The first occurrence of an explicit reference to homosexuality in the Bible is found in Genesis 19:1-29. Its the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is a popular story because of why it was destroyed: attempted homosexual rape as the height of their sinful behavior. However, biblical Liberals (generally those who affirm the practice of homosexuality) will claim that homosexuality is not a part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah that led to its destruction, they will claim their sin was inhospitality and social injustice. The debate rests on the meaning of the hebrew verb yada. Yada means "to know," it can either mean "to get acquainted with", or "to have sex with." The quetsion is wether or not it shouldbe interpreted specifically "to have sex with" in Genesis 19:5. Context should always dictate how a word is translated in a particular passage of scripture, so lets look at the context of the story.
Lot is hosting two angels in his house, after providing dinner for them, men from the city surround Lot's house and say "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can know them ("have sex with them" or "get acquainted with them.") (Gen. 19:5). Lot goes outside to meet them tells them no and offers his two virgin daughters who had never "known" (yada) a man (Gen. 19:8).
Obviously, the men of the city are not just asking to "get acquainted with" the two angels. They are wanting to do more than just hang out with them. The context here is clear: Lot offers his virgin daughters who had never known a man to the men of the city in order to protect the angels. Obviously, the meaning of yada here is sexual. The men's motivation for the angels was more than just shaking hands and having a conversation. The men wanted to rape the angels; and these aren't the standard female angels of pop religion, their men!
Also, biblical liberals are quick to point out that yada is used in the OT 943 times and it means "to have sex with" in only 15 of those occurrences. What they fail to mention, is that 6 of the 15 times it is used in a sexual connotation is in the book of Genesis. Also, for Lot to use the word yada in reference to his virgin daughters dictates the sexual meaning in that instance. If Lot meant to offer his daughters so that the men of the city could "get acquainted with them," first: why did he specifically mention they were virgins and second: why did he feel it was necessary to protect the angels if the men of the city just wanted to talk? Context clearly dictates the sexual connotation of yada in this account. It could be said that inhospitality was part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, but obviously, part of how that inhospitality manifests itself is attempted homosexual rape.
To be fair, biblical liberals will also use other texts of scripture that refer to Sodom and Gomorrah to support their claim that social injustice and inhospitality are the sins of the cities, not homosexuality. This will the topic of my next couple of posts.