I love a challenge. I’m competitive by nature. I hate to lose. Having made an admission of my competitive nature, it’s more important to get the facts straight than to manipulate the facts so you can be right.
So when I saw the headline that there is no message against same-sex marriage in the Bible, I felt a challenge coming on. Has somebody come up with an argument I’ve never encountered? I’ve read all the arguments pro and con, did I miss something?
Michael Brown writes, “As I note in my book [Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality], there are ‘no new textual, archeological, sociological, anthropological, or philological discoveries [that] have been made in the last fifty years that would cause us to read any of these biblical texts differently.’”
So does the Salon article by Adam Hamilton refute what Michael Brown and other scholars and exegetes find in Scripture? Not in any way, and here’s why.
Hamilton begins by going to the book of Leviticus, the Torah or law chapters of what Christians call the Old Testament. Hamilton makes a big leap in logic by arguing that the prohibitions in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are about the story of Sodom (Gen. 19) where the same-sex acts are not loving, committed relationships. So not to “lie with a male as one lies with a female” (Lev. 18:22) only refers to an act that’s outside the bounds of marriage. If a homosexual relationship is loving and committed between two consenting adults, there is no biblical prohibition.
Hamilton must assume the legitimacy of same-sex sexuality in order to argue this way. As we’ll see, the biblical definition of marriage is heterosexual by design.
There is no evidence for Hamilton’s strange interpretation anywhere in the two Leviticus passages or any other anti-homosexual passages. Let’s look at Leviticus 20:13 and the verses that precede it (vv. 10-12):
If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife. . . . If there is a man who lies with his father’s wife. . . . If there is a man who lies with his daughter-in-law. . . . If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman. . . .
These are not gang rape violent acts like we find in Genesis 18-19.1 There is consent in the above forbidden sexual relationships. Adultery is a consensual act. Regarding a same-sex act, “both of them have committed a detestable act” (20:13b). If this is like what happened in Sodom, then how can the innocent party also be impugned? This, too, is consensual.
But Hamilton reveals a much larger problem with the above argument and those that follow in his article by not starting where the definition and circumstances surrounding marriage are found. It’s like debating the outcome of a contract dispute without ever looking at the wording and stipulations of the contract.
If Hamilton is going to make a case for something from the Bible, it is necessary to find the place where marriage is defined. Marriage is defined in the first two chapters of Genesis:
- “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (1:27-28).
- “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
The first thing to note is that God created them “male and female.” This alone does not refute Hamilton’s claim that “there is no message against same-sex marriage,” but the next phrase does: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. . .” (1:28). Homosexuals can’t multiply and fill anything. They don’t have the needed sexual equipment to make it happen. They must rely on the sexual equipment of their opposites, those that are different (hetero).
So not only is the Bible against Hamilton’s claim, but so is observational science. In addition to not having the Bible on his side, Hamilton does not have biology, anatomy, or physiology on his side either.
In Genesis 2, we find a development of what is stated in Genesis 1. The animals are not suitable for the male Adam even though there are female counterparts. We’re told this in Genesis by deduction and it’s repeated as an abomination like same-sex sexuality in the same two chapters where we find the prohibition against same-sex sexuality. Like same-sex sexuality, sex with animals, male or female, is also prohibited (Lev. 18:23; 20:15-16). Following Hamilton’s logic, if there is real love between animal and human, bestiality is not an abomination.
Since animals are not suitable for Adam, God creates a woman named Eve. He does not create a man and woman and give him a choice. Adam’s only suitable mate is a woman. She’s designed to fit him biologically. Once again, not only is the Bible against Hamilton’s claims, so is biology.
It’s no wonder that he skips over the definitional chapters to concoct a fictional interpretive model that has no basis in fact. It’s all against him.
Then there’s Jesus’ confirmation of the biblical record: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matt. 19:4-6).
So even without Genesis 18-19, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:18; Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10, we know that the male-female sexual marital relationship is the only one definitionally permitted in Scripture. Since liberals are all about science, even anatomy tells us that male-male, female-female sexual relationships are, as the Apostle Paul puts it, “unnatural” (Rom. 1:26).
As liberals are always saying, the debate is over; and in this case it is. The Bible does not support same-sex anything. This is why, more and more, the Bible is regarded as “hate literature.”
- I believe there is more going on the Genesis account than Hamilton is willing to admit, but I don’t have the space to develop it here. I’ve written an article on it here. For the most complete study of this topic, see Robert A.J. Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. There are many other books on the subject that would demolish Hamilton’s shallow arguments.(↩)