In the OT, homosexuality is unequivocally condemned. Homosexual sex is prohibited in the law (Lv 18:22; 20:13) and called an abomination. However, of all the illicit sexual relations listed in Leviticus 18, homosexuality is not singled out as being any different or any more worthy of condemnation than any other sexual: sin. God's attitude toward homosexuality is portrayed in the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 19). Ezekiel includes among the sins of Sodom "immoral acts," using the same term as in Leviticus 18 to describe homosexual acts (Ezk 16:43; cp. Jd 7). The law condemns all homosexual sex and does not distinguish between perverted and wholesome homosexual relationships.
The central NT passage that addresses homosexuality is Romans 1:24-27 (cp. 1 Co 6:9; 1 Tm 6:10). It is set in the context of the condemnation of those who reject God as revealed in creation, or through natural law. It is part of Paul's broader argument for the universality of sin and judgment, setting the need for the believer to be justified by faith in Christ's atoning death on the cross, outlined in Romans 4-5. Those who rejected the available knowledge of God and chose instead to worship the Greek and Roman idols faced lifestyle consequences. One of these consequences was homosexual behavior. Paul appealed to the natural order of creation to condemn homosexual behavior (Rm 1:27).
What's natural is objective and based on creation, not dependent upon an individual's sexual orientation. Male and female were created with an innate tendency toward opposite-sex attraction, but because of sin the human race developed the potential for homosexuality. This potential is often realized when certain developmental factors are present. Because of the reality of sin, every person has the potential for homosexuality, in the same way that we have the potential for any other kind of sin Scripture describes.
Some have suggested that Paul intended to condemn only certain types of homosexuality. For example, given the context of idolatry, some have argued that Paul was only condemning homosexuality in the context of idolatrous worship. Others have suggested that Paul intended to condemn perverse homosexuality, such as having multiple partners and engaging in nonconsensual homosexual sex. Still others argue that Paul was objecting to persons' reversing their natural sexual orientation and acting sexually in ways that violate a person's orientation.
There is little evidence in the text that Paul intended to limit his teaching to certain kinds of homosexual activity. Rather, Paul's appeal to a universal truth about sexual relations linked to the order of creation (cp. Jesus' teaching in Mt 19:4-6) should prevent us from seeing this passage as limited to certain kinds of homosexual behavior and from seeing Paul as culturally outdated in his teaching. His teaching provides an appropriate context for a judgment on all same-gender sexual relationships.
In applying these passages that forbid homosexuality, some suggest that it is important to make a distinction between homosexual attraction and homosexual sexual relations. And indeed there is a difference between being attracted to a person of the same sex and acting sexually on that attraction. For a straight, married person to be attracted to someone of the opposite sex other than his or her spouse is not sin per se. It becomes sin when that attraction is acted upon, either in lust (the process of mentally having sex with a person) or in sexual overtures. Likewise, it may be that the homosexual attraction is not sin per se, though at variance with the order of creation. But when that attraction gives way to lust and ultimately to sexual activity, it is sin.
Some argue that what the Bible condemns in homosexual relationships is what it also condemns in heterosexual relationships-that is, lust and sexual involvement outside marriage. Thus the options for the Christian homosexual would be the same as for the Christian' single person: either abstinence or heterosexual sex in marriage. Some Christians who struggle with their sexual identity have grasped this distinction and have rejected the gay lifestyle while attempting to work out issues related to their sexual identity.
It may be that failure to recognize a distinction between feeling a homosexual attraction and acting homosexually has kept the church from being a more accepting place for those struggling with their sexual orientation.
Extracted from the Apologetics Study Bible.