The Bible and Homosexuality: Resources for Sunday School discussion

My Sunday school class has been discussing the topic of homosexuality, and we’ve reached the point where we are ready to take a close look at the New Testament passages that are potentially relevant to the topic. I’ve blogged about this subject here before, but want to offer links to web resources which reflect differing views, which can provide basis for discussion in the class.

There are several sites that seek to provide more than one viewpoint:
Homosexuality and the Bible – a dialogue between Walter Wink and Ulrich Mauser
Bridges Across the Divide (an American Baptist conversation)
Loren L. Johns, “Homosexuality in the Bible”
Religious Tolerance
BBC News: What does the Bible actually say about being gay?

Resources from Gay and Lesbian Christians and those accepting of them
Jeffrey Siker, “How To Decide? Homosexual Christians, the Bible, and Gentile Inclusion
SoulForce: What the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about homosexuality
Other Sheep: The Bible and Homosexuality
James Allison, “But the Bible Says… – A Catholic Reading of Romans 1
Steve Schuh, “Challenging Conventional Wisdom
The Bible is an Empty Closet
Would Jesus Descriminate?
William O. Walker, “What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality

Resources from those who believe the Bible condemns homosexual practice and should be followed today
Richard B. Hays, “Homosexuality – Rebellion Against God
Thomas R. Schreiner, “A New Testament Perspective on Homosexuality”
Rob Gagnon, “What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues
Catholic Answers on homosexuality
Guenther Haas, “Perspectives on Homosexuality: A Review Article,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45.3 (Sept. 2002): 497-512
An interview with N. T. Wright focused on homosexuality. And here is a video of him talking about the topic:
YouTube Preview Image

Other relevant materials:
John Boswell, “The Church and the Homosexual: A Historical Perspective
Two Paths
The West Wing did a dramatization of a famous “Letter to Dr. Laura Schlessinger“:

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve tried to provide scholarly perspectives where I found them, and beyond that, sources that do not merely restate the text but discuss issues of context, culture, linguistics, and application. Other suggestions for relevant reading are welcome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12300714202584895563 Matt

    My denomination (Church of the Brethren) has been working through a process to explore this same topic and created some resources in response to our Annual Conference's decision last year for further denomination-wide study. Here's the link.

  • James

    N.T. Wright may be correct that scripture, read large and read small, condemns homosexual conduct. Does it follow that, as Wright strongly suggests, homosexual men and women must lead constricted, frustrated lives? Then so much the worse for the authority of scripture. I must add that it's odd that a pastor would equate the fulfillment of the God-given sexual desires of so many of his flock to the callow and cruel act of a young husband who betrays his bride. The latter act is stained through with guilt, the former is presumptively perfectly innocent–from the standpoint of any decent morality. Yet this pastor seems to preen himself on his discernment and righteousness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Matt, thanks for sharing that!Here's a link to another video that someone in my Sunday school class thought could be a good discussion-starter. We have a lot of theater people in there, and so I should have thought of using this! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08361426837573807303 Pat

    Under other relevant materials you might also include, "Sexuality and the Christian Body" by Gene Rogers, and "Theology and Sexuality" edited by Rogers, but with articles by theologians such as Hauerwas, Jenson, Rowan Williams, etc.

  • Telson7

    Nowadays, it is going on conversations about homosexuality; some are
    against it and some on behalf of it. The right answer we can find from the word
    of God (the Bible).

    The Lord Jesus is the Messiah, Redeemer from sins and the Saviour. Jesus’
    must fulfill the whole law of God and believe all what the Old Testament
    teaches, that He could be the Saviour. In the Old Testament were commandments,
    which teach that homosexuality is a sin. Because the Lord Jesus had to believe
    all commandments of the Old Testament, so He also believed that homosexuality is
    a sin. The Bible teaches that homosexuality was a sin in the order of the Old
    Covenant and is valid in the order of the New Covenant. Like this way Jesus also
    believed that homosexuality is a sin, and He also condemned homosexuality by
    this way.

    For the sake of sodomites’ abomination acts, God
    destroyed Sodom as Ezekiel 16:49,50 shows for us. Ezekiel uses 16:50 Hebrew word
    towebah, which is the same Hebrew word in Lev 18:22 (and Lev 20:13) that
    describes homosexuality as abomination. It is very clear that in Ezekiel 16:50,
    abomination means homosexuality acts as the reason for destroying of Sodom.
    Sodomites pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness and hardened hearts
    towards poor and needy were sins, but destruction came for the sake of
    homosexuality, and the New Testament confirms this:

    Jude1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities
    about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going
    after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of
    eternal fire.

    Apostle Paul wrote very clearly that homosexuality (men having sex with other men; women having sex with other
    women) is a sin. Ro 1:27 is word error, which is in Greek plane, which means error, to deceive, deceit, one led astray from the right
    way, error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting. In this place,
    the Bible in the New Testament shows very clearly that same-gender sex is a sin
    and aberration from the right way. Apostle Paul taught very clearly that
    homosexuality is unnatural sin.

    Many scientists believe that homosexuality is congenital, a matter and
    orientation that can’t be changed as heterosexual. Paradoxical is that many
    scientists don’t believe in God of the Bible, and they proclaim that God of the
    Bible is not existed. Nevertheless, God of the Bible is capable of change
    homosexuals individuals to be as heterosexuals.

    Arsenos means male and koiten means bed. Lev 18:22 and 20:13 teach that a
    man cannot lie (sexual act) with another man as he lies with a woman. The
    origin of the word arsenokoites means homosexual activity and homosexual.
    Lev 18:22 and 20:13 prove very clearly that arsenos koitenmeans
    homosexuality sex, because the Jews scribes translated words’ arsenos koiten to describe men who have sex with another
    men (homosexuality), which is a sin and against the will of God. Apostle
    Paul didn’t make up the word arsenokoites, but it was already as the concept in
    the Old Testament, where it meant homosexuality. It is very clear that the
    words’ arsenos
    koiten meant homosexuality
    (man who had sex with another man) to Jews of the Old Covenant era. In
    the same way arsenokoites meant homosexuality (man who had
    sex with another man) to Jesus’ disciples in the New Covenant
    era.

    Jewish philosopher Philo lived in the
    same time as Jesus Christ and Philo has said that arsenokoites meant shrine
    prostitute (male temple prostitute), and not homosexual. Some people have made from this a conclusion that
    the word arsenokoites meant a male temple prostitute. Philo’s
    interpretation was totally wrong, because the Bible proves this undisputedly and
    shows that Philo erred.

    Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 doesn’t use temple prostitute word,
    but words in which is denied that a man can’t lie sexually with another man.
    Always when the Bible speaks for temple prostitutes, so the Bible uses
    words gedeshah and gadesh. If Lev 18:22 and Lev
    20:13 told for temple prostitutes, so verses would mention them, but there
    isn’t, because in those verses, the Bible forbids homosexuality. It is very
    clear and undisputable in the light of the testimony of the Bible, that arsenokoites means homosexuality.

    According to words of the Lord Jesus, Jesus’
    disciples can judge righteous judgement. If somebody is stealing, living in
    adultery or is lying, so we have the right to say sin as a sin. According to the
    Bible, homosexuality is a sin and so Jesus’ disciples have the right to say what
    the Bible teaches. Jesus’ disciple has a right to say that living in sins lead
    people to eternal damnation. Jesus’ disciple doesn’t judge to damnation, but
    tells that God shall judge sin maker to hell.

    God loves also gay-people, but not sinful act of
    homosexuality, and therefore, God calls gay-people repentance and receives
    salvation by believing in the Lord Jesus. In other words, God loves sinners, but
    not sins. The gospel and its changing power is meant also for gay-people,
    because the Lord Jesus can set you free you from your sins.

    I don’t condemn homosexuals, but love them by the
    love of God. The love of God also holds on from the truth, and therefore, I must
    say that homosexuality is a sin, it is not condemning, but telling the truth.
    God has authority to judge, not a man. God judges in His word homosexuality as a
    sin. I can tell about judgements that what God does, and I don’t condemn, but
    tell who judge.

    I don’t support discrimination of homosexuals,
    because they are valuable as my neighbors. However, homosexuality is a sin. It
    is possible to integrate from homosexuality and get rid of it. The Lord Jesus
    can save and give freedom to you. I recommend for you to read the Bible, because
    there God teaches for natural sexuality and salvation by believing in the Lord
    Jesus.

    Reference: http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/homosexual.html

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      That is certainly one of the perspectives around, but it is by no means the only one. Rather than repeat discussion of this topic I’ve already offered, let me simply say that the laws of the Bible reflect a wide array of cultural values that most of us no longer adhere to today: ideas of ritual uncleanness, ideas about women as property, ideas about slavery. And so I wish to disagree strongly with your premise, that if the Bible gives an answer on the topic, that settles the matter. I am confident that in some matter that the Bible addresses, you do not in fact regard that as the end of the discussion. And so trying to selectively settle matters using the Bible as if it were the only factor to be considered is, in my opinion, inappropriate.

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