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Bible verses that have been used to condemn LGBTQ people

Criteria by which God will evaluate our lives

For those who might feel it is “better to be safe than sorry” in sticking with the “traditional” teaching on LGBTQ issues, consider that the Bible does not tell us to judge or make life difficult for other people.  There are seven passages that have been used to justify bias against LGBTQ people, but there are over a hundred about love – so it may be safest to focus on love!  Scripture has been used to justify slavery, to exclude divorced people from full participation in the sacraments, to exclude women from ministry, and to persecute left-handed people; if the church has been wrong in its treatment of LGBTQ issues, this would not be unprecedented.

Jesus says nothing indicating that being gay or trans is a sin.

John 8:7  “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Throughout the Bible, God warns against casting judgments upon others.​

Matthew 25: 34-36  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” ​

Mark 12:30-31  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'. There is no commandment greater than these.”​

Matthew 18:6  "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Consider this in the context of LGBTQ people who lost their faith because their church told them God did not love them.​

John 6:39  “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me. . .”  God would not want LGBTQ people to be driven away from the church or lose their faith.

Additional Resources

To find an LGBTQ-affirming church near you, you can use the directory.

For an in-depth look at the “clobber passages”, this article reassures Christians who want to honor God’s word that the Bible does not condemn loving, consensual same-sex relationships.  This website also includes links to many helpful LGBTQ resources.​ contains many essays written by Christians who are LGBTQ+.  This article explores the reasons that some people have trouble accepting transgender individuals.


All Bible quotations are from the NIV translation.​

[1] Linda Tatro Herzer. (2016). The Bible and the Transgender Experience; How Scripture Supports Gender Variance. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press.​

[2] K. Renato Lings. “The ‘Lyings’ of a Woman: Male-Male Incest in Leviticus 18.22?.” Theology & Sexuality 15, no. 2 (May 2009).

[3] Rev. Justin Cannon.  “The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality”

[4] Peterson Toscano (producer), Samuel Neff (director). (2017) Transfigurations – Transgressing Gender in the Bible. (Video)  U.S.: Peterson Toscano.​

[5] Kathy Baldock.  (March 2019). “How the Bible Became Anti-Gay:  Forging a Sacred Weapon.”

See also “My Quest to Find the Word Homosexual in the Bible”, by Ed Oxford, Bible News Network, Aug 10, 2020.

[6] Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connolly. “Jesus affirmed a gay couple". couple”.

[7] Elizabeth A. Johnson. 2000. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. New York, NY; The Crossroad Publishing Company.​

[8] L. Robert Arthur. (2013).  The Sex Texts: Sexuality, Gender, and Relationships in the Bible. Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.​

[9] Paul Varnell. (2002) “WWJD: Jesus on Anti-Gay Slurs”. IGF Culture Watch.

[10] Rev. Kalie Hargrove. (2021) “A Transgender Journey Toward Pride: A Creation Theology” published in Whosoever.

When seeking to understand any Bible verse, it is important to know the context of the verse, as well as how the verse has been translated from the original language.  The following are points to consider when thinking about the verses that have been used to justify prohibitions on same-sex marriage and full participation in church community for LGBTQ people. Nowhere in the Bible, taken in its original language and context, is there a prohibition against loving, consensual same-sex relationships, nor against people living as their authentic genders.​

Genesis 19:1-13  The Sodom & Gomorrah story is preceded by examples of Abraham and Lot being very welcoming to strangers. The lack of hospitality and the desire to do violence to the visitors were considered grave transgressions, regardless of the gender of the visitors. The reference in Jude 1:7 to “strange flesh” likely refers to the fact that the angels they wanted to assault were not human. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)​

Leviticus 18:22   The NIV translation of this verse reads:  “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”  The literal translation of the original Hebrew, however, is “And with male you shall not lie lyings woman.” The word translated as “lyings” is found elsewhere only in Genesis 49:4, where it refers to incest.  In Leviticus, this verse comes in a list of prohibitions against having sex with family members, so it is reasonable to conclude that it is a prohibition against incest.[2]​

Romans 1:26-27  Here, Paul is condemning the sinful and harmful acts he perceives in Roman culture at the time. Since same-gender and non-heterosexual attractions are natural, this condemnation is not directed at LGBTQ people. (Also, in Romans 2:1, Paul condemns those who misuse God’s teachings to judge others.)​

1 Corinthians 6:9  and 1 Timothy 1:9-11 The NIV translations of these verses read, respectively:  “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men  . . .“   and “We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, . . .”​

The words translated as “homosexuals” and “men who have sex with men” more accurately translate to “men who sleep with enslaved male prostitutes”. [3]  The word “homosexual” is not found in the Bible in translations written prior to 1948, implying that it was likely added as a result of the translators' own prejudices. [5]​

Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’?"  In the same section, in verse 12, Jesus says, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”  It is evident that Jesus was aware that gender variance existed, and he does not condemn it. [1]​

Deuteronomy 22:5  “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” The word translated as “clothing” here, keli, is translated elsewhere as “armor”, and the word translated as “man”, geber, actually means “warrior”. This implies a prohibition against intent to deceive by pretending to be a warrior, or for a warrior to deceive by disguising himself as a woman. [1]

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