Here’s the short answer: the Bible does not say anything against LGBTQ people. But you might have heard differently – so here’s the very long answer!
Out of the 36,000 verses in the bible, six are reported to say something about homosexuality. (The word ‘homosexual’ no longer appears in the NRSV bible, which is the version most scholars and churches use.)
The Bible is complex. It’s a sacred text developed over thousands of years, with hundreds of authors, written in a particular time period, with very different cultures, all of which makes saying “The Bible says…” anything very difficult. There is one exception to this. The Bible is clear that God loves you just as you are beautifully and wonderfully made – whether you are LGBTQIA+ or not. (Psalm 139)
For instance, the terms ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ mean something to us today in modern times. But those terms or ideas didn’t exist in the time of Jesus or in the writing of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament).
Also, the vast majority of religious and biblical scholars do not believe the Bible says anything against LGBTQ people.
Of course, some churches teach that being LGBTQIA+ is “an abomination”’ or “will send you to hell”. This simply isn’t true – but lots of folks believe what their preacher, rabbi, pastor or priest says. So why do they believe that?
Here’s one quick example. Take the words from the book of Leviticus, chapter 18, verse 22. “You shall not lie with a man as you do with a woman, for it is an abomination.” So this seems pretty clear-cut and obvious, right?
It’s not! Here’s one way to look at the text:
First, how many of us start reading a book in chapter 7? No one! We start at the beginning because thoughts and ideas develop over the length of the text. (In biblical scholarship we call this ‘context’.) So what does the beginning of chapter 18 say? “You shall not do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you.” The book of Leviticus (named for Levi, the first chief priest of the Jewish people) is about worship and rules for how people worship. In Egypt and in Canaan, way back in history, people would have sex in their religious service. The prohibition in Leviticus says “don’t have sex in the temple of God as they do from where you are coming and like they do where you are going.”