Many new problems and controversies confront contemporary Christianity. The controversy regarding homosexuality is quite new. However, homosexuality itself is as old as biblical times. To understand how to handle this issue, we should look at what the Bible says. In today's culture, one side claims "this is just the way we are," while the other side insists, "No, that is not the way you are, and everyone should be heterosexual." This controversy and debate is absent from the Bible.
Take Leviticus 18:22 for example. The 18th chapter of Leviticus is an extensive list of prohibitions on sexual immorality. The sins described there range from heterosexual to bestial. In 18:22, God tells His followers, the ancient Israelites, "You shall not lie with a male as with a female." This prohibition automatically implies that some of the ancient Israelites wanted to lie with men as with women. Why prohibit what they were never going to do or never considered? Now, this verse also applies to the women. In patriarchal societies and gendered language, masculine is the default phrasing which can refer to both men and women such as in Spanish, the word "muchachos" includes both men and women while "muchachas" refers strictly to women.
In Leviticus 18:22, God prohibits gay sex between men and between women. The mere fact that God prohibited it means that there were men and women who wanted to do this. Most of the prohibition on sexual sin consists of heterosexual sin, but God never tells them to stop being heterosexual. Nowhere in Leviticus are there statements that people just happen to be homosexual nor are there statements that everyone must be heterosexual. The controversy is absent and does not exist.
Deuteronomy 23:17 forbids the use of male and female temple prostitutes. Men should never become qadesh, and women should never become qadeshah. The ancient Israelites entered the land of Canaan which had its own religions, and God established these laws in Deuteronomy to forbid every unclean element of the Canaanite religion from the Israelites and to cleanse the Israelites from impure elements. Deuteronomy 23:17 is also another example of God prohibiting gay sex, but nowhere in Deuteronomy are statements that people just happen to be homosexual or that everyone must be heterosexual. Again, the controversy is absent and does not exist.
Romans 1:20-28 is a lengthy condemnation of gay sex, but even then, the controversy is absent and does not exist. Romans 1:24 says, "God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves." The term "God gave them up" is ambiguous within the controversy. God could have given them up to what their flesh wanted, which would mean that people just happen to be homosexual. But the next phrase "in the lusts of their hearts" could mean that these people were heterosexuals who chose to act differently. Yet, Paul never stated that people just happen to be homosexual or that everyone should be heterosexual. Paul of Tarsus is very blunt when he discusses sexual sin. If the controversy existed during his time, then he would have mentioned it. Regardless of the meaning behind 1:24, gay sex is prohibited and condemned; all who practice it are "committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." (Romans 1:27)
Now, here are a couple translations for 1 Corinthians 6:9:
King James: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind..."
New International: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders..."
People who commit those sins cannot enter Heaven. Fornicators and adulterers refer to the heterosexual sinners while the last two on the list refer to the homosexual sinners. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals are capable of committing idolatry. Now, here is where the letter becomes really interesting to me. Paul of Tarsus says to the congregation, "and such were some of you." (1 Corinthians 6:11). Some of the congregation prior to following Jesus had committed heterosexual sin and some had committed homosexual sin, but they repented of their past sins and ceased their sinning so that they could honor God and enter the kingdom of Heaven.
But this is Corinth! A Greek city-state! Where the majority of people worshipped Zeus, Ares, and Poseidon! Gay sex - particularly pederasty - was widely practiced and accepted throughout ancient Greece. Peter, Paul, and the others entered Greece with the complete awareness of its current culture and behaviors. The apostles convinced the heterosexuals and homosexuals that they were committing sins and convinced them to repent, cease their behaviors, and turn to God. Most of those Greeks were also pagans and gentiles.
What Paul and the others accomplished is something that not a single church leader has yet to accomplish in contemporary Christianity. However, the apostles completely ignored the controversy and never addressed whether people just happen to be homosexual or whether everyone should be heterosexual. Even so, they convinced people to repent from sexual sin.
Today's controversy is a red herring and a distraction that leads people away from the truth and prevents people from discussing or understanding the truth. What actual difference would either side of the controversy make in what the scriptures say about the matter? Or is the difference only a matter of our perceptions? The controversy was never addressed in the scriptures. The controversy is irrelevant to convincing people to repent from sexual sin. The controversy is a distraction that takes our focus away from the truth.
Once we set aside the controversy, then we can focus upon the truth of God's word, upon the nature of sin, and upon convincing people to repent and accept God's grace.