God and homosexuality
At the heart of the claim that the Bible is clear "that homosexuality is forbidden by God" is poor biblical scholarship and a cultural bias read into the Bible. For the last two decades, Pew Research Center has reported that one of the most enduring ethical issues across Christian traditions is sexual diversity. Although its unlikely that the biblical authors had any notion of sexual orientation for example, the term homosexual wasn't even coined until the late 19th century for many people of faith, the Bible is looked to for timeless guidance on what it means to honor God with our lives; and this most certainly includes our sexuality. In this light, the Bible is often seen as the primary source that helps us figure out how the people of God should live. Whenever any person opens the Bible, they begin a process of interpretation.
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The passages below need to be set in the wider biblical framework of teaching on sex. It is a surprise to many people to discover that there are only a handful of passages in the Bible that directly mention same-sex relationships. The first two passages that directly mention homosexuality come from the Old Testament, the other three are from the New Testament. Sodom has become so associated with homosexual conduct that its name was for many years a byword for it.
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It hardly needs to be said that entering the debate in this way exposed the Ramsey Colloquium to angry denunciation and was, for some of its members, an act of courage. We believe that any understanding of sexuality, including heterosexuality, that makes it chiefly an arena for the satisfaction of personal desire is harmful to individuals and society. Any way of life that accepts or encourages sexual relations for pleasure or personal satisfaction alone turns away from the disciplined community that marriage is intended to engender and foster. This is a profoundly counter-cultural vision of human sexuality and one that can be helpful as we struggle with the moral question that is before us: should the church affirm faithful relationships between same-sex partners? And who could be opposed to freedom?
Until recent decades, same-sex behavior was placed in the same category with gluttony or drunkenness — as a vice of excess anyone might be prone to — not as the expression of a sexual orientation. Celibacy is a gift, not a mandate. The Bible honors celibacy as a good way of living — Jesus was celibate, after all — but it also makes clear that celibacy must be a voluntary choice.