Lesbians and the Bible

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QUESTION: What does the Bible say about lesbians? Is sex between females permitted? Where did the term originate?

ANSWER: We will first tackle your last question regarding where did the word "lesbians" originate. For starters, it did not come from the Bible. It is believed the term lesbians came from the reference to residents living on the island of Lesbos. This island, the third largest one in the Aegean Sea, was home in the early 7th century B.C. to a female poet named Sappho.

Sappho, a lesbian, was known for writing about her passionate relationships with other females. Her fame, according to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, rivalled that of Homer. Her sexual practices led to the island's name being used to create the term lesbians.

"We may conclude that Sappho was not utterly vicious, though by no means a paragon of virtue. All ancient tradition and the character of her extant fragments show that her morality was what has ever since been known as 'Lesbian'" (1911 Encyclopedia Britannica section on Sappho).

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Only one Biblical passage clearly deals with lesbians and their sexual behavior. It is found in the book of Romans, which states, "For this cause, God abandoned them to disgraceful passions; for even their women changed the natural use of sex into that which is contrary to nature . . ." (Romans 1:26, HBFV).

The behavior of lesbians, and others who indulge in unlawful relationships, is never portrayed positively in Scripture (see Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, 1Timothy 1:9 - 10, Jude 7, etc.). All the positive portrayals of sexual relationships occur within the context of a heterosexual marriage (Genesis 1:27 - 28, 2:23 - 24).


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Attempts by liberal Christians to reinterpret Scriptural texts in order to make them compatible with perverse marriage arrangements like lesbians marrying simply is not persuasive. This is especially true if we are going to use the grammatical-historical approach of exegesis (interpretation by deriving concepts from texts instead of reading preconceived ideas into them).

Furthermore, although perfect love casts out fear for a mature Christian (1John 4:18), the fear of God's power to punish is also the beginning of wisdom among the unconverted (Psalm 111:10). People show they have God's love not by uncritical affection alone, but also by promoting "tough love," which requires obedience to His holy standards of conduct.

Since the lifestyles of lesbians ultimately produces emptiness, alienation, and unhappiness because of its intrinsically maladaptive nature (Romans 1:26 - 29), our heavenly Father does not want people to live that way.

Contrary to what liberal Christians may believe, God did not change the moral law between the Testaments concerning the fundamentals of sexual morality that includes people acting like lesbians. There is no reason to believe fornication, adultery, bestiality, and alike are lawful today any more than they were in the time of Moses.

Indeed, Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that the spirit of the law concerning adultery was so binding that for a man to lust after a woman in his heart was a sin even if he did not literally make love to her (Matthew 5:27 - 28). Given such spiritual truth, the Bible clearly did not legalize or condone, after the crucifixion, lesbians have illegal sex.

To be sure, the change from someone being a lesbian to someone attracted to the opposite sex is a feat at least as difficult as an alcoholic giving up alcohol or a drug addict giving up narcotics. Evidence suggests, however, that it is possible.

Additional Study Materials
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Important women in Scripture

References
1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
Holy Bible, a Faithful Version


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