My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality
The author argues that the meaning of the Bible's passages on homosexuality have been lost in translation.
May 15th, 2012
05:39 PM ET

My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality

Editor's note: Daniel A. Helminiak, who was ordained a priest in Rome, is a theologian, psychotherapist and author of “What the Bible Really Says about homosexuality" and books on contemporary spirituality. He is a professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia.

By Daniel A. Helminiak, Special to CNN

President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.

We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.

In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.

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Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.

The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another."

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul's writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay "unnatural" hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.

Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable (1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor — for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.

In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: "God gave them up … to impurity."

But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.

In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.

As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.

The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.

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Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.

Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel A. Helminiak.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (8,832 Responses)
  1. Tru Judah

    this is the absolute worse perversion of scripture that i have ever read...shame

    August 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • big Spender

      I think not my friend.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  2. big Spender

    Born Again Believers, remember Jesus said in the last days that man's wickedness will increase and we are seeing that right now, also know that in the end WE STILL WIN!.Satan will be defeated. Satan has blind and corrupted these people, he knows his time is short. also remember God said, have nothing to do with the things of this world because we are not a part of it, the world is in darkness. and we are part of the light. Please take courage, we christians know the truth. Someday these persecutors will know they have been blinded. They will have to give account for there actions. So be of good cheer, these persecutors will be defeated.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm |

    Daniel A. Helminiak you are one sick delusional human being. If you want to pack pudding go ahead, for me I'll eat chicken.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  4. Levi2013

    Leviticus 20:13, has said it all.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • big Spender


      August 3, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, Piper's Son


    August 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  6. Douglas

    Marriage is a solemn event that takes place between one man and one woman of legal age.
    Multiple wives/husbands, child marriages, or G*y, Le$bian pairings do not not fulfill Biblical requirements.

    Calling these false attaempts at marriage Christian is heresy.

    It is time to drive out fear and end the hate. Pull back the veil of sin and deceit.

    G@y marriage uis decidedly unBiblical.

    Best, Douglas

    August 3, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  7. TERRY

    Where do you find these writers? Why not find someone who teaches orthodox Christianity? Get someone who is teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dallas Theo Seminary, SBTS or others. Who's this guy? Univ of West Ga is not exactly a place of towering intellect for psychology or theology.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  8. ronjayaz

    "Let him who is w/o sin cast the first stone" Who sed that, pilgrim? "Judge not lest U be judged" Who sed that. pilgrim? I'm amazed how selective followers of Jesus R.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Dan

      Amazing how selective you are, as well. In the very scripture you quote Jesus told the woman to go her way "and sin (i.e. commit adultery) no more." Yes, those who are sinners cannot cast the first stone, but that does not give anyone license to sin in Jesus' economy.

      August 3, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  9. Paul

    Leviticus 18:22 everyone.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Muhammad

      This writer is wrong on pais meaning male love in Greek, it means son. While paida means servant, most of the yonger servant were adopted and raised as foster kids of the Greeks. Thus servants became adopted sons not male (Jerry Sandusky) child abuse victims. –The Greeks were warriors not child molesters

      August 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  10. So very tired of the BS

    So much hatred and venom on both sides of this argument. I think, regardless of how Jesus or (anyone else on worthy of looking up to for that matter) he would of thought most of you on here were giant A-ho's.

    Liberals – stop acting like hat and censorship are deplorable UNLESS it is toward religion.

    Conservative Christians – judge not, lest ye be judged.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • So very tired of the BS

      that's hate, not hat. I need to correct the obvious so as not to have my point lost in this sea of ad hominem attacks.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  11. Pants

    The preface to this article was too long. I gave up about 4 paragraphs in.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  12. Michael

    This one goes out to all you fundamentalist Christians out there. Selah! I may be too narrow addressing this to just the fundamentalists. Many traditional Christians also fit the bill. Really, it’s anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that somehow God, infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of the very Universe, is ‘against’ a tiny human behavior that harms no one. So, in other words, uneducated and ridiculous people everywhere.

    Officially, the majority of Christian churches say that homosexual behavior is a sin, thus proving that the theologians behind those churches don’t understand their own Bible. There are a whole bunch of goofball laws written down in the Old Testament that everyone ignores. Why is being bigoted toward homosexuals the one people latch onto?

    The various Christian brands go through the Old Testament, picking and choosing the parts they consider cool. No one accepts the whole thing. No one. I mean, when was the last time a cheating spouse was actually put to death in keeping with the commandments of the Bible?

    Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people.

    So the Old Testament is out.

    Before we all start playing REM’s “Losing My Religion,” consider this denying someone the right to marry is not Christian, and certainly not American.

    The people who are opposed to gay marriage, and by extension, gayness itself have no excuse. They are bigots and bigots alone. They can’t use their special book to justify their hate, even according to the special book itself. They have no one to thank but themselves. They take the Lord’s name in vain and feel righteous about it

    Yes, they take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people believe incorrectly that this commandment is about cussing, but it’s not. It’s about using God for yourself, for your own vain (personal) ends. They hold the Bible in the air and use it like a bitch to bolster their own prejudices and bigotry and hate and that is vanity, all is vanity.

    The teachings of Christ are plain enough: love and forgiveness, tolerance and healing, acceptance and rebellion. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing more needed. Add what you will to it; it still won’t be from the Christ. It will come from your own (black?) heart.

    Jesus Christ is the origin of the word ‘Christian’. Perhaps we should pray about that a bit more.

    Today’s Christians tend to be followers, accepting of the notion that religion is just a box built by someone else into which they must stuff their spirit. They are naive and willingly line up like lemmings wherever told. They have a casual ignorance that tells them the Beast will come in the obvious guise of science or secularism or liberality. They cannot conceive of the Father of Lies actually lying to them.

    Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross. When the Beast comes to the world, you can bet your sweet ass he will be thumping the Bible and preaching a hate disguised as love.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Dan

      No, the Beast will come preaching destruction disguised as Peace.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Brandon

      "Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people."

      Absolutely. Well said.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Susan Freeman Futrell

      Spot on.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  13. Tay

    I would love to share this with you and your guest...It's a truth ministry that can help...
    Please click on the link or go to You tube and type in "TGHC Conroe". New messages are posted every week!



    and start at 22:15 for the above youtube

    LOL in Christ

    August 2, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Tay


      ...start at 26:23

      LOL in Christ

      August 2, 2012 at 3:08 am |
  14. 2cents

    The NAACP has passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right, putting it stamp on an issue that has divided the black community.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami on Saturday to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the US constitution.

    "The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people," board chairwoman Roslyn M Brock said in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

    Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.

    The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama's announcement followed vice-president Joe Biden's declaration in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.

    "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution and equal protection of all people" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.

    Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70% of black people opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.

    Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. A poll conducted in April showed 39% of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47% of white people. The poll showed 49% of black people and 43% of white people are opposed.

    The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, applauded the NAACP's step.

    "We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Douglas

      As CNN reported, a coalition of Black pastors, representing various denominations, has emerged to challenge President Obama's pro-gay policies. The ministers are providing leadership and inspiration not only for Black Americans but for the rest of us as they defend the Christian faith against the heresy of Obama. Obama's policies for the gays are an invitation for every Republican/Independent to get out and vote. The NAACP does not represent mainstream values. With AIDS spiraling out of control in the ghettos the last thing Blacks need is to encourage activities that spread the disease, particularly to Black women who are tricked by men posing as straight but living in sin with other men and depositing their deadly AIDS virus into the bodies of innocent, unsuspecting women and hapless men.

      The Bible is unambiguous about the sin of s-o-d-o-my!

      Thank you Black ministers for taking charge of your flock and leading them and us away from the wolves of S-o-d-o-m!

      Best, Douglas

      August 1, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • YeahRight

      "As CNN reported, a coalition of Black pastors, representing various denominations, has emerged to challenge President Obama's pro-gay policies."

      It doesn't matter many prejudice church's are on the wrong side of this issue. Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

      The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws

      A federal appeals court on May 31st ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term. This most likely will be decided in the courts and since most courts keep ruling in gays favor they should be able to over turn all the unconstitutional laws prejudice bigots have been trying to pass.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  15. Robert

    Douglas and Bob

    Psalm 101:7

    No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  16. Douglas

    Man shall not lay with a man as he would with a woman.
    God said it, I believe it,
    that settles it!

    Yes Virginia, the Bible DOES condemn h-m-o s@xual fornication!

    The celib@te are free of condemnation. Please support and encourage them to remain so.

    Best, Douglas

    July 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • YeahRight

      Yo Bob aka Douglas, learn your bible moron. Christians don't follow Leviticus anymore, it's part of the Holiness Code, a ritual manual for Israel's priests..Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 31, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  17. Susan

    1. Is being gay a sin?

    No. Sins are acts that separate us from God and keep us from loving our neighbors as ourselves. Being gay is not a sin. Bullying is a sin. Being hateful to other people is a sin. Putting yourself in the place of God to judge others is a sin. Being gay is not.

    2. What did Jesus say about gay people?

    Jesus said the same thing about gay people as he said about all people: God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and calls you to walk in love with God and with each other. He also said a whole lot about loving your neighbor, welcoming the stranger, embracing the outcast and ministering to the marginalized.

    3. Does the Bible really condemn homosexuality?

    The short answer is no; no it does not. The handful of passages in the Old and New Testaments that talk about God condemning specific sexual acts have nothing whatsoever to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with contexts such as cultic prostitution or gang rape. To put it another way, using the Bible as a handbook on human sexuality makes as much sense as using it as a handbook on astronomy. Just as those who wrote the Biblical texts had no concept of the science that would prove the earth actually revolves around the sun, so they had no concept of homosexuality (which wasn't defined until the 19th century.)

    4. How do I respond when people say "God hates "f–s"?

    First of all, God's nature is to love, not to hate. We believe that what God cares about is not our sexual orientation but our theological orientation - and that the question that matters is not "who do you love?" but "do you love?" Recognizing that homophobia causes some folks to project onto God their own fears, prejudices and biases against LGBT people, sometimes the best response is simply no response. It can be a challenge, but getting triggered by hate-mongers prevents us from being the change we want to see.

    5. I thought gay men and women weren't allowed to be priests?

    The Episcopal Church has been ordaining women to the priesthood since 1974 and we have women deacons, priests and bishops throughout the church - including two women bishops here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. When it comes to gay men in the priesthood, the issue is not homosexuality - it is honesty. The church has ordained gay men for centuries but finally the Episcopal Church added "sexual orientation" in the non-discrimination list in 1994 - ending our version of "don't ask/don't tell." Because the Episcopal Church allows for diversity of practice, the leadership of "out" LGBT and women clergy is more prevalent in some places than others. But the Diocese of Los Angeles is proud to have been in the forefront of inclusion.

    6. Can I still receive Communion in your church if I am gay?

    Of course you can. In many of our churches you will hear a variation on the invitation "whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith there is a place for you here." God's love is radically inclusive and so is the Episcopal Church.

    7. Despite what is happening legislatively, can my partner and I be married in the Episcopal Church yet?

    The only accurate answer to this question is "that depends." It depends on which diocese you're in and whether you're in a state that has civil marriage equality. For example, New York State is a marriage equality state. In four of the six dioceses clergy can both solemnize and bless a civil marriage and in one of them clergy can bless but not solemnize (a judge or justice of the peace has to do the civil marriage part). Here in Los Angeles clergy both blessed and solemnized same-sex marriages in 2008 when it was legal and our bishops have been in the forefront of working to overturn Prop 8 and get marriage equality back. As Facebook might put it: "it's complicated."

    8. What do I tell people when they say being gay is a sin and a choice?

    Tell them that Jesus said absolutely nothing about being gay but he said a lot of things about judging other people. Then tell them that while there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation there IS consensus that sexuality is a continuum. So the "choice" is not to be gay, straight or somewhere in between - the "choice" is to build our own healthy relationships ... and give other people the grace to build theirs.

    9. Should I try to "pray away the gay?"

    No. If you need to pray away something, pray away homophobia. Homosexuality doesn't need healing. Homophobia does.

    10. How do I respond when politicians condemn my sexuality, citing their belief in the Bible?

    Remind them that the First Amendment protects them in believing whatever they want to about what God does or does not bless but it also prohibits them from using those beliefs to decide who the Constitution protects or doesn't protect. Tell them to stop confusing their theology with our democracy. And then campaign for and donate to their opponent in the next election cycle.

    July 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • dennis

      The boat you fell off of distorted your judgment. No one can stop you from believing a lie. As a matter of fact, I am not a hater but I do not agree with anything you said. Twist and turn the bible any way you want, but truth will tell and end will come. Then, we will all see who had the truth. I pray you will change before Jesus comes back. If not, it will cost you your life to be saved. Now, please before you distort what I have said, stop and think about sin. So, would you let a pedophile keep your children? Would you let a druk keep your children? Would you let a liar keep your children? They all are in the list. haJd, pd

      July 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "So, would you let a pedophile keep your children? Would you let a druk keep your children? Would you let a liar keep your children? They all are in the list. haJd, pd"

      One thing is for sure if you have children they should be taken away from such a prejudice bigot.

      Social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.

      Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 31, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Sharon Stepp

      I enjoyed reading your post. Do you have a blog?

      August 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Kay

      Beautifully expressed, Susan! Wish everyone could understand the truth of what you're saying. Good for you!

      August 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  18. Cindi

    LIKE YOU, I TAKE THE BIBLE SERIOUSLY! Many good people build their case against homosexuality almost entirely on the Bible. These folks value Scripture, and are serious about seeking its guidance in their lives. Unfortunately, many of them have never really studied what the Bible does and doesn’t say about homosexuality.

    We gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians take the Bible seriously, too. Personally, I’ve spent more than 50 years reading, studying, memorizing, preaching, and teaching from the sacred texts. I earned my master’s and doctoral degrees at a conservative biblical seminary to better equip myself to “rightly divide the word of truth.” I learned Hebrew and Greek to gain a better understanding of the original words of the biblical texts. I studied the lives and times of the biblical authors to help me know what they were saying in their day so I could better apply it to my own.

    We must be open to new truth from Scripture.

    Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various biblical texts.

    It took a blinding light and a voice from heaven to help the apostle Paul change his mind about certain Hebrew texts. A sheet lowered from the sky filled with all kinds of animals helped the apostle Peter gain new insights into Jewish law.

    Jerry Falwell believed the Bible supported segregation in the church until a black shoeshine man asked him, “When will someone like me be allowed to become a member of your congregation?” Through those simple words, the Holy Spirit spoke new truth about the ancient biblical texts to the Rev. Falwell, and in obedience he ended segregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

    Even when we believe the Scriptures are “infallible” or “without error,” it’s terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words — with tragic results.

    What if someone asked you, “Is there a chance you could be wrong about the way you’ve interpreted the biblical texts sometimes used to condemn homosexual orientation?” How would you respond? What does it say about you if you answer, “No, I could NOT be wrong”? I am asking you to re-examine these texts — carefully and prayerfully. Lives hang in the balance.

    If heroes of the Christian faith could change their minds about the meaning of certain biblical texts, shouldn’t we be prepared to reconsider our own interpretations of these ancient words when the Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to new truth? That’s why we study the Bible prayerfully, seeking the Spirit of Truth, God’s loving Spirit, to help us understand and apply these words to our lives.

    On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told his disciples he was going away from them for a while, but that the Father would send them a “Comforter,” an “Advocate,” the “Holy Spirit” who would “teach them all things.”

    I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit is still teaching us. When we reconsider the texts that are used by some people to condemn God’s gay children, we must fervently seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or we risk being misled by our own prejudices.

    The Bible is a book about God – not a book about human sexuality.

    The Bible is the story of God’s love for the world and the people of the world. It tells the history of God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering humankind. It was never intended to be a book about human sexuality. Certainly, you will agree.

    In fact, the Bible accepts sexual practices that we condemn and condemns sexual practices that we accept. Lots of them! Here are a few examples.

    DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21
    If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.

    If a married person has sex with someone else’s husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death.

    MARK 10:1-12
    Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.

    LEVITICUS 18:19
    The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman’s period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.

    MARK 12:18-27
    If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

    DEUTERONOMY 25:11-12
    If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy’s genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her.

    I’m certain you don’t agree with these teachings from the Bible about sex. And you shouldn’t. The list goes on: The Bible says clearly that sex with a prostitute is acceptable for the husband but not for the wife. Polygamy (more than one wife) is acceptable, as is a king’s having many concubines. (Solomon, the wisest king of all; had 1,000 concubines.) Slavery and sex with slaves, marriage of girls aged 11-13, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices in the Scriptures. On the other hand, there are strict prohibitions against interracial marriage, birth control, discussing or even naming a sexual organ, and seeing one’s parents nude.

    Over the centuries the Holy Spirit has taught us that certain Bible verses should not be understood as God’s law for all time periods. Some verses are specific to the culture and time they were written, and are no longer viewed as appropriate, wise, or just.

    Often, the Holy Spirit uses science to teach us why those ancient words no longer apply to our modern times. During the last three decades, for example, organizations representing 1.5 million U.S. health professionals (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and educators) have stated definitively that homosexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation, that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of yet unknown pre- and post-natal influences, and that it is dangerous and inappropriate to tell a homosexual that he or she could or should attempt to change his or her sexual orientation.

    While there are some people now living in heterosexual marriages who once perceived themselves to be gay, there are millions of gay and lesbian persons who have accepted their sexual orientation as a gift from God and live productive and deeply spiritual lives. The evidence from science and from the personal experience of gay and lesbian Christians demands that we at least consider whether the passages cited to condemn homosexual behavior should be reconsidered, just as other Bible verses that speak of certain sexual practices are no longer understood as God’s law for us in this day.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • dennis

      Without the Holy Ghost, you have no discernment.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Without the Holy Ghost, you have no discernment."

      Typical prejudice bigoted Christian who demonstrates yet again they have poor reading comprehension skills. Duh! LMAO!

      July 31, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Aaron

      Except for the scripture you quote in Mark, the rest of it is no longer binding. It was the rules as they were dictated back then, but under the Messianic Covenant that was concluded with mankind upon Christ's death, the old ways were no longer binding. IIf you do research on the Covenants that were concluded with mankind over the years, the Messianic one did away with the sabbath law and all those old laws. When Christ died, they were null and void and a new set of laws was put in place. So you can't use old law for reference when it is no longer binding.

      August 3, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  19. Guadalupe

    MATTHEW 6:9-119 After this manner tehoefrre pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever IN JESUS NAME. Amen

    July 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And this mentions hom0s3xuality? Where?

      July 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  20. Jasvir

    too, and I can imagine, by whom alosmt. Atheists really do have very little idea of the idea. So here you sum up the idea very succinctly with all the usual wit and cynicism, historical and contemporary analyses. Let those readers who didn't, now understand but they won't, they didn't, I've seen.It's the best evaaaahhh, Ihr doting fawn.

    July 29, 2012 at 10:15 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.