The Bible
and Homosexual Practice

—Theology, Analogies and Genes

by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.(Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

Date Unknown, 2004

A Study Guide for Congregationsphoto of Dr. Gagnon

Gagnon’s paper is divided up into four sections. Because of the volume of information in each section and the nature of the debate, parishioners are to read each 2-4 page section before every meeting or adult forum.

Each session should be at least 45-60 minutes to ensure adequate discussion time. Break-up into small groups to discuss the questions and then bring answers and questions back to the larger group.

Each section has questions and statements for participants, as a tool to generate discussion. Parishioners own questions and comments are encouraged and valued as well.

Questions for Section I:

  1. Are we as Christians to define how we wish to live in response to our desires or are we to live according to God’s definition of living?
  2. Did Jesus die to set us free from our sins and sinful nature or did Jesus die to show us how much God loves us or are both true? How is our understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection relevant to accepting or not accepting homosexual behavior?
  3. Some theologians propose that homosexual expression is godly when it is loving. Their definition of love comes out of God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves and includes such loving ideals as peace, justice, fidelity, and kindness. Though loving our neighbor and God is our highest calling as Christians, what is missing in this type of theology?

Questions for Section II:

  1. What arguments have you heard people present that support homosexual practice?
  2. Do you agree with the way Gagnon counters the “New Knowledge” argument? Why or why not?
  3. Accepting homosexual behavior is often compared to the church’s new view on women in ministry and the church’s understanding of slavery. Why do these analogies fall short?
  4. What is the difference between welcoming people and accepting behavior? Is it possible to welcome all people and yet not accept all human behaviors?

Questions for Section III:

  1. Some people who have homosexual feelings believe that they were born with these feelings and that such feelings cannot and should not be changed. Yet contemporary scientific research, along with identical twin studies, demonstrates that one’s genes or brain structure does not determine a homosexual identity. What factors then are likely to play a pivotal role in developing a homosexual identity? Furthermore, science and psychology indicate that homosexual feelings are malleable (not fixed or determined), and therefore moveable or changeable. Why do some gay and lesbian people reject this scientific information?
  2. Though scientific research clearly demonstrates that homosexual feelings are not determined genetically, how relevant is science in the church’s moral debate on homosexuality? Should science influence our Biblical interpretations?
  3. Though some people are comfortable with their homosexual identity, others are not satisfied with their homosexual identity and look to the church for help in seeking to change or to heal their homosexual desires. What should the church’s response be to people who want to change or heal their feelings? What should the church’s response be to people who are satisfied with their homosexual identity and do not wish to change?

Questions for Section IV:

  1. Do you think that church uses the word “change,” in regards to homosexuality, in a narrow, one-dimensional way? How does our understanding of change (when speaking about homosexual behaviors and feelings) limit our conversation?
  2. How does American society view homosexuality? How did Jesus and Paul and the first century church most likely view homosexuality? Does contemporary American society have a more enlightened and accurate understanding of homosexuality than Jesus and the Apostle Paul did?
  3. Is sexual gratification a God-given right? Why or why not? Is sexual intimacy needed in order to have a fulfilling life? Why or why not?
  4. If it is true that the Bible forbids homosexual behavior and if homosexuality is not genetically predetermined, why are people afraid to speak out and share this information with others? What can our congregation do to express our concerns regarding homosexual behavior? What can be done to empower people to love their brothers and sisters who engage in same-sex sexual behavior and yet not accept the behavior itself?