This image has been doing the rounds on social media lately. It isn’t bad, and makes a great starting point for a dialogue about rights for homosexual Christians. Unfortunately it is not a complete argument. Quoting this to Christians who know their New Testament and want to argue that God opposes homosexuality will get you into a tight spot fairly quickly, and not in a good way.
While Jesus himself says nothing on the topic (not strictly true but let’s roll with it), the apostle Paul does seem to say a fair bit. In what is arguably the first book of the New Testament in terms of date of authorship Paul pretty much opens with a story about an arrogant city who God destroyed by making all the straight people gay. It doesn’t list homosexuality itself as their sin but it is a go-to verse for Christians who want to claim that homosexuality and Christianity are mutually exclusive, so it needs to be addressed. Read Romans One carefully and check if it does actually say that it is sinful for people who are naturally homosexual to practice what is natural for them, or does it say something else?
Secondly, Paul claims to be responsible for the doctrine of Gentile Christians not being bound to the Old Testament rules of Mosaic law/lore. The four concessions to complete freedom was that Gentile Christians should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. That last one is what people will cling to because it is repeated ALMOST as many times in the New Testament as the command that male believers are to kiss each other on the lips whenever they meet. This is one of those tricky ones because the word that is translated as “sexual immorality” is a word that Paul seems to have made up and doesn’t appear in texts by any other author. The root word means to “sell off” and is contextually linked to the diagrams temple prostitutes would draw to show what activities they were available for within the context of divine sexuality for profit (this was a practice of some of the Roman temples, the Hebrew temple had largely stamped that out but there is biblical evidence that it had been an issue during the Babylonian occupation). It was translated into the more general “sexual immorality” during a time of schism within the church and has a lot of political motivation behind the choice of words.
So that verse can mean one of two things:
1) Don’t eat food sacrificed to other gods, don’t drink blood as part of a worship ritual of other gods, don’t eat animals killed in an inhumane way for purposes of ritual sacrifice to other gods, don’t be gay.
2) Don’t eat food sacrificed to other gods, don’t drink blood as part of a worship ritual of other gods, don’t eat animals killed in an inhumane way for purposes of ritual sacrifice to other gods, don’t participate in ritual prostitution as part of the worship of other gods.
I know that’s a lot to take in, but I think it is important that people are equipped to engage Christians on their own beliefs and ask “does your bible really say that?” with a bit of solid knowledge to back that up.