Can You Be Both Gay and Christian?
A Critical Look At Scripture From The Ontario Centre For Religious
Many people have been taught during childhood that homosexual behaviour
is condemned both by God and by their religion as unnatural and morally
degenerate. If they discover later in life that they are lesbian, gay, or
bisexual they often go through a spiritual crisis. Too many realize that
their sexual orientation is unchangeable, and that they cannot go through
life as someone that they have been taught to hate; they commit suicide.
(About 30% of teen suicides are due to this cause; one of the costs of homophobia).
Survivors experience a conflict between what they are and what they believe.
They sometimes abandon their religion. Some become enthusiastically anti-religious.
The purpose of this essay is to explore the possibility of a gay or lesbian
restoring their faith by overcoming the apparent conflict between their
religion and their sexual orientation. We will select what might be the
most difficult example: that of a homosexual, ex-Fundamentalist Christian
believes that the Bible is inerrant; (i.e. is without error in its original
form) and whose denomination condemns homosexual behaviour.
Step 1: What Did Jesus Christ Say about Homosexuality?
In a word, nothing. He is recorded as having given hundreds of instructions
covering behaviour and thought; but none of these dealt with homosexuality.
Jesus concentrated on a person's
interactions with God and his fellow humans. He did tell the woman who committed
adultery to go and sin no more. But that was the only time he is known to
have commented on sexual morality. Jesus may have felt that homosexuality
was not a matter worth commenting upon.
Step 2: Understanding the Hebrew Scriptures
There are many places in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that have
been traditionally interpreted as condemning homosexuality. It is important
that we go past modern day translations like the King James Version, and
determine what the original authors wrote. In their eagerness to condemn
gays and lesbians, the translators and interpreters of the Bible often introduced
an anti-homosexual slant. A careful analysis of the original texts reveals
a different story:
Genesis 19 describes the destruction of Sodom, which has been attributed
to the homosexuality of its citizens; the men may have wanted to rape the
(male) angels. Actually, the text at this point is ambiguous; the original
Hebrew word sometimes referred to sexual activity although it usually meant
"to know" in a literal sense. But a careful reading of Genesis
and Ezekiel reveals that inhospitality pride, idol worship, and lack of
consideration for the poor were their prime sins. If homosexuality was involved,
it was obviously not consentual sexual activity; it was rape. So we can
safely conclude that Sodom was destroyed because of the sins of its citizens
which included their habit of raping visitors.
Judges 19 seems to be a duplicate of the Genesis story.
Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 condemns male homosexual behaviour, but appears
to refer only to temple prostitution. Even if it did refer to lesbian and
gay relationships, it would not be applicable to Christians today, any more
than the passages which surround these verses which form the Jewish Holiness
Deuteronomy 23:17, I Kings 14:24 and 15:12 are mistranslated in some versions
of the Bible as referring to homosexual behaviour. "Temple prostitute"
would be an accurate translation.
Ruth 1:16 and 2:10-11 describe a deeply intimate relationship between Ruth
and Naomi which may or may not have had a sexual component.
1 Samuel 18:1-4 and 20:41-42 and 2 Samuel 1:25-26 describe a deeply intimate
relationship between David and Jonathan which may or may not have had a
We conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures condemn homosexual rape and temple
prostitution, but do not disapprove of gay and lesbian relationships. One
can be confident that centuries of fire and brimstone sermons on homosexuality
based on verses from the Old Testament are misinterpretations of the Bible.
Step 3: Understanding the Christian Scriptures
There are many places in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) that have
been traditionally interpreted as condemning homosexuality.
Romans 1:26 and 27 has St. Paul criticizing sexual activity which is against
a person's nature or disposition. This passage has been variously interpreted
to refer to all homosexual behaviour, to orgiastic activity, to temple prostitution,
or to heterosexuals who were engaging in same-sex exchanges. The meaning
I Corinthians 6:9 contains a lists of activities that will prevent people
from inheriting the Kingdom of God. One was translated as referring to masturbation,
and is now sometimes translated as "homosexual". The true meaning
1 Timothy 1:9 is similar to I Corinthians.
Jude 7 refers to the people of Sodom as "giving themselves over to
fornication and going after strange flesh". The latter has been variously
translated as women engaging in sexual intercourse with angels and as homosexuality.
The exact meaning is lost.
We conclude that St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures seems to have condemned
some homosexual activity, but it is unclear which ones. There is no mention
of loving, committed gay and lesbian relations in the Christian Scriptures.
--The Ontario Centre for Religious Tolerance provides accurate
information on small religions, and exposes groundless religious hatred.
For more information on the OCRT you can write to them at:
Kingston ON Canada K7M8W5.
Or surf their home page.
For an even more in-depth look at the scriptures that supposedly "condemn"
homosexuality check out this
great page and get ready for your Greek and Hebrew lessons!
Another scriptural resources is this
page. It contains several papers on being gay and Christian. One by
Rev. Dan Geslin, a United Church of Christ minister who is pastor of Liberation
Church in Cleveland, Ohio is entitled "How Can Someone Be Both Christian
and Homosexual?" Rev. Geslin tackles each of the scriptures used against
gays and lesbians, and proclaims "God is calling gay and lesbian Christians
to be a new chosen people."