With all the discussion in the news about the growing affirmation of same-sex sexual relationships it’s understandable many wonder why traditional Christians don’t get on board. To help people understand the traditional Christian position here’s a brief catechesis (teaching) on the Bible and sex.
First, the Bible begins by saying that our sexedness, our being male and female, is on purpose (Genesis 1:27). To be a Christian is to affirm purpose, to see meaning behind the reality we see.
Furthermore, the Bible says that our sexedness relates to our need for companionship (Genesis 2:18). We are made for fellowship on purpose, and the purpose of our being male and female is to provide the means for our finding fellowship.
We see that human community is meant to be male and female, an all male world would be deficient, as would an all female world. Genesis 2:18 explains why, it says the other sex is “a helper suitable” (NIV). A literal translation of “suitable” is “like opposite” (Word Biblical Commentary). The idea is complementarity. The two sexes complement and complete one another.
This means that male and female are different on purpose. They are not meant to be interchangeable. God intended that the two halves of humanity would come together.
Sexual immorality (misuse of our sexual nature) gets defined in Leviticus 18, 19, and 20. The first thing to notice is that God judges the non-Jewish nations for their sexual immorality (Leviticus 18:24-25). He expects non-Jews to know right and wrong when it comes to sex. As Paul would later say, God’s law is written on their hearts so they’re without excuse (Romans 2:14-15, Romans 1:20).
God never judges the non-Jewish nations for eating pork or shellfish. Those were ceremonial laws which are not binding on non-Jews. Ceremonial laws were meant to identify the Jews as God’s peculiar people. Those laws were limited to Jews of the Old Testament and were fulfilled in the coming of the messiah.
Now what is the nature of the sexual immorality as described in Leviticus 18, 19, and 20? The defining characteristic of sexual immorality is that which goes against the healthy coming together of the two halves of humanity (male and female). For this reason incest, bestiality, and same-sex sex are all condemned.
Later in the gospels Jesus will affirm that our being male and female is on purpose and the reason we have marriage (Mark 10:7). Likewise, Jesus will say that “sexual immorality” defiles (Matthew 15:19). “Sexual immorality” in that Jewish context meant Leviticus 18, 19, and 20. So Jesus not only affirmed traditional marriage he condemned behavior that is contrary to the healthy coming together of male and female.
Sometimes people will say Jesus had nothing to say about same-sex sexual behavior. This either shows an ignorance of what “sexuality immorality” meant to Jews or a willful distortion of Jesus’ teaching.
Later, when the apostle Paul went out into the non-Jewish world the leaders in Jerusalem (those who had walked and talked with Jesus) told him to teach non-Jewish Christians to abstain from sexual immorality (Acts 15:29). In his own letters Paul taught the non-Jewish Christians that sexual immorality includes same-sex sexual relations (Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10).
Given all this traditional Christians, whether they be Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Greek Orthodox, have always taught that same-sex sexual relations are contrary to God’s purpose. They can’t teach anything else. To do so would be to go against the plain teaching of Scripture.