וְאֶת זָכָר לֹא תִשְׁכַּב, מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה: תּוֹעֵבָה, הוא
Above is the verse that relates to one of the most difficult and controversial topics about which people opine very near daily in every forum. I have refrained from doing so, so as not to lend to the cacophony, but have been compelled, seemingly from within and/or above, to raise my voice in an attempt to lend some clarity about this subject, or at least to apply some balm, if that’s possible.
Many are very emotional about this issue. And part of the reason for that is because of its prominence in social discussion; but, also, part of the reason for such emotion is because of one’s personal exposure to the issue, one’s perspective, and also due to the very polar positions people take on this politically, especially if a loved one has embraced the behavior.
The verse above reads:
“And unto a man you shall not bed, as one beds a wife. It is a repulsive thing.”
This verse is in VaYikra [Leviticus] 18:22, and is listed among a whole host of other things that are repulsive to יהוה. [His ‘NAME’, the name of the Creator of the Universe to whom all men will one day give an account of their lives.]
But, for some reason, this one verse is the ‘topic du jour,’ and the other repulsive things slip into oblivion.
The word there for ‘repulsive thing’ is “toh’evah,” which means disgusting, or abhorrent. It is usually translated as ‘abomination,’ but there are so many societal overtones and stereotypes to that word, I chose not to use it here, but bring it up to point out that society has created a perverted concept around this whole issue.
Christian society believes that this is the ONLY thing ‘abominable’ to יהוה . It is not. There are many things abominable, or repulsive to Him, not the least of which is violating His Sabbath and perverting His feasts with pagan idolatry. So, to avoid the hypocrisy of religion and the stigma around this word, we will use a different word for toh’evah: repulsive.
Toh’evah is a word that describes an ‘act,’ a behavior that Elohim [G-d] abhors. But, once again, there are many other ‘acts’ or ‘behaviors’ that He abhors passionately, like when we eat shrimp, bacon, and catfish [which we do not do any longer, having repented [turned from it], for that reason, so don’t assume and call us hypocrites!].
Idolatry mixed with the worship of Elohim is abhorred by יהוה . So, when evangelicals beat the ‘abomination’ drum, they do indeed come off as hypocrites, and so the argument just stays in the spin cycle. “First, take the LOG out of your own eye; then you will see clearly enough to take the spec out of your brother’s eye.” ~ Yeshua the Messiah
VaYikra 18 is full of OTHER sexual sins that, again, get NO attention from the political ‘right’ or evangelicals. Plain ole adultery is also ‘toh’evah,’ or repulsive; EVERYTHING in that chapter is called ‘toh’evah.’ [see verse 29!]
I said all of that to say this: I in no way have any ill will against those who call themselves ‘homosexual/gay,’ nor do I think they, as a group, are ‘bad people,’ any worse than anyone else. Neither are they in any greater danger of going to hell than anyone else.
Now, to the question, ‘is this a sin?’:
The Father says yes.
Sin is when we break His Torah. It is the Brit Khadasha [Renewed Covenant scriptures] that defines this very plainly: “He who sins breaks the Torah [law]; because sin IS transgression of the Torah.” [Yokhanan Alef 3:4 (1st John)] VaYikra is the book of being ‘set apart,’ or made ‘holy,’ and is a big and important part of the Torah, defining many of the behaviors that He says are good, and those that He says are harmful. This one is indeed harmful. We will discuss how later. But, for Christians to quote this one verse out of this book on the one hand, and on the other say ‘we do not have to follow the ‘law’ because it is a burden, their hypocrisy is laid bare, so their argument is ineffective.
So, why does this one error get SO MUCH attention above all the other harmful behaviors listed in Torah but that are very nearly ignored? Well, there are likely many reasons for that, but the first one I will address here is this: because some people only read ONE side of the Bible, reading it without the pretext of the Torah. Many do so innocently, because they are taught that way. Our hope is that someone reading this will see that error and stop doing that, no matter what side of this argument they choose.
But, theologians fall into two categories, usually, about this topic. Some of them wittingly ignore the ‘old testament’ texts so as to perpetuate an erroneous system of MAN’S DOCTRINE. This group deliberately points at this ONE error, and screams and hollers about it, so as to draw attention away from the other errors in the ‘church.’ Truly, homosexuality is the modern scapegoat for many. The other group, however, is completely and wittingly dismissive about this one verse, and about the verses in the Brit Khadasha that do say something about this particular error, quite at length.
Since we have said that this is ‘sin,’ or error, let’s further define what that is, beyond just ‘breaking Torah.’ Torah and Khata [law and sin] are two archery terms in the Hebrew language. ‘Torah’ is more accurately ‘translated’ as ‘instruction,’ and NOT ‘law.’ Instruction is ‘directional,’ in the sense that it is the arrow pointing at the bull’s-eye in the target; and khata is the arrow in flight that has ultimately missed the target.
Messiah Yeshua gave us the ‘goal’ of PERFECTION, His perfection. He never sinned; He never broke the Torah. He tells us to be like Him. He [Messiah] is the ‘goal’ at which the Torah aims. [Rom 10:4, check the greek!] And He gives us an opportunity to be conformed, as closely as possible, into that perfection while we are on this earth. There are many who do not strive at all to reach that goal after they come to believe. And there are many who strive, as if fighting inside an open fishing net, because they don’t ‘see’ that the Messiah’s Perfection is HIS TORAH. He embodied Torah: “The Word [Torah] became a BODY [flesh] and lived among us.” He kept it perfectly, and told us to strive to do so as well. [Matt 5:19, John 14:15] Breaking this ‘controversial’ command is just ONE way of not reaching toward the perfection of Messiah.
So, having established that this is error, ie sin, and having established that it is NOT the only sin, and that we do not patently condemn all who commit this sin, let’s now look at what the Brit Khadashah says about this type of ‘missing the target.’
Chronologically, the first place in the Brit Khadashah where this error is mentioned is in Romim 1:19-2:1 [Romans].
“Because that which may be known of Elohim is manifested to them, for Elohim has revealed it to them. For, from the very creation of the world, the invisible things of Elohim have been clearly seen and understood by His creations, even His eternal power and divinity; so that they are without excuse. For they knew Elohim, and did not glorify Him and give thanks to Him as Elohim, but became vain in their imaginations, and their hearts were darkened so that they could not understand. And while they thought within themselves that they were wise, they became fools, and they have changed the glory of the incorruptible Elohim for an image made in the likeness of corruptible man,
[Some of Christianity has violated that last line. They ‘think’ that because Yeshua is a man, that Elohim is just like man. Doctrine has made people think that “Jesus” is just like us, and overlooks our sins. That is a manmade ‘image’ of Elohim [G-d]. The ways of Elohim are far HIGHER than our ways, and He does NOT think like us. Many Christians pervert the words of “Jesus” and Shaul [Paul], and TWIST scripture to fit their ‘idea’ of “god.” That is IDOLATRY.]
Romans 1 goes on to say:
and in the likeness of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things on the earth. That is why Elohim also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves; and they have changed the truth of Elohim for lies, and worshipped and served the created things more than their Creator, to whom belongs glory and blessings forever. Amein. Therefore Elohim gave them up to vile [repulsive] passions; for even their women have changed the use of their natures into that which is unnatural; and likewise also their men have left the natural use of the women and have run wild with lust toward one another, male with male committing shameful acts, and receiving in themselves the due recompense of their error. And as they did not consent in themselves to know Elohim, Elohim gave them over to a vain mind, to do the things which should not be done; being filled with all manner of iniquity, fornication, bitterness, malice, extortion, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and evil thoughts. They are slanderers, backbiters, haters of Elohim, revilers, proud boasters, inventors of evil things, without reason, disobedient to their parents; these have no respect for a covenant. They know neither love nor shalom, nor is there mercy in them. Knowing the judgment of Elohim, that those who commit such things He condemns to death, they not only do them, but also associate with those who practice them. Therefore you are without excuse, O man, to judge your neighbor; for in judging your neighbor, you condemn yourself; for even you who judge practice the same things yourself.”
The first issue in this passage is the mixture of worshipping created things with worshipping the Creator. That is the reason Elohim gave them over to the lusts of their hearts. That is the reason they changed their sexual practices. This is all of mankind. They were NOT CONTENT to know Elohim [G-d], but wanted to do things that should not be done, because of their idolatry.
Idolatry was the great sin; Elohim gave them over to their lusts because of that. This is not new. This has been going on since the beginning. But, there is not one human who escapes ALL the behaviors listed in this passage, who hasn’t at one time or another committed ANY of these repulsive acts. This is what the hypocrisy is among the religious who point the finger only at the ‘homosexual.’
One should not be alarmed that people outside the Body of Messiah would do these things. But, when people who claim to know the Messiah do several of these things, but point out only the one behavior of others, there is the great hypocrisy. That is why the ‘church’ makes very little headway in this debate. That is why so many who say they believe in the Messiah feel ‘okay’ embracing this one behavior, because so many who claim to believe in Messiah commit so many of the OTHER behaviors here listed!
The next place where this error is addressed in the Brit Khadashah is:
“Do you not know that the wicked shall not inherit the kingdom of Elohim? Be not misled, neither the sexual sinners, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the corrupt, nor men who lie with males, nor extortionists, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor defrauders shall inherit the kingdom of Elohim. And some of these evils were to be found in some of you, but you have been cleansed, and have been sanctified, and made righteous in the name of Adoneinu Yeshua HaMashiakh and through HaRuakh of our Elohim.”
Korinti’im Alef [1 Cor] 6:9-11
Now, this is quite compelling, as again we see this one error listed with a host of other errors: [all] sexual sin, idolatry, adultery, corruption, extortion, theft, drunkenness, reviling, defrauding; yet very rarely does anyone get as up in arms about these things as they do about ‘homosexuality.’ Why does this particular ‘sin’ garner so much attention, when the others do not? In my personal life, as a consumer of news, I see these others FAR MORE than I see homosexuality! Our society glorifies most of these as acceptable, even laudable behaviors! And has for years. Yes, homosexuality gets a lot of ‘play time’ these days in television and movies, but what I’m talking about is the number of people ACTUALLY COMMITTING these errors. The truth is that less than 5% of people actually adopt a homosexual lifestyle, 10% at the most, whereas the corrupt, the adulterers, the fornicators, the drunks [and drug users], extortionists, etc, are many of today’s leaders! Why is the believing community not speaking against these things as vehemently as against this one error? Again, only if we address the others will we effectively deal with this one.
If one studies scripture, one finds that these other behaviors are all forms of IDOLATRY! They are all forms of turning from Elohim, and they lead to the one sin many are upset about. Society turns to this egregious behavior because of idolatry!
The next place where this particular error is mentioned is the last specific reference to the behavior that is only modestly detailed in the Torah in Leviticus 18. But, this passage teaches something about the Torah and those who follow it, as well:
“Now the fulfillment of the mitzvah is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of a true faith, from which some have gone astray and have turned aside to foolish words, desiring to be teachers of the Torah; not understanding what they speak, nor even whereof they argue. But we know that the Torah is good, if a man walks in it according to Torah, knowing this, that the Torah is not made for the righteous, but for the wicked and rebellious, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the profane and unclean, for those who abuse their fathers and ill-treat their mothers, for murderers, for whoremongers, for those who defile themselves with males, for kidnappers of well-born sons, for liars, for perjurers, and for whatever is contrary to sound doctrine; this is according to the glorious B’sorah of the blessed Elohim, which was entrusted to me. And I thank Adoneinu Yeshua HaMashiakh who has given me strength, and has counted me trustworthy and has appointed me to His ministry, who was before a blasphemer and a persecutor and a reviler; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Now the grace of Adoneinu has become abundant in me, as well as my faith and love in Yeshua HaMashiakh. It is a trustworthy saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Yeshua HaMashiakh came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause He had mercy on me, that in me first Yeshua HaMashiakh may show forth all patience, for a pattern to those who should hereafter believe in Him to life everlasting.” 1 Tim 1:5-16
Shaul understands that EVERYONE is counted in the list of sinners given above, and included himself as a chief violator! The Torah is meant for us ALL, so that we can correct our behavior after Messiah cleanses us, so we do not again defile ourselves. Those who do not understand this and yet desire to be teachers of the Word are confused themselves [though they think not], and so they confuse others. They speak out both sides of their mouths! They have not seen that they themselves were [and many still are!] among those in need of the Torah! Sha’ul understood this! And he lists ALL the things that are repulsive to יהוה. And, again, the ‘homosexual’ error is counted among that same list of OTHER offenses, all of which are offensive to יהוה.
Interestingly, Sha’ul writes another letter to this same person, and warns him about the “Akharit HaYamim,” the last days, which many believe we are now in or encountering. He again makes a list of things not pleasing to Yah, but does NOT specifically mention this particular error:
“And men shall be lovers of themselves and lovers of money, proud, conceited, blasphemers, disobedient to their own people, ungrateful, wicked, false accusers, addicts to lust, brutal, haters of good things, traitors, hasty, boasters, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of Elohim; having a shade of the fear of Elohim, but far from the power of Elohim; from such turn away.” 2 Tim 3:1-3
It is easy to see that this, and all sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18, are included in the phrase, “addicts to lust.” But, so are a lot of other errors included in that one phrase: greed for money, alcoholism, addiction to facebook, etc…we give ourselves over to many things that take control of our minds more than they should!
Lest someone get bogged down in the semantics of the language, the greek in 1 Tim and 2 Tim, and in 1 Cor, all referenced herein and that is translated as ‘man who lies with man, ‘ is arsenokoites, and cannot be translated any other way; and it perfectly expresses a violation of the topic of this article, Leviticus 18:22. “Man shall not lie with man as with woman.’ ‘Arseno’ means ‘man’ and ‘koites’ means ‘bed’ as a verb meaning the sexual act: ‘man-bedder,’ a man who ‘beds’ a man. Further, Romans 1 spells out the behavior, instead of using the one word that the other three scriptures used to encapsulate the behavior so detailed in Romans 1. All of these passages were written by the same man, and we can conclude that he was speaking of the same behavior in each passage. Also, just because the female rendering is not given in those three later verses does not release females to the behavior, because Romans 1 also addresses that gender, very specifically and detailed. It is error on the part of both male and female to ‘bed’ a member of the same gender.
My point is this: yes, there is error in doing certain things, and having sex outside the biblical boundaries is indeed error: it is sin. But, it is NOT any worse a sin than any other listed as ‘repulsive’ to יהוה . Where people get really upset is in the phrase in 1 Corinthians, where Sha’ul twice states that anyone who does these things ‘shall not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim.’ The reason they get so upset is because they think this is a ticket of condemnation: the religious see it as justification for stating that someone is going to hell [but again, they excuse the adulterer, fornicator, drunkard, angry, etc etc.]. Then there are those who have a loved one who has given in to this behavior, and they worry they will not ‘see them in heaven,’ but that they will ‘go to hell.’ Neither of these conclusions is true! Talk to any homosexual, and you will find that this behavior is merely a ‘part’ of who they are, and that they are just like every other person on earth, and in many cases, better behaved and more kind than most who ‘hate’ homosexuals!
Inheriting the Kingdom of Elohim and ‘going to heaven’ are vastly misunderstood today: “some have gone astray and have turned aside to foolish words, desiring to be teachers of the Torah; not understanding what they speak, nor even whereof they argue. But we know that the Torah is good.”
Those who inherit the kingdom are those who not only trust in Yeshua the Messiah as their salvation, but also OBEY HIS TORAH. These are they who will assemble around His Throne and see the face of Elohim, The Father. These are those who turn from ALL these behaviors. They will rule over MANY who did trust in Yeshua for salvation, but did NOT choose to obey Him fully! Those who rule with Him do so because they understand that He will rule by HIS TORAH.
Those who are the ruled did not seek Him with a whole heart. They will not see Elohim and His Throne! But, they will not ‘go to hell,’ provided they repent in the great time of testing that is to come. They are those who, like Sha’ul, committed these sins unwittingly, not KNOWING that they themselves were sinning, because of the TEACHERS who told them they could keep on living a life outside of Torah and what is Righteous. They are the ones who ‘have the smell of smoke on their garments.’ They are ‘saved,’ but not much more than that. These are the ones over whom those who DO inherit the Kingdom will rule during the Millennium, the 1000-year reign of Messiah on earth.
Inheriting the Kingdom of Elohim is NOT the same thing as ‘salvation,’ or ‘going to heaven.’ Salvation is being rescued from eternal destruction. Inheriting the Kingdom means ruling with Messiah. Those who do not rule with Him are ruled BY Him, AND by those who rule WITH Him, with Torah as the body of ‘law’ governing His Kingdom. [See Isaiah 2:1-4, and other places that show us Torah is the mechanism of His rule].
The ones who ‘go to hell’ are those who KNOW that they should do right, but they choose NOT to; they DEFY Elohim, REJECT Yeshua, twist their philosophy/religion to make themselves arbiters over what is ‘right and wrong,’ saying ‘anything goes,’ deigning to say that G-d does not exist, or that they do not care if He does. They hear of His Son Yeshua and they REJECT Him. They are persecutors of His People. They are deceivers. These people are those who say ‘whatever MY heart tells me is right is right.’ They are the ‘iniquitous,’ the ‘wicked,’ the ‘evil’ people in this world. And, yes, this is MOST people. And some of them claim to be ‘Christian.’ The wicked have always far out-numbered the ‘righteous.’
The difficulty for many who have succumbed to homosexual behavior is that they ‘think’ that they must succumb to it, and they are now being told by society that they should. They have been told that they are born that way. Irresponsible ‘scientists’ are insisting there is a ‘gay gene,’ which is a lie, and their assertion is not backed by scientific method.
Many homosexuals have been labeled all their lives by many who think that their ‘tendency’ to behave like the other gender MEANS that they are ‘gay.’ Because they did not fit in societal molds, and because peers and parents did not understand that their ‘personality’ was not a sexual identity, they have been ‘informed’ by society that they are made that way, that their ‘tendency’ should be translated into their sexual ‘choice,’ which, to them, is really no choice at all. Words are powerful, and when a young man hears from his ill-trained, hateful peers that because he is ‘soft’ or ‘artsy’ or ‘intuitive,’ then he must be ‘gay,’ he begins to look for others who ‘feel’ the same way. He seeks companionship with those who are the same as he, and it eventually ends up that his sexual behavior becomes defined by his affection for those who share his plight. Most of them are without the plain reading of The Word on the issue, and they are just trying to be loved, as everyone in society is, in some way or another. They do not see that every behavior, every sexual ACT, is a choice, and they become trapped in the lie, seeking like-minded persons to help them be happy. This is the very reason the underground homosexual community began to call themselves ‘gay,’ when they began to reveal their behavior to society: gay means ‘happy.’ They thought they were now ‘happy.’ The truth is, they just ‘unionized’ their behavior.
They have been told that it is ‘right’ that they embrace this behavior. Yet, many who are raised in the confines of faith and yet identify with this are perplexed, because they have been told they will go to hell. And this is where this issue gets so difficult. Many have believed the contrived doctrine that all homosexuals go to hell, so when they have children who evince a ‘tendency’ toward behaving like the other gender, they threaten their child with hell, hoping to ward off the behavior, and instead drive the child into the arms of the seemingly more merciful and accepting homosexual community. Many times, this gives the child the idea that the god of their parents is hateful, so they reject G-d altogether, or embrace a man-made version of one, and accept the twisted interpretations of scripture. In many cases, the parents end up also doing the same, out of love for their child and a desire to make amends and have a relationship with their child.
Some parents today who believe in Messiah go ahead and embrace the deceit, and accept their child’s ‘behavior,’ thinking that it is how they were ‘created.’ No. Elohim does not create sin. Society fails these individuals, and it is idolatry that has given them the ‘green light’ to go into the behavior, because SOCIETY has rejected Elohim and His Word! “And as they did not consent in themselves to know Elohim, Elohim gave them over to a vain mind, to do the things which should not be done; being filled with all manner of iniquity…” This is just ONE result of most of society turning away from HIS WORD.
Yes, some homosexuals will ‘go to Sheol,’ or be cast out of His Presence for eternity. But, some will not, because they are victims of bad and false teachers in the religious community. They may never hear the truth about their plight. They are trapped in this sin, because people are telling them they can be. “The law has been fulfilled, so we don’t have to worry about doing all those Jewish laws….” LIE. Since they do not seek Elohim diligently, they will barely escape the flames, but SO WILL MANY OTHER BELIEVERS who reject HIS definition of sin and do all those other behaviors, because of bad and false teachers. “Sin IS breaking the Torah.” 1 John 3:4 The reason they barely escape the flames is because they should ALL have sought Him in His Word more diligently, instead of allowing society, and bad and false teachers, to define their lives and tell them how to behave.
Are we giving all homosexuals a ‘ticket to ride’ if we take this position? No. They should stop behaving that way. It is very distasteful behavior to
יהוה . But, so are MANY other behaviors. Those who call themselves ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ and also call themselves believers or Christians, they should stop the behavior. Not because anyone tells them to, but because the Creator made them for better things, and because they should love HIM enough to do what He says. And, if they want to be a prince in His Kingdom, they MUST stop that behavior. But also, if they learn that it IS a thing that יהוה abhors but then INSIST on doing it, then their ‘belief’ and professed love for G-d is a false confession:
“For if any man sins [breaks Torah, 1 John 3:4] willfully after he has received the knowledge of the truth, [“Your Torah is Truth, Ps 119:142] then there is no more sacrifice to be offered for sins, but only impending fearful judgment, and the fiery indignation which shall consume the adversaries. He who transgressed the Torah of Moshe, on the word of two or three witnesses died without mercy: how much more punishment do you think he will receive who has trodden underfoot HaBen HaElohim, and has considered the blood of His covenant, through which he had been sanctified, as ordinary blood, and has blasphemed HaRuakh of Grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says יהוה.”
And again, ” יהוה shall judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim.” [Hebrews 10:26-31]
Only those who REJECT correction will actually be rejected by Elohim. And this applies to ALL those who break Torah commands, once they have heard them and understood them plainly. This is a GREAT LOT of people, even in the Christian community. If we are going to apply this principle to the homosexual community, we need to apply it to the wider berth of ALL of society. Those homosexuals who have heard the B’sorah [Good News of Messiah] and received it need gentle correction; they need to be shown the validity of the Torah, versus the hypocrisy of religion. Those who have not heard the B’sorah of Messiah need to hear it. But, the fact that so many are now ‘coming out’ is SOCIETY’s fault, because we have TURNED TO IDOLATRY of every variety. If religious people are looking for someone to blame, they should blame themselves. They created this mess, by rejecting the PLAIN MEANING OF HIS WORD:
“Consider that the longsuffering of יהוה is salvation; even as our beloved brother Sha’ul also, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters, he speaks concerning these matters, in which there are certain things so hard to be understood that those who are ignorant [of Torah] and unstable twist their meaning, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, my beloved, seeing that you know these things beforehand, beware, lest you follow the error of the Torah-less, and fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of Adoneinu and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiakh, and of Elohim.” [2 Peter 3:15-18]
May our hearts be turned to do His Truth.