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(Note: I know this may start a firestorm, so I will be careful here.)

I believe that the Bible states that homosexuality is immoral.

I also believe that it does NOT condemn homosexuals to hell (a sin is a sin is a sin). When a person receives Christ in them they are saved and ALL their sins are forgiven.

Some faithful Christians believe that it is not a sin to be homosexual. I would like to know the line of reasoning and/or Scripture passages that they use as their basis.

Also, I would like this to be about homosexuality itself, not about homosexuals or the culture of homosexuality (i.e. stereotypes about homosexuals, etc.).

96

The question asks "Why do some Christians believe it is moral to be a homosexual?" Because clearly, some do. This is not the place to hold forth on your own beliefs on the matter, this is Stack Exchange, where we answer the question posed.

Potentially Valid Reasons

  • Many Christians believe that "being" homosexual (having homosexual sexual tendencies to some degree - remember bisexuals exist too) is not sinful in and of itself, but that having sex with another same-sex person is a sinful act. So a chaste homosexual is as holy as anyone else who's not sinning. Though most of us sin a lot of the time, so it kinda sounds stupid when you put it that way. I know I've repented of lust then lusted again; that's the human condition. And homosexual acts are simply a sin like any other, from gossip to lying; most of the current firestorm about homosexuality specifically is political and bigotry related, not religion related.

  • Some Christians believe that the Biblical passages regarding homosexuality are misapplied/badly translated and therefore do not speak against what we would today regard as "otherwise moral" homosexual practice. For more see What does the bible say about homosexuality?

  • Some Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant in concept but not literally inerrant, and that there is a lot of cultural baggage associated with it that has to be sifted out. There are a lot of things we do/don't do partially based on this understanding (rejection of slavery, for instance).

  • Related to the previous point, some Christians believe that just as Jesus obsoleted the Law in favor of the love of God and the Golden Rule, we should look at the "big picture" and not focus on lists of sinful acts. Because, to be honest, the Bible says a lot of things. The OT says to not eat shrimp; that ban is not one most modern Christians recognize. If you love God and your neighbor, then the specifics which were intended to generally point you in that direction are not needed any more. Some Christians would say that the rejection of legalism and embrace of a more direct relationship with God (which is more complex than any set of rules) was the main point Jesus was trying to get across to us during his life.

  • The church I'm in has better theologians on staff than I, and they say it's OK. Some denominations officially accept homosexuality in whole or in part. For a good overview of different Christian teachings on homosexuality, see wikipedia. This includes mainline churches such as various Lutheran, Anglican, and United Churches of Christ denominations.

Mostly Invalid Reasons

There are probably other reasons; those previously listed are the ones I feel have a halfway decent foundation. The illogical/unfounded reasons one might hear are:

  • "But they're born that way." People are born with all kinds of tendencies including alcoholism, gambling, etc. - that's a particular thorn/burden for them, not some "get out of sin free" card. In fact, I assume that there probably is some kind of genetically related predisposition to homosexuality (which of course doesn't map to 100% of practicing homosexuals, there's some practicing by choice and some refraining by choice) but even if there is, it has no relation to the morality of the act. If genetically I have a high testosterone level and am lustful in general, can I just get a mulligan on adultery? No, of course not; this is an odd argument that is applied to no other sin.

  • "Oh, who cares what the Bible/church says?" This of course is a difficult position to hold about anything for a Christian. And if you're of another/no faith, we love you and all, but our worldview is guided by those things you reject, so that opinion is of limited help to someone wrestling with this problem from our worldview. One can argue that the Holy Spirit has guided them to this understanding, which is fine, though in general we are asked to test our perception of the Spirit's guidance by the Scriptures and church to verify it's God speaking and not that we went off our meds last week.

  • "I know a homosexual and they're not a bad person." This is someone unclear on Christianity's teachings in general, unaware that even good people sin and require repentance. The demonization of homosexuals by the more hateful elements in society actually feed this one; once someone meets a homosexual and sees that they don't have little goat horns and rape babies, they assume they were probably lied to 100% and reject even honest Biblical critique. Understandable, but not logical.

The polarization of society on this topic makes a lot of the usual Scriptural measuring sticks difficult to use. We are encouraged by culture and the media to think of things in terms of "right side/wrong side", so when we try to apply, say, "By their fruits you will know them," we see some homosexuals who clearly favor a licentious and ungodly lifestyle, but others who seem as normal as anyone's parents, just gay. And similarly we see some Christians with balanced views on the topic but plenty who are spouting hate and other clearly unchristian stuff as well. Which "side" is right? That's a false dichotomy that leads to confusion. My one contribution to this discussion is that I think we need to reject what the world is trying to tell us about which faction/football team we're on and, like God does, address it on an individual basis. There's a lot of judging around this topic based on the extreme activities of the exceptionally disturbed on one side or the other.

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    I hope that you do not mind, but I quoted your very well written answer on my blog. If this is a problem, please let me know and I will remove the quote, and just link to your answer instead. – ByronArn May 19 '16 at 3:43
13

The question is:

Some faithful Christians believe that it is not a sin to be homosexual. I would like to know the line of reasoning and/or Scripture passages that they use as their basis.

I can answer this from the perspective of a minister in the Swedenborgian Church of North America, a Christian denomination that does not regard homosexuality as a sin, performs gay and lesbian marriages in most of its local churches, and has been ordaining openly gay and lesbian clergy since 1997.

The lines of reasoning I will present below are a brief summary of a major article I published on this subject in February, 2015: Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity. This article presents the best Christian arguments that homosexuality is not a sin from a Swedenborgian Christian perspective.

  1. Homosexuality is rarely mentioned in the Bible: there are only five or six clear references to it in the Old and New Testaments combined. In comparison, the sins forbidden in the Ten Commandments receive major coverage throughout the Bible. The heavy focus on homosexuality among traditional and conservative Christians despite this scant Biblical mention of it suggests that the strong opposition to homosexuality comes from cultural opposition to homosexuality rather than from Biblical sources.

  2. In the Old Testament, the prohibition of men having sex with men in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 was made in a specific cultural context that no longer applies. Specifically, in the ancient world, marital and sexual relationships were almost universally viewed as a relationship between unequal partners, and the sexual act was seen as an act of a dominant partner penetrating a submissive partner. Since in ancient Hebrew culture and religion all men were seen as equal under the Law and in God's eyes, it was "detestable" (meaning culturally taboo and ritually unclean) for a man to have sex with another man because it reduced the man who was penetrated to a lower religious and social status. Because it was based on cultural conditions that no longer exist in the Christian world, the prohibition against men having sex with men in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 is one of many Old Testament laws that no longer apply to Christians.

  3. The story of the condemnation and destruction of Sodom in Genesis 18:16–19:29 is often read as a condemnation of homosexuality. However, the parallel story of the heterosexual gang rape of a woman in Judges 19 is not read as a condemnation of heterosexuality. Thus the argument that the story of Sodom should be read as a condemnation of homosexuality holds no water. Further, in Ezekiel 16:49–50 the Bible itself states quite clearly what the sin of Sodom was, and the focus is on arrogance, self-indulgence, and lack of charity, thus setting the tone for our interpretation of the story of Sodom. In short, the story of Sodom has little or nothing to do with homosexuality from a Biblical perspective. (For fuller presentation of these points about the Biblical story of Sodom, see: What is the Sin of Sodom?)

  4. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ himself never said a word about homosexuality, positive or negative. The lack of any condemnation of homosexuality in the Gospels, where the Lord Jesus himself gives the basic teachings for the Christian Church, should give pause to those who believe that homosexuality is a sin for Christians.

  5. Paul's condemnatory references to homosexuality in Romans 1:24–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:9–11 were made in a cultural and religious context similar to that of the Old Testament condemnation of homosexual acts in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. In fact, the textual evidence is that Paul drew directly on the Holiness Code and other ancient lists of sins in writing those verses. Paul, like the Old Testament writers, condemned homosexual acts because he saw it as an act of one man reducing the social and religious status of another man. This took on even more poignancy for Paul, given that standard Greek and Roman homosexual practice was for an older, dominant male to penetrate a younger, submissive male. Essentially, all homosexual sex in the ancient world was sex between unequal partners, which ran contrary to Paul's Hebrew- and Christian-inspired view that all men are equal under the law and in the eyes of God. Therefore Paul's condemnation of homosexuality simply does not apply to the present day ideal and practice of committed, monogamous homosexual relationships between equal partners—something that was practically unknown in the ancient world. This is not the only issue on which we now see Paul as dated by his culture. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul requires women to wear veils while praying or prophesying, and in Ephesians 6:5 he requires slaves to obey their masters. These are teachings that few, if any Christians still believe are in force. So the argument that everything Paul says still applies today holds no water.

  6. Moving beyond strictly Biblical argument to other Christian-inspired lines of reasoning, the first point is that there is no demonstrable harm to society or to homosexuals themselves from committed, faithful, monogamous homosexual relationships. It is unfair and unjust to condemn homosexuality based on its perversions, just as it would be unfair and unjust to condemn heterosexuality based on its perversions. A fair comparison requires us to compare the highest Christian ideal for heterosexual marriages with a similar highest Christian ideal for homosexual marriages. So the only valid basis on which to condemn homosexuality would be if committed, faithful, monogamous homosexual marriages caused some sort of evil to society or to the homosexuals themselves. There is no good argument for such evil socially or politically. And to state that homosexuals will go to hell because homosexuality is a sin is to commit the logical fallacy of assuming the result. That argument would have to first establish or assume that homosexuality is evil and a sin—which is the very issue being debated.

  7. Even if homosexuality is an evil, it is not a sin for those who practice it in good conscience. Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains" (John 9:41). And in Romans 2:14–16 Paul says that Gentiles who are not under the law will be judged by their own consciences. Since most practicing Christian homosexuals do not believe that homosexuality is a sin, but believe that it is good and blessed by God, it will not be charged to them as sin because they are living according to their conscience and according to what they believe is the teaching of Jesus Christ.

  8. The conclusion now generally drawn from overwhelming evidence and experience is that homosexuality is a fundamental, non-changeable trait of homosexual men and women. Many organizations, including many Christian organizations, have tried and failed to change homosexuals into heterosexuals through prayer, repentance, therapy, including Skinnerian aversion therapy, and various other methods. Studies over time and follow-ups on these efforts show that they are an almost total failure, if not a complete failure. The most commonly cited study to the contrary, published by famed psychiatrist Robert Spitzer in 2001, was retracted by its author in 2012. Many prominent "ex-gay" organizations have disbanded or have ceased their efforts to change homosexuals into heterosexuals. How is this relevant to Christian views of homosexuality? If homosexuality is not a "sin" that can be "repented from," but is a fixed, permanent part of someone's basic humanity, it is incompatible with the love and mercy of God for homosexuality to be a sin that is punishable by eternal damnation. If something is a sin, it must be possible to repent from it. But it is not possible for the vast bulk of homosexuals to "repent" from homosexuality. It is part of their basic nature.

  9. God has created marriage between a man and a woman as one of the deepest and most searching and effective forums for spiritual growth and Christian regeneration, or rebirth. In a growing marriage, the partners must continually examine themselves for selfishness, ego, pride, and other sins, and repent from them, in order to truly love and care for their marital partner. Marriage is therefore a gift of God to Christians for their eternal spiritual growth and wellbeing. Gays and lesbians, however, cannot participate honestly and from the heart in heterosexual relationships. If they are going to be in a loving, committed marital relationship at all, it will be with someone of the same sex. God has placed the desire to unite with another person deeply in the human spirit. For gays and lesbians, this means uniting with someone of the same sex. And most, if not all of the spiritual benefits of marriage are the same in Christian or spiritual homosexual marriages as in Christian or spiritual heterosexual marriages. It is therefore God's will that homosexuals who desire marriage should unite with someone of their own sex who shares common faith and values. In this relationship gays and lesbians can gain many, if not all of the same God-given benefits of marriage as heterosexuals can. And it is God's will that all of the people God has created, and whom God loves, should be able to share in the joys and spiritual benefits of marriage. Therefore Christians who would deny homosexuals marriage are working against God's will and against God's eternal love for all people.

This is a very brief summary of a much longer (13k words) article. For the full version, once again please see my article: Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.

  • Personally I always wondered about Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did everybody believe the sin of Sodom was homosexuality? Was it just because of the word "sodomy"? – Joe Z. Oct 9 '15 at 19:43
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    @JoeZ. Since this was a summary answer, I didn't go heavily into the Sodom and Gomorrah story. If you want my views on that story, which are compatible with the views of my denomination as represented above, please see the article: What is the Sin of Sodom? I'll also add this link to the appropriate point in my answer above. – Lee Woofenden Oct 9 '15 at 19:50
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    @ LeeWoofenden. Romans 1: 26 elaborate on the lesbian sex that did not involve dominance or penetration why condemned? – Kris Oct 23 '15 at 18:26
  • @Pam Romans 1:26 is not at all clear on exactly what it's talking about. It says, "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural." It doesn't say exactly how it was unnatural. Perhaps Paul is referring to lesbian sex. But that's not obvious from the passage itself. It's certainly not clear enough to provide a basis for any solid conclusions relating to homosexuality. And that's the only passage in the Bible that could possibly be interpreted as referring to lesbianism. – Lee Woofenden Oct 23 '15 at 18:37
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    However, if you want to discuss this further, the comments aren't the place to do it. We could continue in one of the chatrooms, such as Polemics and Apologetics. – Lee Woofenden Oct 23 '15 at 18:38
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Why do some Christians believe it is moral to be a homosexual?

If "some" includes me, I can give you my answer.

I consider myself Christian, not because of "believing" things, but because I was raised that way and because of how I live and relate to others. I don't look to scripture or church authority to tell me what to think. I do think scripture is important for shaping us for the better. I don't think God had a typewriter, and I don't look to scripture for facts or laws.

On the subject of homosexuality, some people are born that way. What's more, people form intimate loving responsible relationships. That's what they do; they don't need anyone else's permission. Other people will approve or disapprove for whatever reasons they have, but ultimately people are responsible for their own lives. Morality, to me, is about being good to people, not about passing judgement on how others live.

Somewhere in the new testament it says something like "the law is written in your heart". I happen to agree with that.

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    The problem with the "born this way" defense is that it also could be applied to pedophilia, beastiality, and other tendencies. When the bible references sexual immorality, it doesn't provide an exhaustive list, but instead defines what is intended. – Jon the Architect Apr 4 '16 at 19:35
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I've come across news articles (https://medium.com/@adamnicholasphillips/the-bible-does-not-condemn-homosexuality-seriously-it-doesn-t-13ae949d6619 and https://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-nicholas-phillips/the-bible-does-not-condemn-homosexuality_b_7807342.html) that have done in-depth research on what the translations actually mean.

I also did my research and found out that...

...these articles were right.

Today's definition of homosexuality wasn't in the Bible. "Homosexuality" then wasn't today's equivalent. Today's homosexuality is mostly about rights and equal treatment.

But back in Bible times, sex with the same gender was more a show of power and ruthlessness.

Sodom & Gomorrah's sin - though it looks it from first glance - wasn't homosexuality. It was inhospitality. And they showed the inhospitality by treating their neighbors horribly through sex. That's what they wanted to do to the angels (aliens) who had bunked at Lot's house. If that was in the early 1900s, it was as if whites wanted to grab African-Americans from a malt shop and beat them up just because of the color of their skin. Since hospitality was a big thing in Middle Eastern culture, they were punished for that through the fire and brimstone.

Now in Roman culture, same-sex relationships were socially again a show of dominance and power. An older male would usually have younger men around him to show his status. Militarily-speaking, male Roman soldiers were encouraged to have sex in order to deepen their bond and function better as a team.

So in relation to today's homosexuality vs. Biblical "homosexuality" (which is actually just toxic male dominance through sexuality), that's probably why some Christians believe it is moral to be a homosexual by modern standards. They're not hurting anyone or asserting their identity by sexual dominance.

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    Thanks for the update! This now addresses the question much more closely. – Nathaniel Nov 14 '18 at 15:58
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Could it be that some Christians recognize that the Bible was written thousands of years ago, in a very different culture, and it needs to be viewed in a more modern light? Just as owning slaves was allowed in Biblical times, yet would be viewed as sinful today. I think people might also note that the only way to find something declaring homosexuality to be sinful is to search through the bible word by word with the express purpose of finding something that justifies that predetermined view. It certainly isn't declared sinful in a prominent place, such as the ten commandments.

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    So, something that was allowed but is now illegal should be taken in the same like as something that (biblically) has always been immoral? If you can link to doctrine, it will improve your answer and save it from the probability of being flagged and deleted later. – Richard Oct 23 '11 at 18:49
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    One need hardly search that closely -- homosexual acts are denounced as sin quite prominently. Many people try to explain away these references as being no longer relevant or not inspired or various other things, but saying its hard to find in the text is a pretty week argument when many people would be glad to take you on an exhaustive tour (not a short ride). In fact part of the reason this is a contentious issue is that it sometimes seems singled out by Scripture as especially heinous among sinful acts. – Caleb Oct 23 '11 at 18:50
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    Also, you might be interested in this question: What does the Bible say about homosexuality? – Richard Oct 23 '11 at 18:50
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    I don't see how citing doctrine or scripture helps with this question. The question is not "What does Christianity say...", but rather "Why do some Christians believe..." Clearly, some Christians don't accept the Biblical statements that have been cited. The question is why? I think the answer is that many people do not accept the Bible or Church doctrine as the only sources of truth. Both have clearly been wrong on moral issues before (e.g. witch hunts, inquisitions, slavery...) and Christ's overall message to humanity was to treat people with love and compassion, not to persecute them. – Mark Oct 25 '11 at 16:37

protected by Caleb Oct 28 '11 at 12:10

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