Homosexuality and the Bible--conserative and liberal stances
For the God concept to be credible, it has to be reconciled with the known
facts of the world and create a choice whether or not to have faith in a possi-
ble God beyond them. According to secular biology, sociology, psychology, and
ethics, a small percentage of animals and people naturally appear as homosexu-
als, and it can be mutual consent, so it's natural and there's no crime in it.
So I'd only consider a liberal stance on the subject credible.
Believers in Orthodox and some of conservative Judaism, Orthodox and some of
conservative Christianity, and Orthodox (the vast majority) and conservative and
most of liberal Islam condemn homosexuality. Most of the rest, and most other
religions, either don't make it an issue or only have a disagreement among fol-
lowers on other terms--not a standard religious ban.
Unlike many Orthodox and conservative branches, liberal and reform branches of
Judaism and Christianity don't consider homosexuality a sin.
"The Reform Judaism movement, the largest branch of Judaism in North America,
has rejected the traditional view of Jewish Law on this issue. As such, they do
not prohibit ordination of gays and lesbians as rabbis and cantors. They view
Levitical laws as sometimes seen to be referring to prostitution, making it a
stand against Jews adopting the idolatrous fertility cults and practices of the
neighbouring Canaanite nations rather than a blanket condemnation of same-sex
intercourse or homosexuality. Reform authorities consider that, in light of
what is seen as current scientific evidence about the nature of homosexuality as
a biological sexual orientation, a new interpretation of the law is required."
Many liberal Christians say Matt.19:12, regarding eunuchs, indicates that Je-
sus understood that some people are born with a sexual orientation and others
are made that way by people, so God understands and would accept innate homo-
"A eunuch" "is a person born male who is often castrated, typically early
enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences. (Less
commonly, in translations of ancient texts, 'eunuch' may refer to a man who is
not castrated but who is impotent, celibate, or who displays effeminate charact-
The same liberal view holds that Paul in Rom.1 only counts it a sin for people
to perform homosexuality against their nature for idolatrous ritual--that Rom.1:
26 refers to people appeasing false gods like Aphrodite, Diana, and other fer-
tility gods with temple prostitution.
One application of the conservative stance, that homosexuality is unnatural
and a sin, to Rom.1 is that it would be biologically impossible for a hetero-
sexual male to perform homosexuality for an idol ritual, so the rule must mean
all homosexuality is a sin, regardless of idolatry, because it's unnatural.
There are several things wrong with that:
- if homosexuality in all situations was unnatural, that would mean everyone
is heterosexual and the homosexuals do something unnatural about it. But if it
were also biologically impossible for heterosexual males to perform homosexual-
ity, then male homosexuality couldn't exist and there would be no point in writ-
ing about it.
- Actually, a person of any sexual orientation could perform homosexuality un-
naturally. A homosexual or bisexual could perform homosexuality that qualifies
as unnatural in that it was just done for an idolatrous ritual, not a natural
relationship. A heterosexual could be in the company of members of the same and
opposite sex to perform homosexuality for an idolatrous ritual, which would
qualify as unnatural and not a normal relationship. In all those examples, it
would be performance of homosexuality that was unnatural, done for idolatry, and
qualify as a sin without homosexuality per se being a sin.
- Again, according to biology, sociology, etc., a small percentage of animals
and people are homosexuals. Since it's natural and there's nothing wrong with
it, a wisest imaginable being would know that.
In 1 Cor.6:9 and 1 Tim.1:10, the meaning of the word "arsenokoites," and, also
in 1 Cor.6:9, "malakos," have been interpreted by some conservatives as meaning
"homosexuals, homosexual" and translated that way.
The conservative stance that "arsenokoites" refers to "homosexuals" claims
that in the Greek Septuagint, "arseno" is "a man" and "koitai" is "lying with,
bedding" so for "arsenokoitai." But for the compound word to indicate male
homosexuality another "arseno" would be added to indicate who the man is lying
with. This compound word doesn't specify that but just indicates a man is hav-
ing sex in some way which context indicates is wrongful (having sex indiscrimin-
According to "Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," "arsen"
and "arren" mean "male": "is translated 'men' in Rom. 1:27 (three times); 'man
child' in Rev. 12:5 (ver. 13 in some mss.); 'male" in Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6;
Luke 2:23; Gal. 3:28, '(there can be no) male (and female),' RV, i.e., sex dis-
tinction does not obtain in Christ; sex is no barrier either to salvation or the
development of Christian graces. See MAN."
"koite" means "primarily 'a place for lying down' (connected with keimai, 'to
lie'), denotes a 'bed,' Luke 11:7; the marriage 'bed,' Heb. 13:4; in Rom. 13:13,
it is used of sexual intercourse. By metonymy, the cause standing for the ef-
fect, it denotes conception, Rom. 9:10."
According to "Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," "arseno-
koites" means "abuse, abusers."
Also according to "Vine's....," "malakos" means "soft, soft to the touch"
(Lat., mollis, Eng., "mollify," "emollient," etc.), is used (a) of raiment,
Matt. 11:8 (twice); Luke 7:25; (b) metaphorically, in a bad sense, 1 Cor. 6:9,
"effeminate," not simply of a male who practices forms of lewdness, but persons
in general, who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh, voluptuous."
The word "malakos" can mean "idol slaves or servants," and, taken with Rom.1
and the idea of idol temple sex, the NRSV translates "malokois" as "male prosti-
The quoted information that follows is taken from the post by Daniel at the
"The King James version (1611), which relied heavily on the Vulgate, trans-
lated malakois to "soft" in Matt and Luke, as it was referring to clothing. But
in 1 Cor, evidently not being happy with 'idol servants' they translated malakoi
into 'effeminate'. It seems to many scholars that the Latin translators were
closer in time and culture than the English translators, so they would have a
better idea of meaning. None-the-less, the KJV translation has, of course,
stuck ever since.
"1 Cor 6:9 uses arsenokoitay and 1 Tim 1:10 uses arsenokoitais. The words com-
bined to make the first word are arsen (adjective neuter/singular), o (masculine
definite article) and koitay (noun feminine/singular). The second word is the
same, except that koitais is feminine/plural.
"Now, the first thing is that the Greek language is gender specific. These
words have feminine endings which means they refers to something female. The
word parts are varied, however. arsen means “male”. o is the male definite ar-
ticle (the). koitey, the root of koitay and koitais, means 'bed' or 'place
where koitus (coitus) occurs' - can we presume 'female's bed', since it is fem-
"What was being communicated here? No-one is really sure. The KJV opted for
'the abusers of themselves with mankind'. The NIV went with 'homosexual offend-
ers'. The NRSV went with 'sodomites.'
"But the Vulgate, translated 1000 years earlier, and closer to the original
culture, than the KJV translated to adulteri, which means 'adulterer' but in the
female tense. You could argue that this doubles up on the earlier use of adult-
erer appearing in the same verse, but that one is male tense."
The New Jerusalem Bible is at the next link, and some other English transla-
tions are at the BibleGateway.com link.