Homosexuality a “worse sin”?

One attitude I seem to bump up against continuously is that homosexuality is a “worse sin” than other sins. People cite things like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed, or the fact that the punishment for homosexual acts was death, or that Romans clearly isolates homosexuality as a sin being condemned by the apostles.

But, as my father says, every time you see a “therefore” you really ought to read what it’s “there for.” So let’s start by talking about Romans. This is a verse a lot of gay Christians have had read to them many times,

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Now, yes, that verse does very clearly state that God gave them over to shameful lusts. But why? Does anyone else see the “because of this”?

Romans 1: 18-27
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

So what is being condemned in Romans isn’t sexual acts, necessarily, but a larger truth that one must adhere to worship of the One God. God gave them over to lust as a punishment for a greater sin- the infidelity of their hearts against their creator. And these men and women were also leaving their families to indulge their lust- another sin which is clearly condemned throughout the Bible.

But let’s not just look at Romans. Let’s look at Sodom and Gomorrah as well. What, exactly, was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? People immediately think, “homosexuality!”, but that isn’t clearly the case. When the angels came to Lot to tell him of Sodom’s fate (Gen. 19) the men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and commanded that he send the angels out to be raped in the streets. Why would they do that? Were the angels so physically appealing that their lust knew no bounds? Was it customary to have sex with everyone new to the city? (In which case they must have also had sex with Lot) or was this a power struggle? It says that every man of the city, the young as well as the old, came to Lot’s door. Then would it be the case that every single male in Sodom was openly homosexual?

Rape isn’t about sexual pleasure, it is about exerting power. Lot was an alien to the people of Sodom, and they wished to exert their superiority by attacking his guests. Hospitality in those days was very different than in ours, and causing damage to someone’s guest shamed the entire family. Why else would Lot offer his own virgin daughters up as a sacrifice in order to spare his guests? This isn’t about being gay, it’s about being evil. It’s “situational homosexuality” at the most, much like men may engage in sexual acts with other men when isolated in prison or in long-term work arrangements where women aren’t available. Do not use such stories to shame all homosexuals, in doing so you do your own argument a grave disservice.

Now, on to Leviticus, where God does in fact condemn men having sex with men. He does so in Leviticus 19, a passage headed “unlawful sexual acts.” Keep in mind that God in those verses also condemns having sex with the spouse of one’s parent, one’s siblings, having sex with the sibling of a spouse, marrying sibling, having sex with close relatives or the close relatives of a previous sexual partner, having sex with animals, having your wife have sex with animals, and numerous other sexual indiscretions. One may logically use this verse to argue that homosexuality is a sin. I fail to see how this verse makes it “more of a sin.” And let us also observe why God created laws governing sexual acts. The end of Leviticus 19 states, “Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.” The law was about them ceasing to be as they were when they were in Exile and being set apart, a point which causes people sympathetic to the gay man’s plight to say that it is not a whole cloth condemnation of homosexuality, but instead a condemnation of the way in which homosexuality was practiced in those times.

Some people will then say, “but the punishment for homosexual acts was death!”

To which I respond, “If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.” (Leviticus 20:9)

The law was cruel. That is why God sent Jesus, to free us from being condemned.

Two more verses:

Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

1 Peter 4:3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

Both condemning sexual indiscretion, both doing so while condemning other things equally.

So can someone please explain to me how homosexuality is somehow worse?

21 thoughts on “Homosexuality a “worse sin”?

  1. The sin of Sodom wasn’t homosexuality. Ezekiel makes it clear.
    I’m not sure can you make an argument for an explicit hierarchy of sin. I haven’t researched the reasoning behind mortal sins in Roman Catholicism but to my mind you can really only read something from this bit of Proverbs.

    One possible method would be to count the amount of times specific sins or actions are called for but as I said I haven’t researched it in any depth. Happy to listen to someone who has

  2. Spot on, Sister! Wonderful post!

    We can also guess from the NT that since the only time S & G are mentioned in the gospels by Jesus, he is telling about how they were inhospitible to the word and workers of God, that the sin of S & G as seen in that time was not homosexuality, but inhospitality, which was a BIG DEAL in the ancient world.

    BTW, I always laugh when people cite Romans against homosexuality, both for the reasons you mentioned, and also because it is part of a rhetorical “sting operation,” in which Paul is lambasting the Gentiles, making his Jewish listeners feel very good about themselves, and then sticking it to them in 2:1, “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another, you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” It is such a successful rhetorical tactic that it still works the same way to this very day, except people often neglect chapter 2!

  3. Let me begin by saying that ALL sin leads to (spiritual) death.

    It mentions in the Bible different “levels” of Heaven. So although not mentioned (specifically) in the Bible I believe that it would stand to reason that there are different “levels” of hell (outer darkness for example).

    Linsey, you are correct in that the first offense was that of apostasy. They knew God but chose to worship things He created (men, frogs, stars, etc.) As a result of this apostasy “uncleaness and perversion”.

    In verse 28 we see the thre things for which God gave “man” over (basically “I’m done with them” to defile their spirits. 1) dishonor their bodies (v24) 2) Vile affections in their souls (v26) & 3) Reprobate minds (v28).

    Now concerning Genesis 19. It was the custom in those days in warm climates for some to sleep in open air markets and otherwise outdoors. I think it a bit nieve to say that just because all men came they were all homosexuals. Could it at least be a possibility that some came to see what all the comotion was about? Modern day “rubber-neckers” if you will.

    Furthing with Genisis 19; I suppose one can find whatever they are looking for. The men of the town asked for the “fresh meat”. Lot said, hey how about I give you my virgin daughters instead. The men replied that if they didn’t want the girls and if they can’t have the “fresh meat” then they would just have him. The angels at that point smoat the men near the door with blindness and pulled Lot back inside.

    Now Lindsey when you address Lev 19 you make the perfect argument for “Why did God creat the one husband one wife marriage (family).

    Finally, I have an answer for your last question but let me try to find something to coroborate it.

  4. RWG: Thanks for the reference, I couldn’t remember precisely where that verse was found.

    Seth: Astute observations, thank you.

    M54: I would reiterate that I don’t think Genesis 19 says that the men of Sodom were homosexuals. I sincerely doubt that the men who came to Lot’s door were homosexual at all in the way that science observes homosexuality now. The problem there is much more complex. After all- if you saw a woman and were attracted to her, and knew she was staying down the street, would you (or any other sane person) go bang on your neighbors door and demand the woman be sent out so you could publicly copulate with her?

    No.

    And in those days, such was NOT the norm. The men of Sodom were trying to exert their dominance over a neighbor who they saw as alien, a neighbor who adhered to a moral code they found offensive. They were attempting to publicly shame he and his family by attacking people under his protection, a thing that in those times was tantamount to attacking close family. As Seth pointed out in his comment, inhospitality was seen as a grievous flaw. Now, when the people said they would attack Lot if he didn’t offer up the men, I still don’t think that points to homosexuality- instead I think it is a power struggle. Lot says, “I won’t give you A, but I will give you B.” The people say, “NO. We asked for A, and if you won’t give us A we are tearing down your house and taking you with it.”

    It is on it’s face something much more serious than simply a homosexual orientation. Those men were evil.

    I’m interested in what more you have to say (once you find the references).

  5. *emphatic asterisk,

    Homosexuality is not the worse sin committed by a person. whoever that person that tells you that, is just his ignorance of the scripture that compels him to say that way.There are more worse sin, other than homosexuality, that are not forgiven in this world , and in the world to come.
    To be a Homosexual is no your fault. It is an inborn defect as I may call it. And no one has the right to condemn you about it.
    But I will also have to correct you , when you say that “God had sent Jesus to free you from being condemned”. Jesus will not condemn you of being a homosexual, but the very act of homosexuality, that Jesus will condemn, if you are a Christian, a True Christian already.But if you’re not still a True Christian, His just waiting for you to be one and He will forgive all your sins.Remember the verses you sites are verses from the Apostles of Christ.And once He had forgiven you, you were obliges not to engage in homosexual acts again.You will have to be patience, and have to control that urge of your body.That is how a Christian have to live in this world.

    And by the way , there are six sins that are not forgiven in this world and in the world to come.And they are worse than homosexuality, and four of them are practiced by Roman Catholic church, and it’s members and other so called catholic churches. So if you are a Roman Catholic member , get out of that church.

  6. dove124; I find it a bit perplexing when one speaks in such definate terms to condem everyone who does not go along with the writer’s (current) understanding of Holy Scripture.

    And too, condem an entire denominatin? Wow, not a single Roman Catholic member to be in heaven. God certainly has given you revelation. I read of a group with similar thoughts back in Biblical times.

    Six sins you say? Let us look at Romans 1:29-31 where Paul lists the result(s)of apostasy & the 23 sins that will damn the soul: (also found in Mk. 7:21-23; 1 Cor 6:9; Gal 5:19; Col 3:5)

    29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

    30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

  7. As an atheist, I’m actually starting to think I’m a huge fan of this biblical bigotry… In the UK its succeeding in pushing people away from the church in droves. The church is actually creating Atheists!

    Ironic don’t ya think?

    Though for you believers out there looking to counter some of the anti-gay rhetoric, there’s the story of the love between David and Jonathan, I think its found in the book of Samuel if memory serves.

  8. dove142: I’m not a homosexual, I just have gay friends who I care very much for. I’m not Roman Catholic either. What are these sins of which you speak? I’m rather curious.

    David Parkes: Ah, yes, David and Jonathan. It’s in 1st Samuel 19. I actually re-read it when you left your comment because I remembered it being taught as “brotherly devotion”, but the Bible says that “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”- which is language traditionally reserved for marriage. Very interesting.

  9. Lindsey; the way I understand David and Jonothan is that David and Jonothan have done as God has commanded. Love thy neighbor as thy self.

  10. Lindsey,

    Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men : But the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.(Matthew 12:31)

    1.Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost.(Mat.12:32)
    2.And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. ( Ephesians 4:30)
    3. Abstain from meats offered to idols,
    4. and from blood,
    5. and from things strangled
    6. and from fornication (Acts 28-29 )

    I hope this satisfy your curiosity.

  11. Lindsey – Awesome post as usual. Pretty much lines up with what I already knew, but you DID give me some new insight into the Sodom and Gomorrah story, I have always wondered why Lot would offer up his daughters instead, what you say actually makes much more sense than the way I have traditionally read the story. I love fresh insight!

  12. Lindsey: Okay, now let me reiterate… ALL sin leads to spiritual death.

    As far as the act of homosexuality being “worse” than another sin… it is my (personal) beliefe that ANY sexual sin is “greator” than another. Now I know that we use our bodies for sinning. I mean we have too. But to actively enguage in a prolonged, involved, thought out… almost “worship like” activity I (personally) believe is “greator”.

    Here’s my “logic”. I won’t give you chaper & verse, I’m sure you are familiure.

    Remember when the money changers were in the Temple selling their wares. Jesus was so outraged that He took time to gather the items need to fashion a whip and chased every single one of them from the Temple. Saying (basically) that the Temple is to be kept pure because it is where His Father dwells.

    The Bible says that our bodies are a Temple for the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t expect many (if any) to agree but that is how I (currently) understand it.

  13. I’m going to make a very un-PC comment, OK?

    And that is this: that (I think) most women catch on to the power dynamic in this passage (about the men of Sodom) far more quickly than most men tend do.

    Just my .02-cents’, here…

  14. Ahem…

    dove124, I believe you are incorrect in your list of sins which “cannot be forgiven.” Nowhere in or around your cited verses from Acts 15:28-29 does it say anything about these offenses being unforgivable. It merely says, “it seemed good to the HS and to us to not impose any further burdens on you but these essentials…” meaning that these are the basic rules to follow if nothing else. It does not say anything about not being forgivable. Moreover, to the trained eye, this is clearly a list of unclean things: food sacrificed to idols was unclean, blood was unclean (hence “blood” and things “strangled” since they would not have been bled out), and fornication was unclean. We must ask ourselves now, how are our standards of ritual cleanness or uncleanness different today?

    Now, regarding homosexuality, if it is in fact “inborn” as you say, and if God is the one that creates each of us (as the Bible says), how could God create a person in such a way that God could not accept them as they were? I find it terrible to think that God essentially would create two classes of people, one which is “normal” and one which cannot be “good” except by remaining celibate. As St. Paul writes, not everyone is able to remain celibate, therefore they should marry so they do not “burn,” presumably with passion. Are we then saying that homosexuals have no choice, since the only way to keep themselves from “burning” would be to commit a sin which God despises?

    Here is my question. Is sex sinful? If it is, what about it is sinful? My own thought is that sex is NOT sinful, because it is something that God intends for us, though most would say only for procreation. I do not believe this; sex is pleasurable, which again is the way God created us, so why can’t we enjoy it?

    This is certainly not to say that we are meant or encouraged to go around ‘fornicating’ (however you may want to define that word). The blessing of sex, the way I see it, is that it is a means of incredible physical intimacy, and as such should be practiced only between people who are emotionally and spiritually intimate with one another, as well. The real blessing is actually the love that can both nurture and be nurtured by the physical act.

    Promiscuity is harmful because it devalues this physical act to something that is common rather than special and makes it harder for that act to be intimate: it becomes something like a handshake, which is not intimate at all. Promiscuity also usually causes pain, because very seldom to both parties truely divorce the act from the intimacy it is meant to convey, and when it means nothing, those people get hurt.

    Does God really care who we have sex with? I can’t imagine why. Does God care that we use the gift of sex to hurt one another, or that we misuse and abuse it? Certainly! Imagine a parent giving a child the gift of a baseball and a bat with the intent of allowing the child to play games with his/her friends and to enjoy the game of baseball, only to find out that the child instead uses the gifts to injure people and break windows.

    Now, if sex is a blessing because of the love and intimacy it both nourishes and is nourished by, what is the difference who that sex is with, provided the love, intimacy, and commitment are there? Promiscuous homosexual relationships, like promiscuous heterosexual relationships, are sinful not because of sex, but because they transform people into objects for pleasure. This robs them of the value they have as creations of God. Committed heterosexual and homosexual relationships recognize and value the intrinsic worth of people, and for that reason, I cannot see why they could be sinful, since that is exactly what God does for us: recognizes and values us for our intrinsic worth as God’s people.

  15. seth,

    I’m not incorrect about my list.! It just so happened that you have a little understanding of the bible. FYI, the four list, falls into the teaching of HG, and is not “BASIC RULES” as you have called it. These are rules that you have to be very careful not to disregard it lightly.
    I’m just gonna ask you. How many commandments do you think our Lord Jesus Christ imposed on Christians that should be followed every one of it?
    And also, God really care to who you have to have sex with . Don’t tell me that because God gave you that penis, and you want to use it to just anyone you want to have sex with. NO WAY. That is not the intention of God. You have to have moderation. You have to control that urges of yours. That penis of yours is to be use only for the following reasons: 1. As an outlet for discharging urine 2.As an outlet for procreation purposes. And logically speaking, that penis of yours, is to be use to a woman only, and not to be use to a man, and just because a man feel sensation and enjoyment while his in the process of having procreation, don’t even think of it as a “gift of God “. The sensation and enjoyment was added so that men can obey the procreation rule. Imagine ? the outcome if you will feel pain while having sexual intercourse, do you think you can follow the procreation rule impose in our system. Do you think , you still have the want to have sex. Of course not. That’s it , man. I hope you got my point.

  16. m54,

    The bible is very definite. Do you have a problem with that? You are the one who definitely accused me of something I read from the bible. When I said “Get out of that church” , the bible and I, really meant it.And that because I read the whole bible .Why don’t you read the bible before you condemn me of what I just wrote.You have a bible yourself, why don’t you read it, for once? And understand it”s content.
    And I don’t care, and I don’t give a damn ,if you are “perflex” as you have wrote it ,by what I wrote. So, next time, don’t get “perflex”.Don’t be IGNORANT. READ THE BIBLE. And if you are lazy to read the bible, you’ll be “perflex”. Heed my advice to you.

  17. Thank you so much for taking time to thoughtfully write out this post. I know I am not the only one who appreciated it… just wanted to express that. I linked to this post today also.
    Take care!
    PS- I will say it again, you are brave! :)

  18. I know I’m really late in the game but I was doing some much-needed catching up.

    My personal opinion (emphasis on personal) is that homosexuality is not a greater sin than others, but is still a bona fide sin. I think what we’re facing in society from the Christian right is a push back, albeit a too-strong push back, against this culture’s attempts to make it not a sin whatsoever. The Christian has taken it too far, I’ll admit, but I think it’s more of a course correcting attempt than a witch-hunt for gays. To me, it’s painfully obvious through scripture and nature that homosexuality was not intended by God and wouldn’t have happened without the fall of humankind. I still strive to show love to homosexuals, but at the same time I do recognize that this is not the life God intended and I can’t say I really know what the eternal consequences of it are.

  19. Ah, my favorite line was from dove124, “That is not the intention of God.” Lindsey, you should feel truly blessed that you have received comments from an individual who apparently is able to read God’s mind, and know his intent! And thanks to dove124’s careful transcript of “God’s Instruction Manual for the Penis”, we now know that any middle-aged or older couple that are past child-bearing age must be celibate for the rest of their lives, or else they are committing a sin equivalent to homosexuality. The explanation about the reason why “sensation and enjoyment was added”, in order to help us “obey the procreation rule”, makes me wonder why didn’t we get similar “sensation and enjoyment” thrown in to help us obey all the other rules, commandments, etc. If we got an orgasm every time we didn’t murder someone, or commit adultery, or steal, etc., I think our crime rate would be a lot lower!

    I think your article was well thought out and written, Lindsey … in my opinion, it and the responses serve to demonstrate just how subjective most organized religions, and the ancient texts they are usually based on can be. Nobody can possibly know the mind of God, and how many of us here have read each of the books in the Bible in their original tongues (and how many of us are experts in those ancient languages) in order to truly know the meaning behind most of the passages? I won’t even bother to address the fact that the books in the Bible were chosen in a highly political and subjective process by men, not by God. I think it’s clear even just from this discussion that the motivation to treat homosexuality as though it’s the greatest sin of all comes not from God, but from homophobic, flawed (as all mankind is) leaders of Christian churches, and the sheeplike congregations who accept these teachings without bothering to examine the source and apply their own critical thinking to the issue.

  20. “So what is being condemned in Romans isn’t sexual acts, necessarily, but a larger truth that one must adhere to worship of the One God. ”

    Yeah, and then the homosexual sexual acts can be divorced from the sin because of the larger truth. Then worship the One God and go on with the homosexual activities.

    But such can’t be done because obedience is part of worship. And you can’t worship with unclean hearts.

    “Rape isn’t about sexual pleasure, it is about exerting power. ”

    Yeah, again, and since it is not about sexual pleasure but a lust for power over another, that re-categorizes rape. If there is no pleasure in that sexual act, then why do they do it? Because of the sense of power? I can bet that the motivation is not for power but firstly about the pleasure.

    Correct me, please, if I am wrong.

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