This claim of biblical support for a homosexual lifestyle is surprising to many. After all, is not the Bible clear in its prohibition of homosexuality? Historically, has not the church consistently rejected homosexuality since it is out of accord with biblical morality? What about all of the passages that ... well ... so clearly condemn homosexuality? What about these? Have they been misunderstood and misinterpreted and misapplied for all these years? One thinks of God’s institution of marriage—it is to be between one man and one woman. How does the current agenda challenge this design? What of the account of the destruction of the city of Sodom or the clear prohibitions of homosexuality that one finds in the book of Leviticus? What of the apostle Paul’s writing on the subject in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy? Has there been any question that Paul considered homosexual longing or behavior to be inconsistent with a God-pleasing life?

Those advocating the compatibility of homosexuality with the Bible appeal, of necessity, to these very passages, for they claim that the Bible does not condemn but does condone such a practice. More and more the Bible is seen to somehow fall in line with modern “science” and modern impulses. Wherever the Bible opposes homosexuality, these passages are reinterpreted and re-presented so that the modern reader can now “understand” the original context, which was apparently hidden, lost, or buried under a load of cultural bias. The net effect of this revisionist approach is a novel and destructive twisting of Scripture: each passage is considered and, lo and behold, we find that same-sex intimacy is not even being considered, or that the passage addresses an abuse of the supposedly proper place of same-sex intimacy.

The Authority of the Bible

In past decades homosexuals were ashamed to “go public.” Historically, theologians were not required to address this topic, as it was commonly understood to be a violation of God’s law. Francis Turretin, a theologian of the seventeenth century, simply referred to homosexuality as “the sin against nature.”7 Previously, homosexuals rarely tried to go to the Bible to obtain approval for their behavior and appetites—they knew it was not to be found. Lately, since public opinion has turned slightly in their favor, the shame has diminished to the point where the Bible is being pursued as an ally, as a moral reference point to bolster their position. After all, if the Bible can be summoned to the homosexuals’ defense, they may have a case.

So in the midst of this present debate, adherents to both sides of the same-sex controversy claim the authority of the Bible in their defense. Both sides claim that the Bible is clear. Both sides claim to have moral justification for their position. However, both sides cannot be correct. If God’s Word prohibits something, the church must prohibit it as well. The church must not remain silent where God’s Word speaks.

The Bible speaks of its own authority. It must. As God’s Word, it cannot speak, or admit, of any higher authority; to do so would be to present itself as a lesser authority. For our purposes, understanding the Bible’s own pronouncements regarding its authority is important for at least two reasons.

First, the question of the moral acceptability of homosexuality cannot be answered solely by the individual texts that specifically speak of homosexuality; the entire teaching of Scripture—especially its teaching on marriage—is relevant to our discussion. As we consider what the Bible has to say about marriage (in chapter 8), we will see that a biblical definition of marriage leaves no room for homosexual intimacy or homosexual marriage.