PreviousIndexTopNext
Previous | Index | Top | Next

Summary of 'The New Testament and Homosexuality'

By Robin Scroggs, professor of New Testament, Union Theological Seminary, a happily married heterosexual who has been acclaimed in many Christian publications for his serious research about what the New Testament really says about homosexuality.

Scroggs reason for his research was a discussion of homosexuality by ministers. "I sat amazed as I heard the Bible being invoked in ways that were wholly inappropriate to any canons of biblical scholarship. Perhaps something snapped in me...for better or worse I decided somebody needed to provide resources that would give both clarity and honesty." He says he has no personal interest but sees the tragic results of false biblical scholarship and the tragic rejections of homosexuals in the name of Christian righteousness or even love. It is about time someone spoke honestly about the issue, not just from emotional homophobic assumptions of what the New Testament really says.

Conclusions:

  1. The NT church was not very concerned about homosexuality as a problem, All three instances referring to homosexuality are from preformed traditions, either Greek or Jewish. No single NT author considers the issue important enough to write his own sentence about it! The argument "against nature" is the most common form of attack on pederasty in the Greco-Roman texts. Pederasty involved forced male rape even by heterosexuals and slave boy prostitutes. It says nothing about today's loving homosexual relationships. Even in Romans 1, where Paul integrates the illustration of homosexuality into his larger theological arguments, there is no advance beyond idolatry and pagan vices of 1 Cor 6:9.
  2. Female homosexuality gets even less attention appearing only in Romans 1, and here with less emphasis than male homosexuality. This is doubtlessly because little was said in the Greco-Roman world about lesbianism, and because in OT law no penalties attached to such female practices. This again suggest pederasty was the vice, not homosexuality in general. In Romans 1 Paul's language "about male homosexuality, must have had, could only have had, pederasty in mind."
  3. The two vice lists attack very specific forms of pederasty, not homosexuality in general.

Scroggs concludes: "The basic model of today's Christian homosexual community is so different from the model attacked by the New Testament that the criterion of reasonable similarity of context is not met. The conclusion I have to draw seems inevitable: Biblical judgements against homosexuality are not relevant to today's debate.. should in no way be a weapon to justify refusal of ordination, not because the Bible is not authoritative, but simply because it does not address the issues involved". He concludes with more discussion that pederasty was the issue of the biblical texts, not today's homosexual relationships.


PreviousIndexTopNext
Previous | Index | Top | Next