What The Bible And A Psychology Book Say About Homosexuality

In the Old Testament Law of Moses, the Bible says:

Leviticus chapter 18 (GWT)

22 Never have sexual intercourse with a man as with a woman. It is disgusting.

In the apostle Paul's First Letter to his fellow Christian worker Timothy in the New Testament, the Bible says:

1 Timothy chapter 1 (ESV)

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Articles About the Bible and Homosexuality

There is some dispute over whether the Bible condemns homosexual practice itself or male prostitution and sexual exploitation, partly due to arguments over the wording in the original languages. Here are several articles which together contain perspectives from both sides, beginning with those that express the point of view that homosexual practice in general is condemned and criticize the arguments made by some pro-gay theologians, and ending with articles that argue that it was the sexual practices performed in the worship of various pagan gods and those of sexually taking advantage of boys and men and being promiscuous that was being condemned. The purpose of linking to the articles is partly to illustrate that there are few quotations in the whole Bible that can be said to condemn homosexual practice, none which condemn homosexuality itself, and of the ones that come near it, a different light may be thrown on the meaning by a knowledge of some cultural practices of the time. Thus, the attention homosexuality gets by some people who spend much time fiercely condemning it is clearly out of proportion to the attention the Bible gives it.

In the psychology book "Families and How to Survive Them" by Robin Skynner and John Cleese, Robin Skynner, discussing his ideas about why people become gay, which aren't necessarily correct, or may only apply to some,says:

(Note that there are links near the bottom of the page to several articles with alternative possible explanations for why people end up being gay.)

Robin: "... Because both male and female children start life inside the mother and only she has breasts that can feed them, all children normally start with an attachment towards the mother. So I've put them on one side of a metaphorical river. The father on the other side is at first a more distant figure for the children - he's minding the shop as it were, supporting the whole operation. So at this stage the children are mainly influenced by the mother and both modelling themselves on her."

John: "So if that situation continued, the boy wouldn't get the male influence he'd need?"

Robin: " Right. So to become psychologically male, he's got to cross the bridge to be with his father."

John: "Whereas the girl can stay where she is with her mother?"

Robin: "Yes. Of course, she can always play around on the bridge, cross a little way or even go quite far for a time and be a real tomboy. But everyone is expecting her to end up on the same bank she started on with her mother, and that first intense attachment to her mother will be helping her to end up there."

John: "So crossing the bridge is the 'something extra' the boy has to do?"

Robin: "He needs to be across by about two and a half. Indeed, it's hard to reverse the process after about one and a half. But both sexes go on getting used to and learning about the roles they're expected to play on their sides of the river for some years after that.

John: "So by about three-and-a-half the boy's across on the father's side. That means he feels confident and happy about being male. You said that if women cross the bridge they're in trouble. But why should a woman do that at all?

Robin: "Well, if a mother is very cold and offers her nothing and her father offers her more, she may cross part or all of the way. If she ends up completely on the wrong side she'll become a transsexual."

John: "Which means?"

Robin: "She feels as if she's really a man. Psychologically speaking she's become a man. She wants to behave and be treated as such so she may want to have a sex change."

John: "And male transsexuals?"

Robin: "These are boys who've got stuck on mother's side of the bridge, identify completely with her and think that they are really female."

John: "So why haven't they got even as far as putting a foot on the bridge over to the father?"

Robin: "Well, that's because they typically have mothers who've given them a blissful infant experience but prolonged it far past the time when they should be helping the child cross to the other side, because the mother doesn't want him to grow apart."

John: "And the father isn't offering him anything to coax him across?"

Robin: "No. They're usually non-entities who are hardly even there. So if these boys aren't helped across by two-and-a-half or so when the sexual identity's getting fixed, change becomes increasingly unlikely even with treatment. They may be quite uninterested in becoming male psychologically and also want a sex change operation."

John: "Allright. Now what about the people who are on the bridge, who've started to cross but haven't reached the other side? Are they homosexual?"

Robin: "I would see homosexuals as strung out along our bridge at different distances across it."

John: "So the mothers have let them go to some extent?"

Robin: "Well, typically, the male homosexuals have rather powerful, possessive mothers.

John: "But less possessive than transsexuals' mothers?"

Robin: "Less completely identified with the child anyway. Also, from the studies I've seen I have the impression they're women who provide the boy with a less gratifying positive experience too so there's less incentive to stay."

John: "And the boy's father?"

Robin: "He's most commonly reported as providing little of the kind of influence that normally encourages a boy to get across to his side, either because he's absent, distant, ineffectual, or because he's harsh and unloving.

John: "Are you suggesting that the gay male is essentially continuing to look for a loving father who'll give him what he lacked?"

Robin: "That's the basic idea, although of course it's much more complicated than that for many reasons. But in my experience, I'd say the gay male is someone who hasn't had a normal homosexual - that is same sex - warm, loving relationship with his father."

John: "A homosexual relationship with his father?!"

Robin: "Well, I don't mean playing with each other's genitals, but I do mean physical, certainly, like romping and cuddling and roughhousing, in the way that male football players exchange obvious physical embraces when someone scores the crucial goal."

John: "Or indeed any goal! So someone who's had a father who's loved him in this warm, physical, horseplay kind of way will be more likely to have found his way right across the bridge?"

Robin: "And incidentally will also have gained strength and authority from the father by accepting his authority, as we said. So he'll be more likely to feel competent to take on the responsibility of a wife and family" ...

John: "Allright. Now we've hardly mentioned gay females."

Robin: "The same principle applies. They usually seem to have missed out on and are searching for an intimate, loving, physical relationship with their mothers."

In the New Testament, the Bible says:

Colossians chapter 3 (TEV)

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, for that is what you should do as Christians. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Following is the transcript of an interview with a Christian counsellor, John Sparkes, who has counselled a small number of homosexuals and claims that the key thing for homosexual men to do if they want to become heterosexual is to forgive their parents for the wrong relationship they had, which was in violation of the Bible's commands that the man should be the dominant one in the family. Note again that this is only a particular viewpoint, and may in future be found to be irrelevant to most homosexuals when more scientific discoveries are made about the causes of homosexuality.

Diana: What, in your opinion, causes people to become gay?

John: Most homosexuals I know have the Melancholic temperament. These are sensitive and creative men and they miss out in particular when a father fails to provide the security and role model that he should. Such a young boy and man will relate to the mother who may well exploit his vulnerability by being over possessive or domineering. Rarely is the homosexual looking for sex as such but the love and affirmation of a father. The sexual side often only follows because the physical closeness runs in with the meeting of the emotional needs. Melancholics tend to work on the basis of ‘I am what I feel’ and therefore operate on the basis that they have a right to express and live their lives on the basis of what they feel.

Diana: Very briefly, what does your counselling involve?

John: The sexual orientation was misdirected in the context of relationships that were not as they should be and I believe healing takes place in the context of healthy relationships. This is why church is important as providing a context in which the power of the Spirit is present and the love of God is expressed through others. So I would help the counselee to understand himself, to look back and understand the situation in which his emotional development took place and to understand the effect of that environment on his emotional development. Then I would paint a picture of his strengths and how to develop them and how to deal with his weaknesses. I would then sensitively help him develop relationships with other men in the church who would affirm him in his masculinity. This would all be in the context of a church that has already developed the basic ingredients of good relationships e.g. openness, trust, loyalty, sacrificial love.

Diana: If someone claims to have had an upbringing that's different from the one you believe causes people to become homosexual, what do you do?

John: In a whole range of counseling situations I find it common that a person’s perception of their upbringing is more akin to what they want to believe rather than what happened. A good counselor will find the truth.

Diana: It's been claimed that therapy to change homosexuals almost universally fails, and that people usually revert back to being gay soon after it. Have you contacted any of the people you've counselled several months or years after therapy to find out whether they've reverted back to homosexuality?

John: The answer is no I have not been back and asked but I believe the same principle applies as in any area of counseling and that is it all depends on how fundamentally perceptions and attitudes have been changed.

Diana: It's been said that therapy that claims to turn people from homosexual to heterosexual can be damaging, since it often doesn't work, and people can be made to feel guilty and ashamed if they don't change, because they can feel they've failed and are sometimes blamed by their therapists for it. What do you say to people who don't change, and would you accept that maybe some people can't change?

John: With the two men I have worked with I have not made the homosexuality the major issue. I see it as a symptom of an identity crisis. I address the identity crisis (which I do in many other counseling situations anyway). If the person allows you to address the root issues then your questions do not arise.

Diana: How would you respond to people who argue that the Bible doesn't condemn loving monogamous homosexual relationships but only male prostitution and the sexual exploitation of boys, and so Christians shouldn't seek to change the sexual orientation of homosexuals? It's been argued that the wording in some of the passages thought to condemn homosexual practice is unclear, and also that male and lesbian prostitution was rife in the cultures Paul was writing to, and so he was probably referring to this.

John: I do not have the time to go into a full exposition of the biblical passages so I will content myself to comment that the plain reading of those passages is quite clear. Sadly male and lesbian prostitution is still rife today and has been in any civilization that is in the process of decline. Paul would be well capable of making his intentions clear.

Diana: It's been argued that the Greek words in one of the passages where Paul is thought to condemn homosexual practice (1 Corinthians) are ambiguous, and that in another one, (in Romans), he was talking in the context of idolatry and so must have been referring to practices done while worshiping idols. What would you say in response to those arguments?

John: I give you one example - there are many others:

1 Corinthians 6:19 - 'Sexual perverts translates two Greek words that refer respectively to "the passive and active partners... in male homosexual relations"' (Ellingworth, P., Hatton, H., & Ellingworth, P. 1995. A handbook on Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Rev. ed. of: A translator's handbook on Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators. United Bible Societies: New York)

Seems clear to me.

Read Romans 1 for yourself - what is the natural reading of that passage? It is clear that the perversion is the result of turning from God and getting into idol worship. That is the whole point of the passage. Male and female prostitution were practiced as part of idol worship but that is not what the passage is about. It is about the breakdown that comes in society when we turn away from God with the ultimate disruption and perversion of roles and relationships (on which society depends) and the consequent judgement of God on that society. It is interesting to note that, while there has always been homosexuality as long as people have turned from God, the decline of civilisations seemed to be marked by increase in the acceptance and practice of homosexuality.

Diana: How do you view the findings that homosexuality might have a biological cause? They're partly based on research by four universities in America with fruit flies, that has found that a mutation in a particular gene causes them to become bisexual, and research at the Beckman Institute in California that has found that flies that were genetically engineered in a particular way could be made to exhibit gay or heterosexual courting behaviour, depending on the temperature.

John: My previous answers are sufficient for this. It would be an amazing coincidence if the factors of temperament and home consistently combined in the cases of those with a particular gene!

Diana: If you've only counselled two people, how do you know that they would often have to be consistent, rather than genes in some cases causing them to happen to someone whose upbringing was different?

John: The fact that I have only been involved in depth with two people does not mean that I am unaware of a large number of homosexual men and their particular family circumstances. It would be difficult to have been in this work for over 30 years and not have known and read of numerous such situations.

Diana: how did you come to believe that homosexuality is caused by an identity crisis resulting from a person's upbringing?

John: Through my understanding of how a person's identity is developed - e.g. the need for security, self-worth and significance, which shows that a person's basic need of security is met in that first year of life largely through touch. This is where the sense of belonging is established. Failure to have this need met in that first year and especially with subsequent failure at puberty to be affirmed into his manhood by his father are factors that play a large part in the young man's view of himself - which is what identity is about. Add into that the negative view that a Melancholic young man has of himself, and the particular sensitivity that goes with that temperament, and he can easily fail to view himself as the man he is and therefore he will not feel confident in relating to women. He will still be seeking the affirmation of a father. His relationship with his father is key and father needs to be involved, strong and affirming. If mother is dominant then he will look to her but the development of his identity needs his father.

I have seen these patterns in enough people to know how the various directions that this identity crisis expresses itself, one of which is in homosexual orientation.

Diseases Found More Commonly Among Gay Men

The Harm That Bullying and Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians can Cause

Homosexuals Who've Been Harmed By Lack of Acceptance and Attempts to Change Their Sexuality

Ex-Gay Ministries and Their Views on Christianity and Homosexuality

Articles on Biological Research Into Homosexuality, and Various Different Opinions About its Causes

The psychology book "Families and How to Survive Them" by Robin Skynner and John Cleese is published by Mandarin.

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
To find out more about what the Bible says about the roles of husbands and wives in marriage, and how psychology backs it up, visit:
What the Bible, a psychology book and a Christian couple say about the submission of wives to husbands in marriage.
Or go directly to the next in the series: Avoiding Sin And Loving One Another; God's Mercy; And Christ's Return.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

Warning Against Believing Everything you Hear or Read

Don't be afraid to question the truth of what a religious authority figure tells you, or even the Bible or other holy books themselves, or certain people's interpretation of them. Nothing to do with religion or the supernatural is so well established in fact it shouldn't be questioned. To find out why caution is a good idea, visit:

The Beauty of the New Testament's Moral Teaching and Other Important Pages on this Website

Are you up to trying the challenges of the New Testament's moral guidelines, and would you like to know more of what it says about the love of Jesus? Here are some links to Bible quotes about the beautiful ideals the New Testament encourages Christians to try to live up to:

There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:

Fancy some light relief or laughter therapy? Then go to the first of our jokes pages:

If you have a problem affecting your mental health or well-being, like depression, a difficulty with life-damaging worry, panic attacks, phobias or OCD, marriage problems, an addiction, an eating disorder, recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse or domestic violence, coping with bullies in the workplace, or bullying and teasing at school, trying to lose weight, raising difficult teenagers, caring for someone with a disease like Alzheimer's, wanting to recover from anorexia or self-harm, or grieving for someone you were close to or feeling lonely, and you'd like some ideas on coping or getting past it, visit our Self-help series.

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