The following is a post which I have been hoping to write for some time. This is about homosexuality. I propose to defend the traditional viewpoint that it is immoral from Scripture and that a marriage is specifically between one man and one woman. Before you ask, I am not writing on James Martin. I am writing on certain Protestants of what is called the “Affirmation” camp. To end all questions, the Council of Trent Session XXIV, Doctrine on the Sacrament of Matrimony, states: “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. But, that by this bond two only are united and joined together, our Lord taught more plainly, when rehearsing those last words as having been uttered by God, He said, therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.” The Council certainly does not seem to allow room for a man to cleave to his husband or a woman her wife, nor are Councils to be read exactly as Scripture since they are written in a clearer manner. Now we shall discuss what the Scriptures say about the issue. As usual, first I shall discuss the biblical passages which are used in the Affirmation camp.
“The inspired authors did not know about loving, committed homosexual relationships, for which reason their commentaries on same-sex marriage.”
I do not see why they should be unaware of committed same-sex relationships as they were common in the Roman Empire at the time (hence Paul condemned it on multiple occasions). They may not have been recognized by law as equal, but neither were they now until relatively recently, so I could hardly say this is reason to suppose that they knew less about same-sex relationships than we do now. Furthermore, in the relevant passages, the Bible is not so specific and simply condemns two people of the same gender having relations with each other.
“There seems to be a trajectory. There are multiple passages in Scripture which seem to sanction slavery, yet now we accept it as evil. Hence if for slavery there may be a trajectory from acceptance to condemnation, there should be one for homosexuality from condemnation to acceptance.”
I will write an entire article discussion slavery in Scripture eventually. For now let it suffice that we see this in the New Testament. “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother.” (Philemon 15-16) One cannot be brothers with one’s slave. However, as will be shown, there does not seem to be much of a reference, even in seed form to condemning homosexuality.
“But our Lord, God Incarnate said nothing about same-sex relationships. Therefore, homosexuality must not be a sin.”
Jesus was also silent on rape, incest, and bestiality, three things about which we can fairly assume he disagreed. Now, Jesus came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The Jews did not practice homosexuality, for which reason He had no cause to condemn it. However, Paul, who spoke to a wider audience of Gentiles did have cause to do so. Jesus at another time said, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:6-9) This suggests that He did believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
As for inclusivity, Jesus did welcome many people, but this does not mean he approved of their behavior. At one point Jesus explains: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Thus His welcoming to them is meant to lead to repentance. Hence in John 8:11, Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” So Jesus allows the woman to go on the condition that she does not sin again. I hope I have done well to name all the major counterarguments. Now, on the contrary…
Leviticus 18 & 20
Leviticus 18:22 states: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Likewise, according to Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” To this there are two general objections which could be brought up. The first is that this is the Old Law, made to set the Jews apart from the Gentiles, similar to the kosher laws, and do not apply now. Second, some say that due to the word “abomination”, is frequently used to describe idolatry, God may be referring to cultic or even man-boy relationships connected to pagan temples.
To answer the first claim, that this was not carried into the New Testament, in Leviticus 18, God also condemns incest, adultery, devoting one’s children to Molech, and bestiality, which most Christians would still oppose. Following this, God says: “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am casting out before you defiled themselves; and the land became defiled, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” (Lev. 18:24-25) So it seems that it displeased God to do this to the Gentiles as well. As for the second supposition, that this has something to do with cultic practices, the words are not so specific. It only refers to a man lying with a man, around which, as noted there are other sins which are clearly sexual. Note also the words: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” In other words, they are jointly responsible, suggesting that this is consensual on the sides of both parties.
In Romans 1, Paul writes about unrighteousness in God’s sight. In Romans 1:18-32, he writes specifically on the Gentile world. In Romans 1:26-27, he states: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”
Paul calls these desires “unnatural”—hence not what God originally intended. Some would contend that Paul is only talking about “unnatural” sexual behaviors according to one’s sexuality. In other words, Paul is condemning persons with heterosexual attractions engaging in homosexual behavior. However, God refers to these acts as “passions”. The greek is πᾰ́θος/páthos, meaning any strong feeling, passion, or emotion. No man with heterosexual inclinations has such passions for another man. Nor can this refer to man-boy relationships, since Paul makes a reference to lesbianism, nor are these words so specific.
1 Corinthians 6
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) says Paul. And again, “Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
Now, what does this have to do with homosexuality? Well, the words used in the Revised Standard Version are “sexual perverts” in Corinthians and “sodomites” in Timothy, but this is different in other translations. The English Standard Version says “men who practice homosexuality”.
Now there are multiple terms in Greek which could refer to homosexuals. The first is μαλακοὶ (malakoi), which literally means “soft ones”. It can mean a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man or a male prostitute. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul refers to both μαλακοὶ (malakoi) and ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai). The second word, ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai), comes from two Greek words, ἀρσεν “male” and κοίτης, “bed”, especially referring to a marriage bed as in intercourse. The word ἀρσενοκοῖται therefore means “those who lie with men”. This word, to the best of my knowledge, is rarely or never used outside of the New Testament. However, the two words which make it up are used in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, suggesting that Paul is drawing a parallel to what was condemned then. So the pairing of μαλακοὶ (malakoi) with ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitoi) suggests that there is a difference. Unlike in the case of malakoi necessarily, which may well have referred to man-boy relationships, arsenokoitai seems to condemn both active and passive partners as equals.
I would conclude therefore that God did wish marriage to be between one man and one woman. I hope I represented the opposing viewpoint fairly enough.
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I am the Catholic of Honor
All Scripture verses are from the Revised Standard Version