Many Christians believe that “homosexual behavior” is the worst of sins and that God hates homosexuals, based on Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, where same-sex intercourse is called an “abomination.”
Does the Bible really justify this conclusion?
Do we know what abomination really means? Let’s see if the rest of the Bible sheds light on the matter by checking out a few other “abomination” texts. I have used the King James Version of the Bible for this purpose, since other versions do not use the word abomination as much. (For instance, the NIV does not use the word abomination for sexual sins.)
Sexual sins of any kind are considered “abominations” to the Lord. (See Leviticus 18:18-30 KJV, paying particular attention to Lev 18:27-30 KJV, which refer to “all these abominations” after various kinds of sexual activities apart from marriage have been mentioned.) A similar list is repeated in Leviticus 20 KJV, concluding that God’s people ought not to do these things “after the manner of the nations which I cast out before you.” We find that the levitical laws also forbade remarriages of divorced couples, after the wife had been married to another man, even if the second husband died, calling such an act an “abomination.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4 KJV)
When we consider that Christ amplified these laws to include the lustful thought, who is without sin to cast the first stone?
Dishonest business practices are named as an “abomination” in Deuteronomy 25: 13-16 KJV, Proverbs 11:1 KJV and Proverbs 20:10 KJV. It seems that scrupulously honest business practices are required of any professing to be the Lord’s people.
Do our practices pass the careful scrutiny of the Omniscient One?
Oppressive treatment of others and a haughty attitude are considered as “abomination” in Proverbs 3:31-32 KJV, and a “froward heart” (the Amplified Bible translates this as “willfully contrary in heart”) is again mentioned in Proverbs 11:20 KJV. I wonder if some of the attitudes of conservative Christians towards gay people might not fall into these categories of “abominations.”
A list of six “abominations”
These six things doth the LORD hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies,
and he that soweth discord among brethren.
~~ from Proverbs 6:16-19 KJV
Who can claim innocence from all these “abominations”? Are all the sure dispensers of judgments on gay people free from a “proud look” or “false witness”? (Who can be sure that words repeated are absolutely true?) Or sowing discord in God’s congregation?
The simple term “wickedness” is equated with “abomination” in Proverbs 8:7 KJV. “Lying lips” are added to the list in Proverbs 12:20 KJV and a “proud heart” in Proverbs 16:5 KJV. It seems then that pride and lies to further one’s own agenda are every bit as hateful to a holy God as are sexual sins.
Who then can stand before Him?
Those that justify the wicked or condemn the just, as well as scorners are listed as “abominations” in Proverbs 17:15 KJV and Proverbs 24:9 KJV.
Prayer is added to the list of “abominations,” if it comes from one who turns his ear from hearing the law in Proverbs 28:9 KJV. That becomes especially significant when we consider that all of God’s laws are summed up in the great principle of Love to God and to one’s neighbors and that Christ Himself demonstrated that Law in His life.
Are my prayers an “abomination”? Are yours?
What Jesus said
I am forced to the conclusion that an “abomination” simply refers to something the Lord “hates” − something totally out of harmony with His character of purity and love. If we take the biblical record as a whole, we find that pride and self-sufficiency are mentioned more often than any other qualities as being distasteful to God. And no wonder. Pride feels no need, and there’s nothing even God can do for a self-sufficient sinner. That’s why Jesus said that He came to save sinners and not the “righteous.” Given that the Bible is clear that there is “none righteous,” Christ’s statement indicates as clearly as any other that a self-righteous spirit excludes its bearer from the kingdom of heaven.
Finally, not only did Christ clearly teach that a self-righteous spirit is a teflon-coated defense against saving grace, but He actually used the key word abomination in describing such a spirit. Luke gives this account:
“And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15-16 KJV)
“That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Position, wealth, education, popularity, religiosity, the esteem of men — these are abomination in the sight of God.
In the final analysis, all our own “righteousness” is “abomination” in the sight of God. None can say, “I am better than you. My sin is not as bad as yours,” for in so doing, we exclude ourselves from God’s grace by our judgmental spirit, and thus we are lost without hope.
None of us is qualified to cast the first stone. We are all equally in need of restoration. Let us not focus on heterosexuality nor homosexuality as anything before God, but let us focus on Him who is the hope of our salvation and bow before Him in humility of spirit for “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
Let us then embrace each other in love gay and straight together — and kneel humbly before the Christ who took our place and tasted death for us that we might stand in His place and share eternal life with Him.
May we always lift up Christ,
for if He is lifted up,
He will draw all unto Himself —
men and women, gay and straight,
young and old, rich and poor.
Lift Him up!
I have certainly done things which God considers abominable. And I have been a victim of abominable things done by others. But me? I’m created in the image God and am the apple of his eye. And thankfully, even though I have been abominable in behavior at times and may be again, the hate that he holds for the abomination is not as great as the love He holds for the sinner, expressed through His grace and the gift of His only Son.
I sure don’t intend to behave abominably, but I am so thankful that He forgives me and sets me back up. If I refuse to learn from the consequences, I guess I could find myself in a quicksand state of abomination, but it would not be because He did not provide a way out. It would be because I resisted.
People in the church would do well to understand the application of the abomination word. We wirld it like a club, while we carry grace like a feather.
Thanks for the comment, Thom. 🙂
I like your reminder that we are each created in the image of God and are the apple of His eye. As Jesus reminds us, even the hairs of our head are numbered. Therefore no one whom God created is an “abomination.” But we may behave “abominably” — not just sexually, but in a number of different ways. The point of my essay was that an “abomination” is anything that God hates. And it is clear that God hates pride, among other things, which is a rather common human quality. But most people immediately think of sexual behavior when they think of the word “abomination.”
Strange, how people can read so selectively, isn’t it?
I agree 100%, if we read the bible with an OPEN mind than we would really understand what God is trying to convey to us. I think personally, that those who will argue homosexuality is a sin are reading the bible with a close mind. I will bring up the Westboro Baptist they think homosexuality is so bad that they condemn the United States for supporting homosexuality, they protest at soldiers funerals with hate messages and lies about God, i don’t believe how CLOSED minded and ignorant they really are, the true message is that we all are equal in the eyes of God and that a gay man is no more guilty of sin than a hetersexual man, and the Lord loves us all infinetly. No matter of we are gay or straight.
Oh, dear … do you know that the “Westboro Baptist Church” isn’t really a Baptist church? (Just thought I’d throw this in to prevent the Baptist church from being painted with the same brush. The “Westboro church” is really only one man and his family who obsess over homosexuality and feel quite free to act hateful and un-Christian in the name of Christianity. 🙁
Again, whether or not homosexuality is a sin depends very much on how you define homosexuality. The condition of being homosexually or heterosexually oriented is essentially morally neutral. Heterosexuality can be sinful just as homosexuality can be sinful. That is, heterosexuals may sin sexually, and homosexuals may sin sexually. We need to be clear on God’s design for sexuality to understand what sexual behavior is sinful and what is according to God’s design.
Being obedient won’t necessarily be easy. After all, Jesus said, “”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Self-denial and cross bearing doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me.
On the other hand, this is what Jesus promised to all those who would accept his invitation to follow Him: ““These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) So it looks to me that the path to fullness of joy leads through self-denial — kinda the opposite of what the world teaches, isn’t it?
Inge, your comment on Deuteronomy 24:1-4 could be easily misunderstood. The passage forbids a man to lightly divorce a woman with hopes of getting her back later if he doesn’t find better. It does not, however, forbid a divorced person to remarry a third person after the death of their second spouse.
On another point, Jesus’s interaction with adulterers, tax-thieves and drunkards was more than social. It was successful. They became faithful, honest and sober. Our interaction with gay people should be the same. It should have an end in view — of the person choosing a chaste lifestyle.
When socializing loses its goal, it is unlike Jesus. See also 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Finally, it is not true that gay people generally know the texts relating to the sin of homosexuality. Even straight people are generally ignorant of what the passages say. But Romans 1 has some of the clearest relevant material.
Thank you for your comment. I generally agree with your interpretation of Deut 24:1-4, but I did not intend to interpret, just list the passages. The clear intent of the passage is that divorcing a spouse and then re-marrying the spouse, after that spouse had been with another partner, is pronounced to be an “abomination.”
I’m not sure I can agree with your “end in view” statement. As Christians, I believe that the “end” we should have in view is that we introduce people to Jesus. He said He would make us fishers of men, not cleaners of men. The cleaning part is the Holy Spirit’s job, and we create lots of problems when we try to go God’s job.
This post was meant speifically to examine the meaning of “abomination” in the Bible, nothing more or less. And I blieve the examination demonstrates that a reference to an “abomination” is not necessarily a reference to “homosexuality.”
Inge, I like the way you have approached this. You are not discounting biblical prohibitions on homosexual sex. I see you as putting the use of the word “abomination” in proper perspective. Jesus died for gays as much as he did for everyone else. We have not been excluded from the human race like some christians wish we were. Gay should not all be lumped together as a bunch of perverts, child molesters, swept out as so much trash. Most christians do not know how offensive it is to be put in the same basket as drunks and adulteror.It’s like this. Gays have soft of an internal caller ID. When someone like that calls, we are not going to even pick up the phone.
Inge, you are a mother in Israel. I wish there were more christians like you.