Is Homosexuality a Sin – The Debate in the United Methodist Church


I fancy myself a Theologian. Modern day academics have done their best to co-opt the word to only mean folks with Doctor in front of their names. But the reality is that’s not the case.

Theology is the study of religion, plain and simple. … The first half of theology is theo-, which means god in Greek. The suffix -logy means “the study of,” so theology literally means “the study of god,” but we usually expand it to mean the study of religion more broadly.

I’ve been an inquisitive person my entire life. I’m less concerned with the existence of something, but intrigued with why it exists. On facebook I’m known for fact checking meme’s and posts, you know that fake news stuff. I simply enjoy researching facts and understanding the truth in everything.

Biblical studies are no different. I don’t read the Bible, I study it. I like knowing what a verse means and why. This brings me to the ongoing discussion in many religions and especially a number of protestant denominations such as the United Methodist Church (UMC) on homosexuality.

Progressives (liberals) in the UMC have argued that Leviticus 20:13 which says “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” was written for another people in another time and does not pertain to today. That’s a patently false claim on its own merits in their justification that sexual intercourse between two men is not a sin.

But let’s look more closely at what we’re really talking about. The word homosexuality mean very literally members of the same sex being sexually attracted to each other. No where in the definition does it say the same two people are actually having sex, just that they are attracted to one another sexually.

I just finished reading a dissertation by Vincent Ndikhokele Ndzondelelo Mtshiselwa titled Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 in Discussion With the Methodist Church of Southern Africa on Homosexuality. As with any dissertation it’s a bit long, extremely detailed and contains many references. There were a number of takeaways from his dissertation for me and they pretty much align with my own understanding of the issues at hand.

So is homosexuality a sin. Again I turn to the definition of homosexuality which is not different from the definition of homosexual. “The quality or characteristic of being sexually attracted solely to people of one’s own sex.” Again no mention of the actual act of man lying with man as with a woman. I’m a pretty literal person, I don’t spend allot time justifying things so they fit neatly in one box. I draw no inferences. It’s either says it, or it doesn’t.

The scriptures in the Bible are generally backed up by other scriptures so getting a pretty clear (literal) understanding of what the say and mean is not all that difficult for me. So is homosexuality a sin – I say not. I base this on the literal definitions of the words involved and the scripture that backs them up. I am unable to find any scripture that says being attracted to someone of the same sex is a sin. What I do find is scripture that says sexual intercourse between two men is a sin. These are two different things. One is attraction and the other is an actual sexual act.

The UMC Book of Discipline says “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” This is significant wording because the word practice means “the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.” The word practice means one is engaged in doing something rather than just the theory of being something. So in the case of practicing homosexuals, we clearly have people who are actively doing.

So what does all of this mean. Simply put, being Homosexual is very different from practicing homosexuality. Leviticus 20:13 makes the practice a sin, while being homosexual is not defined by the Bible. I think the UMC did their best to make this point as well. I had a UMC pastor call me once to let me know that a lesbian couple in his church had informed him they were not “practicing” homosexuals. I was perplexed by this statement at the time and asked him what that actually meant. He was very matter of fact in stating they are not having sexual relations.

This is a very complex issue and it requires a great deal of research. The issues affecting the UMC are more directly tied to the act of homosexuality rather than simply being homosexual. The UMC not only wants to ordain gay clergy, but same sex married clergy and perform same sex weddings in the church. In the literal sense I can draw a clear distinction between being and acting. I’ll save digging into what being married means, but marriages are consecrated, an act.

We can love everyone including people of the same sex without having sex with everyone.

Lastly we have to understand the sin aspect of all of this. Leviticus makes it clear the act of many lying with man as with a woman is a sin, but it’s worth noting we are all sinners in one way or another. Matthew 22:39 tells us to love thy neighbor as theyself. I think that’s pretty clear, love everyone.

If your child gets arrested for stealing from a store, you most certainly will still love them. But if you’re a Christian you will likely hate the sin they have committed. I don’t see why we can’t apply that same logic to this issue as well.

  13 comments for “Is Homosexuality a Sin – The Debate in the United Methodist Church

  1. April 14, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    Brother Thom, holy books are written by people who allegedly do so under divine influence. I have looked at different versions of the Bible. Not once have I read anything that specifically condemns homosexuality.

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    • April 15, 2020 at 6:01 am

      I think I answered this question in my response to your previous comment, same subject. If not let me know.

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  2. Robert Helms
    September 22, 2020 at 9:14 am

    This is very helpful, as is “Does god Approve of Same Sex Marriage.” I joined a church that has several lesbian couples attend. My conversation with the pastor prior to joining was about, all sinners are welcome. I did agree with this. A year later I see these women who are openly lesbian, become members and leaders of important committees. It becomes apparent that we are condoning homosexuality, and same sex marriage. I did not take my decision to join the church lightly. My decision to stay, or to go will not be taken lightly either. The more I research this subject, the more I am convinced. Homosexuality is a sin. We must love and welcome all sinners. The church is committing a harmful act, when it somehow interprets that a sin, is not a sin. I cannot find any scripture that leads me to believe homosexuality is not a sin.

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    • September 25, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Leviticus is very clear on this, sexual relations between two men is a sin. Progressives have spent hundreds of millions of dollars searching for and crafting a narrative around this scripture. It’s true Leviticus was written for the Hebrew people, but you won’t find anything in the Bible that was specifically written for the United States. My point is that if we believe in the resurrection of Christ, then why wouldn’t we believe the rest of the Bible. If we believe the Ten Commandments, why not the rest of the Bible. Guys like Adam Hamilton want you to believe that some books of the Bible are not meant for us today. Well, how did Hamilton decide which of God’s books don’t apply? Is it just the books that don’t make us feel good that don’t apply, what is his method? I’ve read the Bible and I can’t find anything that doesn’t apply to us here and now, and here today.

      Just this morning I read an article by an anonymous Southern Methodist University student that argues Leviticus 18:22 is really talking about male on male incest, which in the minds of gays means they are not committing sin. I have a hard time with people working so hard to convert sin into something just. We have seen adulters for hundreds of years justify what they do, and today we’re seeing rioters, looters, arsonists, and murders justify what they are doing as “social justice and progress.”

      Let me close this out by saying a few things, one is I question why this student needed to be anonymous, and second why SMU published it.

      Nowhere in the Bible is there a ranking of sins so that we know which ones carry less penalty. There are many sins in the world, and we are all sinners.

      It’s still early in the day as I’m typing this and I suspect I have already sinned this morning.

      I have counseled a number of young gay men, and I always suggest they stop looking for a workaround on Leviticus, accept they are sinners just as well all are and try to be the best humans and Christians they can be.

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  3. September 25, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Brother Thom, religious texts are written by people who claim to do it under divine influence. Human genetics are the determinant factor in sexual orientation and/or preference. Marriage predates religion, so whatever religion says on the subject of homosexuality is irrelevant.

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    • September 26, 2020 at 6:54 am

      You make several points, let me try to unwrap them. Most Christians believe the Holy Bible and every line of scripture in it to be the divine word of God. But some don’t. For instance, the progressives in the United Methodist Chruch have adopted the belief that only some scriptures apply to them, and others don’t. This a la carte theology allows them to discard anything in the Bible that doesn’t fit their new world order narrative. There is a problem with their a la carte narrative because it would mean that if some scripture doesn’t apply then in reality none of it does.

      Does genetics play a role in homosexuality? Well, probably not. A massive study by Brendan Zietsch of the University of Queensland, Australia, mined several massive genome data banks, including that of 23andMe and the UK Biobank, and found no basis for this assumption. “It’s the end of the ’gay gene,’” says Eric Vilain, a geneticist at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the study.

      I do want to share a scary theory about the possibility that a gay gene may one day be discovered. Gay’s are predominantly Democrat as a voting block. Democrats not only support abortion but recently have supported terminating a pregnancy up to a full 9-month delivery and post-birth. The basis is birth (genetic) defects in the child in consultation with the mother and doctor. But what might be the implication for babies carrying the gay gene? Would heterosexual parents choose to terminate babies carrying the gay gene? These are the questions we don’t know the answer to and frankly, I hope we never find out.

      Does marriage predate religion? We know that marriage predates documented religion. Marriage was literally a form of slavery for a time. Men took wives to guarantee legitimate offspring, not because they loved them. The ancient Hebrews took many wives for this purpose.
      The Roman emperor Nero, who ruled from A.D. 54 to 68, twice married men in formal wedding ceremonies, and forced the Imperial Court to treat them as his wives. But history shows this was rare. As Christians (traditional) we believe in the scriptures that teach us marriage is between one man and one woman. That however doesn’t mean we can’t accept same-sex weddings.

      Is what the Bible says in Leviticus 18.22-24 irrelevant? I don’t think so. This goes back to the progressive desire for a la carte scripture. It’s take one take all, or nothing. There can be no in between.

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      • September 26, 2020 at 9:28 am

        The crucifixion and the last supper are events that I do believe happened. Having said that, Jonah being in the belly of a whale?

        King Solomon had a polygamous marriage. At the risk of being too literal, should a Biblical marriage not be polygamous?

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      • September 26, 2020 at 11:35 am

        This is a very deep subject, but I’ll try to be brief. You’re correct, according to the biblical account, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He must have a very busy man with very little sleep. Nero was said to have had at least two husbands. King David, Saul, and even Moses had plural marriages. Remember God gave man free will, and with that man can sin as much as he wants. The problem is God didn’t look favorably on this. In the Book of Malachi, chapter 2, verse 14 God’s command to a chastised nation was clear: covenantal monogamy was to be the norm.

        So should we go back to polygamous marriage? No, from the very beginning Genesis 2:23-25 says 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

        Then in Genesis 3:20 we read “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” I think we have to go back to Genesis 1:28 where we read “And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

        There is a good deal of scripture on marriage, and I can find nothing that leads me to believe that God intended marriage to be anything other than a man and a woman.

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      • September 26, 2020 at 3:41 pm

        Brother Thom, as I promised, you will only see civility from me. However, I am admittedly divided on this issue.

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      • September 29, 2020 at 5:19 am

        I’m not sure anything I have said has brought your complete peace on this subject, but I was reading scripture yesterday and 1 Peter 4:8 seemed to sum up our many conversations:

        “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

        On reflection, this may be my new favorite verse. Here we are reminded of the greatest commandment to love our neighbor. Since we are all sinners, and no sin is greater than the next it is good and comforting to know that love covers a multitude of sins. As Christians demonstrating our love one another should be our top priority.

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      • September 29, 2020 at 9:50 am

        Brother Thom, I am not gay myself, however, if gay people want to marry, they should be free to. There is to be no religion that is established by the state (government,) so people who run for office should keep their religious convictions outside of our laws, period.

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