I've been emailing an acquaintance who believes homosexuality is a choice and a sin. I disagree, and today she asked for specific Biblical proof of my belief. I copied my response to her. Please let me know what you think:
Okay, so here's why I'm not convinced that homosexuality is a sin. And again, my POV may change at some point. I've been researching this topic for years and am always interested to learn new ideas. But here we go... :)
Let me start with the fact that there are no same-sex couples in the Bible. This would support the notion that homosexuality is a sin, but I'm not surprised that there are no gay couples because same-sex relationships were not a part of the culture back when the Bible was written. That doesn't mean there weren't gay people. That just means that the Bible reflects relationships of that time. For example, Deuteronomy 25:5-6 is a long list of acceptable ways for a man to take a wife after his brother dies. Or Exodus 21: 2 - 4, which gives guidelines to family structure in specific situations. There's tons of examples like this, examples of how men are to inherent women as their wives / property, practices that are no longer relevant in today's society. That's because the Bible reflects society thousands of years ago.
Of course, that doesn't mean we should disregard everything the Bible says as "old school" and make up new rules. But that also doesn't mean we shouldn't challenge the treatment of humans. Over the centuries, we've changed our view point on slavery and women's rights based on the Bible's misconceptions - conceptions that were made based on the culture in which the Bible was written. Martin Luther challenged the Bible's writings. Astronomers challenged that Psalm 104:5 "He set the Earth as a foundation. It can not be moved." I think that some passages need to be challenged.
The Bible was written by man. A lot of things weren't written in the Bible. I'm sure at some point you've had an atheist challenge you with one of the common "gotcha" questions. For me, I have an atheist family member who loves to ask, "If Adam and Eve were the only two people in garden, and they had two sons, where did Cain's wife come from?" I don't know. Maybe Adam and Eve had tons of kids but they weren't as important to the Bible's core message so they weren't included. Maybe God created her. The point is, it isn't mentioned because it just wasn't necessary. Culture and the core importance of the message were what drove the writings of the Bible.
But the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin. Okay, let's talk about that.
I believe that homosexuality discussed in the Bible does not refer to the homosexuality defined in culture today.
Examples : Sodom and Gomorrah.
When the men surround the house and call out, they're describing gang rape. Sodomy. And yes, that's disgusting.
Judges 19 has a similar situation "“Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”" Again, rape. Disgusting.
Paul talks about orgies, but again, we have to look at context. The Romans were conquering the land and they were having sex with themselves and boys, but acts of that sort - back then - were submissive, as a way to show dominance over another man or their enemy. Sodomy. Not concessional. Not between two loving, caring adults in a relationship. Worse, it was acceptable. And Paul was right to condemn them. Ancient Greece is also infamous for their homosexual behavior, but again it needs to be reviewed in context. 1 Corinthians 6:9 - 10 is pretty clear when Paul condemns homosexuality, but again the acts he's seen aren't the same as culture today.
Okay, so the scripture I hear most used is Lev 18 - 20, the "abomination" scripture. This is when God is delivering a clear message. He wants to keep the Israelite pure. And he gives specific rules, no tattoos, no sex with women while they are menstruating, no mixed fabrics. Yet in this long list, the only thing that people seem to care about in today's culture is the "no gay" rule. It was directed toward a specific group of people during a specific time in history when gay culture was very different than it is today.
Now for Bible passages that support homosexuality. Like I've mentioned, you won't find anything specific because the loving gay relationships of today weren't the main core message of the Bible. But there are plenty of passages that I think of when it comes to supporting and loving members of the gay christian community:
Matthew 7:3, "Why do you look at the speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?" Homosexuality is become the trendy "sin to condemn" in our society. And that's dangerous because we all are filled with sin that needs to be evaluated. Gluttony, for example, is common but rarely held to the same standard. An overweight pastor has little difficulty obtaining a preaching position while a man with homosexual feelings - perhaps not even a man who is practicing gay behaviors - isn't allowed to preach.
Matthew 22: 36 - 40 Basically, Love God, Love others. That's what it all boils down to. And love, between a man and a woman or a man and man or a woman and a woman, is still love.
I could go on, but I've written a lot and you're probably a tad tired of reading :) I appreciate you taking the time to hear me out and I'd love to hear more of your ideas on the subject.