Homosexuality: Forbidden in the Bible or Not Even Mentioned?

The Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination. Or that’s what many conservative Christians will tell you, anyway. But where does this idea come from? It’s declared an abomination in Leviticus 18:22. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

I debunked this myth a couple months ago — the word abomination is a poor translation. A more accurate translation would replace abomination with cultural taboo.

But it turns out, abomination isn’t the only part of Leviticus 18:22 that’s improperly translated. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind” inaccurately suggests a problem with homosexuality; a problem that is not apparent based on the original wording of the passage.

So what does the passage literally mean? Both the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Old Testament suggest that a man shouldn’t lie with mankind as he does with his wife, not as he does with womankind. In other words, the passage is only referring to the sexual behaviors of married men.

The translation from Greek refers to a married man sleeping with another man, in the “marriage-bed” as he does with his wife. In other words, it’s forbidding male-male adultery among married men.

The translation from the Hebrew version of the Old Testament is “And with a male not lie down in beds of a woman.” This translation suggests that Leviticus 18:22 is referring to threesomes between two men and a woman.

So, depending on translation variations, Leviticus 18:22 may refer to married men cheating on their wives with men, or it may refer to threesomes. Either way, one thing is clear: the verse has nothing to do with homosexuality.

It’s unclear why condemnations of homosexuality made their way into translations of the Bible. But analysis of the original Hebrew and Greek versions of the Bible show that Leviticus 18:22 did not condemn homosexuality.

Those who believe and follow the words of the Bible should research what words they’re trusting. As it turns out, wrong translations can lead people to hold beliefs that are contrary to what the Bible really says. If people read more accurate translations of the Bible, perhaps they’d change their views on homosexuality.

Photo credit: Valierie