Fortress Press

Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views

Homosexuality and the Bible

Two Views

Robert A. J. Gagnon (Author), Dan O. Via (Author)


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Few recent issues have sparked such debate in the churches as homosexuality, same-sex unions, and ordination of gays and lesbians. A key point of contention is the meaning and authority of the biblical witness.

In this brief book, two New Testament scholars discuss the relevant biblical texts on the subject of homosexual behavior and orientation. Discussing both Old Testament and New Testament texts, each author also raises important interpretive and moral questions and then offers a response to the other's main assertions. Chief questions examined by each include what the Bible has to say about homosexuality and homosexual behavior, the meaning of those texts in their cultural contexts, and the larger hermeneutical dilemma of what kind of authority the Bible's teaching, if recoverable, has for Christians today.

A thoughtful and irenic dialogue, this volume can facilitate reflection and discussion among church members on a vital and contentious issue in American church life.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800636180
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 128
  • Publication Date September 16, 2003


"Homosexuality and the Bible is a timely contribution that should be read by all sides in the debate that threatens to divide all churches. I know of no other work that so clearly illumines the biblical issues at the heart of the controversy surrounding homosexuality."
– Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

"This is an excellent contribution to a debate which is set to run and run in most parts of Christendom. I know of no finer presentation of all the main issues. The authors set out their cases and responses to one another with rigour and yet with an admirable absence of rancour. Be warned: this book may force you to change your mind!"
– Graham Stanton, Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

"The issue of homosexuality before the church is indeed a wearisome task, and people of good will on both sides of the vexing question wish we could for a while talk about something else. But of course that is not possible because not only are there real issues at stake, but the lives of real people are at risk around the issue. This book presents the key arguments, pro and con, with clarity, reasoned thought, and for the most part with civil discourse. We will wait, along with Via and Gagnon, to be led to newness beyond competing advocacies to a new chapter yet to be written. That of course is the work of the Spirit...."
– Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Two esteemed New Testament scholars claim the Bible as ultimate authority for Christian faith and life, address the biblical witness regarding homosexuality, and come to strikingly different conclusions. How can this be? Issues of exegetical meaning and theological method are pivotal, and the interpretive choices confronting us are here clearly on display. Christian leaders and churches challenged by questions surrounding the voice and role of Scripture on same-sex relations will find in this dialogue an invaluable chart for navigating these confusing waters."
– Joel B. Green, Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Here, in brief and eminently readable form, are presented two opposing views of the controversy that rages within our churches. Robert Gagnon's brilliant and lucid condensation of his principle arguments should be a significant asset for clergy and laity alike, while Dan Via opens new vistas and challenges."
– Catherine Clark Kroeger, Associate Professor of Classical and Ministry Studies, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

"Two adept spokespersons propound contrasting ways of listening to Scripture on the question of same-sex erotic relationships. Readers who already hold positions on either extreme will likely find here only reinforcement for their views. But the great, often silent, majority in the middle that struggles with this vexing issue will find provocative material on both sides that begs for critical reflection."
– Robert L. Brawley, Albert G. McGaw Professor of New Testament, McCormick Theological Seminary

Table of Contents


The Authority of the Bible
Hermeneutics: The Problem of Interpretation
Changing Attitudes
The Old Testament
Transition to the New Testament
The New Testament
Homosexual Orientation
Defense of the Traditional Position
Wandering in the Wilderness
A Way Forward
On Determining What Matters in Scripture
The Proper Use of Analogies
Love and Grace from the Perspective of Jesus and Paul
The Pervasive Stance against Homosexual Practice in the Old Testament
The Levitical Proscriptions and the Issue of Purity
The Witness of Jesus
The Witness of Paul
Concluding Thoughts

Response to Robert A. J. Gagnon
Dan O. Via

Response to Dan O. Via
Robert A. J. Gagnon

Select Bibliography
Index of Scripture