The scriptures never condemns same-sex marriage, partly due to the fact that it doesn't resolve the issue directly.(Flickr: Caro Wallis, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
As Australia deals with a postal survey on same-sex marriage, we room seeing a secure stream that articles saying the correctly or No case.

Many ~ above the No side room prone to citing the holy bible or appealing to "biblical values". Yet what go the bible actually say around human sexuality and homosexuality in particular?

What complies with represents a summary of critical biblical scholarship top top the issue.

Critical biblical scholarship color etc on a variety academic techniques including literature criticism, archaeology, history, philology, and also social science to offer the many plausible, historically grounded translate of the Bible. The is not merely a matter of personal belief or citing official church doctrine.

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Australian scholar are among leaders in the ar when it pertains to sexuality and the Bible. William Loader has actually written several publications on the matter and this Anglican repertoire of essays is additionally excellent.

When it involves homosexuality there are, in ~ most, 6 passages that the holy bible that are relevant. So what execute these passages say?

Genesis 19 and also Leviticus

The story the Sodom and also Gomorrah in Genesis 19 is fine known. This is wherein the terms "sodomite" and "sodomy" originate, and also it has long been linked with biblical condemnation of masculine homosexual sex. It is, however, actually about gang-rape.

In this story, the males of Sodom seek to rape two visitors (who are actually angels). Your host, Lot, defends them and also offers them defense in his house, yet offers his virgin daughters to it is in raped in your place.

Note come Margaret Court


Paul is using a standard list that vices here to do a more comprehensive rhetorical point.

Where some English translations can include "homosexuality" top top this list, the translation is no that simple, which is why various English words are offered (adulterer, not ethical persons, prostitutes).

The Greek word malakoi in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 way "soft" or "effeminate" and also captures the Graeco-Roman distaste in ~ a male taking a "female" role. In the holy bible it is typically used to describe an elaborate clothing, and outside the holy bible was a term because that cult prostitutes.

The word arsenokoites is rarer. Scholars have debated whether it refers to male prostitution or pederasty or other else. To translate it as "homosexual" is problem for two reasons: that is i can not qualify Paul had any kind of concept of sex-related orientation and he was absolutely not describing a cursed adult relationship.

In Romans 1:26-27, Paul condemns human being swapping out their usual companion for among the very same gender. He cases this is a result of idolatry and also uses the as component of his argument for why one should only follow (his) God.

It is typical of the strong "them and also us" rhetoric the the ancient world, offer a bigger argument and also is not a declare on sexuality every se.

As brand-new Testament scholar Sean Winter summarises:

"Paul share a stereotypical Jewish distrust of Graeco-Roman same sex activity, but is simply not talking around loving partnerships in between people with very same sex orientation."

Considering the context

We must put every this in perspective. This are 6 verses the end of much more than 31,000 verses or roughly 0.016 per cent that the text.

In contrast, the holy bible contains an ext than 2,000 verses around money (and related concerns of greed, wealth, loans, and also property), and more than 100 specifically on one's obligation to care for widows.

In various other words, monitoring and proscribing human being (homo)sexual activity is no a specific concern the the holy bible when contrasted to the overarching need for justice, financial equality, and the fair treatment of foreigners and strangers.

For details Christian groups to do this the decisive Christian worry is merely a misreading of biblical values.

Lest reader think the holy bible is against sexuality generally, over there is an entire biblical book dedicated to celebrating person sexual desire. Created in the layout of a Mesopotamian love poem, the tune of songs (sometimes referred to as Song that Solomon), speaks positively that both female and male sex-related yearning.

Serious believer cannot overlook the Bible. They can, however, make certain that they interpret it through all the tools easily accessible to them, that they study their very own biases, and also stop over-simplifying the issues.

The holy bible offers a wide range of marital relationship arrangements, many of which us no much longer condone. It never condemns same-sex marriage, partly since it simply does not address the issue directly.

It does, however, give us one ethic to guide how we treat one another: one ethic based upon God's generous love and also a profound problem for justice.

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Robyn J Whitaker is Bromby Lecturer in Biblical studies at Trinity College and also a lecturer in ~ the college of Divinity.