Homosexuality in the Bible

I am a white, male, evangelical Christian; no one cares if I am offended. Yet I want to address one of the most offensive things I have seen lately, the publicity for the Queen James Bible. It is touted on Facebook right now as a new attack by liberals on Christianity.

That is not exactly true, looking on Amazon you can see that this corruption of Scripture was released back in 2012, so it’s not new. Nor does it appear to be an organized attack. It is nothing more than one person’s attempt to promulgate their lifestyle and to profiteer from other people’s foolishness.

I wish Christians wouldn’t fall for misinformation so easily. But more so, I wish the lost world would not fall for the lies that lead to whitewashing sin and to eternal separation from God.

What I referred to as highly offensive was not the exaggerations about the book presented on Facebook, the most offensive thing was the lies told in the sound bites promoting the book. Here is an exact quote.

Homosexuality was first mentioned in the Bible in 1946, in the Revised Standard Version. There is no mention of or reference to homosexuality in any Bible prior to this – only interpretations have been made.

So they would have us to believe that up until then the Bible was either silent on homosexuality or in favor of it. This is a blatant lie, empowered by the fact that his intended audience would not take the time to check the details.

Let me tell you the truth, with some easily verifiable facts. The King James Bible was produced in 1611. This of course means it was written in old English. It is generally sold with updated language, so that the 1611 spellings are highly unlikely to be what you find in a local library or bookstore.

In the original wording, without any updates Romans 1:24 ff is very clear, even if it is in old English. Homosexuality is a sin, and it is a sin that grows out of rejecting God and which brings about appropriate consequences. (Here is a link that will allow you to search any passage in the 1611 King James.) Here is the exact copy.

24Wherefore God also gaue them vp to vncleannesse, through the lusts of their owne hearts, to dishonour their owne bodies betweene themselues:
25 Who changed the trueth of God into a lye, and worshipped and serued the creature more then the Creatour, who is blessed for euer. Amen.
26 For this cause God gaue them vp vnto vile affections: for euen their women did change the naturall vse into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leauing the naturall vse of the woman, burned in their lust one towards another, men with men working that which is vnseemely, and receiuing in themselues that recompense of their errour which was meet.
28 And euen as they did not like to retaine God in their knowledge, God gaue them ouer to a reprobate minde, to doe those things which are not conuenient:

 

The passage doesn’t use the word homosexuality, but it describes homosexual behavior clearly, and there is no honest way to say this passage does not condemn the behavior. People who are justifying their sin do not mind lying about what the Bible says. In essence they are described here as the ones who “changed the truth of God into a lie.” In this case they went so far as to rewrite the Bible.

God created humanity in such a way that we all make our own choices, and pay the price for our choices. One of the most offensive things I can imagine is lying to people about the consequences of their actions.

Advertisement

King James Bible

One of the difficulties for believers to wrestle with is what to think about all the different Bible translations. Many people resolve the issue by choosing to adopt the King James Version as the Bible, or at least as their Bible. This answer is easy to grab, since from the American perspective it feels like the oldest Bible. It was the translation every older American grew up with. It was the version they used when the Mayflower landed. Some people incorrectly believe it was the language of Paul.

The King James was translated in 1611. It was a remarkable translation for its time, but it was not the only translation of its time. The fact that this one was accepted and used to a greater degree, was primarily based on it being the last of the Bibles authorized by the British crown.

The problem with the King James is that we have now had over 400 years of finding better manuscripts and of scholarly review. The first means that we have found small, very small, corrections we can make to the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts the Bible is translated from. The better opportunities for scholarly review means today’s translations are checked and rechecked in ways that were unimaginable back then.

Notice that I said the changes were very small. I have never seen a textual variation which changed the message in any significant way. I believe God has been protecting the transmission of His Word, allowing some basic human error back when the Bible was hand copied, but preventing the corruption of His message.

God’s Word is the message rather than a single translation. We tend to think of the Bible as whatever translation we happen to be reading. But it is also being read in Italian, Chinese, Spanish and many more. The fact that there is more than one English translation is no more troublesome than the fact that there are translations in so many languages. Since we believe God so loved the world, means the whole world, then it’s only logical His Gospel would be available to all of us.

But some people have a strong attachment to the KJV. So a couple of textual theories have been put forward to justify the idea that the KJV is the only valid English translation.

One of these is that the majority of Greek texts are roughly the equivalent of the KJV text. This is not exactly true. But even if it was it would not be a good way to choose the best text. In the course of history a certain text might be copied thousands of times. If it has an error in it, then there will be thousands of texts with that error in place. The age of the texts is a better criteria than numbers. The idea of a majority text in scholarly circles means something entirely different and this use is a misunderstanding of it, and it was not the text available to translate the KJV

Another of these theories is the idea of a received text. Some believe God was protecting His Word by giving one single correct Greek text which then was used to translate the KJV which is therefore the only correct English text. This also doesn’t really work out as a claim for the Greek or for the English. Notice that the King James we grew up with is not the one that is for sale on the shelves today, and that the 1611 version was totally different than either. Publishers update the language in small ways. Even today if you buy a KJV from different publishers it is likely to be updated in slightly different ways.

I tell you all of this to help you avoid getting stuck on the idea that the KJV is the only good English translation. It is a good translation, but at many points the language is archaic enough that people have a hard time understanding it. Instead of adopting a single translation as the perfect Bible, accept that God’s Word is the message behind the words. By accepting a reasonably translated modern version you will likely get more out of it than you will from a translation that is stuck in centuries old language you did not grow up with. Updated language is especially important in ministry to young people. Remember, they don’t teach Shakespeare in schools anymore, so today’s youth have no context for the ancient language.