The biblical case for same-sex relationships isn’t new

It’s great that some theologically conservative evangelicals are making the “biblical” case against Christianity’s historic anti-gay position. There are certainly many people–and not just in evangelical churches–who feel in good faith that they can’t accept a revision of the traditional view without sacrificing their trust in the Bible or other bedrock convictions.

But at the same time, most of the arguments mentioned in the article linked above boil down to saying that

(1) what the biblical authors (especially Paul) condemned is not the same thing we are talking about when we discuss monogamous same-sex relationships and

(2) the Bible’s “moral logic” or its “underlying values” point toward an affirmation of loving, mutually enriching, stable relationships, whether they be opposite- or same-gender.

I happen to think this is basically correct, but it’s also what more liberal scholars have been arguing for decades. It’s understandable that evangelicals would want to make the case to their co-religionists in a cultural and theological idiom that they’re more likely to accept, but this isn’t a substantive departure from the “revisionist” case that has been made in mainline Protestant churches. Framing it that way reinforces the view that mainline scholars and leaders don’t take the Bible and Christian theological tradition seriously and have just capitulated to “the culture.” But in fact, the decisions of churches to embrace full equality for gays and lesbians have typically been informed by painstaking biblical scholarship. This scholarship has led to essentially the same conclusions that are now being used by evangelical revisionists. Obviously not everyone has been convinced, but that’s not because the case hasn’t been made until now.


2 thoughts on “The biblical case for same-sex relationships isn’t new

  1. Mervyn58

    In my view, the Greek word “arsenokoites” refers to “homosexuals”. Liberal “theologians” would like to interpret this as “homosexual rapists”. So when the Bible says “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9) – it is referring to all who commit sexual immorality – ie any sexual activity outside of marriage – between one man and one woman. This reference to “homosexual offender” is not a “homosexual rapist” – its sexual activity with another person of the same sex. This is what was taught to the Jews pre-Jesus “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” The Creator of all things created man and woman for marriage. All sexual activity outside of His design will have a consequence. My advice – Repent, God’s Kingdom is nearer then you think.

    1. David

      Because, of course, the sexual frameworks of antiquity have been passed onto us in the 21st century completely unchanged, with absolutely no deviations in the understandings of gender and sexual difference*.

      * Thomas Laquer has absolutely not demonstrated the anachronism of homosexual and indeed heterosexual identity in pre-Victorian culture, Daniel Boyarin hasn’t written a profound critique of understanding the Levitical prohibitions against male anal intercourse in terms of the prohibition of homosexual activity tout court, Mark Jordan has certainly not illustrated how “sodomy” as deployed in theological discourse is not a rigid analytic category but rather a rhetorical cipher, etc etc.

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