What Does the New Testament say about Homosexuality?


The Bible is consistent through both Old and New Testaments in confirming that homosexuality is sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Jude 1:7). The New Testament reinforces what the Old Testament had declared since the law was given to Moses (Leviticus 20:13). The difference between the Old and New Testaments is that the New Testament offers hope and restoration to those caught in the sin of homosexuality through the redeeming power of Jesus. It is the same hope that is offered to anyone who chooses to accept it (John 1:12, 3:16-18).

Some people have a misunderstanding about the two sections we know as the Bible. Many mistakenly believe that the New Testament was written to cancel the law God gave in the Old. They state erroneously that since Jesus came, we are not "under the law" and therefore the Old Testament prohibitions no longer apply. However, Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). God's standards of holiness did not change with the coming of Jesus, because God does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). What God made known about Himself has not changed, nor have His moral boundaries. Jesus did not condemn those who were careful to observe God's law. His harsh words were for those who twisted God's law to their own advantage. They were focused on outward obedience while neglecting heart devotion (Matthew 23:2-4; Luke 11:39). The law is good (Psalm 19:7; Romans 7:16; 1 Timothy 1:8). It was given to show us what holiness looks like and that none of us can attain it perfectly on our own.
The New Testament is merely a continuing revelation of God's interaction with humanity. God hated idolatry in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 5:8), and He still hates it in the New (1 John 5:21). Homosexuality is not the cause of a society's decline; it is the result of people making themselves the final authorities. Romans chapter 1 gives the natural digression of a society that has chosen idolatry and sinful pleasure instead of obedience to God. The downward spiral begins with denying that God has absolute authority over His creation (v. 21-23).

The result is that God gives "them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (vv. 24-25). Verses 26 and 27 say, "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." The phrase "God gave them up" means that when we insist on shaking our fists at God, He finally lets us have the perversion we demand. Homosexual behavior is the result of ignoring God and trying to create our own truth. When we defy God's clear instruction, we reap the "due penalty" of our disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 21:8).
The good news is that homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. It is forgivable just like greed, theft, and murder are forgivable when we repent and turn to Jesus (Acts 2:38). He provides us with new identities (1 Peter 1:14; Colossians 2:13). Second Corinthians 5:17 says that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; all things have become new." Those old things include former sins that once held us captive. Whereas we were once defined by our sin, being born again (John 3:3) means we are now defined by Jesus and His righteousness (Colossians 3:3). A thief no longer has to define himself as a thief. He is cleansed from his former ways and made new in Christ. A murderer--such as Saul before he became the apostle Paul--is forgiven and conformed to the image of Christ (Galatians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Romans 8:29). And someone trapped in homosexuality can be set free to walk in purity when he or she agrees with God about sin and trusts His power to forgive and restore. 
First Corinthians 6:9-10 includes homosexuality in a list of sinful identities that will not have a part in God's kingdom. But verse 11 goes on to say, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." God's kingdom is populated by sinners. No one comes to God on personal merit. We all come the same way: through repentance, renouncing the sin for which Jesus died, and accepting the righteousness of Christ in its place (2 Corinthians 5:21). So the New Testament offers good news for everyone struggling with sexual identity. Jesus wants to replace our sinful lifestyles with His own righteousness so that we become more like Him.

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