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While there are a number of passages in the OT which are taken to condemn male homosexuality (e.g. Lev 18:22, 20:13), I am not aware of any which condemn female homosexuality. It seems to me that all the Biblical arguments against female homosexuality must either rely on:

  1. a single NT passage, Romans 1:26-27 (is an NT passage good evidence for what the law of Moses says? - assuming this passage even is about female homosexuality), or
  2. more indirect arguments (e.g. Adam and Eve as an ideal which all human beings are required to conform) - the very indirectness of these arguments supports doubting them
  3. Traditional Judaism considers female homosexuality to be prohibited, but there is disagreement about whether this is a biblical or post-biblical prohibition (and if the prohibition is post-biblical, then it has little value for those outside of rabbinical Judaism)

So is it fair to say that female homosexuality is not prohibited by the law of Moses?

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I think you may not quite have grasped what we can and can't handle in the way of questions here. Can I suggest you read this meta post for some clues? In short, this question sounds like you are looking for a judgement call on whether a specific interpretation / doctrinal position is right or wrong. We can't do that. What we can do is try to show where it issue ties into Christian doctrine. –  Caleb Nov 15 '12 at 11:06
    
You could easily re-work this question to find out what traditions do or don't hold a certain position on the issue or how a specific tradition applies/interprets the law. Do you see how that's different than what you're asking here right now? –  Caleb Nov 15 '12 at 11:06

4 Answers 4

This may largely depend on what you determine purpose of the Law of Moses to be as it pertains to this issue. For example, many believe that large portions of the Law of Moses were handed down to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Many argue that this is why Kosher laws are no longer necessary - Because we know how to prevent things like botulism and have pasturization technology which prevents diseases and bacteria from growing in milk (for example) and many other technological advances.

If one interprets the prohibitions on Homosexuality similarly with the understanding that anal sex has certain hygienic considerations, the the answer is "No." Naturally lesbians engaged in intercourse would not have same hygenic concerns that gay men would, so it makes sens that this might only extend to men. Women would of course still need to follow the purity customs outlined in Leviticus 18:19 and 20:18 however.

On the other hand, if you interpret this passage to apply to mankind for moral reasons then the answer would be "Yes," this passage applies equally to both genders.

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After reading the answers already given, I think there are some points and some exegetical contexts that have been over looked or misrepresented. To answer the original question "So is it fair to say that female homosexuality is not prohibited by the law of Moses?", I would say Yes and No. Yes in that scripture does not prohibit all female/female relations, but No in that female/female only relations ARE prohibited. Allow me to expand:

It was said earlier in an answer that when scripture says “man” that it is referring to all mankind including women and citing Genesis 9:6 as a prooftext. However, this is untrue. But, let us examine it to see why.

Genesis 9:6 The Scriptures 1998+ (6) “Whoever sheds man’s [H120] blood, by man his blood is shed, for in the image of Elohim has He made man.

Strong’s H120

אדם

'âdâm

aw-dawm'

From H119; ruddy, that is, a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.): - X another, + hypocrite, + common sort, X low, man (mean, of low degree), person.

Here we can see in the original Hebrew that the word translated into the English is a word meaning a human being as a part of all humanity. So the standard English translation here is fairly ambiguous without knowing the meaning of the original Hebrew. Now let us take a look at another verse..

Leviticus 18:22 KJV Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Here a clear distinction can easily be made from the English translation, but we can only make the distinction due to the fact that both terms “mankind” and “womankind” are used in the same verse. However, if only the word “mankind” were used here in the English translation then the reader could easily be made to think that “mankind” was referring to all of humanity if the reader did not understand the original Hebrew. Fortunately the original texts use the words referring specifically to males only first and then to females only. Neither word is referring to the human race as a whole.

Now what can we understand from this verse as relating to the question at hand? Here we get the clear command that men are not to have sexual relations with other men as they do with women. However, there is never such a command given in either the Torah or the entire Tanakh (aka Old Testament). There are sexual prohibitions for women, but none relate to women having sexual relations with women. For instance, a woman is prohibited from having sexual relations with an animal.

Leviticus 18:23 The Scriptures 1998+ (23) ‘And do not have intercourse with any beast, to defile yourself with it. And a woman does not stand before a beast to mate with it, it is a perversion.

Here the text is sure to include both men and women, specifically in fact, in the prohibition of beastiality. But we never see such a prohibition against women have relations with women as we do with the prohibition of men and men or humans and animals.

The Messianic Scriptures, Brit HaDasha, or New Testament goes even further in clarification on this issue.

Romans 1:26-27 The Scriptures 1998+ (26) Because of this Elohim gave them over to degrading passions. For even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature, (27) and likewise, the men also, having left natural relations with woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing indecency, and receiving back the reward which was due for their straying.

From these verses we can see that men left the natural use of a woman and committed indecency with other men (i.e. sexual relations). Similarly we see that women left the natural use of men for unnatural relations. Notice here the distinctions though. Scripture clearly makes it a point to say in the case of the men that it was “men with men” and that they were “committing indecency”. In contrast, when speaking about the women, all scripture states is that “women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature”.

As proven earlier, we know that scripture up until this point never prohibited women being with women. We also know that scripture does not contradict itself. So how do we reconcile the passages from the Tanakh (aka Old Testament) and the Messianic Scriptures (aka New Testament)? It is actually rather straight forward when one takes the context of the entire Bible into account with what all of scripture says about men/husbands and women/wives. We know that men are to be the heads/leaders of their household (Genesis 3:16, 1 Corinthians 11:3) and that wives are to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18). So natural relations for a woman would be under the headship of their husband, submitted to their husband, being a helpmate to their husband, and helping to reproduce. To leave natural relations would be to completely leave the man out of the equation altogether.

But how does a woman do such? Currently, in this day and age, it would be what we call “lesbianism”. Lesbians only go for women with women. In such a relationship, no reproduction is possible (which is unnatural), there is no husband in the relationship so there is no head (which is unnatural), and there is no husband to submit to (which is unnatural). So woman/woman only (lesbianism) is anti-scriptural as it is completely unnatural and circumvents the commands of scripture (headship, reproduction, submission, etc).

However, this is where we get into the other part of the answer. Given everything we have learned so far, scripture does not prohibit bisexuality for women. As long as a woman is submitting to her husband as her head/leader, being a helpmate to him, and helping him with reproduction of the human race (be fruitful and multiply), then if that same woman has relations with another woman, then she is not breaking scripture. There is nothing in scripture to prohibit such a situation.

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I think the last paragraph is easily answered with the verses that prohibit infidelity and fornication. A married woman may only give herself to her husband. An unmarried woman may not give herself to anyone (or anything). +1 for the rest. –  fredsbend Jan 17 at 16:54
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I voted this up even though I'm not sure I agree with your logic against lesbianism in the Old Testament. But the first part is very important. You actually looked at the text in question, rather than just assuming what words were used. –  trlkly Feb 13 at 21:45

You missed Romans 1:27, which clearly addresses lesbianism.

Romans 1:27 NIV 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.

The Books of the Law were written in a literary style that generally referred to people, regardless of gender as "man", or "men". That type of usage of the word is still common in literature.

Unless explicitly stated that a certain commandment is meant only for men, or unless the context makes that clear, there's no reason to assume that the Law isn't equally applicable to both genders. (As allowed in the historical-grammatical method of interpretation.)

(End of real answer. Additional supporting thoughts below)


Just for fun, I'd like to throw in a supporting argument to the "literary style" portion of my answer above. Supposed we applied the same logic used in the question to other passages?:

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Resulting question: Does this mean that women should live on bread alone?

Matthew 5:28: But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Resulting question: Does this mean it's OK to lust after a man?

Deuteronomy 6:20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.

Resulting question: Does that mean we should not teach our daughters about God?


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And this is a case where, with both men and women mentioned in the sentence, context does make it clear. Otherwise, it is saying that women should not sleep with mankind as she would with a woman. Or, even worse, she should not sleep with womankind as she would with a woman. The concept makes no sense unless gender is assumed relevant. –  trlkly Feb 13 at 21:42

Quite simply, no, it's not fair to say that. I do not know Hebrews, but I do know that in Greek, the word anthropos indicates a generic man or person, while aner means specifically a person who is male. If we went through the entire Bible and applied an exclusive gender wherever it said "man", it would be nonsensical.

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. Genesis 9:6 ESV

So, capital punishment if anyone kills a man, but no punishment for killing a woman?

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV

So, men should not boast about wealth or wisdom or strength, but women can?

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 ESV

And a man's life is not his own, but woman's life is?

So, again, no, we cannot exclude female homosexuality as being lawful under Mosaic Law just because the word "man" is employed. At best, it would be an argument from silence, but it really isn't from silence.

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I can't believe nobody else voted this up. The nonsensical nature of such hyper-literalsm in applying the Law only to males wherever the word "man" is used is so obvious I can't believe anyone can try to do so with a straight face. I wish I could vote this up more than once. –  David Stratton Nov 16 '12 at 2:17
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The specific scriptures in question specifically mention both men and women. By that logic, it's a sin for women to sleep with men. This is poor reasoning based on not actually reading the text in question. It is not a good answer. –  trlkly Feb 13 at 21:36

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