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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary


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Sexual preference for and sexual behavior between members of the same sex, considered to be an immoral life-style and behavior pattern throughout the biblical revelation. Only heterosexual preference and behavior patterns are approved in Scripture as conforming to God's plan in the creation of man and woman. Moreover, all sexual behavior is to take place in the context of marriage. Sex is considered good so long as it takes place within these parameters.

The Bible makes no distinction between what some today refer to as “homosexual orientation” and homosexual behavior. Homosexual desires or feelings are never mentioned as such in Scripture, but homosexual behavior is strongly condemned as a deviation from God's will for human beings. Therefore, it stands to reason that any homosexual inclination, feeling, or desire must be seriously dealt with as a potentially dangerous temptation much like those temptations of a heterosexual nature such as the desire to commit fornication or adultery.

Biblical references to homosexuality are relatively few. Genesis 19:1-11 tells the story of an attempted homosexual gang rape at the house of Lot by the wicked men of Sodom. Genesis 19:5 mentions specifically the homosexual intentions of the men of Sodom (“to know” referring to having sex). Lot considers this behavior wicked ( Genesis 19:7 ). Raping his daughters was considered the lesser of two evils (Genesis 19:8 ). This evil of Sodom is mentioned elsewhere (Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:49-50; 2 Peter 2:6-10; Jude 1:7 ) in the strongest terms of condemnation. The term “sodomy” has its roots here. A similar story is found in Judges 19:22-30 .

In the Holiness Code of Leviticus, homosexuality is considered an abomination (Judges 18:22 ), and such behavior was to be punished by death (Judges 20:13 ).

In the New Testament the early church also considered homosexuality as sinful behavior. Although Jesus never mentioned such behavior, probably because the problem never arose during His ministry among Jewish people, Paul clearly condemned homosexuality. Romans 1:26-27 considers homosexuality to be a sign of God's wrath upon blind sinfulness. Such behavior is considered a degrading passion, unnatural, an indecent act, and an error, even worthy of death ( Romans 1:32 ).

Some of the Corinthian Christians apparently had been homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ). Having mentioned homosexuality, Paul stated that “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ). Through faith in Christ they had been “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ). Paul implied here that homosexual behavior is forgivable through the gospel and that any homosexual temptations should be resisted as seriously as those toward fornication or adultery (mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9 ). Paul also taught that homosexuality was contrary to “sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10 ).

The Bible does not recognize homosexuality as biologically constitutional or hereditary (as a kind of third sex), but sees its roots in the sinful nature of man—a psychosocial, learned behavior, expressing rebellion against God and calling for redemption. Such persons are responsible for their behavior. This is a very complex psychological problem with many possible roots or causes, calling for both Christian compassion on the part of God's people as well as God's redemptive power through the gospel. The ministry of the church to homosexuals should include: conversion, counseling, education, and support-group relationships.

Guy Greenfield

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Homosexuality'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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