Homosexuality and Scripture

Ben Witherington 3 Homosexuality and Scripture

Unless you have been living under a very large rock these last two decades you know all too well that the Christian faith & its followers have a very rocky relationship with the gay community. But what does scripture say about homosexuality? How are we to be Christian around the gay community? What, can we do and teach our youth about our faith and those who are gay?

I have been a long time admirer of Dr. Ben Witherington III. He is an authority on New Testament theology. Taught at Asbury Seminary for as long as I can remember. He’s been an avid blogger for years and shares deep insight into scriptural understanding. So I was quick to jump on this video where he shares a theology and scriptural understanding of Homosexuality and Scripture.

I encourage you to watch the whole thing, it is just seven minutes. You are welcome to disagree or agree. I actually do both depending on the various points.

As youth workers we have a huge gap in how we teach, and speak to, the way we treat the gay community. A larger gap in how we tend to teenagers that are sorting through their sexual orientation. As the public perceptions & feelings towards the gay community and union of marriage change, what role do we have in healing or calling to account? What is good theology and doctrine? What is good ministry that Jesus exampled for us? What are the things we do that are just mean?


If you are wanting to find a curriculum that examines homosexuality and the faith that tends to the gray lines or the unknowns of this topic then check out “This I Know” Study. Someone might call it gay affirming, and that is fine. I’ve read through it and it really is more gracious than it is about a right and wrong.

Yesterday I read a heart breaking article on an Iowa teen who killed himself after getting death threats because he was gay. I am pretty sure that something like that is not within Christ’s example of Kingdom. So maybe coming to a point of being more gracious is a better place than being right or wrong..

About Gavin Richardson

guy, husband, dad, church communicator, youth pastor, youth ministry trainer, dog owner, social media participant anthropologist, writer, speaker, internet community builder, bill payer, bit monastic, co-creator of youthworkercircuit.com but not necessarily in that order


  1. Thanks for posting, Gavin.

  2. I agree with a lot of what is said in this video. We had a very candid discussion a few weeks ago at youth group. I told the youth that I could not in clear conscience go against what the Bible says, particularly in the New Testament about what we call sinful. So from a sin standpoint, I agree with the video. I also told the students that they may have their own reason for disagreeing with me or the Bible. Some of my students had people who were very close to them who are gay and had a very hard time accepting that being gay could be sinful and wrote the scriptures off as culturally irrelevant. What I communicated to the students though, was that whether or not they agreed with me that homosexual behavior was a sin, that it did not change the way we were to treat people of the LGBT community. If we believe homosexuality is sinful, we should still be loving and accepting of those people. I also pointed out that because heterosexual people often don’t understand homosexuality (I am in this category) we have a hard time understanding that people have these sorts of inclinations, and thus we single out gays as “worse sinners” than others.

    I really like the way the professor articulated his belief. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Jason, it is a tough conversation with you. As some of those Pew Research slides indicate and the other research it is point of division with our teenagers and people they love. Our church does not treat with grace and understanding, but instead comes with aggression. How are they to trust a church that hurts people?

      As a heterosexual guy, I think a lot of fear of this comes down to our discomfort with sex. That might be a whole book to dive into so I’ll let that stew.

      My personal experiences have put in my life many wonderful people who are gay. And those folks live in committed relationships & dating relationships according to their need. These friends, and family, span the generations. Few things that I learned are that 1) they are not an issue. they are people of worth 2) and most importantly, we are not the authority to tell people who they love. Beyond that, they are fun people to be around.

      I do fear for my youth who have come out of the closet as teenagers. That is such a hard time in life. I wish it was easy to just say, ‘hold onto this one till after you graduate’ because their pain can be so needless.

  3. Wow, that was pretty painful to watch. Funny how his language has such an undercurrent of homophobia towards those that are gay versus those that are straight. For gays, the “behavior” is “forbidden”, while, for straights, a man and woman can be married ” in god.” Now will the church allow 2 men or 2 women to be married “in god”? No. The U.S. has taken away the rights of gays and the church says this is biblical. Just like it was biblical for the blacks to serve whites and be slaves. It wasn’t until laws were formed that said slavery was a human rights issue that the church turned around. Funny.
    “Gracious…fair…” Please. Tell a straight man or woman never to physically express the love they feel toward that person. Imagine never having sex with your wife or husband because the church has said it was wrong. Imagine never being able to marry the one person that your heart beats for. And then tell me this is gracious and fair.

    Sorry Gavin, it’s a tough conversation & one that truly does need to happen, but I really disagree with this.

    • Kim, I hear you and there is much that I would disagree with BW3 as well. Such, as his ‘love the sinner hate the sin’ rhetoric, I always feel to simplistic. I imagine he would as well, but this is a seven minute youtube video.

      I saw his video as a interpretation of scripture. There are some things that do seem clear (although vetted out in translations can be muddy as well). So I heard him saying things as his understanding of ‘factual’ within the scriptures. Slavery, was/is a factual entity within the scriptures. Just as multiple wives and other things that we call corrupt now are factual entities in scripture.

      I call for graciousness as there probably won’t be any resolution in my time, but that does not mean that conversations stop, lines drawn in the sand, and people are beaten down.

    • It is more than just behavior. Paul in Romans talks about men burning with lust one towards another. This is an attitude. Jesus also talked about sinning in our heart (adultery, murder) not just in our outward behavior. Basing a theology on not knowing is not wise. We don’t know that there is not a necrophiliac gene, man-boy-love gene, bestiality gene…that doesn’t permit us to stay neutral on the issue of where homosexuality comes from. It comes from the heart. We are supposed to mortify the flesh, not merely fail to act on its impulses. There should be a mastery of our passions. Paul speaking to Timothy addresses more than being of good behavior. He also speaks of his internal character: sober, not greedy, patient, not covetous. Having an outward behavior but not an inward holiness was one of the problems that the Pharisees had.

  4. Missi Hodder says:

    I do not agree with Dr. Witherington. I do not believe that Homosexuality is a sin or that is a lifestyle choice. No one would choose a lifestyle that would make them an outcast. Heterosexuality is not a choice either. I believe that you are BORN THAT WAY. Either way. I did not choose to be hetero and I do not believe that my Homosexual friends CHOSE to be homosexual.

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