1. Introductory Thoughts
2. Biblical References
a. Sodom and Gomorrah
i. The Story of Sodom
ii. Jude 7
b. The Law
ii. The Reason for the Prohibition
iii. The Death Penalty
c. Other OT references
3. Belief of Origins
4. Cause or Effect?
a. Rom 1:18-32
i. The Sin of Man
ii. The Wrath of God
iii. The Judgment of God
b. Rom 1:18-32 and Leviticus
Appendix - Desire
There's been a plethora of pronouncements within Church ranks over the past few years concerning homosexuality (by 'Church' I mean everywhere from the extremely liberal to the staunchly fundamentalist) and, generally speaking, the voices fall into one of three categories - those who oppose it, those who agree with it and those who are prepared to accept that it happens (yet, even within the latter of these three 'beliefs', there's a wide range of interpretations).
However, it becomes all the more complicated when one starts to look at the context within which the pronouncements concerning homosexuality are being made, for the evangelistic Church has been very much on the warpath against society's promotion of homosexual lifestyles as being acceptable forms of sexuality and the basis of long term partnerships (culminating in the past few years with legal recognition for 'same sex marriages'. Perhaps no one has pointed it out but the Governments of the West were only too eager to accept such 'marital unions' because it meant that, whereas in the past, both individuals were entitled to claim single rates of benefit, payment would be reduced as they would be now considered 'married'!).
What concerns me far more than putting together a series of short observations on homosexuality for the unsaved is to give the Church some clear teaching on what it should expect to take place within its own ranks and to limit myself to laying down a foundation that the Church should be upholding as the Body of Christ.
Commands in the Bible concerning homosexuality are clearly given primarily to the children of God, not to those who profess no faith in God or who refuse or who can't accept that an omnipotent Being exists. They have their own belief structures and whether they accept homosexuality, pre-marital sex, abortion and the like is largely irrelevant to this study.
They are important issues, no doubt, and how the Church should respond to the Western World as it slips further away from the image of God needs to be addressed (simply saying 'God forbids this kind of behaviour' with no explanation is surely a difficult position to adopt when the world neither cares for nor honours Him - we might as well say 'The Government does not want you to rob' to a persistent thief who respects neither the law nor other people for all the good it will do!).
But the Church, I believe, has failed to live as God intended when it comes to sexuality - not just homosexuality - and that marriage within it ends very often in divorce should be a point of great shame to us, along with the frequent leaders who are caught defrauding their congregations or, perhaps worse, those who are never caught but have built up their own financial prosperity at the expense of the poor beneath them.
Speaking of a time of persecution that had come upon the Church (I Peter 4:17), Peter observed that
'...the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God...'
going on to observe that
'...if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?'
To slightly change his meaning, we need to state clearly that we should be striving to judge ourselves, the household of God, that we might be beacons of light to the world in matters of righteousness, that, when the world looks at us, it should see life as God intended it (even though they won't like what they see in many areas because of the offence it will cause to their own lifestyles!) and not be a mishmash of various views on subjects that are clear and certain in Scripture.
These notes, therefore, are written for the Church and it's to them that these notes are solely intended - they are not meant to be taken as a sword to bash the unsaved with, but as a tool with which to judge ourselves.
I have, however, needed to address a couple of points in the context of those who don't profess faith in Jesus but, having met believers from a wide range of different denominational backgrounds, I have to say that some of the 'world's thoughts' that I've felt the need to address are actually upheld by people who profess faith in Christ when they should know better.
I have also felt it necessary to attempt a harmonisation of the teaching on the matter in the Old and New Testaments for, while the former sees homosexuality as a sin that causes social destruction and God's judgment, the latter views it as an effect that comes upon a society or individual as a result of a far worse sin.
In truth, the Church's pronouncements to the world have been more on the side of the 'prohibition' of the OT laws, seeing the rise of the practice as something that will bring judgment upon the land, rather than to see the NT teaching on the subject that pronounces homosexuality to be something that is already a judgment on the land.
But, by bringing both aspects together, we should be able to see clearly why such prohibitions existed in the Mosaic Law and to realise the challenge they brought to the judges of Israel to mirror God's judgment that already existed. From here, we should be able to perceive clearly the spiritual health of our societies and how far we have grieved God by committing the sin that is foundational to opening up the floodgates to distorted sexual practice (whether it be heterosexual or homosexual).
Only by realising where wrong sexual practices come from will we be able to address the matter and see the solution to the problem - instead of ranting at the plant and expecting it to change, we should be able to realise that, unless we deal with the root, the plant will remain the same.
I want to add one final comment here. The Church should not and never discriminate negatively against people in the world on the grounds of sexuality - they should go about their business as lights in the world and salt, but should not do a worse job for someone who, for example, is a professed homosexual than they would for a heterosexual. Neither should they positively discriminate towards people in the world on the same - or any - grounds. In all our dealings we should be neutral and give the same commitment to looking after people regardless of their sexual orientation.
While the world has chosen to positively discriminate against certain sections of our society and, in so doing, negatively discriminate against others (and I am referring to a great many areas of life beyond the current subject matter), the Church should remain neutral and not choose to treat people any different to any other where that discrimination is irrelevant to the matter at hand.
1. Introductory Thoughts
I have decided to limit these teaching notes to deal solely with male/male sexual relationships and not to expand the notes to those between two females. Even so, much of what's written here will be equally applicable.
The Bible doesn't comment negatively on close male/male relationships where no sexual conduct is present, even holding up one as an example in the OT that will be considered in a subsequent article (that of David and Jonathan) - but, having said that, some may be thinking that I'm saying, in the words of the Online Concise Encyclopedia Britannica, that
'...it is the act and not the inclination...'
which is solely spoken against and that one is free to indulge in all manner of impure thoughts if one keeps clear of the action (perhaps even thinking that I'm assuming that David and Jonathan had such thoughts but refrained from sex!).
Such thoughts are surely covered in Jesus' pronouncement to the heterosexual (Mtw 5:28) that
'...every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart'
which must be equally applied to all manner of thoughts that wage war against the believer. While it's true that the act of sex is only spoken about in the Bible, Jesus' treatment of the inward nature of the commandment make it plain that not just clean hands (actions) but a pure heart (thoughts) is what God requires of His people (Ps 24:3-5).
While it's absolutely true that the person who outwardly commits a sin brings about worse consequences than the one who may only inwardly think about it, a believer should strive for both inner and outer godliness.
For the purpose of these notes, it's the act of sex between two men that's being discussed, however the individuals might like to describe themselves - whether bisexual, homosexual or transsexual. I have chosen to use the term 'homosexual' exclusively because it makes writing much easier than having to include all the labels that society uses.
By 'homosexual', then, I mean a male who takes part in sex with another male and am never defining the word to mean someone who has thoughts that are never put into action (unless the context demands it).
The Bible gives no indication that homosexual partnerships could ever be justified before God as opposed to 'casual homosexual intercourse' in the same way as a marriage in accordance with Gen 2:24 would be acceptable to God but a one night stand wouldn't. Neither does Scripture ever speak of sex outside a homosexual partnership as being 'adultery' (indeed, I could find nowhere that any such partnership was ever mentioned clearly) so it's unlikely that anything other than homosexual intercourse is in mind when it mentions it.
As this is the case, it also becomes clear that a same sex 'marriage' can't take place as defined within the Bible's pages - that men call their relationships by that word still doesn't justify the relationship before God even though Church leadership in the present day has been eager to recognise such partnerships through civil ceremonies.
What the world does is its own affair (to a great extent) because they don't profess to know and serve God - but when the people who profess to know Him both take part in and approve of same sex marriages, they give a wrong reflection of the character of God to those who are in the world and perishing apart from Him.
I am still undecided whether a homosexual act can join together two men to become one flesh (as in Gen 2:24) simply because there doesn't appear to be anything specific in Scripture to allow us to make a judgment call one way or the other. The Bible doesn't need to give us this information, of course, but it would've been nice to have had the information available.
I have chosen to use the word 'sex' occasionally to lump together all types of sexual activity in the same way as unbelievers (and many believers) do. The word doesn't occur in the Bible as an action (in I Peter 3:7 it's used in the phrase 'the weaker sex' to denote women in general) and depending on how one defines the word will depend on whether one thinks that it's applicable to homosexuality - if it's solely to be used of sexual gratification and enjoyment, it can be used to describe all manner of experiences, but if the word is used to describe something that God gave to mankind through which to procreate, then it's an insufficient descriptor.
There's no reason, however, for me not to use it in these notes so long as the reader is aware that I have reservations about using it in the former sense but need to do so in order for most people to understand what I'm saying and not have to describe the action that I'm trying to convey in an economy of words.
Corfee, commenting on I Cor 6:9 (that will be dealt with below) notes that a word employed there could be meant to describe either the person who performs the sexual act or the one who receives it and that, because the word is a compound one rarely occurring in Greek literature, it's difficult to be certain.
But there's no doubt in the OT legislation (Lev 20:13) that the Bible sees little differentiation between the two for it states that both the one who gives and the one who receives
'...have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them'
It's not possible, therefore, to absolve one individual of guilt and hold the other up as culpable where consent lies on both sides (the matter of homosexual rape should be considered in a similar manner to heterosexual rape with regard to the innocence of the victim) for the Mosaic Law makes no such distinction.
Finally, these notes are not meant to comment on 'Gay Rights' within society - they are solely an attempt to lay down a Biblical foundation to be applied to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ to show what God requires from His followers in accordance with the Scriptures.
As previously noted, I have had to address some passages that deal with consequences upon society from homosexuality but even these are for the education of believers and are not meant to be openly hostile to the homosexual (even though it seems that, today, no one can talk about what the Bible has to say on this subject without being hated).
2. Biblical References
This section attempts to give the reader an overview of the very sparse instructions and comments concerning homosexuality in the Bible. It's somewhat surprising that there now exists a wealth of information in the form of books, leaflets, tracts, pronouncements recorded from the pulpit and even magazine articles that attempt to say something insightful on the matter, even though the subject is only a minor one!
The animosity that exists amongst homosexuals towards the Church is hardly surprising considering the open pronouncements that have been made by the more fundamentalist sections of the Body of Christ (I recently noted with some interest that the article on 'Homosexuality' in the online Wikipedia Resource has had to be 'closed' to amendments and editing 'because of recent vandalism or other disruption') but what's more the pity is that some of the matters spoken about haven't been entirely accurate or helpful - and, to be honest, I have yet to hear any Church leader take Romans chapter 1 and apply it to their own society, showing not that homosexuality is a sin waiting to be judged but the consequence of a prior sin that's already a judgment in itself.
I'm not sure that such a position would help relationships between both parties but it would be nice if a fuller treatment of the subject were made and not a selective one.
a. Sodom and
In the Bible, the word 'Sodom' occurs 47 times in the RSV with 'Gomorrah' appearing on 23 occasions, each time in the same verse as 'Sodom' - it's clear, therefore, that the term 'Sodom' could clearly be used as a simplified term to denote 'Sodom and Gomorrah' and the full phrase wasn't always necessary.
The word 'Sodom' has become synonymous with sinfulness and certainly is the prime example amongst believers that's taken to be how God reacts to and His depth of feeling against homosexuality. From the word, we get the term 'sodomite' referring derogatorily to a homosexual and, until recently, the shortened form 'sod' also carried with it the same connotation, it being now a general term for someone unliked.
It may come as quite some surprise to the reader but the OT doesn't state in unambiguous terms that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah for which they were ultimately judged by God was homosexuality - certainly, the experience of Lot when the messengers came to him at evening is taken as being an example of the specific wickedness that caused the cities to be wiped out, but it's not until Jude in the NT that we almost find a statement to this effect - however, to read into that passage that there was one grave sin taking place that destroyed the region would be incorrect for us to do.
Certainly, 'Sodom' has become associated with the judgment of homosexuality by God but the truth is somewhat more disconcerting as we will go on to see.
i. The Story of Sodom
Sodom and Gomorrah first appear in the Biblical record in Gen 10:19 where we read that the cities were known as being inhabited by Canaanites, the same people who were to be expelled by the Israelites centuries later when the sins of the people of the land had reached a full measure (Gen 15:16). It's specifically the licentiousness of their sexual practices that caused the Canaanites to be expelled (Lev 18:24-30 and 20:22-24 both in the context of the list of sexual prohibitions that precede them).
We may, therefore, see what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah as a warning to the other cities and inhabitants of Canaan, a warning that, ultimately, they failed to take seriously, resulting in God's judgment being poured out upon them by the advancing armies of the children of Israel.
Sodom (I shall use the single name from now on to denote the entire area) was a land of great fruitfulness (Gen 13:10) so that Lot, Abram's nephew, chose the area to settle in (Gen 13:11-12), a clear case that a pleasant appearance doesn't guarantee a righteous lifestyle!
In the first statement concerning the inhabitants, Gen 13:13 rather ominously states that they
'...were wicked, great sinners against YHWH'
without giving us any specifics (although we tend to read 'homosexuality' into just about every generalisation that we come across that's attached to the area because of our prejudices).
Abram became actively involved with Sodom's king (Gen 14:1-24) when, hearing of the capture of Lot in battle, he called together his trained men and went out against the army that had defeated Sodom, pursuing them past Damascus and delivering not only his nephew from their hand but also
'...his goods and the women and the people'
bringing them all back, only to be met by both the king of Sodom and Melchizedek, king of Salem (14:17-20). If only Abram had known at that time what he was, no doubt, going to find out at a later date, he surely wouldn't have made the rash statement to the Sodomite king (Gen 14:22-24) that he would take
'...nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me...'
for we are almost certainly right in thinking that the king's request (Gen 14:21) that he be given 'the persons' wasn't an act of charity on his part but an attempt (successful at that) to exploit them in a continued outworking of the wickedness of the place.
Had Abram truly known what use they might be put to by the king, he may have been more zealous to insist on being given the people that their lives might be spared from an evil fate and that they might be set free once he'd departed with them.
The subsequent story of Sodom needs little recounting (Genesis chapters 18 and 19) except to say that the incident in which the inhabitants of the city claim the two angels be brought to them so that they might force themselves upon them to commit homosexual acts (Gen 19:1-11) doesn't appear to have been the last straw that rendered judgment inevitable.
Firstly, YHWH speaks to Abram and says (Gen 18:20-21 - my italics) that
'...the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know'
Judgment here is fixed, their guilt has already been decided upon unless what has been reported to YHWH is incorrect - the incident that takes place outside Lot's house is also simply a confirmation of what's already known. So, the angels speak to Lot about the inevitability of judgment when they say (Gen 19:13 - my italics) that they
'...are about to destroy this place because the outcry against its people has become great before YHWH and YHWH has sent us to destroy it'
Notice that they don't say that they've been sent to see if it's right for the city to be destroyed but that it was their commission before they ever arrived - had they found the city not as it had been reported to them, it would appear that the judgment could have been averted, but evidence was not being sought to give justification for the area's destruction.
But we still don't know what their specific sin was at this point in the narrative (if there was one) that caused them to be judged by YHWH. We only know that they were great sinners and wicked (Gen 13:13), that their sin was very grave (Gen 18:21) and that there was a great outcry against the people of the place (Gen 19:13 - from the testimony of the departed souls, as in Gen 4:10 or, perhaps less likely, from the prayers of the righteous).
It would be incorrect of us to hold up homosexuality as being the one and only sin that had reaped the judgment of God.
From this time forward, Sodom became a term used to speak of great wickedness as an example to the people of God (Deut 29:23), the root from which wickedness springs up in the lives of men (Deut 32:32, Is 3:9), of desolation and barrenness (Is 1:9 [Pp Rom 9:29], 13:19, Jer 49:18, 50:40, Zeph 2:9), as a derogatory term for the children of God when God considered their sin before Him to be great (Is 1:10, Jer 23:14, Ezek 16:46,48,49,53,55,56) and as a reminder of the judgment that had fallen upon them and of how it was paralleled in their own lives (Lam 4:6, Amos 4:11).
Notice that, in all these places, a specific sin isn't mentioned and we're left only with Is 3:9 that seems to indicate that Sodom wasn't content with committing gross sin before YHWH but that it liked to publicly proclaim its deeds, a demonstration of the region's arrogance.
Trying to find one specific sin in the NT passages that was the main sin of Sodom is equally as difficult. Jesus uses the city to bring home the teaching to the Jews that, had the Gospel been preached to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah before judgment fell, they would've repented, whereas the children of God seemed not to take it seriously as a wake up call to get right with God (Mtw 11:23) yet, because they had no witness of the Gospel message, their punishment in the final judgment would be more lenient or, perhaps more accurately, less harsh, because they didn't know any better (Mtw 10:15, 11:24, Luke 10:12).
Sodom is also used as an example of the suddenness and unexpectedness of destruction that will come upon men and women when '...the Son of Man is revealed' (Luke 17:28-30) and, in II Peter, the story is used both as an example of the way God will enter history to judge sin (II Peter 2:3-6) and to rescue the godly (II Peter 2:7-9). Like the OT, Rev 11:8 uses the term 'Sodom' to refer to His people with whom He's not pleased, it being a pseudonym for the city of Jerusalem.
ii. Jude 7
Although Sodom is quite obviously a word that's used to denote the great wickedness of men and evidence of the judgment of God upon sin, it's only in Jude 7 where we get any hint as to what the city's sin was. There, the author holds up the cities as being an example of the way in which God judges (as in II Peter 2:6) noting that their sin was that they
'...acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust...'
where the word translated 'immorally' (Strongs Greek number 1608) is a compound word that occurs only here in the NT but which seems to be more specific than the RSV's rendering of it seeing as it speaks specifically about fornication - that is, the inhabitants of Sodom
'...gave themselves over into the hands of fornication [as if they had submitted themselves to it like it was their master] and [more literally] went after strange flesh [a phrase reminiscent of the sexual sins listed in Rom 1:26]'
Kittels gives the meaning of the word translated 'immorally' as 'to live licentiously' and, therefore, 'to cast off all moral restraint' would be in keeping with the word - however, sexual sin definitely seems to be a necessary requirement and it seems to me that Kittels sits somewhat on the fence at this point.
Vines seems to hit the nail on the head when he notes that the word used is a strengthened form of the more normal one that could have been used here and that it's used to imply 'excessive indulgence'.
Judbau takes the context of this verse as being very important for an interpretation of the second phrase ('indulged in unnatural lust' which he translates as 'hankered after strange flesh'), interpreting Jude 6 to be referring to the incident of Gen 6:1-4 where he asserts that the angels took human women as wives, procreated and produced the Nephilim. The phrase 'which likewise' that occurs in Jude 7, he says, must refer us back to the incident of verse 6 and, therefore, what must be in mind is Gen 19:4-11 when the men of Sodom tried to take the angels sent to them by God who were being housed by Lot.
He goes on to state that the event
'...cannot, as many commentators and most translations assume, refer to homosexual practice in which the flesh is not "different"...; it must mean the flesh of angels'
However, even if we were to accept that 'strange flesh' meant 'flesh that was not human' (I still don't see why 'strange flesh' could not be used to refer to flesh that was 'unnatural' yet still 'species identical'), we need see nothing more than the sin of bestiality being mentioned here, all the more relevant because it sits as one of the five specific sins of Lev 18:19-23 that are mentioned as being a reason for the expulsion of the Canaanites from the land (for the relevance of this, one has to read the following section - note above, however, that the inhabitants of Sodom were Canaanites).
Besides, the inhabitants of Sodom don't demand of Lot that they bring out the angels that they knew to have arrived but (Gen 19:5) to send out
'...the men who came to you tonight...'
as they clearly thought them human.
Jude's statement, then, need not be referring to 'sex with angels' (which actually never took place - though, to be fair, Jude simply says that they 'went after' strange flesh rather than that they committed lewd acts with it) but could be a way of saying that they became slaves of sex and that they sought out unnatural ways to express their desire, to find sexual gratification by acts of bestiality.
Instead of pointing the finger at the sin of homosexuality, Jude is actually speaking about various sins that are sexual in nature - in other words, although the term 'sodomite' has come to be used of a homosexual, it would be more rightly used of anyone who practices sex of a perverted nature - whether that be heterosexual or homosexual - or anyone who has given themselves over to serve sex in all its various human forms.
As will be seen in the next section, the reason for the Canaanites' expulsion from the land at the hands of the army of Israel wasn't because they were homosexual in nature but because they indulged in a variety of sexual practices and one form of false worship that were an abomination to God.
Perhaps we have done a great disservice to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah down through the years - but, if the truth be told, we have actually done ourselves worse harm, for we can very easily condemn the homosexual while, all the time, we hold fast to our own sexual practices thinking that God sees nothing wrong with them.
b. The Law
Some of these notes have been adapted from my notes on the Book of Leviticus located here and here.
Lev 18:22, 20:13
Addressed to the children of God (that is, the community of believers who we would regard as being 'the Church' in the NT) and not to the unbelieving people of the world in which we live, there can be very little doubt as to God's instructions concerning homosexuality.
These simple statements have come under attack and been the subject of reinterpretation recently, but they seem to be straightforward and unambiguous.
Lev 18:22 gave the Israelite the command
'You shall not lie with [have sex with] a male as with a woman; it is an abomination'
while Lev 20:13 states
'If a man lies with [has sex 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'
So abhorrent to YHWH was the practice considered to be that those participating in the act of homosexuality were deemed necessary to be executed to be removed from the children of God.
In both verses, we have the pronouncement that such behaviour is 'an abomination' (Strongs Hebrew number 8441, M2530a) where the word could equally well be translated by the words 'loathsome' and 'detestable', something that isn't a mild annoyance to YHWH but something that's considered by Him to be one of the worst sins imaginable.
Just as there can be no doubt as to the meaning, there can be no real doubt as to the feeling of abhorrence to God concerning it, either.
In order to accommodate homosexuality within the Church in recent years (by the people who obviously find it more advantageous to keep 'in' with the world than with God), Lev 18:22 has been used to give the interpretation that only cultic homosexuality was in question - that is, sex performed within the context of fertility rights and pagan religious practices.
The Law does mention such practices in Deut 23:17 where Moses commanded the people that
'There shall be no cult prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel'
both male and female prostitution in the context of false worship being mentioned.
In Lev 18:21 (the verse that immediately precedes the first command against homosexuality), we also read a command about the massacre of babies in the name of religious belief and such a context, it's said, gives interpretation to the command - that God recognises that homosexuality is a viable and acceptable practice when done within the context of a commitment of a long term partnership similar to heterosexual marriage, the command here not being directly applicable to such a set up.
However, it's a shame that, if God had actually meant such a thing that He didn't spit it out and say it clearly, rather than to make the reader think that he had in mind all types of sexual relationships between two men! For, even though male cult prostitution was outlawed, the context of Leviticus chapter 18 lies in deviant sexual practices and not in false worship.
Had Lev 18:22 meant to specify that only cult prostitution was in mind - or that sex outside of a committed homosexual relationship was being spoken against - the Israelites had the language to make it clear. But, as it stands, there can be no doubt that the simple and obvious interpretation of these verses is what makes the most sense.
However, one thing is certain about Lev 18:22 - it has a context that's often overlooked when it comes to a holistic approach to the Scriptures because it sits in the midst of a passage that gives clear instruction about the reason for the Israelites' advance into Canaan.
ii. The Reason for the Prohibition
Leviticus chapter 18 represents the first series of Laws in the book of Leviticus that's tied in with the expulsion of the current inhabitants of Canaan (18:1-5,24-30). This will be repeated in Lev 20:22-26 where the passage sits as a conclusion to another series of statutes that have, at their centre, sexual immorality as here (and, in both places, homosexuality is mentioned).
This makes the statutes rather important - we aren't dealing with legislation solely designed at keeping the nation ceremonially pure before God (even though the word for ceremonial uncleanness is used in verses 19, 24, 25 and 27 - and purity was to be maintained by the observance of these laws) but with legislation that would maintain their presence in the land of Canaan.
But, even more than this, the transgression of this moral code is seen to be the reason why the Canaanites were to be forcefully expelled from the land by the invading armies of the Israelites (the mention of the Egyptians as being transgressors in this matter appears in 18:3 but no punishment is there related to that nation as a result of their sexual relationships).
We read (Lev 18:24-25,27 - my italics)
'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...for all of these abominations the men of the land did, who were before you, so that the land became defiled'
Even though the Canaanites hadn't received the statutes of the Law as given to Israel, they're here described as being morally responsible for their sexual promiscuity and immorality – they'd no written code delivered to them by God on these matters and yet He'd judged their actions and decided that they must be expelled from the land.
This is significant for it shows us that the legislation given to Israel is that which God has laid upon the nations, it's not covenant-specific to keep the nation clean only (though the maintenance of the covenant and the continued presence of Israel in the land is the reason for the legislation - 18:26-28) but universal in scope and application.
For this reason, it seems right to assert that the entire list of rules which run from Lev 18:6-23 are equally binding upon all nations and peoples of the world - that God holds mankind responsible to maintain sexual purity in all matters if they expect to remain within the land in which they find themselves resident. There doesn't seem any reason that I can see to think that God's reaction to the transgression of these laws is any different in the New Covenant age as it was under the Old Covenant and before (the transgression of the inhabitants of the land is spoken of even before the Covenant with Israel is made as being the reason for their expulsion - Gen 15:16).
Notice here that the punishment mentioned in these transgressions is only corporate - and it's in this context that we should interpret them (individual punishment is spoken of in Lev 18:29 but how that's worked out - whether through removing the offenders from the land or through execution - will be detailed only in Leviticus chapter 20. Here, the general solution is given - that the transgressors must all be removed from the holy nation by the holy nation in order to show to God that they'll have nothing to do with Israelites or non-Israelite residents who practice such lifestyles - so keeping themselves pure and resident within the land).
A nation or region that sets itself against sexual morality and indulges in promiscuity and immorality (though I must repeat that the legislation here is primarily dealing with marriage ties) stands before God in the same position today as both Canaan who are condemned under the Law and Sodom and Gomorrah who were condemned before the Law (Gen 18:1-19:29).
Sexual transgression, therefore, isn't a matter of breaking a written code (of having what's unacceptable in God's sight written down to be able to read and observe - after all, Sodom transgressed in this matter and were judged accordingly) but it does demand a response by God against any nation that chooses to sell itself out in that manner.
The actual laws may be upheld by many people - both God-fearers and God-haters - but, if these laws are to be considered binding upon men and women today, the law that a man shouldn't lie with a woman when they both know that she's in her menstrual discharge is equally applicable and mustn't be glossed over, just as the command that homosexuality is to be shunned must be taken seriously and applied.
The Church may uphold sexual relationships only within defined parameters and condemn both bestiality (18:23) and homosexuality (18:22) thinking itself righteous through the matters that it disapproves of, but there's an obligation laid upon all who are married and having sexual intercourse within that relationship to make sure that it doesn't occur, for example, within the woman's discharge period.
'Sex laws' are also mentioned in the New Testament where they're mainly directed towards believers, to remind them to keep pure before God - see, for instance, I Cor 5:1-2 for a case of incest, Gal 5:19 which speaks against fornication and I Cor 6:9 which speaks out against both the adulterer and the homosexual as being incapable of inheriting the Kingdom of God. The early Church also decided that sexual immorality was still necessary to be avoided (Acts 15:29).
Though each and every case mentioned in the Old Testament isn't mentioned in the New, there are sufficient representative types of sexual sin outlined to consider the Old Testament laws as being equally binding using the authority of the situations that are commented on.
iii. The Death Penalty
In Lev 20:10-21, the legislation previously given in 18:6-23 is expanded.
There, the intention was to categorise the sin and to condemn it - here, the Law addresses the issue of punishment which is unswervingly the death sentence up to v.16. From there on, the punishment is various but the death penalty is never mentioned.
As was seen above, sexual promiscuity was considered to be one of the most dangerous sins of the Mosaic legislation, seeing as it endangered the continued presence of the entire nation in their own land. Therefore the solution must be radical - and is.
The christian is confronted by problems concerning the death penalty that's commanded upon all transgressors in the first seven verses of the passage under consideration. It's made complicated by Jesus' example recorded for us in John 7:53-8:11 (accepting that it's part of the original text or, at the very least, authoritative Scripture) where the woman who was caught in adultery was sent away 'uncondemned' by Him.
Of course, the Law prescribed that both the man and woman were to be sentenced to death (Lev 20:10) and, if the woman had been caught (John 8:4)
'...in the act of adultery'
it stands to reason that the Pharisees who brought the woman to Him knew all too well who the man was in question. Their insistence that Jesus make a decision that was grossly unfair may be partly the reason for His reaction to their insistence.
But it was also due to the heart of the Jewish leaders who were attempting to have Jesus condemn Himself before the Roman government for imposing the death penalty (something that they needed Roman sanction for) and, perhaps more significantly, that their 'righteous indignation' at the woman was actually hatred of the person and people like her who Jesus had unswervingly accepted as heirs of the Kingdom if repentance was their experience.
His command to the crowds (John 8:7)
'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her'
woke them up to their state of heart and wasn't a comment on how the Law was to be applied.
Therefore (if this short exposition of that passage is correct), the death penalty would still be enforceable in a christian society where the State was 'christian' because of the severity of sin that could expel the entire nation from continued existence within their Sovereign land (NB - A christian State running a predominantly christian Society will never happen - even though some State leaderships and Governments like to think of themselves as 'christian'. A truly 'christian' Government will never exist upon earth until the return of Christ and the establishment of the openly visible Kingdom of Heaven. As such, no death penalty upon sexual sin will be or should be legislated for).
That sounds like a harsh judgment - in today's society it will always sound hard because sexual promiscuity is acceptable behaviour. We would that the death penalty be inflicted upon child molesters and murderers but we don't think that the sexual immorality that we experience and approve of is going to affect anyone but ourselves and our partners.
The Law says otherwise and, as I showed previously, the application is still relevant to today's society. It's perhaps because we don't realise the serious nature of the sin being committed and the severe consequences that it will bring upon the society in which we live that we treat it so lightly, justifying our appetites because we deem them to be 'natural'.
We will go on to consider what the presence of increasing amounts of sexual sin means for non-christian society in a later article.
In conclusion, we need to make sure that primarily we understand the application of the Levitical legislation to the Church and not think that it's solely applicable to the unsaved world in which we live. Neither is it sufficient for us to condemn one sexual practice and yet turn a blind eye or approve of another within the ranks of the people of God.
Voices that have spoken out against homosexuality within the Church must be clear that other forms of sexual sin are equally as abhorrent. Unfortunately, we've not done that but have been carried along on the crest of the wave of christian popularity that has seen us raising our voices against the increase of the 'new sin' but forgetting the 'old sin' that has become acceptable with time.
It's clear from the OT that a microcosm of society (such as the Church) will find that God wars against them to remove them from His sight when sexual deviancy is rooted within it. Just because such sexual practices become acceptable over the years does not mean (II Peter 3:9) that
'The Lord is...slow about his promise [about the day of judgment] as some count slowness, but [rather, that He's] forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance'
If the Church (a society within Society) sells itself to be a part of sexual sin (whether heterosexual or homosexual, it makes no difference as Leviticus chapter 18 covers both) it's in a dangerous position before God where its continued survival becomes seriously under threat.
In a future article, we'll look at what the popularity of homosexuality (and other sex-related sins) tell us about the state of a secular society before God and how it provides evidence that He is already on the move in that society in judgment, just as it reflects the same when it's resident within the ranks of God's people. It will also help us to see a different side to the legislation of the Mosaic Law.
c. Other OT references
There are a few other places in the OT where homosexuality may be mentioned and it's to these places that we must now turn our attention.
I mention only in passing Gen 39:1 and the character of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, who bought Joseph upon his arrival in Egypt from the Ishmaelite slave traders. Levhar (on Lev 18:22) notes that
'...the rabbinic scholars questioned the nature of the interest that Potiphar (described in Gen 39:1 [in the] New English Bible as a eunuch) had in Joseph...'
However, although it may be that such an officer of the Egyptian ruler could have been a eunuch, Joseph, it has to be noted, was second in command to Pharaoh (Gen 41:41, 42:6) and he wasn't a eunuch (Gen 41:45,50-52). So the interpretation is, firstly, somewhat fanciful and, then, his interest in Joseph as a homosexual lover is even more creative seeing as there doesn't appear to be any hint of it in the Scriptures.
Deut 23:18 is a more interesting passage to try to come to terms with. The verse (my italics) commands the Israelites that
'You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of YHWH your God in payment for any vow; for both of these are an abomination to YHWH your God'
where the italicised word (Strongs Hebrew number 3611, M981a) is often taken to be referring to a male cult prostitute who would work in the Temples of the false religions. The word occurs 32 times in the AV (Ex 11:7, 22:31, Deut 23:18, Judges 7:5, I Sam 17:43, 24:14, II Sam 3:8, 9:8, 16:9, I Kings 14:11, 16:4, 21:19, 21:23, 21:24, 22:38, II Kings 8:13, 9:10, 9:36, Job 30:1, Ps 22:16, 22:20, 59:6, 59:14, 68:23, Prov 26:11, 26:17, Eccles 9:4, Is 56:10, 56:11, 66:3, Jer 15:3), each time translated by the word 'dog' but it's only here where the identification seems fairly certain that it must mean a male prostitute (with or without any cultic connection).
Not all instances where 'dogs' are mentioned should be taken to refer to homosexuals - indeed, the chances of it meaning this are remote unless the context dictates.
For example, Ps 22:16 makes perfect sense when we take the mention of 'dogs' literally and not as a derogatory term of abuse in which David is belittling his enemies by calling them a bunch of homosexuals or cult prostitutes. This doesn't make it very easy to assess the occurrences of the word, therefore, as sometimes a 'cult prostitute', 'homosexual' or 'literal dog' could all be the meaning intended.
The prior phrase speaks simply of a 'harlot' and there's no indication that a prostitute associated with any religious rite is being implied. It seems difficult to force the second word 'dog' to have to refer to something cultish.
The identification seems to be made by thinking that this verse is a continuance of the previous one in which it's generally accepted that a female cult prostitute (Strongs Hebrew number 6948, M1990c - occurs in the Bible in Gen 38:21, 38:22, Deut 23:17, Hosea 4:14) and a male cult prostitute (Strongs Hebrew number 6945, M1990c - occurs in the Bible in Deut 23:17, I Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46, 23:7, Job 36:14) are referred to.
The problem with both these words is that they appear to be able to be used for prostitutes in general, even though the root from which they come (meaning 'holy' or 'set apart') must give them a possible primary meaning that they were employed in some form of religious service.
It seems necessary for the reader to take Deut 23:17 as a command against both male and female religious prostitution, commonly used in the fertility religions that would have existed throughout the known world at that time but, more especially, in Canaan that they were going in to possess. The context would therefore seem to demand that Deut 23:18 be taken to be referring to the payment for the use of such people - Deutthom notes that the word 'dog' with this meaning is attested outside the pages of the Bible and, therefore, seems to give justification for the interpretation here. He also interprets the verse to mean that
'The practice of bringing money to the sanctuary to pay for the hire of such prostitutes was forbidden'
but here lies a problem for Deut 23:18 doesn't speak about bringing money into the sanctuary of YHWH to pay for their services but that the wages earned by such people shouldn't be brought in as the fulfilment of a vow. Therefore, Deutchris is surely correct when he writes that
'The phrase "harlot's fee" refers to income received by prostitutes for their services; they were sometimes paid in kind such as a kid from the flock (Gen 38:17)'
Both the 'harlot' and the 'dog' of Deut 23:18 should be taken in the broadest sense possible and not be restricted to mean people who took part in any fertility cult that involved prostitution. What YHWH is saying is that, if a prostitute vows before YHWH, the fulfilment of that vow mustn't be made with something that has come from payment received by their profession (although we should also note here that, by the very nature of their profession, the male prostitute shouldn't be resident in the land).
As such, these verses (Deut 23:17-18) aren't useful for us to see that YHWH had forbidden homosexual practice amongst the Israelites as it's specifically referring to male and female religious prostitution and the use of a prostitute's wage in the service of YHWH.
It's quite possible that mention of the male cult prostitute here is what has prompted many people to attempt to justify the other Levitical commands (Lev 18:22, 20:13) to be pressed into a meaning of only a cultic setting - that is, that homosexuality isn't being condemned per se but the use of such sexual practices in the worship of God.
But the Levitical commands are clear and unambiguous.
That homosexuality had already taken hold in Israel at an early stage is evident from the story of Judges chapters 19-21, set predominantly in the city of Gibeah which we shan't go into any detail over. We need only mention the existence of a situation extremely similar to the one that occurred in Sodom when the two angels were taken in to Lot's house (Gen 19:1-11, Judges 19:16-25).
In this case, the Israelites decided to deal in judgment to wipe out the perpetrators of the transgression (although one has to imagine that the practice of the men of the city was already well known to them - it was the murder of the man's concubine that caused the action) and it almost resulted in the annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin.
Finally, we need to spend a little time (I don't intend dealing with this matter in any great detail) thinking about the relationship between Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and David, son of Jesse and anointed king of Israel, for information contained within the Scriptures is very easily used to justify homosexual relationships, even though the clear and unambiguous statements occur previously in Leviticus.
It's quite true that David and Jonathan kissed one another (I Sam 20:41) but is this evidence that they were homosexual lovers? Indeed, should we think that all Frenchmen are homosexual lovers because they greet one another with a kiss?!
While it's quite true that there are a few verses in the Bible that may be speaking of a passionate lover's kiss (Song of Songs 1:2, 7:9, 8:1 - but the last of these seems not to demand such an interpretation as the kiss is that which would raise no concerns if the girl was a sister to the man of her dreams), the majority of such references are to men kissing (Gen 27:26, 27:27, 29:13, 33:4, 245:15, 48:10, 50:1, Ex 4:27, 18:7, I Sam 10:1, 20:41, II Sam 14:33, 15:5, 19:39, 20:9) and it's hardly likely that any of these would dare to be employed to point towards a homosexual relationship!
Gen 48:10 relates to us that Israel not only kissed Joseph's sons but he embraced them, too, something that becomes a point of definite concern if we were to interpret the phrase within our modern culture. And, as a contemporary backdrop to the kiss of David and Jonathan, we should read I Sam 10:1 where Samuel the prophet kissed Saul when he anointed him king.
We also read about the love between the two of them (I Sam 18:1,3, 20:17) and even that
'...the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David...'
The problem with today's society is that, whenever the word 'love' raises its head as existing between two individuals, the idea of 'sex' is inherent within it. This was one of the reasons why I felt it necessary to define the concept of 'The Love of God' and to show that the different words employed in the NT indicated different concepts - and that the Greek word that could have been used to denote sexual gratification never was.
The present day society has forgotten that two people can love one another without the need for any sexual expression. That Jonathan and David's souls were knit together as one is suggestive that Someone was responsible although there's no clear and unambiguous statement that YHWH did it.
It's certainly erroneous to think of the union as being the result of homosexuality for the Bible would have talked about them becoming one in flesh if sex had been in mind (Gen 2:24) - a union of souls doesn't take place through sex and the speech here isn't indicative that any homosexual relationship took place (I noted above that homosexual union - as in a heterosexual union - was doubtful because there was no Biblical evidence for it. What I'm saying here is that, as two souls don't get joined in a heterosexual marriage, this verse can't be used to substantiate that sexual relations took place).
Lastly, upon Jonathan's death in battle, David laments his passing in II Sam 1:26 (my italics) with the words
'I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women'
taken as being indicative that they were homosexual lovers. It falls closely into the error mentioned above - namely that people seem to find it impossible to think of 'love' in any other way than needing an expression of sexual intercourse (Col 2:1-3 is interesting to note here for Paul talks about all those who hadn't seen his face, that '...their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love...')
We should note that David calls Jonathan 'my brother' - not 'my lover', neither 'my husband', 'my wife' nor 'my partner', but simply 'my brother Jonathan'.
It seems, therefore, that Jonathan had become like a brother to him (the stupidity of this sentence comes home to me forcefully simply because it's what the Scripture actually says!), the kind of a brother that he had never had as a child, even though he was a son amongst many. Being the youngest, he doesn't appear at table with his brothers but is on his own with the sheep, it being his duty to care for his father's flocks when important guests arrive (I Sam 16:11). It's no wonder that, although he didn't disown his family, he doesn't appear to have been all that close to them.
But, in Jonathan, he found a true brother, one that he hadn't experienced while growing up. As the writer of Proverbs observed (Pr 18:24)
'There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother'
and this is what Jonathan became.
It's a shame that the relationship between the two has been degraded into a sexual one for it means that we find it difficult to express or return love without wondering whether it will be interpreted in a sexual manner - but that appears to be one of the many traits of our society that has come about as a result of our generation selling themselves over into the power of sexual gratification.
We need only to confirm the continuation of the prohibition against homosexuality in the NT before we conclude this section. We must, of course, be prepared to view homosexuality in a different light if the death of Jesus has changed the way YHWH views the practice - just as we have done with the ceremonial rites and some of the cultural restrictions placed upon the Israelites.
Just as no Gentile believer is called upon to observe the Jewish national festivals of Leviticus chapter 23, we must also be prepared to accept that other laws and regulations may have been fulfilled and put to one side in Christ.
However, this isn't the case with homosexuality.
Rom 1:18-32 will be dealt with in more detail in a later article but, for now, all we need to note along with Paul is that (Rom 1:18)
'...the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth'
and, as a consequence (Rom 1:26-27),
'...God gave [mankind] up to dishonourable passions...men...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'
And, since they continued in their rebellion of refusing to acknowledge the truth about God that could be clearly perceived in the things that had been created (Rom 1:20), God (Rom 1:28)
'...gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct'
This situation, remedied only in the cross of Jesus by individual acceptance and commitment to its demands, is the state of the Gentile world according to Paul - homosexuality is seen as an effect brought upon a society by the withdrawal of God's presence because of the sin of refusing to accept perceivable truth.
It's also the situation in which Sodom and Gomorrah would have found themselves until, ultimately, their judgment became inevitable, brought upon themselves by the appetites that they sought to satisfy.
That the solution of the cross hasn't removed the offence to God and allowed mankind to participate fully in those things that would have once brought judgment is clear from a couple of Paul's other statements elsewhere.
Speaking to believers, he warns them (I Cor 6:9-11 - my italics) that
'...the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God...Do not be deceived; neither the immoral (AV - fornicators), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, (AV adds 'effeminate' here), nor sexual perverts (AV - abusers of themselves with mankind), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you'
Paul is clearly saying that such behaviour (he speaks in language that describes men rather than their behaviour) is incompatible with receiving their Divine inheritance in Christ - that is, such practices would exclude and debar the professed believer from participation in their ultimate destiny.
He notes that these actions had been part of some of those who were listening to the reading out of the letter - not that some of the traits were present but that all of the traits here mentioned were represented in the lives of the believers before they came to serve Christ.
There are two traits that must be given our attention in the context of this article - the words translated as 'effeminate' by the AV and 'sexual perverts' by the RSV but 'abusers of themselves with mankind' by the AV.
First, though, we must observe that the RSV totally omits a translation of the word that the AV translates 'effeminate', leaving nothing in its place (a great many of the reference works on my bookshelves that deal with the Greek of the NT also omit the word). It's as if they either didn't like the implication behind the Greek word, they didn't know how to translate it or they thought that it wasn't original. However, it certainly appears to be part of Paul's original letter and needs to be dealt with accordingly.
The Greek word for 'effeminate' (Strongs Greek number 3120) is used only four times in the NT (Mtw 11:8 twice, Luke 7:25 and here) and, in the previous uses, it's employed to describe a garment as being 'soft' as opposed to 'coarse'. Here, however, what must be in mind is a human action but, if we were to say that Paul objected to people being 'soft', we'd be interpreting the word within modern day culture!
Cormor sees this word and the next ('sexual perverts') as being
'...two words denoting the passive and active partners in homosexuality'
and, therefore, inseparable, but he doesn't go on to explain his meaning. Corfee (pages 243-244), however, in a magnificent commentary (because he gives all the 'possibilities'), takes the first word to be
'...most likely referring to the younger, passive partner in a pederastic relationship [usually an adult/boy homosexual set up where the driving force is the adult] - the most common form of homosexuality in the Greco-Roman world'
Although he continues to express uncertainty as to the precise meaning, he accepts the NIV's translation of 'male prostitute' so long as it's understood that the phrase
'...most likely denotes a consenting homosexual youth'
The second word (translated as 'sexual perverts' by the RSV - Strongs Greek number 733) is a compound word which means, literally, 'male intercourse' and there's no doubt what's in mind (even so, the RSV makes a good job of sitting on the fence and obscuring the intended meaning!) - however, Corfee notes that the word could equally well mean a male prostitute or a practising homosexual but prefers the latter. But it may be better to take the ambiguity to be fully intended by Paul to cover both aspects (indeed, he may well have chosen to use two words to encompass all the homosexual acts that he was aware of in case he was misunderstood to be singling out only some to condemn while others, by their omission, were being justified).
It's clear, then, that homosexuality in its various forms is a lifestyle that's incompatible with faith in Jesus Christ - it's not a practice that can't be dealt with by the power of Christ because Paul notes that some of the Corinthians were these types of people but simply that, once committed to serve Jesus, such a lifestyle must not be practiced - indeed, it cannot be practiced and still thought that it will have no effect on a person's Divine inheritance.
In I Tim 1:8-11, Paul again uses a word previously employed in I Cor 6:9 (Strongs Greek number 733) where the RSV translated it 'sexual perverts' but, here, as 'sodomites' (that is, homosexuals). The context that Paul surrounds these traits with, however, helps us to understand his meaning, because he uses them as descriptions of the types of people who should find clear instruction as to what sort of behaviour is unacceptable to God in the Mosaic Law, going on to assert that such teaching is a confirmation of and in support of
'...the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted'
If we wish to understand what Paul means by his use of the Greek word, we need look no further than each and every prohibition contained within the Law that would relate specifically to the homosexual or the person who takes part in homosexual acts (dealt with above).
It's interesting to also mention in passing that, as previously noted, the word employed both here and in I Cor 6:9 is a compound one meaning, literally, 'male intercourse', the second part of which, according to Corfee
'...is vulgar slang [that] would ordinarily have offended good taste'
and one doesn't have to think very hard as to what type of word is intended to be understood! His conclusion is that
'Paul apparently is not above the use of such if it will make its proper impact...'
and, perhaps, make his hearers sit up and realise the distastefulness with which the apostle regarded it. That was the thing with Paul, he didn't mince his words and, if he needed to use a word that you would never imagine your mother would use (let alone know its meaning), you could almost be assured that he'd come out with it regardless of the offence caused.
We noted that the OT Law used the regular Hebrew word for 'dog' at least once to mean a male prostitute (Deut 23:18) and such a term is also used in the NT to refer to a type of person.
In total, there are nine uses of the English word, split between two different Greek ones (Strongs Greek number 2965 - Mtw 7:6, Luke 16:21, Phil 3:2, Rev 22:15 - and Strongs Greek number 2952 - Mtw 15:26, 15:27, Mark 7:27, 7:28).
The latter of these two is only ever employed of the animal, whereas the former has only one literal interpretation in Luke 16:21, the other four being a reference to a type of person (the use in II Peter 2:22 is a quotation from an OT proverb but the application is to a person).
It's clear that the easiest interpretation of each of the first three applications to men (Mtw 7:6, Phil 3:2, II Peter 2:22) is to understand them to have no direct reference to either homosexuality or the homosexual. It makes it all the more difficult, therefore, to try and justify such an interpretation when the word stands alone in Rev 22:15, and it's best to follow Kittels explanation that it means
'...those who reject the truth and are hardened against grace...'
and to reject any direct reference to Deut 23:18 that would cause us to have to interpret the word more specifically.
Finally, that Jesus has been held up to be a practicing homosexual is almost too ridiculous for words - most of the traits that we discussed in the relationship between David and Jonathan previously equally apply to this matter and a detailed response isn't worth including here (although the belief will, no doubt, continue as long as men live).
We have seen that both Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of homosexuality, the former proclaiming the death sentence upon those who practice it while the latter notes that such behaviour removes an individual from their inheritance in Christ.
The Levitical passages see homosexuality as the cause of being removed from the land in which one lives (there's no difference between the Gentile or Canaanite who lived not under the Mosaic Law and the Jew who did), where other people are given authority over ground that didn't formerly belong to them.
In Romans chapter 1, on the other hand, we see homosexuality as the effect of rejecting the simple truth about God that can be clearly perceived in Creation and, yet, that the person who practices such acts is also responsible for their own sin.
At the end of these notes, we will attempt to harmonise both the Old and New Testaments' teaching on the matter to help us understand a bit about what the judges of Israel were being asked to do when they pronounced the death sentence upon the homosexual offender.
3. Belief of Origins
This will appear, at face value, to be an incredibly strange section to include in a series of notes on 'Homosexuality' but the relevance of it seems not to have been covered by any articles or teachers I've encountered over the years.
If ever there was a subject that needed to be defined by an individual's belief in the origin of the universe, then homosexuality stands out as a prime contender, for both faith in Creation and belief in Evolution have something to say about the matter.
Many of us hold on to little bits of truth (or, at least, bits of information that we regard as being truthful) that we often fail to compare with other pieces that we hold on to just as tightly. Very seldom do we come to a point in our lives where we're confronted by truths that deny another's validity but, if we do and face up to the reality of the matter, something has to change.
At best, an individual will reassess his position on the issues and think carefully through the conflict, resolving the matters that need attention until a new working theory is grasped and accepted as being Truth - until another piece of contradictory evidence is brought to light and the process begins all over again.
It may mean that both first truths are discarded or only one, but there has to be a shift from one's position to another for that individual to progress.
At worst, however, the contradictions are simply held loosely together with no effort to discover which is right or wrong. In such a scenario, a person will have a life that's based upon contradictions and lies - they'll be able to successfully assert themselves arguing against a Creationist and also undermine the faith of an Evolutionist while, all the time, believing both positions!
Such are some christians, I hasten to add, in this specific example, for so carefully have we sat on the fence to make it look as if we uphold Modern Science at the same time as believing the Genesis chapter 1 version of the origin of the universe that we don't actually believe either, having a loose collection of contradictory beliefs that would have disappeared long ago had we ever held them up to close examination.
Having now levelled that at those who profess faith in Christ, I must go on to say that it applies to the unbeliever to an even greater extent!
For this reason, we need to ask ourselves what our reaction to homosexuality should be if we profess faith in either Evolution or Creation or, if we're willing to accept homosexuality as being an adequate and acceptable practice, what sort of origin of the Universe it should lead us into believing (although I shan't be discussing the matter from this viewpoint).
As I deal with the subject of 'Evolution' I will, necessarily, be addressing the unbeliever more than the believer.
Although not a scientifically reliable source, the Wikipedia's definition of the term 'Natural Selection' is worth reading at this point. It runs
'Natural Selection is the process by which individual organisms with favourable traits are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with unfavourable traits. Natural selection works on the whole individual, but only the heritable component of a trait will be passed on to the offspring, with the result that favourable, heritable traits become more common in the next generation'
'Natural Selection' (or, to give it it's outdated and more misleading title - because secular society has redefined it to mean something different - 'The Survival of the Fittest') means that certain individuals will survive to breed and pass on their seed to a subsequent generation.
These individuals generally constitute the 'best of their generation' in evolutionary or genetic terms (and not in worldly terms like recognition for conquering Everest or of devoting one's life to helping the poor) so that, by and large, the gene pool becomes progressively better with the course of time, complexity coming from simplicity that allows men to evolve from less complex organisms (with vast stretches of time at their disposal, of course).
Within Evolution and Natural Selection there also exists a circular argument because Natural Selection generally chooses the best genetic specimens to reproduce - but how can you know which are the best genetic specimens? Because they're the ones who survive to reproduce.
Although selection is random, emotionless and a matter of pure chance, the 'fit' still survive to reproduce in greater proportions on the whole than those that the evolutionary process deems to be 'unfit' (although the word 'deem' implies some sort of intelligent choice in the matter which isn't accepted, quite rightly - it's just difficult to restrict oneself to language that conveys the thought and yet to continue to make sense). The only way to know which ones are 'fit' is to see which ones reproduce - which, in turn, proves their fitness to survive.
If the reader has ever accessed my own notes on origins, they'll know that I disagree with the evolutionary arguments here explained but, in order to go on to think about the place of homosexuality within evolution, we need to understand them in simple terms.
The point of the process is that today's society has been built upon the success of individuals that managed to 'dodge the bullets', so to speak, and to reproduce themselves into the next generation, their descendants being the ones from whom subsequent generations have descended.
Not to reproduce, then, is to be an evolutionary failure, condemned by Darwin (and a whole host of other, more modern, scientists) to extinction, selected by nature for annihilation on the page of history.
The problem with homosexuality within the theory of evolution is that it cannot happily co-exist, they don't make happy partners. While there are some men who take part in homosexual as well as heterosexual behaviour (so that they will possibly reproduce their genetic code into the next generation), the increase of homosexual partnerships and 'marriages' (where 'marriage' is a commitment to one partner for the rest of one's life) means that reproduction can't take place (even if adoption is allowed, my point is the same that the seed of two men co-habiting cannot produce viable offspring).
If our present day society is indeed becoming increasingly homosexual in nature (as the figures seem to be showing), then it's also becoming increasingly doomed to extinction. In other words, Darwinism must condemn the homosexual as being an evolutionary dead end (perhaps that's how the dinosaurs died out? Only kidding...).
If society has been angry toward the believer because they've stood up to state that homosexual behaviour is unacceptable before God, it's only because the Evolutionist has been too much of a coward to pronounce the verdict of condemnation upon the same practice, for homosexuality brings no genetic advantage to the individuals involved and doesn't give them an advantage in reproducing themselves into the next generation.
I find it hard to believe that anyone who believes that mankind has developed from evolutionary processes can have the audacity to also affirm that homosexuality is an acceptable form of behaviour. At least they should be honest to their scientific theories.
In recent years, some scientists have also been searching for the 'Gay Gene', a subject that seems to me to be a still somewhat controversial topic. Again, I note a line from Wikipedia cited above concerning the matter that's interesting to use as a starting point in our own discussion. The article notes that
'Most scientists agree that it is unlikely that there is a single "gay gene" that determines something as complex as sexual orientation, and that it is more likely to be the result of a number of biological factors'
If this is the case (and the amount of news articles that keep appearing saying first one thing and then another, cause me to have no idea just where the consensus of opinion lies in the scientific community) then homosexuality can only be viewed as a lifestyle choice with no genetic influence upon what's happening to successive generations. As we've seen above, however, such behaviour reduces the 'fitness' of an individual and condemns the person to extinction.
If, on the other hand, there is a 'Gay Gene' (that, by the evidence around us seems to be on the increase in society), then the West appears to be a culture that evolution has chosen to be removed from the earth within the next handful of generations (that is, through a failure of those with the gene to reproduce themselves - I'm not referring to any disease that's regarded as being a possible outcome of the behaviour).
Either way (behavioural or genetic), evolution condemns the homosexual for being 'unfit' and Natural Selection will bypass the individuals concerned in favour of those who choose sexual gratification with partners from which offspring can be produced.
In Sanford's interesting book on the Genome, he uses a phrase 'The Primary Axiom' to summarise the simplicity of evolutionary theory. He writes (in the unnumbered 'Prologue') that
'The Primary Axiom is that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection'
Sanford will go on to show the inability of such a theory to account for the evolutionary insistence of 'complexity from simplicity' but, for us, assuming that such a procedure has taken place over millions of years to bring the world to where it is today, we can see the threat that homosexuality poses to the progression of human development in the next thousand or so years.
If homosexuality is considered to be a 'random mutation' (and there is doubt that it is), then it can't be 'naturally selected' and, if the generations that now exist are producing increasing numbers of men who have that mutation, considering themselves to be 'homosexual' in nature then, ultimately, the human species will become extinct incredibly quickly.
If it's just a behavioural trait then, likewise, extinction is inevitable.
I have written the above from the viewpoint of Evolutionary and not Creationist Theory. My words of 'condemnation' for the homosexual are not based on anything that I believe and, therefore, are not something I would hold up as being truthful - the argument here presented is intended to show only that a believer in evolution cannot also believe in homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle - and, perhaps more relevant, that no person who believes themselves to be a homosexual can also be faithful to the Theory of Evolution.
Not much needs to be written at this point concerning homosexuality and Creation as the Bible is a Book written from the viewpoint of the latter and it deals within its pages with God's response to it. I have already dealt with passages that concern the behaviour above.
Needless to say, God didn't create homosexuality and has taken steps to make sure that mankind knows that it's a degeneration of the original created order (Rom 8:19-21), something that was certainly possible but which it was not His intention that mankind should ever participate in.
I hesitate speaking on behalf of 'Creationists' as there appears to be a wide array of beliefs contained within that label but I'll say that, from my own viewpoint, the genetic complexity of Adam and Eve must have been unparalleled and unequalled from the moment that they were created - the Creation has been degenerating from the moment that sin came into the world and, instead of mankind being the complex conclusion of simple organisms, he's the simple product of complex life that's becoming all the more simple, less stable and more likely to show signs of degeneration (whether in simple, harmless ways or with life-threatening characteristics).
Indeed, while the Evolutionist would assert that man has evolved from a single-celled life form to a complex, multi-celled species, creationists could, tongue-in-cheek, state the exact opposite - give man a few million years of development and we should be able to devolve into an amoeba!
It's only right that both Evolutionist and creationist should stand opposed to homosexuality - but the latter sees a solution in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whereas the former should only be able to speak of extinction.
In a previously discussed Scripture (I Cor 6:9-11), Paul lists many of the characteristics of the ungodly life before continuing to note
'And such were some of you'
before announcing that the reason for such a transformation in their lives was not that they'd mastered their own freewill, had denied the impulses that came upon them or bowed the knee to peer pressure amongst a majority of dissenters. Instead, he says,
'...you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God'
Although the Evolutionist can offer no solution to the homosexual, the Creationist can state clearly that there is a solution to the degeneration of the created order through a supernatural intervention of God in Jesus Christ.
For a number of years, the Church has been quick to pronounce judgment upon society for its appetites and actions without always pointing to the power of God - sure, there's been the call to stop practicing certain actions but pronouncing that God's power is available to counter the behaviour has been somewhat lacking, perhaps because many of those who speak against homosexuality are believers who know God by rote and not in a living relationship.
And it's not just homosexuality that needs to be considered as a degeneration of the original created order. To use just the verses previously cited here
'the immoral, the idolater, the homosexual, the adulterer, the thief, the greedy, the drunkard, the reviler and the robber'
are all people that are evidence of a degeneration of the original created order and that have their solution in a supernatural act of God - yet believers have made it a point of singling out one or two in the list as being the prime offenders, forgetting that each of them shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
If you're not a homosexual but you steal, what advantage do you have?
Or, if you're greedy for gain rather than give yourself away that your flock can be prosperous at your own expense - and yet have never had a wrong sexual thought about a member of the same sex, will that justify you before God?
Do you really think that your words against homosexuality in society will be weighted with God's power to bring about healing when you justify your own transgression but condemn that of other people (a friend of mine recently sent me a link to a news story that had as its headline 'Gay cruises draw protests in Caribbean' to which I replied 'I guess that 18-30, debauched heterosexual orgies are fine, then?' - the Church seems to be very selective in what it complains about!)?
As I said at the very beginning of these notes, what concerns me most is the state of the Church and its acceptance of traits that should never have been entertained in the first place. That homosexuality exists within the ranks of those who profess to be followers of Christ is shameful - just as much as the acceptance and practice of theft, greed and adultery.
In conclusion, homosexuality must be considered as one of the evidences of the degeneration of Creation (whether it occurs 'naturally' within nature or within mankind) but, as we will go on to see in the next section, it also tells us something much more fundamental about society's relationship to God.
4. Cause or Effect?
a. Romans 1:18-32
The 'sin of man', the 'wrath of God' and the 'judgment of God' are three concepts within the Bible that can be found in the passage Rom 1:18-32. I have adapted these notes from my teaching on the subject of 'Propitiation' where I have, prior to this section, shown that these concepts are easily discernible and that they give us the following chart:
Rom 1:18-32 is a unique passage in the Bible for, in it, Paul clearly shows us the state of mankind before God if left to their own devices. From that passage, these three aspects (discussed under the appropriate headers below) can be developed with an explanation as in the following chart:
i. The Sin of Man
Paul isn't saying that because men do wrong they find that the impersonal consequence of their own actions is that something 'evil' happens - that may indeed be true to a certain extent but, because men are disobedient to what can be plainly perceived about God, God's anger must rest upon them - it's a personal Divine reaction and not an impersonal consequence.
Indeed, what may be a reference to sexually transmitted diseases (Rom 1:27 - though the vagueness favours a wider interpretation to include not just this) is spoken of after God's anger has already been outlined and shown to be demonstrated by His withdrawal from mankind.
What may be an impersonal process of cause and effect in this case is a result of a previous personal withdrawal of the restricting presence of God.
ii. The Wrath of God
Paul's argument - not just here but throughout the first few chapters of Romans - is to show that both Jew and Gentile are the objects of God's wrath already. It's not some futuristic concept of which man has no experience in the present. But (Rom 3:23) because
'...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (that is, God's perfect standard)'
God is angry with all men now.
Even though we would like to confine the wrath of God to one day in the future when Jesus will return and judge the earth (and perhaps like to think, unScripturally, that the judgment can only be for the 'really bad ones'), God's anger is present in this world today directed towards all who reject what can be plainly known about God in the things around them. John 3:36 is a Scripture in point here. It reads
'He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him'
Notice that the Scripture doesn't say that the wrath of God 'will rest' but that it 'rests'. God's wrath, therefore, rests presently upon those individuals who don't obey the Son.
While God may be angry with mankind in general because they've rejected the plain and obvious revelation of what He's like, there remains a further demonstration of His anger directed towards those who refuse to obey Jesus Christ - the judgment as outlined in Rom 1:18-32 probably being very similar.
iii. Judgment of God
The Church has often looked upon some of the things here listed by Paul as being man's sin, his responsibility (for instance sexual immorality - including homosexuality - and a whole list of characteristics that Jesus outlined as coming from within a man in Mark 7:21-23).
Indeed they are.
But the reason such sins take a hold in a person's life is because God's restricting influence withdraws from men and women. These sins are, in themselves, a Divine judgment upon that far greater sin which is the refusal to acknowledge the truth about God that an individual can plainly perceive.
Left to itself, society will gradually degenerate and disintegrate so long as it refuses to accept what little revelation it has. Because all men sin in this manner, there can be no moral uplift, just greater wrath and greater judgment which leads to even greater sin and even greater judgment.
Man's sin initiates a process that leads only to increasing degeneration within civilisation. We can represent this process in the chart below:
Revivals throughout history have been the means whereby God has brought Himself back into society to bring salvation and to restrict sin. If He'd not intervened, an overthrow of that society becomes inevitable to protect what's left of the image of God in the earth.
On the other hand, the example of the Canaanites having to be removed by Israel from their land shows us what happens to a people who have strayed far from the image of God (Gen 15:16, Deut 9:4-5). It was the Canaanites' sin that caused Israel to be the instrument of God's judgment in wiping them out for the sake of the rest of the earth, to protect what was left of the image of God.
Leviticus chapter 18 is a case in point here and represents the first series of laws in the book of Leviticus that's tied in with the expulsion of the current inhabitants of Canaan (Lev 18:1-5, 24-30). This will be repeated in Lev 20:22-26 where the passage sits as a conclusion to another series of statutes that have, at their centre, sexual immorality as here.
This makes the statutes rather important - we're not dealing with legislation designed at keeping the nation ceremonially pure before God (even though the word for 'ceremonial uncleanness' is used in v.19,24,25,27 and purity was to be maintained by the observance of these laws) but with legislation that would maintain their presence in the land of Canaan.
But, even more than this, the transgression of this moral code is seen to be the reason why the Canaanites were to be forcefully expelled from the land by the invading armies of the Israelites (I have developed this theme under the header 'The Reason for the Prohibition' above and will not repeat it here).
Though God would have wanted the Canaanites to turn back to Him, there came a time when He had to step in to history and judge, to protect what was left.
The state of mankind in general, then, is that God's anger rests upon us because what is plain and obvious about God has been rejected for an image (a way of life that projects an image of God into the world that is of our own making) that is not His.
This, then, is the state of mankind throughout the earth and from which God must deliver mankind if His wrath is not to continue to be demonstrated towards us.
b. Rom 1:18-32 and Leviticus
From the discussion above, we can see that homosexuality sits within Rom 1:18-32 as an effect of a far greater cause, the refusal to accept the truth about God that can be clearly perceived in Creation. And here we get a dichotomy of teaching between the Old and New Testaments.
To summarise, in the OT, the Law spoke about the removal of the offence because the act would cause expulsion from the land but, in the NT, the act is an effect of refusing to accept the truth about God.
In the OT, then, there's the clear and unambiguous statement in the Law that such practices are an abomination in the sight of God (Lev 18:22) and that, because the Canaanites practiced this and other abominations, God was causing the Israelites to overthrow their society and take possession of their land (Lev 18:26-28).
Therefore, when such a practice was discovered in God's camp, the transgressors were to be 'cut off' (that is, executed - Lev 18:29). It's clear from the OT that a man is culpable for his own sin - that homosexuality implies a choice of the freewill and that the opportunity to make such a choice must be removed from individuals who use it.
But, in the NT, homosexuality becomes a judgment on a far greater sin - that is, making God in our own image. In other words, because men pull away from the truth about God that can be plainly perceived around them, God gives them up to their own desires, ultimately withdrawing His presence to the extent that He's no longer restricting sin.
In the first example, we see that homosexuality is the cause and the judgment being poured out on the individual is death because of an incorrect freewill choice. In the second, we see that the freewill choice has to do with rejecting the truth and the effect is a slip into abominable practices such as homosexuality.
On the surface, these two passages look strange together but there's a good reason why homosexuality is both the cause and the effect - the death sentence pronounced on the Israelites in the Law was simply a recognition that the judgment of God already rested upon them because of their rejection of the truth about God.
In other words, the Israelite judges were being told (in effect) that they must recognise God's judgment on the individual by putting the person/people to death - that they must judge as God had already judged (the Canaanites were receiving God's judgment upon them through the agency of Israel - the nation was not making a judgment devoid of a decision from God).
And, if they did judge in this manner, they'd find that God's judgment on the individual wouldn't spread to a judgment on the nation - in a similar fashion to the way in which the Canaanites were removed by Israel because of their abominable practices (which included, but which was not exclusively, homosexuality).
Therefore, execution of the homosexual was ultimately a judgment on the person's rejection of God that had caused Him to withdraw His presence as a judgment and had lessened the restricting influence of God's presence on sin.
Homosexuality, therefore, is evidence of God's present judgment - and, if a society approves of it, it's evidence that God's judgment rests upon that nation or people. But the real sin is that, somewhere earlier in that society, Truth has been rejected so that God has been withdrawing His restricting influence from society over time.
So what would be the cure for homosexuality?
Or how might a nation be brought back to God?
Well, certainly not by preaching against homosexuality as the Church seems to be doing to the exclusion of other methods. There's certainly a need to state that such practices are wrong but believers tend not to grasp the fact that homosexuality is already evidence of the continuing judgment of God.
The only thing that will restore a people to God is the anointed preaching of the Truth in that nation and its acceptance by the people to whom the message comes - not a proclamation against homosexuality, but a proclamation of the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In a previous article we noted that God doesn't leave mankind to remedy its own sin but that the provision of the Gospel is freely given to those who are truly born again. The reason for such a transformation in the lives of the first century believers wasn't
'... that they had mastered their own freewill, had denied the impulses that came upon them or bowed the knee to peer pressure amongst a majority of dissenters'
Instead, in the words of Paul (I Cor 6:11),
'...you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God'
If society is ever to be truly saved, campaigning against behaviour such as homosexuality won't work - instead, the power of God must be made known through the preaching of the Gospel and, hopefully, men and women will respond positively to save their society from the inevitability of continued judgment (NT) and the ultimate annihilation of their society before God (OT).
Appendix - Desire
In the above notes, I have stayed away from giving the homosexual specific guidelines as what to do and the notes have necessarily taken on the form of an overview of the Scriptural declarations. However, there is a need to attempt to give some specific instructions to those who struggle with this.
Desire, as James observed, is the initial problem with mankind (James 1:13-14) and we place far too much emphasis on insisting that there is a compulsion that forces us to carry out the feelings and inclinations that rise up from within. As James comments
'...each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire'
How we deal with that desire determines whether we take the next step of living out the 'feeling' or compulsion. The writer goes on by noting that
'...desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death'
That is, desire becomes sin when it becomes an expression in the life of the individual that develops the desire. Therefore, Jesus' instruction in Mtw 5:28 that
'...every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart'
because what isn't dealt with that comes from within has the habit of finding expression without. In another place (Mark 7:14-15,20-23), having been confronted by the Pharisaic belief that a man could be defiled before God by what he ingested, He responded by observing that
'...the things which come out of a man are what defile him'
and, further, that
'...What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man'
I have heard it said by the world (that is, by the unsaved) on numerous occasions over the years that a homosexual is only giving expression to what they are in just the same way as a heterosexual expresses their sexuality as an overflow of their nature.
The argument sounds incredibly plausible for we could consider it to be saying, in effect, that you shouldn't expect a giraffe to emulate a lion because at its very nature, at the core of its being, is a creature that can only find expression in the way that it was made to be.
But it falls down because the heterosexual is just as much guilty before God for not dealing with desire as the homosexual is - the same as the thief or murderer - and there is no difference.
There is no doubt that the desire to do anything that is against the will of God is a part of the person who receives that desire - it comes from inside them, is part of the 'flesh' that throws up ideas and concepts that the mind develops before deciding whether to live them out into life.
It would be great to think that each and every desire would be removed from a believer that isn't in line with the will of God - and some believers have grown disheartened and disillusioned when they have had extensive times of counselling and prayer and the 'feelings' haven't dissipated or been removed completely.
The Church also hasn't helped on many occasions for they've condemned the person who has found no release from the desires by accusing them of lacking faith - sometimes, even, of not being saved in the first place!
But desire will be with us until the day of our death - for the kleptomaniac as much as the serial killer, for the homosexual as much as the heterosexual. What sets apart a believer in Christ from a non-believer is that they do not give in to the desire or live out the promptings that they are receiving in their mind.
That's why it's impossible for there to be a 'christian thief', a 'christian murderer', a 'gay christian' or a 'whatever descriptor you would use for a believer who seeks out sexual experience in heterosexual relationships' (I really struggled trying to find an adequate two-word descriptor for such a person and, in the end, decided that there isn't one. Expressing heterosexuality is so well accepted as being 'normal' within the Church - even outside the boundaries placed upon it by YHWH - that such behaviour doesn't receive the condemnation that it deserves and we don't appear to have a simple term for it).
First and foremost, a believer is a 'christian', born with a new nature and a new commitment to set their will to serve the God who redeemed them from sin and who has imparted to them new life through the Holy Spirit.
Whatever else they may like to think of themselves as is secondary to service and obedience to God - whether they be character traits (murderer, thief, heterosexual or homosexual) or what I can only best describe as 'hobbies' (participants in sports, music lovers, film buffs and so on).
Each and everything must be taken captive for Christ - and that begins at the point of entry of the desire into the believer's life (II Cor 10:5).
In conclusion, then, it would be good if every wrong desire and thought were able to be dismissed immediately it occurred. More, that each and every desire and thought might be taken away by God before it ever sought expression and development in our minds.
But that isn't going to happen.
What should happen, though, is that the believer should be so committed to serve and please Jesus that even if there are repeated strong desires that come upon them, they simply don't live them out, remembering that an action - not a thought - is sin.References
Cormor - 'I Corinthians' by Leon Morris in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series published by the Inter-Varsity Press
Corfee - 'I Corinthians' in the New International Commentary on the New Testament Series by Gordon D Fee, published by Eerdmans
Deutchris - 'Deuteronomy 21:10-34:12' in the Word Biblical Commentary Series by Duane L Christensen
Deutthom - 'Deuteronomy' by J A Thompson in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series published by the Inter-Varsity Press
Judbau - 'Jude, 2 Peter' in the Word Biblical Commentary Series by Richard J Bauckham
Kittels - 'Theological Dictionary of the New Testament' (in one volume), translated by Geoffrey W Bromiley, Wm B Eerdmanns Publishing Company and the Paternoster Press.
Levhar - 'Leviticus' by R K Harrison in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series published by the Inter-Varsity Press
Sanford - 'Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome' by Dr J C Sanford, Ivan Press
Vines - 'An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words', W E Vine, Marshall, Morgan & Scott.