Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
For far too long fundamentalist Christian, more specifically Preachers, Pastors, Priests, Nuns, and Sunday School Teachers, have knowingly and with pride lied and deliberately misinterpreted these passages to mean something they do not. That lie is that these passages mean that being gay is a sin and gay people are to be put to death.
The reality is that the passage in Romans, wich is written by Paul, is merely reflecting back upon the passages in Leviticus. The passages in Leviticus are all about a practice which I will now explain. In order to explain it I will have to show it to you. So unlike the lying, deceiving Pastors/Preachers/Priests, etc., I will show you the truth.
I'm not going to post it here but I urge you to read Leviticus 18 as it pertains to the holiness code with regard to sexuality. The holiness code or purity code are things that the gentiles did which the Hebrews are warned not to do. The chapter deals with many different sexual scenarios and taboos. The thing is that it include verse 22 above that seemingly says that a man can not have sex with another man. For one, I want you to notice how nowhere is there a mention of women having sex with women. So apparently God is male after all as two women having sex is perfectly okay with him, right? Going further, one of the rules is that a man can not have contact with a woman on her period. He especially can't have sexual contact with her. How many men violate this rule today but will freely stand up and try to enforce verse 22 against gay people? That my readers is the definition of hypocrisy and hypocrites do not inherit the kingdom.
Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
So what's the story, Doc? The story is this. The key thing to remember is that these are things that the gentiles did that the Hebrews were supposed to refrain from doing. Were the gentiles a bunch of flaming faggots? Surely this refers to two men being in a loving, committed relationship, right? The answer to both is an astounding 'negative'!
The "homosexuality" performed by the gentiles that the Hebrews were not to take part in is:
1. Temple Prostitution
3. Male Prostitution (often boys)
4. Men raping other men
There was no concept of two men living together in a committed, loving relationship. Since this concept did not exist in the minds of straight people at this time then it reasons that there can not be any laws against it. Verse 22 is not about any two men or males having sex. It's about one of the categories above.
Leviticus chapter 20, which you should also read, is a repeat of chapter 18 for one small difference. That difference is the inclusion of the prohibition against witchcraft. Again, these codes of conduct are meant to distinguish the Hebrews from the gentiles, to set them apart. The Hebrews are not supposed to associated with witchcraft because the gentiles are obsessed with it.
So let's break down the four classes in reverse order.
Number 4 refers to men who rape other men. This can take place during times of warfare when a warrior may anally rape a captured enemy in public. To publicly rape a man was a fate considered worse than death. This is because there was a strong taboo in the ancient world against men who acted feminine. This included playing a passive role in sex. So to anally rape a man in public was to turn that man into a woman. If the raped man wasn't killed he often would take his own life afterwards. Rape is also what was going to take place in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. What happened there was not homosexuality, but rather rape. Male rape continues to this day in prison and in times of war. Do you remember the abuse at Abu Ghraib, where US citizens were raping, sodomizing, and physically torturing prisoners? Well, this is what is being referenced. This is a type of practice the bible forbids. God detests this. It is not a reference to gay people. The men who rape other men do not consider themselves gay. It's a power thing. In the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, even women took part in the rape/sodomy and torture of prisoners.
Number 3 refers to male prostitution, something we should all comprehend. There are female prostitutes and there are male prostitutes. The bible forbids the use of both male and female prostitutes. In ancient days, boy prostitutes were the preferred form of male prostitutes. Like today, the boys were often homeless and had no other means of supporting themselves. The bible forbids the use of male prostitutes. This has nothing to do with two gay men in a loving, committed relationship.
Number 2 refers to the practice of pederasty. Pederasty is a practice that is still alive and well today. Jerry Sandusky is not a pedophile, he is a pederast. Pederasty involves an adult man sexually pursuing a teenage boy. It was legal and an accepted practice in the ancient world. There were some rules however. In Greece and Rome, it was not acceptable for an adult male to sexually penetrate another adult free man or the child of a free man. So other, non-penetrative forms of sexual expression took place. However, it was perfectly acceptable for an adult man to sexually penetrate a slave or a non-citizen. Many Greek and Romen men had special servants that were usually between the ages of say 11-16 with whom they orally and anally penetrated. There is much art from this time period showing adult men sexually penetrating teenage boys. When a boy was able to grow a beard the sexual relationship was then terminated unless the boy was a slave and the sexual relationship could continue the rest of his life. The bible forbids this practice. The assumption is the teenage boy is being seduced and victimized (the notion that a teenage boy could be the aggressor and actively seek out sex with older men seems not to have ever occurred to people even though we know it most likely took place just as it takes place today). This is not about two adult men in a loving, committed relationship. This is not about the concept of being gay as we understand it today.
Number 1 refers to "temple prostitution". Temple prostitution, a.k.a sacred prostitution, is when married male Hebrews would go to pagan temples and take part in pagan worship rituals in which they had sex with male and female prostitutes. Many pagans worshipped a fertility goddess, or "mother goddess". The worship of this goddess included sacred acts of sex believers had with pagan priests. In many pagan cults, male priests dressed as women and would expose their rears to what we would consider "straight men". These "straight men" would then proceed to have anal sex with the male priests, often in front of other worshippers. The semen was then collected and sprinkled around the temple or wiped on the idols. This offering of semen was believed to be an offering to the fertility goddess herself. In return for the gift of semen the goddess was believed to bless the land with fertility and prosperity. This is the male-male form of sacred sex. Male-female sacred sex took place as well. It was said that at the temple of Aphrodite that women were REQUIRED to have sex with at least one stranger. They must go to the temple steps and wait for the first man to "purchase them". Any man who wanted them had to offer them any sum of money, no matter how large or small. The woman could not refuse him. She would hike up her robes and have sex with him then and there. Once the man ejaculated her service to Aphrodite was concluded and she was allowed to go on with her life. The story goes that beautiful women were quickly relieved of this burden because they found men who wanted to have sex with them really fast. Ugly women had to sit on the steps for years until some man took pity on them. That's the story anway. The whole reason for temple prostitution was to get the semen. Back at this time people didn't understand the role of the woman in procreation. It was believed that a woman was like a field. A man "ploughed" her and planted his seed in her and the seed grew into a baby. The ancients didn't know about egg cells or ovulation or anything like that. So semen took on an almost magical quality. It was believed to be imbued with the life-force. It was viewed on the same level that blood was. So just as the pagan gods "ate" the life-force of the blood sacrifice the fertility goddess would do the same with the semen. Or perhaps the conjoined semen somehow "impregnated" the goddess and she gave birth to fertility and prosperity. Additionally, the pagan prostitute priests often charged money and this became a good way for the temple to become wealthy. The bible forbids this practice. This is not two men in a loving, committed relationship.
There is not one single passage in the bible that condemns gay people as we understand them. Not a single passage! Being gay is not a sin. Promiscuity is a sin. Hiring a prostitute is a sin. Rape is a sin. Have sex with underage boys and girls is a sin. Being in a loving, committed relationship with a person of the same-sex is not a sin. Enough with the hate.
Now to speak out on some things about modern pagans. Readers, temple prostitution is making a return. Back in the 90s I met a Wiccan who invited me to what turned out to be an orgy. The thing to note that it was combined with their religion. A couple of years ago a Phoenix-based Goddess temple was busted for it being a prostitution ring. The temple had both female and male prostitutes who had sex with worshippers in exchange for money or "donations". The group tried to claim that this was religious expression and thus protected under their right to freedom of religion. This was flat out temple prostitution. Then a famous Pagan blog, which I will not name here, did an blog on the group being arrested. The Pagan blog owner raged against the police for daring to arrest the Pagan group and basically claimed it was a violation of their religious rights. There were hundreds of comments to the blog entry. The overwhelming majority of them were fellow Wiccans and Pagans who supported the group and believed that it was a travesty of justice that they were arrested. Then someone brought up temple prostitution and said that all Pagans should come together to restore this worship of the goddess. That comment received dozens of comments in support. When I read this thread I immediately recognized the demonic energy at work. The majority of these Wiccans and Pagans were demon possessed. This is what God is condemning. Not only that but when people engage in this sort of behavior God turns them loose. He withdraws the conscious, that voice telling them this behavior is wrong and that they should respect themselves, and turns them over to their vile passions. Because God doesn't have to punish them. They will punish themselves. They will destroy their own bodies and pave the way for their own destruction.
It's temple prostitution, pederasty, male prostitution, and men raping men, that the bible is condemning. The bible is not condemning two men or two women in a committed, loving relationship simply because this concept did not exist in ancient times. Ancient people had no concept of our modern understanding of gay people. The only thing they knew of homosexuality were these despicable actions. The very fact that Leviticus doesn't condemn lesbians sex should be proof enough that it's not referring to gay people but to these vile actions.
So to recap, the prohibitions in the passages in Leviticus are part of the holiness code or purity code meant to separate Hebrews from the gentile nations. By adding them the authors of the bible are saying, "Don't do what the pagans do!". The pagans of this time did not have a concept of two men and two women being in a committed loving relationship. Instead, they engaged in temple prostitution, in pederasty, in male prostitution, and in men raping men. This is what the bible is forbidding, not gay people in committed, loving relationships. The passages in the book of Romans is simply referring back to the passages in Leviticus. That modern concept of gay people didn't exist in ancient times and thus there is nothing in the bible that condemns it.
NOTE: Temple prostitution continues in many places. For example, it still takes place in India today and unfortunately it often involves young girls as young as 11 years old or whenever they have their first period.