February 15, 1993

Reports

Family Life (The Church’s Response to Breakdown) – undated – Report of Committee. Published by The Christian Aid Department – The Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa.