Opponents of same-sex marriage cite seven verses that condemn homosexual behavior and call it sin. But they often overlook the context. These passages uplift chastity and fidelity, while pointing out rape, bestiality, and other behaviors that harm others and violate God’s commandments.
Some argue that these verses appear in a book of laws that Christians no longer keep, and therefore they must not be binding on us today. But this is a dangerous mistake.
1. Genesis 2:24
Some opponents of same-sex marriage suggest that Genesis 2:24 presents a normative definition of marriage that precludes same-sex unions. However, this view misunderstands the context of the verse and misses its deeper significance.
First, the phrase one flesh refers to a body—not a sexual union. The word for flesh is the same one used for skin and bones in Genesis 1:27, where God breathed life into Adam, making him a living being. In this context, the words suggest a physical bond like that of a hand to an arm. It is this same meaning that Paul uses when he reminds the Corinthians of the closeness between Christ and his church.
Finally, the Genesis text does not discuss the end of marriage, as some would have us believe. This misunderstanding is due to the fact that Genesis 2:24 is set in an Edenic world in which there was no need to discuss the issue of divorce or remarriage. It was only after the Fall that these issues emerged and that the Bible begins to address them.
Despite these difficulties, Genesis 2:24 speaks to the nature of human beings and of the sacred relationship between husband and wife. It is an important biblical passage that affirms the dignity of people of all genders and that reveals that love in its many forms is central to the creation of the human family.
2. Matthew 19:4
Some suggest that homosexual behavior violates the biblical mandate to honor God’s creation by reversing the male and female nature God established in Genesis 1-2. But this argument misunderstands Scripture. The Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies it as an abomination, and Romans 1:26-27 labels homosexuals as “wrongdoers.” These words reflect not a low view of human sexuality, but a clear rejection of the divine design for marriage and sex in the context of life.
In the New Testament, Jesus affirms and clarifies that marriage is between a man and a woman—a reflection of God’s creation order and His plan to care for creation in partnership. Therefore, homosexuals may not marry (Matthew 19:4).
Likewise, in Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus teaches that any act of lust or sexual immorality is sinful. He includes homosexual sex among the list of actions that God condemns as a violation of His command to love one another (Romans 13:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Some argue that Jesus’ words and the New Testament restate and clarify the Old Testament prohibition against consensual homosexual behavior, but it is a false claim. Jesus, His apostles, and the Jewish people of their day shared the view that even consensual homosexual behavior is sinful—as demonstrated by the biblical passages cited above. Moreover, Jesus and the New Testament speak with one voice in their affirmation of the moral law and its application to all people at every point in salvation history.
3. Romans 1:28
A common argument is that Romans 1:26-27 teaches that homosexual activity is sin because it deviates from the God-given nature of sexuality. It violates the divine order established by God for a man to leave his father and mother and be united with his wife (Genesis 2:24). And it diverts people from embracing the virtuous lifestyle of celibacy, which is good if it’s God’s will.
However, this argument ignores that the biblical account of homosexual behavior is not a prescriptive text, and instead describes how people acted in ancient culture. It also discounts the fact that childbearing is a secondary purpose of marriage; love, not procreation, is at the heart of the biblical message of marriage.
It is important to separate prescriptive and descriptive texts when reading Scripture. If you respect the authority of Holy Scripture and desire to live according to its teaching, then you must accept that the Bible condemns even consensual homosexual behavior.
In verse 26, Paul uses the Greek term porneia to describe sexual immorality and unnatural activity. The word porneia combines two Greek words: arsenos, meaning “dirty,” and koitene, meaning “shameful.” He used the word to highlight the sex-related evil that was taking place among some of his readers. He argued that these men were indulging in homosexual activity, defiling themselves and each other.
4. 1 Corinthians 7:34
When people misuse their sexuality, they are handed over to “dishonorable passions” that debase and enslave them (Rom. 1:26). This is the same language used for the various abominable pagan sexual practices forbidden in Leviticus, and it’s also found elsewhere for idolatry, human sacrifice, and witchcraft. In short, it is a way of saying that they dishonor God by turning his good design for sex and marriage into an outlet for their own selfish desires.
In fact, Jesus specifically addressed homosexuality by referring to all relationships outside of the bond of marriage as porneia (Matthew 19:19). The Scriptures make it clear that homosexual behavior is sinful and comes under divine judgment.
Some have argued that since Scripture doesn’t directly address bestiality or pedophilia, these forms of sexual immorality are not included in its condemnation of porneia and other kinds of sexual immorality. However, this ignores the fact that these behaviors are already included in Jesus’ direct condemnation of all pornography, and it ignores the fact that first-century Judaism universally acknowledged homosexual practices as part of its definition of what constitutes fornication or adultery. The biblical text makes it clear that homosexual behavior is a sin that can be reconciled to God only through faith in Christ. Moreover, it also indicates that those who are guilty of such behavior will not inherit his kingdom (2 Corinthians 6:9).