What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality 2

from Westar‘s membership magazine—The Fourth R 21,3 (May-June 2008)

William O. Walker, Jr.

Mainline Christian denominations in this country are bitterly divided over the question of homosexuality. For this reason it is important to ask what light, if any, the New Testament sheds on this controversial issue. Most people apparently assume that the New Testament expresses strong opposition to homosexuality, but this simply is not the case. The six propositions that follow, considered cumulatively, lead to the conclusion that the New Testament does not provide any direct guidance for understanding and making judgments about homosexuality in the modern world.

Proposition 1: Strictly speaking, the New Testament says nothing at allabout homosexuality.
There is not a single Greek word or phrase in the entire New Testament that should be translated into English as “homosexual” or “homosexuality.” In fact, the very notion of “homosexuality”—like that of “heterosexuality,” “bisexuality,” and even “sexual orientation”—is essentially a modern concept that would simply have been unintelligible to the New Testament writers. The word “homosexuality” came into use only in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and, as New Testament scholar Victor Paul Furnish notes, it and related terms “presume an understanding of human sexuality that was possible only with the advent of modern psychological and sociological analysis.” In other words, “The ancient writers . . . were operating without the vaguest conception of what we have learned to call ‘sexual orientation’.”1 (In the rest of this article I shall use the terms “homosexual” and “homosexuality” strictly for the sake of convenience.)

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Gender symbols, sexual orientation: heterosexu...

Gender symbols, sexual orientation: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality. Česky: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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