24 Descriptive Words and Phrases the Bible Uses

Homosexuality in the Bible is treated clearly for all who will accept what God says. And there some general points that can be made at the outset, before we look at some specifics.

1) God does not treat homosexuality as another gender--as though there are men, and women, and homosexuals. There are only men and women.

2) Biblically, homosexuality is not an inherent condition (i.e. something the person is born with), but a kind of chosen and learned behaviour. Certainly some may be more susceptible to temptation in this area than others, just as is the case with other sins. But that does not make it "natural" to behave this way.

3) According to God's Word, homosexuals can stop what they are doing and act differently. They can be delivered from their sinful lifestyle (cf. I Cor. 6:9-11).

Now, the question is: Why change? Isn't homosexuality simply another possible lifestyle? What does the Bible say?

In the Scriptures, there are about 24 words describing homosexuality as God sees it. While people may continue to debate, and differ on the subject, there is simply no question as to what the Bible teaches about this. With more than twenty negative terms used to describe it, the biblical perspective is clear.

The only question, then, is whether the Bible is merely a collection of ancient myths and man-made ideas, or whether it is the inspired, infallible Word of the living God. The writers certainly believed they were transmitting the latter. As Paul says, "These things we...speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches" (I Cor. 2:13; cf. II Tim. 3:16-17). So, how does the Bible describe homosexuality?

(Note: At times there are some differences in the translation of Hebrew and Greek words from one Bible version to another. Variations are listed in their place. But whichever version is used, the basic meaning remains.)

The Sin of Sodom (Gen. 19:1-9)
Some seek to limit the wickedness of the men of Sodom to their lack of hospitality. Though other sins were involved too (Ezek. 16:49), Jude makes it plain what God particularly frowned upon.

1) God calls their behaviour sexual immorality (cf. Jude 1:7, "fornication," KJV).

2) God calls it going after strange [alien] flesh (cf. Jude 1:7).

3) God calls the actions of the Sodomites sin (Gen. 13:13).

4) God calls it exceeding wickedness (Gen. 13:13; 19:7).

The Mosaic Covenant
The Law was given by God to the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai. It contains instruction regarding their religious rituals, and regulations involving Israel's community life. But more importantly, it is an expression of the unchanging moral standard of a holy God.

5) In the Law, God calls homosexuality an abomination [that which is disgusting, detestable] (Lev. 18:22). Note the context, vs. 21-25. This sin is sandwiched between the evils of child sacrifice and bestiality. And it is declared to be punishable by death (Lev. 20:13).

6) God calls it being defiled [morally unclean and polluted] (Lev. 18:24).

7) God calls it iniquity (Lev. 18:25).

8) God calls homosexuals dogs--not "gays" (Deut. 23:18; cf. Rev. 22:15, referring to male prostitutes, and their common mode of sexual relations).

9) God calls the sin sodomy, after the first appearance of the transgression in Scripture (KJV). The Hebrew word used (qadesh), refers to a temple prostitute; translated "perverted person" in the NKJV (Deut. 23:17; I Kgs. 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; II Kgs 23:7).

Romans Chapter One (vs. 18, 21-28)
In this key chapter, a general description of sin is given in vs. 18 which clearly includes the homosexuality discussed in some detail in the context.

10) God calls it ungodliness (vs. 18).

11) God calls it unrighteousness (vs. 18).

12) God calls it uncleanness (vs. 24).

13) God calls it dishonouring the body [treating the body with contempt] (vs. 24).

14) God calls it a display of vile [disgraceful, shameful] passions [affections, KJV] (vs. 26).

15) God says it is against nature [against His design for human sexuality] (vs. 26).

16) God calls it error (vs. 27)

17) God calls it burning with lust (vs. 27).

18) God calls it shameful [unseemly, KJV] (vs. 27).

19) God says it is the product of a debased [reprobate] mind (vs. 28).

First Corinthians 6:9-11
20) God calls it homosexuality [being "effeminate," KJV; literally, the term used is catamites, referring to boys used and abused as lovers by older men] (vs. 9)

21) God calls homosexuals abusers of themselves (KJV), practicers of "sodomy" (NKJV), "homosexual offenders" (NIV) (vs. 9).

22) God says it is contrary to sound doctrine (I Tim. 1:9-10, where the same word is used as in I Cor. 6:9).

Jude 1:7-8
23) God calls homosexuals dreamers ["filthy dreamers," KJV--those carried away by their sensual imaginings] (vs. 8).

24) God says they are those who defile the flesh (vs. 8). Significantly, Jude tells us the fiery destruction of Sodom pictures the destiny of those practicing this behaviour--"the vengeance of eternal fire [hell]" (vs. 7; cf. I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8).

(And see the use of this text above, in connection with the sin of Sodom, Gen. 19.)

Two further points can be made in conclusion. First, in utter contrast with the above, God's plan and design for marriage was made clear from the beginning. It is to involve the enduring union of a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18, 27; Matt. 19:3-5).

Second, homosexuality is not merely another acceptable lifestyle, nor is it an unalterable condition. The words of Paul, "such were some of you" (I Cor. 6:11) include "homosexuals" and "sodomites" (vs. 9), showing homosexuality is neither genetically inevitable nor permanent. The sodomite can change. Many have done so. There is deliverance and forgiveness in Christ.

That is what the Word of God has to say about homosexuality. And it is why Christians are concerned that this behaviour not be promoted as an acceptable alternative to wholesome marriage between a man and a woman. This view cannot be dismissed simply as hatred for homosexuals (gay bashing), or fear of them (homophobia) Many have a loving concern for them with regard to the coming judgment of God upon their sin. It is to warn them away from the path of ruin that God's message about these things is proclaimed.