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J Homosex. 2004;48(2):125-56.

The Bible on homosexuality: exploring its meaning and authority.

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  • 1Department of Religious Studies, Hsi Lai University, 1409 Walnut Grove Ave., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA.


Even within this secular age the Bible is still referred to in controversial matters of ethics and morality. Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate over the acceptability or unacceptability of homosexuality. This paper evaluates the Bible's statements on homoeroticism by explaining their historical, cultural, linguistic and narrative contexts. It finds that while the Bible is silent on matters of orientation, it does seem to adopt a negative attitude toward at least male same-sex sexual encounters. This finding, however, is in itself irrelevant unless it is related to how communities use and make sense of the Bible. There are many biblical prohibitions and condemnations that are ignored by even the most fundamentalist Christian groups. Whether the biblical passages on homoeroticism are treated authoritatively or not rests ultimately on the outlook and interpretive framework used by a Christian community to make coherent sense of the Bible.

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