From Religions Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:
For more information, see the TalkOrigins Archive article:
Within Christianity, both sides of the debate claim Jesus is on their side.

Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction to members of one's own sex. The rights of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals is a contentious political issue in much of the world, due in part to religious views on the perceived immorality of homosexuality. In contemporary times, the legalization of gay marriage is hotly debated.

Many conservative Christians, [1] Jews, Muslims and Sikhs prefer to continue current restrictions against gays, lesbians and bisexuals — including prohibition of same-sex marriage. Some advocate the restoration of laws which once criminalized same-sex behavior. Many oppose the extension of existing hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation.

Homosexual believers sometimes persist with their religious belief, either openly or by suppressing that part of themselves, often at great personal cost. [2] Homosexuals are twice as likely to leave their religion for atheism. [3]

Religious discrimination[edit]

There are many instances of religiously justified or motivated homophobia, including:

This is an example of how religion causes social harm.

Persecuting "sinners"[edit]

Sometimes this behaviour is justified by claiming homosexuality is sinful and believers should avoid or disassociate with homosexuals. This is sometimes called freedom of conscience by theists. However, this is cherry picking which groups to discriminate against without any consistency. For example, certain Christian shop owners refuse to serve gay customers but would serve an adulterer. They argue that adultery is a "different kind of sin", which is special pleading. [9]

An additional problem is that Christians assume "sin" is a real concept. However, this has not been reliably established.

Avoiding God's wrath[edit]

More extremist people, such as Matthew McLaughlin, have called for homosexuals to be killed to avoid God's wrath.

"It is better if offenders ('sodomites') be put to death rather than 'all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for tolerating wickedness in our midst.'"

— Matthew McLaughlin [10]

Apart from being totally irrational, this implicitly assumes that toleration of another's behaviour is sin, which is an unconventional view.

The Bible on homosexuality[edit]

  • In Genesis 2:24 Bible-icon.png, “a man” “is united to his wife”
  • In Genesis 19 Bible-icon.png, God destroys the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; some say that widespread practice of homosexuality was the main reason. Ezekiel 16:49 Bible-icon.png says otherwise.
  • Leviticus 18:22 Bible-icon.png: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
  • Leviticus 20:13 Bible-icon.png: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them."
  • Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 23:17 Bible-icon.png) and 1 Kings (1 Kings 15:12 Bible-icon.png) state that there shall be no sodomites allowed in Israel.
  • Romans 1:26-27 Bible-icon.png: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet."
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Bible-icon.png: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (emphasis added)
  • 1 Timothy 1:9-10 Bible-icon.png: "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." (emphasis added)

Counter-arguments to the Bible's stance[edit]

  • Verses leading up Genesis 2:24 Bible-icon.png talk of finding a companion for Adam. That he is alone is stated as being unnatural. That a woman is the only suitable partner is only implied.
  • Genesis 19, while commonly held to describe the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for the "sin" of homosexuality, more likely describes their destruction because of wickedness in general rather than just for homosexuality. They wanted to rape the angels, it makes sense that the sin was in fact rape, not consenting homosexuality. Ezekiel 16:49 Bible-icon.png (KJV) reads as such:
"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

This supports the view that the sins of Sodom were not homosexuality.

  • Leviticus 18:22 Bible-icon.png can have more than one interpretation. Some people have suggested what is condemned in this verse is pagan rituals, which involved homosexual acts. This fits in with the context of the verse, as Leviticus 18:27-28 Bible-icon.png specifically says that the pagans defiled the land with such acts.
  • Although the book of 1 Kings does say that there will be no sodomites in Israel, that's only in the King James Version. Other, more accurate modern translations render the word "male temple prostitute".
  • The translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 Bible-icon.png as "homosexuals" is contentious. The words translated as "homosexual"(RSV) are "malakoi" meaning soft or effeminate, and "arsenokoitai" whose meaning as debatable but literally translates as "male-bedder". It is possible that Paul in this verse is condeming prostitution. There were temple prostitutes in Corinth at the time who were involved in worshipping other gods.
  • There is also no indication that homosexuality is somehow a more severe sin than fornication. So at worst homosexuals should be treated the same as anyone else who has sex outside of marriage. Have you ever seen an angry mob opposing unmarried couples?

Evolving language and understanding of homosexuality[edit]

  • The word “homosexual” was not created until the late 19th century. It first appeared in an English Bible in the New International Version, 1973. Before that, “sodomite” was commonly used, clearly defined as a sexual act and unrelated to the Greek root words of “arsen” meaning “man” and “koitai” meaning “bed” with a sexual connotation. “Arsen” and “koitai” appear separately but near each other in Leviticus. These are Koine Greek translations of Hebrew that appear in the LXX version of the Torah that Paul would have drawn from to create the word “arsenkoitai”. Online Greek translators do not recognize the word “arsenkoitai”. Its first appearance in writing was in the writings of Paul and has very little use outside of Biblical references.
  • In Biblical times, homosexuality as a loving relationship was rarely written about. Men raping men was used to show domination and was used by conquering soldiers. Homosexual sex also used in pagan rituals. In the time of Paul’s writings, homosexuality was seen as a more lustful expression, and men having sex with a properly submissive woman seen as a normal expression of lust. (See Romans 1:26 above).
  • Thomas Aquinas wrote about homosexuality being unnatural.
  • Homosexuality was still seen as abnormal into the 20th century and homosexuals were not allowed to be psychiatrists. In 1957 Evelyn Hooker conducted the first analysis of homosexuality that included men who were not diagnosed with a disorder, that is, men who were functioning normally in society. Her methods have been criticized, but her analysis has been repeated and verified.
  • Amid protest by gay activists for the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, it was removed from the DSM of the APA. It was ratified by a 58% vote. “Closeted” homosexuals had managed to become psychiatrists, leading to accusations that they “infiltrated” the APA to change the DSM.

Accepting homosexuals, condemning homosexual behavior[edit]

Some apologists draw a distinction between having a homosexual orientation, which is presumably determined by God, and homosexual acts, which God allegedly finds an abomination. Even if homosexuality is not a choice, they claim that expressing it is a choice. [11]

It seems contradictory for God to give people a disposition to "sin" by homosexual acts (or in any other way); God seems to be setting up people to fail. This contradicts the idea of an omnibenevolent or just God.

If human behaviour is guided by natural laws (which is necessarily true under naturalism), then it is normal to have a mixture of heterosexual and homosexual people. Christianity seems to have moral prohibitions that are contrary to normal human tendencies.


Christians marching in a pride parade.

There is a wide range of views regarding homosexuality in Christianity, ranging for total acceptance, toleration to calls for death. Various groups exist to enable connecting between LGBT people within the religion, such as two23.net in the UK and gaychristian.net in the US.


"while the majority of evangelical Christians still do not support marriage equality, the number of Christian voices affirming gay lives has grown from a solo to a chorus: Trey’s friend Rob Bell; Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s son Jay; Presbyterian writer Matthew Vines; Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong; even former Pentecostal preacher Carlton Pearson, a protégé of Oral Roberts who married me and my husband[12]"


The LDS church opposes homosexual behaviours:

"[Homosexual] attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. [13]"

Changes to church rules in November 2015 stated that people in same sex marriages should be disciplined. This could lead to their excommunication. [14]

"adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council. [15]"

Also, they ruled that children living with same sex parents could not be baptised, saying it was in the best interest of the child. [15] This lead to a wave of resignations with people disgusted with the church's stance. [16]


Some preachers celebrated the 2016 mass shooting at a Florida LGBT nightclub, which is a sign of religious extremism. It also falsely equates homosexuality with paedophilia. Of course, not all Christians agree with this stance and often condemn homophobia. [17]

"People say, like: Well, aren’t you sad that 50 sodomites died? Here’s the problem with that. It’s like the equivalent of asking me — what if you asked me: ​Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? Um, no, I think that’s great. I think that helps society. You know, I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight.[18]"


Within Islam, homosexuality is generally considered to be forbidden, immoral or shameful, [19] with many Islamic countries punishing it with the death penalty. Some liberal believers and mosques are accepting of homosexuals. [20]


Skeptics Annotated Quran.jpg
For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Quran article:
  • Surah 7:80-81 Bible-icon.png: "And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you? Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk."
  • Surah 26:165-166 Bible-icon.png: "What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, And leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are froward folk."
  • Surah 27:54-55 Bible-icon.png: "And Lot! when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination knowingly?"
  • Surah 29:28-29 Bible-icon.png: "And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Lo! ye commit lewdness such as no creature did before you. For come ye not in unto males, and cut ye not the road (for travellers), and commit ye not abomination in your meetings ? But the answer of his folk was only that they said: Bring Allah's doom upon us if thou art a truthteller!"


Homosexuality is unnatural[edit]

Apologists sometimes assert that homosexuality is unnatural or "against nature". This is the position of most Christian denominations and mainstream Islam. Apologist Kirk Cameron called homosexuality "unnatural, detrimental, and destructive". [21]

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:"

Romans 1:26 Bible-icon.png

While it is more common for arguments to be made from other religious scriptures, religious critics have argued that homosexuality is unnatural because of magnetic attraction [22]. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that normalizing homosexuality could cause the extinction of humans. [23]

Even if homosexuality were unnatural or "abnormal", it does not logically follow that it is bad. This is an instance of the moralistic fallacy, an appeal to nature, as well as the is-ought problem. Instead, one would still need to show, why homosexuality itself is bad. And once you shift the argument to the alleged bad effects of homosexuality, the fact whether it is natural or unnatural does not add any additional value and loses its relevance.

The purpose of sex is procreation[edit]

Apologists often argue that the purpose of sex is procreation and therefore should only be used for that purpose. The purpose of sex is allegedly defined as part of "God's plan".

"The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose. [24]"

How apologists reliably know this is not stated. This also equivocates between "purpose" generally and "biological purpose", as if biology is the only context of purpose. He assumes that God's purpose should always be obeyed, which suffers from the is-ought problem. Additionally, he overlooks the biological mechanism of sexual pleasure, which also requires appropriate biological systems such as senses and a nervous system to experience it, and therefore also has a biological purpose.

Homosexuality is a choice[edit]

Some Christians maintain that people have a choice as to being homosexual or heterosexual. Choice is a dogmatic necessity because many apologists regard homosexuality as sinful, which necessarily implies it is a choice.

"You can deny it all you want to but I believe in the word of God. And God creates nobody in that way. It's a path that you have chosen. [4]"

82% of American Protestant ministers agree with "homosexuality is a choice people make". [25]


  • The discovery of homosexuality in many thousands of other species including goats and penguins, and even our closest relatives the bonobos and chimpanzees, has shown that homosexuality most likely isn't a choice, but rather something a person is born with.[26][27][28] Homosexuality existing in many animal species suggesting it has some evolutionary origin (or at least it is not detrimental to species survival). The threat of extinction from homosexuality is exaggerated with only a small minority having such tendencies.
  • Researchers have also found evidence that hormones present in the womb effect the development of a fetus and may play a role in development of homosexuality. [29]
  • An easy counter to the idea of sexuality being a choice is telling people (usually heterosexual ones) to choose to become gay for a few days, or at the very least "shut down their straight urges", since it's supposedly possible.
  • The idea that "Normalizing homosexuality will cause the extinction of humans" assumes baselessly that the entire human race will one day be composed of only homosexuals. Also, if the only reason people should exist is to bear more children (Disregarding the many orphaned children no one cares for), then something should also be done about infertile people of any sexuality.
  • "It has been known that homosexuality can run in families. If one of a set of identical twins is gay, there’s a 20% chance that the other will be, too." [30]
  • In addition to relating to biological naturalness, the claim that homosexuality is unnatural (or "abnormal") may also be used to denote a deviation in behavior from the majority, or the norms of a society. To counter this argument, one just needs to slightly change the scope: it is natural for a society to include a certain amount of people who are homosexual, just as it natural for there to be a certain amount of people who are left-handed (Coincidentally, Left-Handed people were demonized in the Dark Ages).
  • If God (also taking in account Which god?) or absolute morality exists, we cannot reliably know his intentions. We therefore cannot use this as a basis for homosexuality's alleged unnaturalness.
  • Those claiming that "God doesn't create people flawed" forget: 1 - people born with physical handicaps and mental illnesses. 2 - (regarding the Abrahamic god) how the dogma states that everyone's born flawed because of the Fall and needs salvation.
  • Arguments from magnetism is an argument from analogy. However, it is still needs to be shown if the analogy is valid.
  • Romans 1:26-27 Bible-icon.png describes clearly how God himself made people homosexual. This passage could also be a reference to idol worship and prostitution, due to the context of the preceding passages.
  • A study of sexual activities performed by gay men found that anal sex was actually rare (34-36%). [31] Almost half of straight women have tried anal sex. [32] This statistics demolish common stereotypes of behavior.

Teaching homosexuality is wrong is child abuse[edit]

Because sexual orientation is part of our identity and generally unchanging, it is harmful to tell children that their identity is somehow disordered.

"It’s child abuse to tell gay children that what they think and feel is wrong [33]"

Critics of homosexuality are sometimes closeted homosexuals[edit]

Some homosexuals living in a religious environment struggle with their own sexual identity and this may lead them to become outspoken critics of homosexuality. This sometimes ends with them being outed and their hypocrisy is exposed.[34][35] Religious homosexuals "may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves."[36] However, it is obviously an over generalization to claim that all bigots are closeted homosexuals.

External links[edit]

See Also[edit]


v · d Religion and society
Politics and law   Code of Hammurabi · Blasphemy laws · Separation of church and state · Theocracy · Gay marriage · Territorial claims
Social issues   Abortion · Adultery · Child abuse · Contraception · Fornication · Halloween · Homosexuality · Masturbation · Misogyny · Pornography · Proselytizing · Ritual slaughter · Right to die · Religious clothing · Religious test · School prayer