Patriarchs of the Christian Faith, Early Writers Clearly Condemned
By Al Dobras
May 7, 2003
Divine law has not made men so that they should ever abuse one another in that way. St. Augustine
Postmodernists and homosexual activists have made a serious effort to remold public opinion regarding homosexual behavior. In a basic sense, these efforts are intended to show that the Biblical texts from which Western culture has derived its concepts of homosexuality have been misunderstood. They attribute these misunderstandings to inaccurate translations and the confusion of modern commentators on the substance of what the writers of the Bible actually meant when they discussed homosexual behavior, or what the Bible calls "sodomy." Fortunately, a significant number of writings by patriarchs of the faith and other early commentators express in forthright and unambiguous terms personal views of same-sex sexual behavior.
The following commentaries reflect these views:
Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 B.C. to A.D. 50), Jewish philosopher, theologian and contemporary of Jesus and Paul, writing on the life of Abraham:
The land of the Sodomites, a part of Canaan afterwards called Palestinian Syria, was brimful of innumerable iniquities, particularly such as arise from gluttony and lewdness, and multiplied and enlarged every other possible pleasure with so formidable a menace that it had at last been condemned by the Judge of All Incapable of bearing such satiety, plunging like cattle, they threw off from their necks the law of nature and applied themselves to forbidden forms of intercourse. Not only in their mad lust for women did they violate the marriages of their neighbors, but also men mounted males without respect for the sex nature which the active partner shares with the passive; and so when they tried to beget children they were discovered to be incapable of any but a sterile seed. Yet the discovery availed them not, so much stronger was the force of the lust which mastered them. Then, as little by little they accustomed those who were by nature men to submit to play the part of women, they saddled them with the formidable curse of a female disease. For not only did they emasculate their bodies by luxury and voluptuousness but they worked a further degeneration in their souls and, as far as in them lay, were corrupting the whole of mankind.
Flavius Josephus, Jewish historian (c. A.D. 37-100), commentary on the history of the Jews:
As for adultery, Moses forbade it entirely, as esteeming it a happy thing that men should be wise in the affairs of wedlock; and that it was profitable both to cities and families that children should be known to be genuine. He also abhorred mens lying with their mothers, as one of the greatest crimes; and the like for lying with the fathers wife, and with aunts, and sisters, and sons wives, as all instances of abominable wickedness. He also forbade a man to lie with his wife when she was defiled by her natural purgation: and not to come near brute beasts; nor to approve of the lying with a male, which was to hunt after unlawful pleasures on account of beauty. To those who were guilty of such insolent behavior, he ordained death for their punishment.
Methodius, bishop of Olympus and Patara (A.D. 260-312), commentary on the sin of Sodom:
But we do not say so of that mixture that is contrary to nature, or of any unlawful practice; for such are enmity to God. For the sin of Sodom is contrary to nature, as is also that with brute beasts. But adultery and fornication are against the law; the one whereof is impiety, the other injustice, and, in a word, no other than a great sin. But neither sort of them is without its punishment in its own proper nature. For the practicers of one sort attempt the dissolution of the world, and endeavor to make the natural course of things to change for one that is unnatural; but those of the second son the adulterers are unjust by corrupting others marriages, and dividing into two what God hath made one, rendering the children suspected, and exposing the true husband to the snares of others. And fornication is the destruction of ones own flesh, not being made use of for the procreation of children, but entirely for the sake of pleasure, which is a mark of incontinency, and not a sign of virtue. All these things are forbidden by the laws; for thus say the oracles: Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. For such a one is accursed, and ye shall stone them with stones: they have wrought abomination.
St. Basil, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (c. A.D. 330-379), the first canonical epistle:
They who have committed sodomy with men or brutes, murderers, wizards, adulterers, and idolaters, have been thought worthy of the same punishment; therefore observe the same method with these which you do with others. We ought not to make any doubt of receiving those who have repented 30 years for the uncleanness which they committed through ignorance; for their ignorance pleads their pardon, and their willingness in confessing it; therefore command them to be forthwith received, especially if they have tears to prevail on your tenderness, and have [since their lapse] led such a life as to deserve your compassion.
St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople (A.D. 347-407), commentary on Romans 1:26-27:
ALL these affections then were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored, than the body in diseases. But behold how here, too, as in the case of the doctrines, he deprives them of excuse, by saying of the women, that they changed the natural use. For no one, he means, can say that it was by being hindered of legitimate intercourse that they came to this pass, or that it was from having no means to fulfill their desire that they were driven into this monstrous insaneness. For the changing implies possession. Which also when discoursing upon the doctrines he said, They changed the truth of God for a lie. And with regard to the men again, he shows the same thing by saying, Leaving the natural use of the woman. For genuine pleasure is that which is according to nature. But when God hath left one, then all things are turned upside down. And thus not only was their doctrine Satanical, but their life too was diabolical.
St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), Confessions, commenting on the story of Sodom from Genesis 19:
Can it ever, at any time or place, be unrighteous for a man to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind; and his neighbor as himself? Similarly, offenses against nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detestation and should be punished. Such offenses, for example, were those of the Sodomites; and, even if all nations should commit them, they would all be judged guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which has not made men so that they should ever abuse one another in that way. For the fellowship that should be between God and us is violated whenever that nature of which he is the author is polluted by perverted lust.
John Calvin, Protestant reformer and theologian (1509-1564), commentary on Genesis 19 and Romans 1:
Moses sets before our eyes a lively picture of Sodom. For it is hence obvious, how diabolical was their consent in all wickedness, since they all so readily conspired to perpetrate the most abominable crime. The greatness of their iniquity and wantonness, is apparent from the fact, that, in a collected troop, they approach, as enemies, to lay siege to the house of Lot. How blind and impetuous is their lust; since, without shame, they rush together like brute animals! How great their ferocity and cruelty; since they reproachfully threaten the holy man, and proceed to all extremities! Hence also we infer, that they were not contaminated with one vice only, but were given up to all audacity in crime, so that no sense of shame was left them. What Paul says, also refers to the same point: that God punished the impiety of men, when he cast them into such a state of blindness, that they gave themselves up to abominable lusts, and dishonored their own bodies (Romans 1:18.). But when the sense of shame is overcome, and the reins are given to lust, a vile and outrageous barbarism necessarily succeeds, and many kinds of sin are blended together, so that a most confused chaos is the result. But if this severe vengeance of God so fell upon the men of Sodom, that they became blind with rage, and prostituted themselves to all kinds of crime, certainly we shall scarcely be more mildly treated, whose iniquity is the less excusable, because the truth of God has been more clearly revealed unto us.
John Wesley, Protestant evangelist, theologian and founder of Methodism (1703-1791), commentary on Romans 1:24-27:
Romans 1:24.Wherefore One punishment of sin is from the very nature of it, as Romans 1:27; another, as here, is from vindictive justice. Uncleanness Ungodliness and uncleanness are frequently joined, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, as are the knowledge of God and purity. God gave them up By withdrawing his restraining grace. 25. Who changed the truth The true worship of God. Into a lie False, abominable idolatries. And worshipped Inwardly. And served Outwardly. 26. Therefore God gave them up to vile affections To which the heathen Romans were then abandoned to the last degree; and none more than the emperors themselves. 27. Receiving the just recompense of their error Their idolatry being punished with that unnatural lust, which was as horrible a dishonor to the body, as their idolatry was to God.
Robert Haldane, evangelist and writer (1764-1842), exposition of the Book of Romans, chapter 1:
Romans 1:26 For this cause and gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. 1:27 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 recompense of their error which was meet. The Apostle having awfully depicted the magnitude of Pagan wickedness, and having shown that their ungodliness in abandoning the worship of the true God was the reason why they had been abandoned to their lusts, here descends into particulars, for the purpose of showing to what horrible excesses God had permitted them to proceed. This was necessary, to prove how odious in the sight of God is the crime of idolatry. Its recompense was this fearful abandonment. It was also necessary, in order to give a just idea of human corruption, as evinced in its monstrous enormities when allowed to take its course, and also in order to exhibit to believers a living proof of the depth of the evil from which God had delivered them; and, finally, to prove the falsity of the Pagan religion since, so far from preventing such excesses, it even incited and conducted men to their omission. Receiving in themselves that recompense. As the impiety of the Pagans respecting God reached even to madness, it was also just that God should permit their corruption to recoil upon themselves, and proceed also to madness. It was just that they who had done what they could to cover the Godhead with reproaches, should likewise cover themselves with infamy, and thus receive a proportionate and retributive recompense. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. The Apostle shows here how justly the Pagan idolaters were abandoned since they had so far departed from the right knowledge of God. In the 18th verse he had declared that the wrath of God was revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. He had now conclusively established the first charge of ungodliness against the Gentiles, adding to it their consequent abandonment to the vilest affections.
Americas Founders Agreed In colonial times, sodomy was so reviled that Thomas Jefferson wrote a bill to penalize the act by castration. George Washington, as commander in chief of the Revolutionary army, ordered that an officer be ousted from the military for attempting to commit sodomy:
His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes orders Lieut. Enslin to be drummed out of camp tomorrow morning by all drummers and fifers in the Army never to return. Numerous other examples can be cited, but it is sufficient to say that sodomy has consistently been recognized as deviant sexual behavior from Biblical times to the present. Although homosexual rights activists wish to rewrite the historical record and infer that early writers did not understand what homosexual love was about in the modern sense, the facts show otherwise.
As the writer of Ecclesiastes said:
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
*Original Intent, by David Barton, WallBuilder Press, 1996.
*Homosexuality in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law, by Dr. James B. De Young.
*Kregel Publications, 2000.
*Christian Classics Ethereal Library, online at www.ccel.org