(This discussion is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject.)

By Sally McKenney Mahoney

Why does God condemn homosexuality? I have met many Christian laymen (and laywomen) who are not certain whether the Bible condemns homosexuality; they don't know where the Bible addresses this subject and wonder if condemnation of homosexuality is really in the scriptures or whether it is merely a man-made tradition. At many seminaries now it is taught that the Bible in fact does not condemn homosexuality. They teach, for example, that when the men of Sodom demand that Lot send out his male visitors so that they can gang rape them, the sin the mob is committing (or attempting to commit) is not one of perversion or homosexuality but of poor hospitality, and it is poor hospitality, they say, for which Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. But condemnation of homosexuality is not just a man-made tradition or cultural more; it is in the Scriptures. Leviticus 20 and Romans 1 are passages where this is made quite clear. Other Christians wonder why would God declare it to be wrong? Is it really wrong? Or did God just make an arbitrary, stuffy rule? It's important to answer these questions because this issue-I think more than any other-is causing large numbers of young people to lose their faith and others never to find it in the first place. Even among Christians who stay true to the faith, many feel insecure in their dialog with the secular world because they don't know how to answer questions on this subject, and they therefore say nothing at all. Others are rendered ineffective in their witness; when their secular friends say something like "I don't want to accept Christianity if it means accepting a cruel God who would condemn people for their inborn orientation," many Christians are at a loss as to what to say, and the conversation ends there.

How does this issue make young people lose their faith?

Many young people hear (at school, esp. college, and from the culture in general) that there could be nothing wrong with love between two people-regardless of gender-so long as those two people are truly loving, consenting adults. Some of these homosexuals--our young people are told--are even willing to make a permanent, monogamous covenant with each other; and what, they are asked, could be wrong with that? Surely love and commitment are to be honored, not condemned. Why, then, would Christianity have a rule against being gay? Many Christians, young and old alike, are unable to answer that question. Many of them, unable to think of an answer, decide the Bible must be wrong or outdated on this issue (reflecting a cultural bias and the ignorance of ancient times rather than expressing the real opinion of God). And once they no longer trust the Bible on this issue, they often cease to trust it at all. Some Christians continue to accept what the Bible says on this issue without knowing why God says it but are unable to discuss the issue with their secular friends beyond saying "the Bible says so." This usually doesn't help their secular friends much in gaining an understanding of God's ways and opening up to Him. It is much better when we can say "the Bible says so, and here are some reasons why God would say such a thing. …" So what are some of the reasons why God would say "no" to homosexuality? Read on….

1. The "it's genetic" issue.
Most people who think homosexuality should not be condemned place their reasons in the "gay gene" argument. You can point out to them that the gay gene has not been proven (and there are ample sources for that if you're interested), but that's not the point. Even if there were a gay gene for certain, it would not settle the argument. Many things are likely inherited to some degree genetically-a predisposition for chemical addiction, for example, or a predisposition for violent behavior. Yet the fact that these things may be genetic does not make the behavior good. We still say that alcoholism and drug addiction and murder and spouse abuse are bad. We don't say, "go ahead and be an alcoholic" or "go ahead and beat up your wife since you're genetically predisposed to do so." Instead, if we know we are predisposed to these things, we work that much harder NOT to do them. Some behaviors for which we are genetically predisposed are good (e.g. artistic talent), and some are bad (e.g. a violent temper); so being "genetic" does not tell us whether something is good, only whether it is inherited. This is often a brand new thought to most people who have been influenced by the "it's genetic" idea. They may still argue that God is unfair, arguing "but God made them that way." You need to gently remind them that, whether genetic or not, God did not make them that way. Christians believe that God made the world, but that it quickly became a fallen world in which there are many things gone wrong and which reflect the fall, not the creator. (Originally, you know, all animals ate plants [Gen. 1:30]; there weren't any animals eating each other or devouring their own young or anything of that sort. Those are not things which God designed and called "good." Those are distortions brought about by the fall. We cannot assume that each and every thing we see in our world is a picture of what God wanted.)

2. How could there be anything wrong with sex between consenting adults?
Ask your friend whether he/she thinks it's OK to have sex with an animal or with one's own child-esp. if the pet raccoon or child is adult and apparently consenting. Your friend will probably chastise you for asking such a disgusting question and say that of course those things are sick. You can then point out that if they think those things are wrong, then they must think it is reasonable to draw a line regarding sex somewhere. And if it is reasonable to draw a line at all, then it is reasonable to discuss where that line between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" should be drawn and whether that line has anything to do with homosexuality. (And if they are against incest and bestiality, then being adult and consenting must not be the only requirements.)

3. How is homosexual sex wrong or unhealthy? Isn't sex sex?
Basically all of earth's physical pleasures-from the pleasure of eating to the pleasure of quenching thirst to the pleasure of urinating when you "really need to go" to the pleasure of sex-are related to activities which have a function, and healthy and necessary one at that. We need to eat and drink to stay alive; we need to eliminate our waste products to stay alive; and sex is connected to procreation, which keeps the human race alive. Some will point out that not every act of sex results in a child (and that some heterosexual couples cannot have a baby no matter how many times they have sex), and that's true; but then not every hamburger saves us from starvation either. Still, eating and heterosexual sex are both activities which in their general sense keep the human race alive. But homosexual sex is different. It can never bring about conception, can never bring about procreation. What homosexual sex can do is tear rectums and bring on cancer of the mouth. As a physical activity it is destructive.

Additionally, sex is connected to families. Even secular psychological research shows that children on the whole do best with a father and a mother in the home. Homosexuality-while homosexual couples can adopt children-cannot provide a father and a mother. It cannot teach children how to relate to both genders and how to receive and give non-sexual love from both males and females (the mother and father) in the safe environment of the home. (Of course many homes are not safe, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual; abusers exist in both groups. But I am comparing the best heterosexual couple and the best homosexual couple. All other things being equal, the heterosexual couple offers something the child needs for the best possible healthy development which the homosexual couple cannot give). When God made rules about sexuality He was thinking of our best-the best for us as adults, the best for us as children. He was not arbitrarily making up hard-nosed restrictions. He had reasons. And when we realize this, we understand why no civilization, in all of recorded history, which came to accept homosexuality as normal has ever survived.

Bear in mind as you share this truth that no group-hetero nor homo nor any other grouping of people-has a monopoly on virtue or on sin. We are all sinners and all need Jesus. But we are doing homosexuals no favors if we tell them that their lifestyle is good for them or encouraged by God. And we are doing our kids no favors if we don't take the time to think through these things with them. Instead of losing their own faith, we want our young people and our friends to have answers for a hurting world.

By Sally McKenney Mahoney

An Addendum-Why Marriage?
If the discussion above brought to mind similar questions about God's reasons for His rules about heterosexual fornication and marriage, then read on. Why would He declare sex outside marriage wrong? Many would say, there's nothing wrong with it so long as you have two consenting, loving adults who are responsibly using birth control. Why would God call that wrong? Certainly remaining a virgin until marriage and then remaining monogamous is the only way to with certainty prevent STDs. So we can see that God's rules protect us physically. But why is this a moral issue? Why would fornication be "wrong" instead of just "unwise"? Here are four answers:

1. It is selfish with regard to a possible child. Every act of sex-unless the woman has had a hysterectomy-can result in a baby. The chance may be very small, but it is there. Not only can condoms, diaphragms, and birth control pills fail, but so can vasectomies and tubal ligations. And if a child does result from that act of sex outside marriage, the child will pay a price. God can do (and does do) amazing and wonderful things in families where there is a single, unwed parent or where a baby was born before the parents were married. But things will still be harder for the child (and the parent) than they would've been had the child been born with married, Christian parents. It is wrong to risk the well-being of an innocent human being (the child that might result) for the sake of obtaining pleasure-physical or emotional. It may be hard to resist-this sexual temptation. But to give in to it is ultimately selfish.

2. It is selfish with regard to the physical health of the other person. What if a man and I, both of us unmarried, were "in love," were considering sex, and were both willing to risk the STDs for the sake of "love" and "our passion for each other"? Well, even if I were willing to risk my own life or health, it would be wrong for me to encourage the other person to do something I know puts him physically at risk. If he wants to jump out a third story window to "show his love for me" and declares that his love for me is so great that he is willing to risk breaking his legs or his spine in doing so, does that mean I should encourage him to do it, help him to do it, open the window for him and say "read, set, go!" and jump with him? If I really love him, I won't want to encourage him to risk a devastating STD no matter how foolishly he may want to throw caution to the wind and no matter how willing I may be to take that risk for my own self.

3. It is selfish with respect to the emotional/psychological/spiritual well-being of the other person. What if the couple is adult, consenting, "in love," and the woman has had a hysterectomy (in which case no child can result and there could be no "selfishness with regard to a possible child" issue)? Well…there is still a price to pay. Are you married? If so, you probably know that even more minor sexual expressions (such as kissing) which you shared with someone besides your spouse before you got married take a little something away from the fullness of joy in your sexual relationship with your spouse. There are memories, comparisons, and various other hurdles and impacts. The same is true in a more dramatic way for couples where there had been previous sexual partners. Sex always makes an impact, not just physically but psychologically and emotionally, and perhaps spiritually. So if I have sex with a man I'm not married to I am basically setting him up for loss and damage in whatever relationship he pursues after our relationship is over. But, I might argue, we'll stay together; there won't be "another woman" later on whose relationship with him I'm messing up. But if we are not married, then we are not truly, absolutely committed. There can be no guarantee that both he and I won't break up and go on to other people. And when we do, those relationships will be diminished. Even if he and I eventually do get married to each other (and not to somebody else), our own marriage will be missing a fulfillment and guiltless joy it might've had. Our marriage will also be at greater risk for unhappiness and divorce (statistics bear this out). Fornication is basically a way of saying "I don't care that I am setting you up for a less fulfilling and healthy marriage than the one you might've had were we not to do this." It is, again, selfish.

4. It makes sense that intimacy should be related to commitment, that as the level of commitment increases, so does and should intimacy increase. Sex constitutes the deepest level of intimacy. What is the deepest level of commitment? It is a legal promise to stay together forever (and to seek one another's good); and that is, of course, marriage. Being "committed partners" without that legal promise falls short of the "deepest level of commitment." Such "partners" may feel they are committed, and they may even be committed…but not as committed as they would be if they were legally married.

This discussion is not meant to condemn or to make people feel hopeless. The Lord can bring beautiful restoration even after our most obvious mistakes. And most of us have struggled in some way or other in this very area. But having answers as to why God says "sex in marriage only"-and answers that explain why breaking that law would not only be foolish but also selfish (and therefore sinful) will help our kids. They (and we) should obey God whether we understand His reasons or not. But when we do understand some of His reasons, it makes it that much easier to obey Him. Knowing that fornication is selfish (as well as unwise) makes it easier to decide not to commit it. And it helps us see that the heart of God is not stuffy or hard-nosed. God's heart is full of love, and His heart sees our own selfishness better than we can see it ourselves. He wants us to act in love-not in what we may call "love," but instead in true, unselfish love.


This is a wonderful website to help you understand why God clearly defines the sanctity of marriage as one man and one woman!