Homosexuality and transgenderism in the Bible
Homosexuality is rejected in a number of places in the Bible.
- Genesis 19: 4-8: “Before they could lie down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, from boy to old man, all the people in one assembly. (5) And they kept calling. to Lot and say to him, "Where are the men who have come to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may have fellowship with them." (6) Finally Lot went out to them to the entrance. but he shut the door behind him. (7) Then he said, "Please, my brethren, do not act wickedly. (8) Please, see, I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with a man. Please bring them out to you. Then do with them what is right in your eyes. Just do nothing to these men, for that is why they have come under the shadow of my roof. "
- Matthew 10: 14-15: "If you are not received anywhere, or if you do not listen to your words, then leave that house or city and shake the dust off your feet. (15) Verily I say to you, land of Sodom and Gomorrah are more bearable on Judgment Day than for that city. "
- Leviticus 18:22: "You must not associate with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."
- Leviticus 20:13: "If a man has intercourse with another man as with a woman, both commit an heinous deed. They must be put to death."
- Corinthians 6: 9-10: "What, do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, (10) neither thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit God's kingdom. "
- Romans 1:26: "Therefore God gave them up to dishonorable passions. And women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural ones. Men have also given up natural intercourse with women and are kindled in lust for one another: men commit fornication with men."
People think differently about how to interpret these quotes. Some look for an alternative theological explanation, others provide a sociological or historical explanation, and educators on sexual diversity usually conclude that the debate should not be sought in an explanation of Bible quotes but requires a heart-to-heart dialogue.
Alternative theological explanation
Some theologians attempt to give a less negative interpretation of the Biblical quotes. Some come to the conclusion that God loves all people equally. It is also often argued that dismissive statements about homosexuality are based on a misunderstanding (for example, that Lot's story has been mistranslated, that it is not a rejection of homosexuality, but of inhospitality, or/and of rape). Finally, it is argued that it is one-sided to prohibit homosexuality based on Bible quotes. In the Bible, disciples like Paul enumerate many prohibitions, most of which are no longer observed by Christians today (for example, eating pork or wearing mixed fabrics).
Sociologists and historians point to the context in which the statements in the Bible came about. They often show that the circumstances of the Jews are not comparable to the situation today (for example, the taboo on homosexuality and masturbation in the context of a great emphasis on procreation that was vital for a desert people in primitive circumstances at the time, or the rejection of homosexual abuse of temple slaves). This raises the question to what extent various concrete commandments and prohibitions are generally applicable or still relevant for our time.
Human rights context
There is a growing movement to redefine religious teachings with the modern perspective of human rights. In some Christian circles, saying you are gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender or of a non-binary gender is perceived as provocative and inappropriate. Teachers and advisers will have to find a way with their students about how we deal with such differences of opinion. In most democratic countries there is relatively much space for having the relationship(s) you choose yourself, but freedom of choice is limited to the extent that you also have to treat others with respect. Discrimination is therefore prohibited and orthodox schools or authorities claiming "religious freedom" to discriminate sexual or gender diversity that does not conform to their internal teachings put themselves outside of the democratic order.
Approach by educators
For teachers and peer educators on sexual and gender diversity, dealing adequately with religion can be a challenge. In general, it is concluded that it makes no sense to argue with fundamentalist believers about literal statements in the Bible. After all, most educators are not theologians. It is therefore recommended - if possible - to engage in a respectful dialogue about humanity, human rights, mutual respect and the emotions believers, but also LGBTI people, have concerning sexual and gender diversity, their spirituality, religion and religious institutions.
Educators who themselves have a Christian background can link this to feelings they themselves had when they discovered that they were L, G, B, T, or I. They too have often themselves sought recognition of these feelings in the Bible. When talking to believers about this quest, they, as experts by experience, can compare various quotations from the Bible with each other. The latter, however, not so much for exegesis (Bible interpretation) or to "be proved right", but as reflection and expression of feelings.
Read more here about different strategies for educating young religious people about sexual and gender diversity.
For a theological / historicizing explanation of the Bible's sayings, see Larry Toothman, "The Big Eight"