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The "Biblical" Arguments for Homosexuality PDF  | Print |  E-mail
(Are they Scripturally Sound?)

[This article is excerpted from the author’s book Must We Be Silent?]
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, Ph.D.
Director, Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

    On the basis of Scripture, Seventh-day Adventists historically have rejected homosexuality as morally unacceptable. Today, however, some are reinterpreting the Bible to allow for the practice. Proponents claim that scriptural references to homosexual acts are culturally-conditioned, and thus do not suffice to determine God’s will for homosexuals today.

    Because of space limitations I can only summarize and respond to some of the major scriptural arguments justifying pro-gay theology. Those who seek more information may want to consult the in-depth analysis and evaluation provided in some other excellent works.[1] We will take up numbering of the arguments where the list in chapter 5 of Must We Be Silent? (reproduced on this website as “Some Popular Arguments for Homosexuality).
 13. “Scriptural references to homosexual acts do not suffice to determine God’s will for homosexuals today. They are 'culturally conditioned’”

    Probably the major reason why Christian churches accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle is the sophisticated scriptural arguments many employ to justify the practice.

    Proponents either maintain that the Bible is "silent" on the issue or that scriptural passages which condemn homosexuality (Gen 19 [cf. Jude 7; 2 Pet 2:6-10]; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:8-11), if "rightly" understood, are either ambiguous, irrelevant to contemporary homosexual practice, or refer to pederasty or cultic prostitution.[2]

    In short, advocates of gay theology argue that because Bible passages on homosexuality only deal with specific historical situations, they are "culturally conditioned" and no longer relevant for Christian sexual ethics today.

    Response to Argument #13.
Undergirding these new reformulations of biblical teaching on homosexuality is liberalism’s unscriptural view of biblical inspiration, interpretation, and authority. One writer has correctly noted: “There are only two ways one can neutralize the biblical witness against homosexual behavior: by gross misinterpretation or by moving away from a high view of Scripture.” [3] Indeed, many of the homosexuals’ biblical arguments are “strained, speculative and implausible, the product of wishful thinking and special pleading.” [4]

    Jesus refuted the culturally conditioned argument when He stated unequivocally that God's will for our moral life is the original ideal He instituted in the Garden of Eden. He asked the Pharisees, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Mt 19: 4-5; cf. Mk 10:6-8).

    With the expression “at the beginning” or “from the beginning” (Mt 19:8; Mk 10:6), Christ teaches that all cultures must bow before the unchangeable standard He instituted at creation. That standard is that only “male and female” can legitimately “cleave” and become “one flesh.” Indeed, if Christ intended a homosexual relationship He would have created “Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve.”
    14. “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality in any of the Gospels”

    The argument is that, as followers of Christ, Christians should base their beliefs on the teachings of Christ. If Jesus Christ, the founder of biblical Christianity, was silent on the issue of homosexuality, why should we go beyond our Master by condemning the practice?

    Response to Argument #14: The lack of record in the Gospels of a statement from Christ on homosexuality does not mean that He never addressed it during His earthly ministry. According to John, if the Gospel writers had attempted to record all the works of Christ, the world could not contain all the books (John 21:25).

    Moreover, the recorded teachings of Christ in the Gospels are not the Christian's only source of authority. “All Scripture"--from Genesis to Revelation--constitutes the normative authority (2 Tim 3:16-17). The fact that one section of the Bible says nothing explicitly on a subject does not mean the other sections are silent.

    Furthermore, it is incorrect to say that Jesus is silent on homosexuality. As we pointed out earlier, Christ’s statement in Matthew 19:3-8 and Mark 10:2-9 (“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”) reveals that God's intention at Creation regarding human sexuality--namely, a monogamous, heterosexual relationship--is the only context for the expression of human sexuality. [5]
    15. “The Bible writers did not know about homosexuality as we know it today”

    Some argue that the kind of homosexuality the Bible writers condemned was that which was connected with rape, prostitution, or idolatry. They claim that even if the Bible writers did condemn homosexuality as we know it today (i.e., the so-called loving, committed, and faithful homosexual relationships), this is not the first time Bible writers have been wrong. They were wrong on many things, including the practice of slavery, polygamy, and the subjugation of women. These practices were later allegedly corrected by the Spirit's leading. If the Bible writers were wrong on these issues, they argue, why can't they be wrong on homosexuality? And if under the Spirit's leading the church came to embrace slave emancipation, monogamy, and women's equal rights, why should not the church, led by the same Spirit, accept homosexuality?

    Response to Argument #15: First, if we believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word and not simply the personal opinions of ancient writers, and if we believe that the Bible is the all-sufficient guide in doctrine and practice for all people living at all times (2 Tim 3:16-17; cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21), then “it is unthinkable that God--who is no respecter of persons--would be so careless as to offer no guidance in His revealed Word to the thousands of homosexuals He knew would exist throughout time, if indeed their relationships were legitimate in His sight.” [6]

    Second, it is without foundation to argue that the Bible writers (Moses and Paul) were ignorant of today's more "enlightened" scientific and theological view of homosexuality. These men were erudite in their intellectual training and discerning in their calling as God's prophets. They never made the fine distinctions cited by today's pro-homosexual advocates because there is no validity to recent distinctions between the homosexual act and the condition, the latter being something about which homosexuals allegedly have no choice. The Bible writers condemned homosexuality of itself. They also offered God's miraculous transformation as the cure for this sin (1 Cor 6:9-11).

    Third, the suggestion that the Bible writers were wrong on a number of issues arises from contemporary higher criticism (the so-called historical-critical method). In an earlier work I have challenged this discredited method of liberal interpretation as incompatible with the tenets of biblical Christianity. [7]

    Moreover, the claim that the Bible writers accommodated or tolerated (some say encouraged) slavery, polygamy, and the subjugation of women, practices later allegedly corrected by the Spirit’s leading, is a scholarly myth that has been challenged by responsible Bible scholars. [8] The Bible writers never once commended the practice of slavery, polygamy, and the subjugation of women. But they did repeatedly condemn the practice of homosexuality (see, for example, Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26ff. 1 Cor 6; 1 Tim 1:8ff).

    16. “The Bible does not speak directly to the issue of behavior by consenting adults of homosexual orientation”

    This argument, though similar to the previous one, deals with the matter of choice, i.e., consent and orientation. The suggestion here is that because of one’s homosexual orientation (believed to be caused by one’s genes or other biological and environmental factors) one has no choice and, therefore, should not be held morally responsible for acting it out.

    Response to Argument #16. It is a mistake to think that the Bible does not speak directly to the matter of consensual (or choice) sex between persons of the same gender. The Scriptures make it plain that homosexual conduct, like other sexual deviations, is a deliberate action against God’s expressed Law. The fact that the Bible warns against it, and imposes punishment upon those who engage in the practice (Lev 18:22, 29; 20:13), shows that a homosexual is culpable. The sanctions for same-gender sex would be meaningless if homosexuality was not a matter of choice.

    Moreover, the Bible does not support the use of the term orientation as a shelter to escape the consequences of a deliberate choice. In the context of today’s discussion of homosexuality, the word orientation is used to denote a person’s sexual bent, proclivity, tendency, inclination, attraction, frame of mind, or desires believed to have been caused by genetic, biological, or environmental causes. The Hebrew word that comes closest in meaning to the modern nuances of orientation is the term yetser.

    This word is frequently used for “that which is formed in the mind, e.g., plans and purposes (Gen 6:5; 8:21); Deut 31:21) or even the state of mind (Isa 26:31).” [9] For example, in reference to the orientation of the humanity in the days of Noah, the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible translates the word as the “imaginations “of the heart (Genesis 6:5 and 8:21). The KJV marginal reference correctly explains that the word yetser describes “the whole imagination, with the purposes and desires of the heart” (emphasis mine).

    The sin condition (yetser) is the foundation for homosexual conduct (as it is for all sin). The individual is morally responsible for this inclination, which can be directed toward either good or evil, toward the Spirit or the flesh (Rom 8). Thus, whereas pro-gay advocates use the term orientation as a justification to escape moral responsibility of a homosexual’s conduct, Scripture always attaches intentionality or choice to a person’s conduct. Rightly understood, homosexual orientation refers to one’s mind-set, not an inherited trait over which a person has no choice:
In the Bible, the cause for all violations against the divine standard is ultimately traceable to the mind-set of the individual: is it subordinated to the will of God? Thus not some but all of the passages relating to same-gender sexual intercourse are categorically against it. There are no seams in the biblical view. No concession is made to semantic labels. A bottle of poison labeled with anything but the customary skull and bones is more dangerous to society, not less so. . . . No reference to causes, apart from the one located in the mind-set of the individual, can be found in the biblical text. [10]

17. “Sodom was destroyed because of pride, inhospitality,
and/or gang rape, not because of homosexuality”

    When the men of Sodom demanded of Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them" (Gen 19:5), pro-gay advocates argue that the men of Sodom were only violating the ancient rules of hospitality. Some assert that the Hebrew word yadah, which is translated "have sex with" (or "know" in KJV) appears 943 times in the Old Testament, and carries sexual meaning only about ten times. They thus argue that the men of Sodom had no sexual intentions towards Lot's visitors; they only wanted to get acquainted with them or interrogate them, fearing that they were foreign spies being harbored by Lot, himself a foreigner. Furthermore, even if they had sexual intentions, the condemnation of their action would be the condemnation of homosexual gang rape, not of a consensual homosexuality as such.

    Response to Argument #17: Indeed, Sodom was destroyed because of pride and inhospitality (cf. Ezek 16:49-50; Jer 23:14; Lk 17:28-29). But it is a false distinction to separate inhospitality from sexual sin. What the men of Sodom sought to do was another form of inhospitality. Also, inhospitality and pride were not the only reasons for Sodom's destruction. The city was punished also because of its abominations (Ezek 16:50), a veiled reference to its sexual deviations. The Bible describes various things as abomination, a word of strong disapproval, meaning literally something detestable and hated by God. But since the word is used in the so-called inhospitality passages of Ezekiel 16 to describe sexual sin (v. 22, 58), and since the word refers to same-sex acts in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, the abominations of Sodom are not exclusive of sexual deviations.

    Two New Testament passages make this point explicitly. The apostle Peter indicates that, among other things, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their "filthy conversation," "unlawful deeds," and their "walk after the lust of the flesh" (2 Pet 2:6-10), a reference that includes adultery, fornication, and other sexual perversions (cf. Gal 5:19-21). Jude specifically linked the destruction of these wicked cities to their sexual deviations: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7, emphasis supplied). The "fornication and going after strange flesh" are obvious references to sexual perversions (so NIV, RSV, NRSV, Phillips, TEV).

    Pro-gay advocates incorrectly assert that the Hebrew word yadah as used in Genesis 19 means "to get acquainted with," not "to have sex with." They base this on the fact that, out of some 943 occurrences in the Old Testament, yadah clearly refers to sexual intercourse in only twelve instances. The problem with this argument is that mere word counting is no criterion of meaning; the usage of a word in its specific context is the decisive consideration. Thus, Lot's reply to the men of Sodom shows that he understood their demand in sexual terms: "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing" (Gen 19:7). In fact, in the very next verse the word yadah is translated “slept with.” Lot, acting out of sheer desperation and hopelessness proposed: “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with (yadah) a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them" (v. 8). Lot definitely had no reason to think that the men of Sodom merely wanted to question or get acquainted with his daughters. One Bible commentary puts it neatly: “It would be grotesquely inconsequent that Lot should reply to a demand for credentials by an offer of daughters.” [11] The fact that Lot refers to his daughters' virgin status also indicates he understood the sexual content of the request. Clearly, then, yadah in this passage refers to sexual intercourse.

    This much can be said: The men of Sodom were not interested in Lot's desperate offer of his virgin daughters. They were proposing a homosexual rape. But for such rape to have involved "all the men of the city, both young and old" (Gen 19:4), homosexual activity must have been commonly practiced--one reason why Jude records that their "fornication, and going after strange flesh are set forth [in Scripture] for an example [and warning unto us]" (Jude 7). As we will see, other Bible passages condemn all homosexual activity, not just homosexual rape.
18. “The Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 passages, condemning homosexual activity as sinful, do not condemn homosexuality as we know it today”

    In these passages, God forbids a man to "lie with" another man "as with a woman." Doing so is an "abomination." Advocates of gay theology, however, argue that the practices condemned as "abomination" (Heb. to’evah) in these passages of Leviticus have to do with the kind of homosexuality associated with pagan religious practices. In the view of pro-gay writers, God was not prohibiting the kind of homosexuality practiced today by Christians but only the kind connected with idolatry.

    Some also argue that, even if the passages condemn homosexuality in general, these passages in Leviticus are part of the ceremonial holiness code that has no permanent binding obligation on Christians. They reason that the prohibition of sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual flow (Lev 18:19) shows that the prohibition against homosexual intercourse, which closely follows it in the text (18:22) was ceremonial in nature. It was a temporary obligation upon the Jews, not a universal law.

    Response to Argument #18: First, if these passages condemn homosexuality only because of its association with idolatry, then it would logically follow that other practices mentioned in these passages--incest, adultery, polygamy, bestiality, and child sacrifice--are also condemned as sinful only because of their association with idolatry. Conversely, if incest, adultery, polygamy, bestiality, etc., are morally objectionable regardless of their connection with pagan practices, then homosexuality is also morally wrong, regardless of the context in which it is practiced.

    Second, in context, both Leviticus 18 and 20 deal primarily with morality, not idolatrous worship. When God wants specifically to mention the practices of cultic or idolatrous prostitutes, He does so, as in Deuteronomy 23:17: "No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute." The lack of such mention in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 indicates that God is dealing with homosexuality per se, not with any alleged specific form of Canaanite religious practice.

    As for the contention that Scripture always connects the word "abomination" (Heb. to’evah) with idolatry or pagan ceremonies, one biblical example will discredit the claim. Proverbs 6:16-19 describes God as hating such abominations as a proud look, a lying tongue, murder, etc. Are we to believe that pride, lying, and murder are morally acceptable as long as they are not carried out in idolatrous pagan contexts? Certainly not.

    Pro-gay advocates also argue that because Leviticus 18 prohibits intercourse during a woman’s menstrual flow (v. 19) and proceeds in the same text to prohibit homosexual intercourse (v. 22), the condemnation of homosexuality should be viewed as a temporary ceremonial obligation, not a universal moral injunction. But this argument is also untenable in that the prohibitions appear with others of a clearly moral nature–namely, prohibitions against various types of unlawful sexual relations including incest (18:6-17), polygamy (18:18), adultery (18:20), child sacrifice (18:21), and bestiality (18:23). [12] The fact that child sacrifice violated two provisions in the moral law, namely prohibitions against idolatry and killing (cf. Exo 20:3, 13), and the fact that the list of unlawful behaviors in Leviticus 18 is condemned in the strongest terms (vv. 24ff.) suggests that these moral concerns are universal in nature, and thus, still relevant today. [13]

    Also, since the New Testament again denounces these sexual deviations, we may conclude that the moral content of these Leviticus passages is permanently normative, not part of the ceremonial holiness code. [14]

19. “In Romans 1:26-27 Paul does not condemn individuals who are homosexuals by nature; rather, he refers to idolatrous heterosexuals who have 'changed their nature' by committing homosexual acts”

    According to this argument, the real sin condemned by Paul is two-fold: (I) the changing of what is natural to a person into what is unnatural, and (ii) homosexuality committed by people who worship images, not God.
    Response to Argument #19: Advocates of pro-gay theology often argue that if a person is homosexual, he or she can never become truly heterosexual. And yet they often quote the Romans 1 passage as an example of truly heterosexual people committing a sin by becoming truly homosexual. We may therefore ask: If a person who is a heterosexual can change and become a homosexual, why cannot a person who is a homosexual be changed and become a heterosexual? It appears, however, that advocates of the pro-gay view point do not see the inconsistency of their position.

    For a number of reasons, it seems inconceivable that Paul could be describing predominantly heterosexual people indulging in homosexual acts. First, he describes the men and women committing these homosexual acts as "burning in lust" for each other. Are we to understand this as heterosexuals who are simply experimenting with an alternate lifestyle?

    Also, if verses 26 and 27 condemn only homosexual actions by people to whom they did not come naturally (i.e., heterosexuals who are practicing homosexual acts), but don't apply to individuals to whom those same actions allegedly do come naturally (so called true homosexuals), then consistency and intellectual integrity demand that the sinful practices mentioned in verses 29 and 30--fornication, backbiting, deceit, etc.--are permissible as long as the people who commit them are people to whom they come naturally.

    Is Paul's use of "natural" purely subjective (what is "natural for me" in my orientation) or is it objective (what is "natural for everyone" regardless of orientation)? The context of Romans 1 suggests that Paul is describing homosexual behavior and other sinful practices as objectively unnatural. They are part of the practices that result when men "exchange the truth about God for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator." "He was talking about an objective condition of depravity experienced by people who rejected God's will." [15]

    In other words, it is the very nature of the sexual conduct itself that Paul considers unnatural. Homosexuality is unnatural to the man as a male (arsen) and to the woman as a female (gune), not because of what may or may not be natural to their personality, but because of what is unnatural according to God’s design when he created male and female.

    Finally, if we are to accept pro-gay arguments that Romans 1 condemns only homosexuality committed by people who worship idols, then consistency and honesty demand that we also argue that the other sins listed in that chapter--fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, pride, etc. (vv. 28-32)--are sinful only because they are committed by idol worshipers. I don’t believe that even the most strident advocates of homosexuality will embrace this logic. The point is thus obvious: Homosexuality is unnatural, whether it is committed by idolaters or those who worship the true God. [16]

20. “Paul’s arsenokoitai and malakoi statements in 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:9-10, denouncing the ‘effeminate and them that defile themselves with mankind’ are actually a condemnation of an ‘offensive kind of homosexuality,’ not the ‘offense of homosexuality’”

    In both passages, Paul lists those who engage in homosexual behavior among such lawless people as fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, kidnapers, etc. According to pro-gay advocates, the Greek terms arsenokoitai (translated in 1 Cor 6 and 1 Tim 1 as "them that defile themselves with mankind") and malakoi (translated "effeminate" or "soft" in 1 Cor 6), which the apostle uses to denounce homosexual activity, refer to homosexual abuse, not its right use. Thus, these passages do not condemn today's loving and committed homosexual relationships, but rather offensive kinds of homosexual activity, such as homosexual prostitution.

    Response to Argument #20:
For good reason the terms arsenokoitai and malakoi have been understood traditionally as a reference to the active and passive partners in a homosexual relationship. The first term (arsenokoitai) literally means "male bedders" (reference to a man who "beds" another) and the second term (malakoi) refers to "soft" or "effeminate" men, specifically males who play female sexual roles with the "male bedder." There is no hint in these words that Paul was condemning only a certain kind of homosexual abuse, as in prostitution, rape, or pagan ceremonies. He condemns homosexuality in itself as sin.

    Further, note that arsenokoitai is derived from two words--arsen (referring to man as male) and koite (a term that appears only twice in the New Testament, and literally means "bed" or "couch." In Romans 13:13, it appears in "Let us walk honestly. . . not in chambering [koite])"; and in Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage is honorable . . . and the bed [koite] undefiled"). The combination of the two terms arsen (male) and koite (bed) does not even suggest prostitution, rape or idolatry--only sexual contact between two men. In other words, homosexuality is wrong, regardless of the reason why it is practiced.

    Note also that when Paul used the term arsenokoitai to condemn the sinful practice of homosexuality, he apparently derived it directly from the Greek translation of two verses in Leviticus 18, which reads in part:
“. . . kai meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gynaikos” ("and you shall not sleep in bed with a man as with a woman"; Lev 18:22);
“ . . . kai hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gynaikos” ("and whoever may lie in bed with a man as with a woman"; Lev 20:13).
    Therefore, Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 presupposes Leviticus's condemnation of homosexual acts. Is it any wonder that Paul lists homosexuality among lawless deeds that would bar a person from the kingdom of God? [17] Homosexuality in any form is sinful. To attempt to sanitize a sinful practice by describing it as loving and committed and to attempt to silence the Bible’s categorical condemnation of the practice is an irresponsible exercise in biblical gamesmanship.

    In summary, the Bible is not morally neutral on homosexuality. Paul's statements in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1, along with the Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 passages, clearly show that homosexuality in all of its various forms is a sinful practice. Homosexual behavior, like heterosexual fornication, is sin, whether it results from one's orientation or from conscious choice. In other words, the Bible condemns all homosexual lust and behavior, including today’s so-called loving and consensual homosexual relationships.

     In summary, the Bible is not morally neutral on homosexuality. Paul’s statements in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1, [18] along with the Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 passages, clearly show that homosexuality in all of its various forms is a sinful practice. Homosexual behavior, like heterosexual fornication, is sin, whether it results from one’s orientation or from conscious choice. In other words, the Bible condemns all homosexual lust and behavior, including today’s so-called loving and consensual homosexual relationships. It is not wrong to be tempted either homosexually or heterosexually, but it is wrong to yield to one’s sexual temptation.

21. “Homosexuality cannot be cured; therefore the church must welcome gays and lesbians into full membership and embrace their homosexual lifestyle”

    Based on the mistaken notion that homosexuality is not a sin, but a trait of one’s identity, and based on the apparent failure of prayer, counseling, human therapy, and other methods of behavior modification (skills of self-discipline or self-control), advocates of pro-gay theology argue that cure or deliverance may not always be possible for those with homosexual orientations. Consequently they urge the church to be mature enough to welcome homosexuals into membership and leadership. When proponents employ the terms “outreach” or “ministries” for gays and lesbians, they simply mean an affirmation of homosexuals in their homosexuality.

    Response to Argument #21.
I have argued in this chapter and the preceding one that homosexuality is a sin, no less or worse than other sins condemned in the Bible: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).

    The good news, however, is that there is a cure for all manner of sin–including homosexual sin--provided sinners admit their wrongdoing, repent, and turn away from it. It is significant that the steps to overcome homosexuality are clearly outlined by the apostle Paul in the verse immediately following the above: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11).

    The change described in this verse is specific with respect to a list of violations, including homosexual conduct. In other words, the cure for homosexuality is the same as for all other sins. Also, the use of the past tense in verse 11emphasizes that what the Corinthians were in the past is not what they are in the present, because they have been changed.

    According to Paul it is possible for one to be freed from homosexual bondage. The transformation of the homosexual does not come through the sinner’s struggle nor from some humanistic methods of behavior modification. Since homosexuality is a problem of the heart, and not simply genetic or environmental, the only way out is through a transformation of the heart. It comes through Christ and His spirit. The process by which this change takes place is defined by three terms: cleansing, sanctification, and justification.

    In the Greek, each verb is introduced by the strong adversative conjunction alla, a word that is normally translated in English as “but.” Thus, the KJV states: “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified. . .” The force of the word “but” (Greek, alla) is that it expresses a sharp contrast to what has come before. It also has a confirming or emphatic nuance. In other words, there was a radical difference between what the Corinthians were in the past and what they currently were when they were converted.

    Given the completeness of the transformation, the apostle would therefore reject any suggestion that a person can be gay and Christian or Adventist at the same time. The two don’t mix. You are either gay or a Christian. It is an oxymoron to refer to a person as a “gay Adventist.” “In choosing the aorist [past tense] for these three verbs [‘washed,’ ‘sanctified,’ and ‘justified’], Paul emphasizes that the actions of cleansing, sanctifying, and justifying have been accomplished. They have completed a change in the condition and orientation of those who were practicing homosexuality and the other vices listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.” [19]

    The Bible also challenges the pro-gay suggestion that the church must welcome unrepentant homosexuals into church membership. When the Old Testament urged that those who engaged in adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, etc. should be “cut off from among their people,” and even imposed the death penalty upon these sexual offenders (cf. Lev 18:7-30), it indicates clearly that homosexuals were not to be entertained in the community of faith.

    In the New Testament Paul apparently applies this Old Testament principle to disfellowshiping people from the church. Concerning the sexual immorality of incest and other blatant sins, he exhorted the Corinthian church, “not to associate with sexually immoral people. . . . I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. With such a man do not even eat. . . . Expel the wicked man from among you” (vv. 9, 11, 13, NIV).

    The Bible’s position is clear. Homosexuals who acknowledge the sinfulness of homosexuality, who accept Christ's offer of forgiveness, who cut themselves loose from homosexual relationships, and who, by faith, commit themselves to a life of sexual purity should be accepted into church fellowship. But those who do not acknowledge homosexuality as sin, who reinterpret Scripture to justify their sins, who defiantly maintain that they will not turn from their sinful ways, and/or those who are engaged in homosexual relationships or practices should not be accepted into church membership. Accordingly, the church must not endorse any so-called outreach or ministries for gays and lesbians that teaches that homosexuality is morally neutral or not a sin, which affirms homosexuals in their homosexuality, and which seeks to make homosexuality compatible with the Christian faith.


    The questions that have been raised in the preceding chapters are some of the major issues confronting Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists as they respond to the attempts by some within our ranks to reconcile the homosexual lifestyle with biblical Christianity. Unless biblically consistent answers are given to the questions, one cannot but conclude that the qualified-acceptance position on homosexuality, just like the full-acceptance position, cannot be a biblically-defensible option for Seventh-day Adventists.

    What then should we say in response to homosexuals who are coming to church “not only for forgiveness and mercy but to say to the church, as they have to the world, 'Homosexuality is not sinful; it is natural to me. God made me this way. He accepts me and my homosexuality as good. Therefore the time has come for the church to accept me as I am and join me in saying that gayness is good'”? Should the born a gay lifestyle be baptized?

    In the light of our discussion in the preceding pages, we cannot but borrow the following words to respond to attempts at domesticating homosexuality and lesbianism in the Seventh-day Adventist Church:
    The church cannot condone homosexual activity without betraying its biblical, historical, and spiritual heritage. Its conscious acceptance of the authority and inspiration of Scripture would need to undergo such a radical, liberalizing change that the fundamental teachings of the church would be left without foundation.
    The consequences of such change with its ramifications for theological, ethical, and moral teaching might be labeled by some as progressive, calculated to enlighten the church and produce a more compassionate laity accommodated to the modern society in which it lives. But in reality such a move would be a giant step toward repaganization of the church. The resulting religion would not be a Bible religion or that of the prophets, the Lord, or the apostles, not Christianity except in name. [20]
    In today’s climate of enlightened ethical sensitivity, the above words and the theological position adopted in this section of Must We Be Silent? may seem judgmental or uncompassionate to some. If so, we must make it absolutely clear that God’s grace covers every kind of sin for any believer in Jesus who contritely turns toward God and makes a decisive commitment to turn away from sin. “God can forgive homosexual sin as well as heterosexual sin, sin which is socially acceptable as sin and sin which is not. But the first step in receiving forgiveness is to recognize our wrongdoing as sin.” [21]

     Seventh-day Adventists believe that the biblical world view presents a loving Father who is interested in all aspects of our being and our lifestyle (3 John 2). His written Word is the surest and most trustworthy guide for every human thought and conduct (2 Tim 3:16-19). It tells of a compassionate and powerful God who is abundantly able and willing to assist us in overcoming our human weaknesses (Heb 4:15-16; Jude 24; Eph 3:20). And the Bible introduces us to a faithful Savior and his dependable promises. Writes Ellen G. White:
Are you tempted? He will deliver. Are you weak? He will strengthen. Are you ignorant? He will enlighten. Are you wounded? He will heal. . . . 'Come unto Me,’ is His invitation. Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon the Burden Bearer (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 329).
    We all can receive help if we are willing to believe that whatever God commands we may accomplish in His strength. The apostle Paul, a few verses after his condemnation of sinful practices such as homosexuality, declared that though he was “the chief of sinners,” Christ’s enabling grace was able to turn his life around (1 Tim. 1:9-16). If Jesus can change “the chief of sinners,” certainly, He can change you and me (1 John 1:9). But this is possible if, and only if: (1) we accept that the homosexual lifestyle is morally wrong and resolve to change and if (2) we are willing to accept Christ’s abiding offer of pardon and cleansing (Matt 11:28-30; 1 John 1:9; Isa 1:18). The choice is ours.

    Thousands of former homosexuals made this choice, resulting in the Lord changing their lives. Chapters 7 and 8 of Must We Be Silent carry the testimony of an ex-gay who experienced freedom from homosexual bondage. Today he is serving God as a writer, pastor, radio evangelist, and international speaker. His testimony is reproduced on this website as “Testimony from an Ex-Gay” and “You, Too, Can Be Made Whole!”


[1]    See, for example, Donald J. Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998); Thomas E. Schmidt’s Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexual Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995), and Marion L. Soards’ Scripture and Homosexuality: Biblical Authority and the Church Today (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1995). To date, the most detailed Adventist response to scriptural arguments of pro-gay advocates is the GC Biblical Research Institute’s commissioned work by Ronald Springett, Homosexuality in History and the Scriptures (Washington, DC: Biblical Research Institute, 1988); cf. Raoul Dederen, “Homosexuality: A Biblical Perspective,” Ministry, September 1988, 1416. I am indebted to the following works for their excellent readable review and evaluation of the scriptural arguments by pro-gay advocates: Carl Bridges, Jr. “The Bible Does Have Something to Say About Homosexuality,” in Gay Rights Or Wrongs: A Christian’s Guide to Homosexual Issues and Ministry, ed. Michael Mazzalongo (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1995), 147-169; Joe Dallas, A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement, 185-202; John R. W. Stott, Homosexual Partnerships?: Why Same-Sex Relationships Are Not A Christian Option (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1985).

[2]    These pro-gay arguments are best articulated by former Yale University professor of history John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), and Anglican theologian Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (London: Longmans, Green, 1955). John R. W. Stott describes Bailey as “the first Christian theologian to reevaluate the traditional understanding of the biblical prohibitions regarding homosexuality” (Stott, “Homosexual Marriage,” Christianity Today, November 22, 1985, 22).

[3]    Stanton L. Jones, “The Loving Opposition,” Christianity Today, July 19, 1993, 13.

[4]    Richard Lovelace, The Church and Homosexuality (Old Tappan, NJ: Flemming H. Revell, 1978), 113.

[5]     “While Jesus is not reported to have spoken on homosexuality or homosexual behavior, his one recorded statement [in Matt 19:38 and Mark 10:29] about human sexuality reveals that he understood males and females to be created by God for mutual relations that unite and fulfill both male and female in a (permanent) complementary union. There is no room here for an argument from silence concerning what Jesus 'might have’ or 'must have’ thought about homosexuality. But from Jesus’ own words we see that he understood human sexuality to be God’s own creation for the purpose of male and female uniting in a complementary relationship” (Marion L. Soards’ Scripture and Homosexuality: Biblical Authority and the Church Today [Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1995], 28).

[6]    Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict: Answering the Struggle for Sexual Identity (Eugene OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1991), 276.

[7]    See my Receiving the Word, 241-249, esp. 279321. Cf. my unpublished article, “A Bug in Adventist Hermeneutic,” 1999, a summary version of which is to be published in a future issue of Ministry under the title, “Questions in the Quest for a Unifying Hermeneutic.”

[8]    Readers will benefit from the following works which challenge the above “accommodation” hypotheses: Ronald A. G. du Preez, Polygamy in the Bible (Berrien Springs, MI: Adventist Theological Society Publications, 1993); Theodore D. Weld, The Bible Against Slavery: Or, An Inquiry into the Genius of the Mosaic System, and the Teachings of the Old Testament on the Subject of Human Rights (Pittsburgh: United Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1864); cf. Dale B. Martin, Slavery As Salvation: The Metaphor of Slavery in Pauline Christianity (New Haven: Yale UP, 1990). These works offer biblical evidence showing that God at no time tolerated polygamy and slavery as morally legitimate practices for His people. On the issue of the subjugation of women or “patriarchy,” George Knight, Role Relationships of Men and Women: New Testament Teaching (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1985), and Guenther Haas, “Patriarchy as An Evil that God Tolerated: Analysis and Implications for the Authority of Scripture,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 1995, 321-326, have challenged the notion that male headship (in the home and church) is an evil practice that God tolerated.

[9]    R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Chicago: Moody Press), 396.

[10]    Donald J. Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 22-23 (emphasis his).

[11]    Derek Kidner, “Additional Note on the Sin of Sodom,” in Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1967), 136-137.

[12]    For an insightful discussion of Leviticus 18, see Ronald A. G. du Preez, Polygamy in the Bible (Berrien Springs, MI: Adventist Theological Society, 1993), 70-81.

[13]    Based on the repeated references to “aliens” in Leviticus 17 and 18, Gerhard F. Hasel concludes that these laws are not ceremonial, ritual, or cultic, “cannot be restricted to Israelites,” but “are universal in nature” (see Hasel, “Clean and Unclean Meats in Leviticus 11: Still Relevant?” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 2 [Autumn 1991]: 103-104. Richard M. Davidson concurs. He maintains that the practices outlawed in Lev 18 “are not just destructive for Israel. They are universal abominations.” See, Davidson, “Revelation/Inspiration in the Old Testament: A Critique of Alden Thomposon’s ‘Incarnational’ Model,” in Isses in Revelation and Inspiration, ed. Frank Holbrook and Leo Van Dolson (Berrien Springs, MI: Adventist Theological Society, 1992), 121. Cf. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983), 117-119, 196, 197.

[14]    For an argument supporting the permanently binding nature of these passages, see Michael Ukleja, “Homosexuality and the Old Testament,” Bibliotheca Sacra 140/3 (JulySeptember 1983): 259-266, especially 264ff. on “The Relevance of the Law.”

[15]    Carl Bridges, Jr. “The Bible Does Have Something to Say About Homosexuality,” in Gay Rights Or Wrongs: A Christian’s Guide to Homosexuals Issues and Ministry, ed. Michael Mazzalongo (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1995), 160.

[16]    A detailed exegetical study of Romans 1:26-27 appears in Schmidt, Straight and Narrow, 64-85.

[17]    For more on this, see D. F. Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes? The Meaning of Arsenokoitai (1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10),” Vigiliae Christianae 38 (1984):125153, especially 126-129. Cf. Zaas, “1 Corinthians 6:9ff.: Was Homosexuality Condoned in the Corinthian Church?” Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers 17 (1979): 205-212.

[18]    For more on this, see Michael Ukleja, “Homosexuality in the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 140/4 (October-December 1983):350-358; David E. Malick, “The Condemnation of Homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27,” Bibliotheca Sacra 150/3 (JulySeptember 1993): 327-340, and “The Condemnation of Homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9,” Bibliotheca Sacra 150/4 (October-December 1993): 479-492.

[19]    Donald Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, 198.

[20]    Ronald Springett, Homosexuality in History and the Scriptures, 163-164.

[21]    Bridges, Jr., “The Bible Does Have Something to Say About Homosexuality,” in Gay Rights Or Wrongs, 169. Noel Weeks states it well: “It may seem kind to say that a person is not responsible for his sin. But it has the harsh and cruel consequence that sin is therefore outside the scope of the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The homosexual is doomed to live with the misery of sin. Make no mistake. Sin and misery go together. When we deny the homosexual the gospel we tell him to expect a continuance of his misery. The point is often made that the church should show compassion to the homosexual. So it should. The first item of that compassion is telling him how escape is possible. Why should he seek the church that tells him that nothing can be done for him? He may like such a church to ease the burden of his guilty conscience, but such a church has nothing to offer him” (Noel Weeks, The Sufficiency of Scripture [Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988], 172).