Homosexuality in the Bible?

I was doing some reading this morning about the Bible and homosexuality on ReligousTolerance.org, and discovered that there are three possible same-sex relationships in scripture.

Ruth & Naomi

After the death of Ruth’s husband, Ruth tells her mother-in-law the following:

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV)

This verse invokes such devotion that many heterosexual and same-sex couples use it during marriages and civil ceremonies. Some Bible scholars have speculated about a romantic relationship between between Ruth and Naomi, but there is no clear evidence in scripture. This theory is based on Ruth 1:14, which mentions that “Ruth clave onto her.” (KJV) The Hebrew word translated here as “clave” is identical to that used in the description of a heterosexual marriage in Genesis 2:24: “ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (KJV)

David & Jonathan

“…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan 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.” – I Samuel 18:1-4 (KJV)

The first part of this reading is pretty self-explanatory, but the latter part becomes even more clear when we understand that people in those days didn’t wear underwear. Disrobing in front of another man would have been extremely unusual behavior then and now.

“…and they kissed one another and wept with one another, until David exceeded.” – I Samuel 20:41(KJV)

This verse has been so controversial among Bible translators that it’s difficult to find two translations that are the same. The Living Bible completely removed the reference to two men kissing, changing it to shaking hands. The original Hebrew text translates as “the two men kissed and wept until David became great”. The word translated as “great” is “gadal”, which has lead some theologians to interpret this verse as sexual arousal.

“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” II Samuel 1:26 (KJV)

Since platonic relationships between men and women were unheard of in this time period, the only relations that David would have had with women would have been of a sexual nature. Comparing sexual love for women with platonic love for men makes no sense, so this verse could be referring to physical/romantic love.

Daniel & Ashpenaz

“Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” – Daniel 1:9 (KJV)

The original Hebrew words that describe the relationship between these two men were “chesed v’rachamim”. “Chesed” is commonly translated as “mercy” and v’rachamim” translates as either “mercy” or “physical love”. There is no reason to have the word “mercy” repeated, so some scholars believe the correct interpretation would be “mercy and physical love”.

Both men were eunuchs, which means they were castrated, so there is question about whether a physical relationship would have even been possible. However, males who are castrated after puberty have been known to retain their sex drives.

(The information at ReligiousTolerance.org was very useful in the writing of this entry, and I recommend that you check them out.)

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

8 thoughts on “Homosexuality in the Bible?”

  1. It is a giant assumption on your part to state that the relationships between men and women during “this time period” were merely based on their sexual encounters. Although I do not assume to know the nature of every relationship between the characters of the bible I do know that for thousands of years we humans have disregarded the simple fact that relationships between the same sex can exist on a purely platonic basis and encompas huge amounts of passion, loyalty and intense love. Also something to note is that just because homosexuality has come to the forefront of this nations perspective on religion does not mean that it played even a minute role in the lives of these ancient men and women. I think that sex is probably the least of Gods worries and if we overwhelm ourselves with proving rightiousness we will miss God completly.

  2. This was no assumption on my part, but based on the article about homosexuality in the Bible on ReligiousTolerance.org

    I am not trying to prove righteousness of myself or anyone, but we have been constantly attacked at every turn by people from the religious community who are more than willing to turn a blind eye to their own faults.

  3. A question or two for you: Why do you care what the Bible says about your sexuality? Are you somehow trying to “justify” it per the Bible or are you trying to answer critics?

    Also, the purpose of Scripture is not to point out how wonderful the supporting cast is (e.g. King David, Daniel, etc.). All the folks in the Bible, except for Jesus, were sinners. David was an adulterer, Moses was a murderer, etc. There were some extraordinary demonstration of faithfulness in the Bible, but Scripture points us to our need for a Savior.

    If you are looking to the Bible to find justification for your sinfulness you won’t find it except in Christ. I am not a homosexual, but that comment goes for me as well.

    Have a nice day.

    LBC3

  4. LBC3-

    I care about what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about my sexuality, because I was raised in a very Christian home and I am still trying to reconcile my beliefs with my sexuality. This is a learning process for me, and I tend to use this space to think out loud.

    I am not trying to justify my sexuality by using the Bible, but am trying to make the point that things aren’t always as black and white as they seem to be. People have been using the Bible to justify homophobia for years, and I’m trying to show them that the very book they are using as basis for discrimination, could be showing us just the opposite.

  5. Brian,

    Good luck on your search.

    It is true that many so-called Christians take a view of “hating the sin and the sinner.” This is not exactly Christianity at its finest.

    But, to be honest, many folks see “sin” exhibited in other folks and they want nothing to do with it. Take “bearing false witness” or “stealing” for example, not many people like folks stealing their stuff or telling them lies. The same can be said of homosexuality. Although this practice may be between two consenting adults, quite frankly, it disgusts a lot of folks just to think about it. [I’m not trying to make you mad, just trying to get you to see things from the other point of view.] From there it is very easy (although un-Biblical) to “hate the sinner” as well.

    Jesus, of course, socialized with all kinds of “sinners.” He healed and helped a bunch of ’em. The Apostle Paul even addresses “becoming all things, to all people” in order to win them to Christ. But the key Biblical message that goes right along with Jesus and Paul is not acceptance, but repentance.

    Again, good luck on your journey. God speed.

    LBC3

  6. Hi, I am a Christian and in a “homosexual” relationship. Crazy you say? Yes, but we have agreed to discontinue a physical realtionship 4 years ago do to what the Bible says and personal conviction and this hasn’t been an issue. We’ve “come out” regarding this new realtionship to friends, family and neighbors and explained our reasons for it, including why we are sharing such personal information to be a “witness”, as well as an act of faith. I couldn’t imagine sharing my life without my partner in life, as we have been together for 20 years and is the most “Christ-like” person I know without even trying to be(I’m sure you know people like that, it’s irritating). I would like to hear anyone’s viewpoint regarding my situation, suggestions, condemnations, etc. My heart is no longer convicted since this new stance. I’ve grown closer to the Lord and am now able to witness again without the gay thing hanging over my head. I am gay(my miracle has happened yet and maybe never will), but I can choose not to practice. I can’t choose not be gay, all I can do is choose not act on it.

  7. Mike,

    That is quite an interesting situation to be in. I assume that you believe the Bible condemns homosexuality. I was raised to believe that, but have pretty much changed my mind after some in depth research into the original texts and translations.

    If your situation works for you, that’s fine, but I immediately thought of the verse in the Bible that says we must “abstain from the very appearance of evil”. If you believe that being gay is wrong, then isn’t appearing to be gay wrong, too? What about God knowing the intent of your heart? There are verses that make it clear that wanting to do something is just as bad as doing it.

    If you’re gay and your partner is gay and you live together as a couple, then what’s the difference? Not much in my honest opinion. Lesbian couples are said to rarely have sex, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t gay.

    I’m not judging, but I just don’t think a gay person has to be celibate to be a Christian. I hope I haven’t offended you with any of my questions or statements as that was definitely not my intent.

    I also hope that you realize that I am speaking from the heart and personal experience, and would never try to sway another person’s religious views. However, I do believe that we can all learn from one another and that’s what God intended for us to do.

  8. No not at all. In my heart I feel it’s is wrong because of my relationship with Christ. I don’t believe it was God’s “Plan” for my life. As far as “abstain from the very appearance of evil” that is exactly why we went around to all our neighbors, friends and family. We also explain to any newcomers. As far as the “God knowing the intent of your heart” that is why I’m doing this. He knows my heart. “live together as a couple, then what’s the difference” I refer to my previous comment and the fact that my love for my partner has changed since my prayer and stance. I am not attracted to him physically anymore and my love for him feels right and Christlike. “There are verses that make it clear that wanting to do something is just as bad as doing it” those verses are referring to when you take a sinful thought and run with it in your mind. It is not a sin to be tempted, Jesus was tempted. The sin is in the follow though mentally or physically. Besides all that, I am a work in progress even at 41 and this not the last chapter in my life either. I have a personal relationship with Christ. We are an speaking terms and I just want his will in my life. Maybe one day I’ll be able to minister to people that are in the same situation.

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