I never once said that the Bible says homosexual behavior is okay once a couple is married. I am simply using the same principle that holds for heterosexuals, and using some basic understanding of genetics and development. I am using a “nature” based argument of the same sort that is usually used against homosexuality.
Those who argue that the Bible forbids homosexuality period, even if it were in a marriage, are using a standard “against nature” argument as to why it is wrong. “Against nature” arguments are inherently based on ritual purity concerns, and if you pay any attention at all to what happens between the OT and NT, you will notice that many of the ritual purity laws were dispensed with in the early church. Such rules as those around menstruation and impurity following giving birth. I suspect the prohibition against homosexuality remained in effect during the NT era because:
It is a disgusting thing to heterosexuals, and particularly disgusting things tend to remain prohibited, even if there is no other reason to prohibit them. If it is disgusting, it must be against nature, and if it is against nature, it is wrong.
Marriage of homosexuals was not even on the radar, since culturally it made absolutely no sense. marriages from Biblical times until essentially the middle of the 20th century have always been about procreation and carrying on the family name. These were important things to NT cultures, and not marrying meant you would not be able to have children or carry on the family name and property. Thus, why would anyone marry someone of the same sex?
The contemporary culture provided an outlet for homosexuality. Married men frequently, those who wished to anyway, engaged in sexual relations with other men, usually younger men, and more often slaves or non-citizens. This is because male Roman citizens who were penetrated during sex by another man, were considered effeminate, and manhood was pretty highly valued in their culture. These behaviors were by and large tolerated, and men who participated were still considered faithful to their marriages. This is almost certainly the behavior that Paul mentions in the few places such things are mentioned in the NT. It was equivalent to adultery, and is why it was spoken against so strongly.
Sorry this is so long, but a good background is needed to understand why I say what I do about LGBT issues.
Now, fast forward to the latter half of the 20th century through to the present. Lots of genetic, developmental, neurological, psychological and sociological research has show rather conclusively that at least some (most would say the majority) gays and lesbians are born with such a strong predisposition to same-sex attraction that it is unlikely that any sort of behavioral intervention will be able to change them to become heterosexual. Many have tried, and even many of the very few who have claimed to have been "cured’ eventually fell back into same-sex attraction.
So, many of these individuals, by their nature are attracted to same-sex individuals. In other words, just as you, being a heterosexual individual (I am assuming so at least), are attracted to the opposite sex, they are attracted to the same sex. You may argue that they could change and become heterosexual if they wanted to, and maybe a few could, but the evidence is that almost none can.
At this juncture, it might be good to consider how God has dealt with another notable “against nature” issue, i.e. marriage. According to the indications in the OT God considers marriage between a man and a woman to be a permanent relationship, to divorce two who have become one, is “against nature.” Yes, as Jesus mentions, Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. In other words, God considered divorce wrong, and yet He later allowed it. I think the reference to “hardness of heart” refers to those cases where the couple simply have irreconcilable differences, making it better than they stay apart than remain married.
Homosexuality, I contend, could be dealt with in very much the same manner. Because gays and lesbians are attracted to the same sex, because it is essentially in their nature to be attracted that way, it seems prudent to allow them to marry. Not so they can have sex, incidentally, but so they can form an intimate and loving, exclusive, monogamous bond with whom they are in love. If they have sex within this committed relationship, that would be only normal on such a case. And note, allowing them to marry harms no one, ad in fact provides clear benefits to the two individuals in the relationship.
It might be useful to point out at this juncture that the laws derived from the Bible fall into two categories, with some overlap in some cases: rules pertaining to health/safety/community, and rules pertaining to ritual purity. Some sexual sins, such as adultery, fall into both categories, since it is a case of impurity and of damage to the spouse who is sinned against. Other sexual sins, such as the OT prohibition against engaging in intercourse during a woman’s period, is entirely a purity issue.
Heterosexual relations before marriage, although only implicitly prohibited in the Bible, would be both a purity and health issue at the same time, the health aspect primarily being psychological trauma, since we know that those who wait until marriage to have sex almost invariably are more psychologically stable in their relationship with their spouse. Homosexual relations before marriage would, likewise be wrong for the same reasons.
Within marriage (and it is not the magic of the pronouncement that a couple is man and wife), once true intimacy and love are established, sexual relations are an automatic outgrowth. The question before us now is why should this same thing not be equally true in both heterosexual and same-sex marriage.
This puts the Christian at a crossroads which I think Jesus clearly identified when he said: But go and learn what this means:'I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Do we exercise mercy, as Jesus encourages us to do, and make allowance for the fact that someone who is gay or lesbian is by nature attracted to someone of the same sex, and allow them to marry and to join into full fellowship in the church? Or do we choose sacrifice, condemning such individuals for their ritually impure behavior, and excluding them from full fellowship, thus sacrificing their present and future happiness they might otherwise have had in full fellowship with God’s people?
I have known too many gay and lesbian couples to not choose mercy.
I DO NOT encourage any of our young people to get married so they can act out sexually, period. I also do not immediately assume that a gay or lesbian student is even considering issues such as marriage. These are simply not the things we talk about. Almost all my conversations revolve around such issues as when or if they should “come out?” Who should they “come out” to, everyone? Just their closest friends? Their parents? Should they keep it secret from their relatives? They ask me with tears what they should do with the painful things that are said to them by apparently well-meaning church members? I remind them of God’s love and that I accept them regardless their orientation. Sometimes these students are very depressed, and they can even be suicidal, so I often point them to the counseling department so they can deal with these more serious issues.
Basically, I just talk with them and accept them for who they are. I answer whatever questions they may have. And let me tell you, not a one of them finds ANY comfort in the old saw, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” They see no love there whatsoever.
These are hurting people, mostly hurting because they have spent years trying to NOT be gay or lesbian or queer. They do not WANT to be this way. It has caused them nothing but pain for the most part and alienation from family and church. The least I can do is treat them as Jesus would, and tell them they are loved, and that there is a reason to go on living. Just writing about this almost brings me to tears. They are often SO hurt, and there is so little I can do, except love and accept them.
@bongoangola @GeorgeTichy (and George, I know this one is long, but it is hard to connect the dots otherwise,) @elmer_cupino @ageis711Oxyain @Gil @kennlutz @ProfessorKent @hopeful @timteichman