Bible Review 10:6, December 1994

Homosexuality and the New Testament

The prohibition of homosexual behavior is embedded in an ancient legal code that Christians typically see as no longer in force.

By Marcus J. Borg

Bible Review

In the December 1993 issue of BR, fellow columnist Jacob Milgrom wrote about homosexuality in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament (“Does the Bible Prohibit Homosexuality?” BR 09:06).a That column drew a heated response.b Because equally heated discussions of homosexuality and lesbianism are occurring in Christian circles (including my own denomination), I decided to devote this column to the New Testament and homosexuality.

I begin with the Old Testament background for two reasons. The authors of the New Testament had their roots in the Jewish tradition, and Christians regard the Old Testament as sacred, as part of their Bible. In the legal portion of the Hebrew Bible, homosexuality is prohibited by one verse (Leviticus 18:27), with the penalty (death) specified in a second verse (Leviticus 20:13). This prohibition (and penalty) is the only text about homosexuality in the Hebrew Bible to have the status of law.1

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