The Torah is not against homosexuality. Rather, the Torah is against idolatry. You may be thinking but Leviticus 18:22 says, “A man should not lie with a man as he lies with a woman.” Does it though? When we look at the Torah in it’s original language and within the time frame it was written, the message is not so clear. In this article, we will explore what The Torah does and does not say about homosexual relationships.
Leviticus in the Torah is Not Against Homosexuality
Leviticus is the book most widely pointed at when trying to make the argument that The Torah is against homosexuality. However, when we read Leviticus in the Hebrew a new interpertation emerges. In this interpeertatioon the sin is not homosexuality, but idolatry and pedophilia.
Leviticus 18:22 is the most commonly quoted verse against homosexuality. In the King James Version of the Bible The verse reads: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
The word translated as abomination is the Hebrew word Tovah. Tovah is only ever used in the Biblical text in instances of idolatry. How does sex with a male become idolatry? The pagans practiced temple prostitution in which grown men had sex with young boys as part of worship.
One of the gods that was worshipped in this manner was Molech. This is interesting, because the verse dircelty before this one warns against giving your children to Molech. Leviticus 18:21 reads: “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” Clearly, these two verses warn against temple prostituion which is idolatry and pedophilia. The verse speaks of sex with men and boys as part of the worship of foriegn gods. Therefore, this not about consenting adult relationships.
In the New King James Version of the Bible, Leviticus 20:13 reads: “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” However, the Hebrew here uses two different terms for the word man. Why? The first term, ish, is used only to apply to Adult men while the seconod, zachar, can also apply to a male child. Had the verse meant to make no distinction in age it would have used ish in both instances. Since that is not the case a proper translation of Leviticus 20:13 would read, If a man lies with a boy as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. This means the verse is about Pedophilia not homosexuality.
Furthermore, the Hebrew word wich has here been translated as abomination is Tovah. In every other intance where this word is used in The Torah it refers specifically to idolatry. This makes more sense, because Pedophilia was often practiced as part of the worship of other gods. Temple prostitution amongst the pagans often involved sex with underage boys at the temple.
Knowing all of this, it becomes obvious that Leviticus forbids Pedophilia and idolatry, not a consenting homosexual relationship.
The Story of Sodom in The Torah is Not Against Homosexuality
The Cities Were Doomed Before the Act
Sexual Relations With Angels
1 and 2 Kings in The Torah is Not Against Homosexuality
Another place people like to look to defend the idea that The Torah is against homosexuality is 1 and 2 Kings. This is because the books mention perverted people. 1 Kings 14:24 says, “And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.” This statement, does not say what the perverted act or abominations were. They did according to ALL the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel, sounds as though it could be referring to all acts of idolatry rather than specific sexual acts.
Furhtermore, the word that is translated as perverted here is qedeshim which can mean those practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals. This again supports the fact that the true sins are idolatry and temple prostitution, not homosexuality.
1 Kings 15: 12-13 goes on to talk about the removal of these perverted people from the land, but still does not state explicitly what the abominations are.
“Also, he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah and Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron.” This verse clearly states that this woman’s perversion was not a sexual act, but the making of Idols. This verse cast doubt upon the other verses in 1 Kings referral to sexual acts. Does “perverted persons” truly refer to sexual acts or to idol worship?
1 Kings 22:46 again mentions perverse people, but never mentions the nature of their perversion. Thus, 1 Kings in the Torah is not against homosexuality.
2 Kings 23:7 refers again to the perverse people, this time speaking of the destruction of their holy book. This verse supports the fact that perversion, in the bible, is idol worship rather than homosexuality, since the verse speaks of the destruction of texts and objects used in worship. Thus, there can be no case made against homosexuality from the texts of 1 and 2nd Kings.
The Story of David And Johnathan in The Torah is Not Against Homosexuality
Finally, the book of 1 Samuel tells us of a beautiful love between two men, David and Johnathan. Their story is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible.
In 1 Samuel 18:1 David and Johnathan having made a covenant with each other before G-d are joined together and become one spirit. “After David had finished talking with Saul, Johnathan became one in spirit with David and loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Johnathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David along with his tunic and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
It is interesting to note here that the text says Saul kept David with him from that day forth not allowing him to return to his family. This could be attributed to David’s military victories; however, this act on Saul’s part allows Johnathan and David to live together and so happens to occur on the day they make their covenant to each other before G-d. Thus, they have become one in spirit and one household.
Jonathan’s undressing that follows would lead us to believe they also became one flesh that day. Thus, Johnathan and David entered what most of us view as marriage, two people making a covenant before G-d and becoming one spirit. This is especially true since this culminates in Jonathan removing the clothes he is wearing and giving them to David. This strongly suggest that the two engaged in sexual relations and became one in flesh. Yes!! Gay marriage is in the Bible!!
Beyond the Love of Women
2 Samuel 1:17-27 brings us to David lamenting the death of his lover. “I am distressed for thee my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
David clearly states that their love surpassed the love of a man and woman. Were this a normal friendship there would be no reason to compare the love to a romantic love. Yet here in the text David said his love of Johnathan surpassed that of a woman.
How did G-d feel about this relationship between two men? We know that these men were favored and loved by G-d. David was made king of Israel. Of Jonathan the text says he was brave, faithful, and loyal. Thus, we can only conclude that consenting loving homosexual relationships which do not involve the worship of false gods are blessed by G-d.
Conclusion and Further Reading
Clearly, The Torah condemens idolatry and pedophilia. Also, just as clearly, The Torah supports consensual loving adult relationships. We must do better about judging our fellow man. We must do better by better understanding the law.
You can learn more by reading my book Faith Under the Rainbow: Reclaiming the Truth about Homosexuality and the Bible
The book is free to read for members of Kindle Unlimited. You may also be interested in The Gender and Sexuality of G-d