Gender identity, or gender fluidity, is a hot topic in many modern-day societies. It has people in the workplace, places of worship, schools, and kitchen tables discussing the movement towards gender fluidity. It is a heated topic because it has touched so many lives in some way or another. Is gender fluidity the same as homosexuality? If so, what does the Bible say about homosexuality?
In many countries, the definition of gender identity has come to mean an individual’s personal sense of their gender and the social identity a person creates around that perception. Regardless of biological characteristics, people choose their gender identity from numerous options based on their feelings. Many corporations now require employees to include gender identity in their signature line.
In other countries, any variation of gender identity from one’s biological sex or any sexual behavior outside of one’s biological sex is a crime met with legal punishment. In some countries, capital punishment is the sentence for criminal sexual behavior. In these instances, criminal sexual behavior is homosexuality or sexual relations with someone of the same biological sex.
Sex education curriculum in some countries’ public school systems includes teaching children to explore their gender identity to choose their gender preference, regardless of their biological sex. Parental rights regarding gender reassignment surgery are now a legal battle in various states in the U.S., with some states even permitting gender reassignment surgery for minors without parental permission.
Numerous church denominations have updated their bylaws to permit same-sex marriages. The premise for broadening the definition of marriage between a man and a woman includes love, inclusivity, and a liberal interpretation of Scripture. Ordination of transgender clergy is now permitted as well in various denominations.
Regardless of one’s position on gender identity, Christians must align themselves with God’s perspective to respond biblically and lovingly to this challenging social issue. We must know what God says about homosexuality, equipping ourselves with a deep understanding of God’s Word in context and then faithfully move it forward with the heart of Jesus into modern-day challenges. Let’s start with Creation, where Christians believe man and woman were first created by God Almighty.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
Genesis 1:27-31 ESV
We can also view the creation of man and woman here:
“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:22 ESV
When we are diving deep into Scripture to understand God’s intended meaning, the first step is to understand the historical context of the passage we are examining. This includes the author, audience, location, and date of writing.
Moses is the author of Genesis. He wrote the first five books of the Bible (called the Pentateuch) while wandering in the wilderness of the Sinai desert, sometime within the fifteenth century, between 1450 and 1500 BC. He wrote Genesis for the Israelites that he led out of captivity in Egypt and those that survived the Exodus to enter the Promised Land.
Scripture will never mean anything different than the original meaning at the time it was written. God’s Word is eternal and inerrant. In order to fully grasp the original intent of the author, the second area of examination is cultural context.
God had called Moses to lead the Israelites from captivity. The Book of Exodus tells us that 600,000 men plus women and children followed Moses out of Egypt. The Egyptians had enslaved these people for over four centuries. They suffered brutal treatment and endured harsh physical labor. To prevent Hebrew children from being born, the male slaves were not permitted to return home to their wives at the end of their workdays. They were beaten down and hopeless. The Hebrew wives knew their husbands needed them, so they snuck into the fields where they were laboring. They fed them, loved them, and conceived their children there in the midst of hopeless conditions, breathing new life back into their husbands.
By the time Moses led the children of Israel out of captivity, their impoverished minds and hearts needed restoration and to remember that God had not forgotten them. God’s plans for the children of Israel had not changed – they were for their good. Following His order for their lives would keep them safe and blessed. Moses reminds the Israelites in the chronicling of Creation that everything God made is good!
Moses wrote the book to prepare the children of Israel to enter the land God promised them. Idolatrous cultures and people occupied the land. The children of Israel needed to understand their God-given identity, heritage, and blessing as His chosen people. (1)
The third area of study to accurately understand God’s Word is a literary examination. There are numerous genres, or types of writing in Scripture. To understand the meaning of Scripture, it is important to understand the literary genre.
The literary genre of Genesis is historical narrative. Moses compiled the history of the Jewish people from ancient sources. With the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Genesis was written to give God’s chosen people an understanding of God the Creator and their calling as His creation. Remember, God Himself gave the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written by His own hand directly to Moses!
Our next step is to understand what God says about homosexuality in this passage is to examine it in its’ original language. For the sake of brevity, we will identify key Hebrew words in the passage:
God: The Hebrew word used in this passage is “Elohim,” and it is the first word used in the Bible as the name of God. In this context, Elohim is the God of Creation.
Man: The Hebrew word used in this passage is “man,” pronounced (hā-’ā-ḏām), and it means the man or mankind.
Image – The Hebrew word used in this passage is “tselem.” It means likeness or resemblance.
Female: The Hebrew word used in this passage is “neqebah,” pronounced (nek-ay-baw’). The definition is female.
Blessed: The Hebrew word used in this passage is “barak,” pronounced (baw-rak’). Its definition is to kneel, to bless, abundantly bless.
Fruitful: The Hebrew word is “parah,” pronounced (paw-raw’). It means to bear fruit, be fruitful, and flourish.
Multiply: The Hebrew word used in this passage is “rabah,” pronounced (raw-baw’). It means to be or become much, many, or great.
In Genesis 2:22, we find:
Keyword: the man. Hebrew word: “ha-adam.”
Definition: man, mankind, Adam, the first man
Keyword: a woman. Hebrew word: “leissah.” Definition: woman, wife, female
In each instance recounting the creation of Adam and Eve, there are clearly two unique types of humans created – male and female.
From the study of historical, cultural, and literary context, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we can ascertain the key points made in the passage of Scripture we are examining.
As this process has illustrated, applying Scripture accurately requires diligent study. Identifying the key points of a Scripture passage paves the way for accurate Scriptural application. In this instance, it helps us understand what the Bible says about homosexuality.
The creation of two distinct sexes was God’s perfect plan to bless human relationships. Both male and female sexes had distinct responsibilities.
The history of God creating both male and female with responsibilities was essential to the Israelites at this time in history because they had been isolated in the desert while God was “getting Egypt out of them”, in preparation of prospering in the Promised Land. They would be surrounded by pagan cultures that embraced sexual promiscuity, including same sex relationships. God’s plan for sexual relationships was defined in His Law, between a husband and a wife. In ancient Israel, a sexual relationship was considered a marriage. God gave Moses very specific instructions on sexual behavior in Leviticus 18, including, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination“, Lev. 18:22. In the same passage, God described the pagan cultures He was driving out because of their ungodly practices, and stated that the Israelites would be cut off from their people if they practiced any of the abominable behaviors described in the passage.
There are other Scriptures in the Old Testament regarding same sex intercourse, including the tragedy of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, and additional specific instructions that God gave to Moses for the Israelites in Leviticus 20: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:13 ESV).
From examination of Old Testament passages, it is clear that God considered same sex relations as an abomination, punishable by death. The question now becomes whether this same prohibition of same sex relationships holds true today. When instructions in the Old Testament are repeated with consistency, and then brought forward into New Testament instruction, a biblical principle is created that applies to all people at all times in history. In this case, we can accurately understand what the Bible says about homosexuality.
The principle of God’s creation being distinctly male and female is evident, as is His prohibition of same sex relationships. Is God’s natural order of creation of distinctly male and female humans evident in the New Testament? Let’s review New Testament Scriptures that address this topic and their associated Greek keyword definitions.
Jesus is reaffirms God’s creation of male and female human beings, and His plan for marriage to be between a man and a woman in Matthew 19:4-6 and again in Mark 10:7 (ESV):
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. “
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church in Rome, describes what happens to a culture when God’s design for His Creation is discarded:
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
Romans 1:26-27 ESV
Paul also writes to Timothy, who is leading the church in Ephesus, instructing him regarding sound teaching on sexual purity in 1 Timothy 1:8-11, and identifies homosexuality as immoral behavior, as well as other immoral sexual practices.
The New Testament was written in Greek. We will examine some of the key words from Romans 1:26-27 in their original language.
Keyword: dishonorable. Greek word: “atimias”
Definition: Disgrace, dishonor; a dishonorable use.
Keyword: passions. Greek word: “pathē.”
Definition: Suffering, emotion, depraved passion, lust.
Keyword: natural. Greek word: “physikēn.”
Definition: Natural, (a) according to nature.
From the passage of Scripture in its’ original language, we can see that God considers same sex relationships are a dishonorable use of one’s body, and are contrary to God’s design (natural design). The desire for a same sex relationship could be caused by an effort to alleviate suffering, the emotion of love, lust, or depravity.
Moses, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul confirm that God designed sexual relationships between man and woman. As Christians, we embrace the truth that God created the world and all that is in it. When He created mankind, two specific types of humans – male and female, were formed. God blessed each type of human with unique characteristics to complement the other type of human. God blessed His creation, declared it good, and intended for males and females to flourish as they ruled over His good creation together. His Creation and instruction was not just for the Jewish people but for all of His Creation, as illustrated by Paul addressing the churches in Rome and Ephesus, comprised of numerous nationalities and not just Jewish believers.
We have all sinned. Homosexual relationships are clearly defined as sexual sin, along with adultery, fornication, bestiality, etc. Human beings are born with a sexual drive, and when it is acted upon in any way outside of God’s plan, it is sin.
This drive, human emotions, and personal experiences create pressure to act outside of God’s intended design for sexual behavior. We must be courageous to adhere to God’s Word regarding all areas of sexual sin, and with humility speak God’s Truth about His best plans for us, His Creation.
The most important commandment is love. In love, don’t dilute the truth to prevent offense. Be assured that the truth of God’s Word brings freedom. Without the truth, there is no healing. God’s creation is good, and so are His plans and purposes for His creation! As we loving, and in humility as fellow sinners in need of grace, share God’s good plan for relationships, healing, and restoration that provides a path forward to freedom.
The Grid of Truth teaches the step by step process used to study God’s Word deeply and understand it correctly. This book/workbook tackles difficult topics like anger, lust, forgiveness, and more through the lens of God’s Word. A digital version can be purchased HERE, and hardcover and paperback versions are available on Amazon HERE.
Focus on the Family has numerous downloadable resources on what the Bible says about homosexuality, including resources for church leaders, parents, and serious followers of Jesus. You can review them HERE.
What the Bible Says About Homosexuality
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