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Homosexuality
in the Bible

The Marriage Model &
thOSe ELEVEN Passages

Many Christians opposed to social and political equality for gay people typically appeal to the injunctions of Scripture as the basis for their position.

While the Scriptures specifically forbid sexual activity related to pagan rituals, prostitution and the abuse of power (and promiscuity in general), there are no biblical commands forbidding a committed love relationship between two consenting adults of the same sex.

While we’ll look at all the passages that are often cited against homosexuality below (the so-called clobber passages, let’s first look at what many people feel represents the “big picture” concern: God’s model for marriage.

Adam and Eve: The Model for Marriage

God created male and female in His image, and together, they reveal something of God’s nature. While every sphere of society is better off when men and women function in harmony, marriage is certainly one of the main expressions of this reality.

Moreover, God instituted marriage between male and female for the propagation of humanity and the family as the means though which children are raised.

Thus, due to the sanctity of marriage and family, many Christians believe that anything contrary to a male-female relationship is at the very least, not God’s best, and at worst, a violation of God’s will. The tacky “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” quip plays to this idea.

The key issue here relates to the question of what constitutes God’s ideal for all men and women and for humanity as a whole—with the latter informing the former. That is, without the male-female union, humanity would cease to exist. Therefore, to many, anything that doesn’t reflect the creation model is surely not God’s will.

Enter Paul. The apostle to the Gentiles and author of much of the New Testament.

Paul chose a life of singleness and celibacy and advocated that others should choose likewise. He wrote,

“I wish that all of you were as I am [single and celibate]. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that … to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them if they remain even as I am.”

(1 Corinthians 7:7, 8, emphasis added)

Why Paul advocated for such a stance is a subject in itself, but his reasons do not have any bearing on the point made here.

If any lifestyle choice other than one reflecting God’s created order is at the very least short of God’s best, or at its worst, a violation of God’s will, then Paul was out of line, and critically so.

And what of Jesus Himself, who chose the same life of singleness and who spoke of those who choose this lifestyle for Kingdom reasons (Matthew 19:12)?

That Jesus and Paul, our highest examples of moral and spiritual life, both chose singleness, makes it obvious that there are other valid ways of living that don’t undermine the creation model. And to claim that singleness is the only exception is to make a claim that the Bible does not. In fact, Jesus mentions other exceptions, as we’ll see below.

To put a finer point on this, in creating humanity and establishing male-female marriage and family as the core building blocks of human society, God established a primary but not essential or exclusive model for all men and women.

In other words, if there are no biblical commands forbidding a committed love relationship between two consenting adults of the same sex, such a union does not fundamentally undermine the creation model or invalidate the sanctity of marriage and family.

And to be clear, by using the word “primary” to describe God’s model of male-female partnership, it does not imply that other unions are “lesser” in value or “inferior” in substance. Rather, the adjective highlights two facts: one, without male-female partnerships, offspring aren’t possible, and two, most people choose such a relationship—since most people are heterosexual or choose such a partnership to have children.

It’s also worth stating the obvious: while male-female marriage was essential for the human race to survive in its origin story (and for the survival of the ancient Israelites as a distinct people), this is obviously no longer a pressing issue.

Okay, but what about the Bible passages in question?

Let’s look at them each in turn…

The Old Testament

There are eleven passages in question, eight in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament.

Prohibiting Prostitution

The first four passages in the Old Testament forbid male and female prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, 1 Kings 22:46 and 2 Kings 23:7).

These passages obviously have nothing to do with committed same-sex relationships.

Ancient Israel’s Ritual Code

The second two Old Testament verses are part of the ritual code of Israel: Leviticus 18:21-23 outlines the prohibitions and Leviticus 20:13-16 outlines the penalties.

The purpose of Israel’s ritual code was to establish an independent, distinct nation in a land inhabited by pagan tribes, whose cultic practices included child sacrifice, bestiality and ritual temple prostitution while surviving in a harsh, arid environment where health and hygiene were paramount concerns.

Israel’s ritual code prohibited a wide array of things such as eating raw meat, tattoos, boiling a baby goat in its mother’s milk, wearing garments with two different kinds of yarn, planting two different seeds in the same field and sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstrual period. Some of the injunctions ensured the people’s health, such as avoiding certain foods in an age without refrigeration, and others ensured Israel refrained from Canaan’s pagan practices, such as the occultic practice of boiling a baby goat in its mother’s milk to ensure fertility.

Now, both the passages in Leviticus explicitly instruct Israel to avoid doing what the Canaanites were doing.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “I am the LORD your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.”’”

(Leviticus 18:1-3, emphasis added)

“And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them.”

(Leviticus 20:23, emphasis added)

In other words, these Levitical prohibitions were part of Israel’s ritual code. 

So, what were the Canaanites doing that was so appalling?

Both Leviticus 18:21-23 and 20:13-16 address Canaanite shrine prostitution.

Thus, these passages forbade Israel from practicing the barbaric, cultic and sexual rites performed in Canaanite temples: child sacrifice, sacred prostitution and ritual temple sex, including both heterosexual and homosexual cultic acts, thought to appease their gods and bring luck upon crop and livestock production.

They do not address being homosexual and have nothing to say about loving, committed same-sex relationships.

Sodom and Gomorrah

While Judges 19:15-30 includes a similar story to the one in Genesis 19:1-11, since the term “sodomy” is derived from the latter passage, let’s focus on Sodom and Gomorrah.

The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is well known but terribly misrepresented, resulting in blatantly incorrect and dangerous statements like “gay pride is why Sodom fried”.

The inhabitants of these cities were not judged because of homosexuality but because of their appalling willingness to use power rape—sexual violence for the purpose of humiliation—to maintain their wealthy social order in gross violation of the moral requirement of Middle Eastern hospitality.

To be clear, the crime of Sodom was not a homosexual act and it was certainly not being homosexual. It was attempted power rape, heightened by their flagrant breach of hospitality laws and failure to care for the poor. This utterly reprehensible behaviour served to reveal the level of corruption in these two cities.

Other than a plain reading of this passage, on what basis do we come to this conclusion?

Based on the say-so of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Jesus and the early church fathers, Origen and St. Ambrose.

When Isaiah warned the nation of Judah, comparing them to Sodom and Gomorrah, he did not mention homosexuality; rather, he called out their injustice:

“If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! … Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

(Isaiah 1:9-17, emphasis added)

The same is true when Ezekiel compared his audience to Sodom and Gomorrah:

“As I live, says the LORD God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore, I removed them when I saw it.”

(Ezekiel 16:48-50, emphasis added)

There is, again, no allusion to sexual sin or sexual inclination. None. The same can be said for Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14 and Zephaniah 2:8-11. 

In other words, the prophets saw an attitude indicating a lack of social justice in the barbaric behaviour of the Sodomites.

Jesus likewise compared the inhospitality of those rejecting his disciples to Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15; Luke 10:12). Again, Jesus did not mention sexual activity let alone hint at any anti-homosexual message. That he didn’t, we can conclude that Genesis 19:1-11 had absolutely nothing to do with committed, consensual same-sex relationships.

Peter described the crimes of Sodom and Gomorrah as the “filthy conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7) and their “lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:8), but this simply alludes to sinful human behaviour in general.

Only one passage, in Jude, states that these cities were guilty of “sexual immorality” and describes them as having “gone after strange flesh” (Jude 7).

Jude compared Sodom and Gomorrah’s crime with the transgression of fallen angels (v. 6), whose sin was presumably sex with women—according to Genesis 6:1-4. In other words, Jude’s reference to “strange flesh” (or “unnatural lust”) could well be condemning occultic perversity by alluding to the men of Sodom’s demand for sex with angels—even though they were surely unaware that Lot’s guest were angelic beings. In other words, Jude used the association metaphorically in his condemnation of the opponents of the faith who, warped in their thinking, sought to “turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Jude was evidently confronting some first century occult-based heresy; he was not addressing same-sex relationships.

So, when did Genesis 19 become associated with homosexuality?

The Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC – AD 50) and the Jewish historian Josephus (AD 37-100) were among the first writers to make the connection between Sodom and Gomorrah and homosexual activity, but the former spoke of deranged heterosexual men and the latter had pederasty in mind. (Pederasty, sexual activity between older men and adolescent boys, was an abusive but common first-century Greco-Roman practice—a practice the Jews rightly condemned.)

It’s notable that early church fathers, such as Origen and St. Ambrose, called out the sin of Sodom as criminal inhospitality to strangers, echoing the prophets’ judgment.

It was only into the fourth century, after Rome’s capture of the Christian faith, that Sodom and Gomorrah become associated with homosexuality, condemned in Christendom as the “sin of Sodom”. (See How Christendom Became Homophobic.)

As a thought experiment, consider the utterly horrifying account in Judges 19:15-30 that mirrors the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In this case, the men of Gibeah gang raped the women offered to appease them. Why don’t we now condemn heterosexuality as the “sin of Gibeah”?

(Answer: because we easily distinguish rape from heterosexuality. In the same way, the prophets, Jesus and the early church fathers distinguished rape from homosexuality.)

Noah’s Curse

Although we have looked at the eight Old Testament references often cited as opposing homosexuality, for the sake of completeness, there’s a final passage to mention.

Some have claimed that a plain reading of the incident that caused Noah to curse his son Ham doesn’t justify his extreme reaction. They speculate that Ham must have sodomized his father while Noah lay drunk (Genesis 9:20-24). Thus, they conclude, sodomy is the cause of Noah’s judgment.

This is not an accurate interpretation of the passage and reflects a flawed understanding of Middle Eastern honour. Noah cursed Ham because he dishonoured him; firstly, by failing to cover his nakedness and secondly, for subsequently mocking and ridiculing him.

Yet even if Ham did sodomize his father (and again, there is absolutely no reason to claim this), his transgression would be rape and incest, not sodomy. This is an example of some trying to make Scripture confirm their biases.

The New Testament

Jesus

There is no mention of homosexuality in the four Gospels of the New Testament. Jesus’ comprehensive love-defined morality did not even touch on the subject; instead, His teachings centred on love, acceptance and servanthood. That the church is associated with bigoted and anti-homosexual messages in much of secular society surely means we’ve failed to reflect the Message of Jesus.

Jesus commented on marriage, most notably in Matthew 19, and many attempt to use it as a chokehold passage to claim that despite His silence on homosexuality, He indirectly excluded gay people in His comments on marriage.

Let’s investigate.

The Pharisees tried to test Jesus, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matthew 19:3). In doing so, they tried to drag Jesus into one of the hot, messy debates of the day: two rival rabbinical schools of thought debated over how to apply Moses’ instructions concerning a certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

As was Jesus’ custom, He transcended the “culture wars” of His day, pointing instead to a passage His testers held as authority to trump their test. He did the same in Matthew 22:23-33, where He transcended the tricky question posed by the Sadducees concerning marriage and the resurrection.

In the Matthew 19 incident, Jesus took His testers back to Genesis 1 and 2, trumping their arguments centred on the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). He said,

“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

(Matthew 19:4-6)

Firstly, Jesus asked, “Have you not read…?” and quoted Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24.

Of course, they had read these passages. The Pharisees were experts on the texts. Jesus was clearly making a point, effectively saying, “The creation model trumps your dispute.”

Secondly, Jesus quoted these two verses to remind the Pharisees that the marriage covenant between a man and a woman was binding in God. He then, a few verses later, stressed that divorce was permissible only if one partner severed the marital covenant (Matthew 19:9).

For many, that Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 is sufficient grounds to exclude the possibility of committed same-sex relationships. They state, “Jesus explicitly connects the institution of marriage to one man and one woman. Any other arrangement—other than one man and one woman—is therefore indirectly excluded.”

However, it can be argued that Jesus simply connected the creation model to the case presented to Him. The Pharisees asked about the basis for divorce between a man and a woman, citing the Mosaic Law, and Jesus pointed them to passages that they knew spoke more authoritatively to this union. As mentioned, He did the same in Matthew 22:23-33 where He quoted from Exodus 3:6 to trump the Sadducees disbelief in the resurrection.

In other words, Jesus was not teaching on marriage per se; He was foiling the Pharisees’ test. While Jesus’ instruction concerning sexual immorality as a just reason for divorce brought clarity to the argument, He was not turning the primary model for marriage into an exclusive, binding template for every man and woman.

Not only would that be putting words in Jesus’ mouth, but the logical conclusion would then mean that Jesus implied that every male and female are obligated to get married. That Jesus Himself didn’t marry means this was not what He intended. In fact, in the next breath, Jesus spoke of exceptions to the marriage model including those who choose singleness for Kingdom reasons, those made eunuchs by men and those born eunuchs (Matthew 19:12). What is a born eunuch? In the ancient world, a born or natural eunuch included three subsets of people which we explore in Natural Eunuchs.

Jesus’ comments on marriage uphold the sanctity of the covenant but do not establish marriage between a man and a woman as the exclusive model for all men and women.

And just as importantly, Jesus’ affirmation of what were “sexual minorities” in Matthew 19:12 demonstrates how He wants us to relate to sexual minorities today.

Most importantly, Jesus did not mention homosexuality at all and His moral teachings are centred on love, acceptance and servanthood.

The Vice Lists

The first two passages in the New Testament are similar and are both contained within what we call New Testament Vice Lists (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 and 1 Timothy 1:9, 10).

A vice list is a rhetorical device used by the writer to call believers to a higher moral standard by mixing a number of heinous sins, such as murder, prostitution and slave trading, with everyday vices such as gossip, envy and greed. The idea was to show that sin was sin and that one cannot become comfortable with “lesser” transgressions while decrying society’s “major” crimes.

In other words, the focus is on the everyday vices in the lists and our response as believers to walk in growing maturity. Too often, believers focus on the seemingly weightier sins and use them as a means to judge secular society. This misses the point entirely. The purpose of the vice lists is to provoke internal reflection, not to engage in public censure.

While the word “homosexuality”, as we know it, does not appear in these lists, or anywhere in the Bible for that matter, let’s look at the words in these two lists that some use to condemn homosexuality.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (malakoi), nor sodomites (arsenokoitai), nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

(1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, parenthesis added)

“…knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites (arsenokoitai), for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”

(1 Timothy 1:9, 10, parenthesis added)

Firstly, notice how the word covetous in the first passage and liars in the second passage grab the attention when included among more heavy-duty crimes like extortioners and murderers of fathers and mothers. It’s easy to condemn the latter, but suddenly the gravity of everyday temptations to covet and lie become more clear.

Secondly, the two words relevant to our discussion are malakoi (the plural of malakos), translated as “homosexuals” in the above translation, and arsenokoitai (the plural of arsenokoites), translated by the word “sodomites”.

1 Corinthians 6:9, 10

The word malakos literally refers to a “soft person” or a “passive person”. In some Greco-Roman literature, it referred to a man who dressed effeminately and took the passive role in sex, typically for money. Thus, it often referred to a male prostitute, which is the way several Bible translations translate the word.

That said, in some Greek literature, the word referred to general moral laxity or wanton behaviour with no explicit reference to homosexual activity. In fact, in this sense, it referred to men who engaged in copious promiscuous sex with women! Either way, the word had absolutely nothing to do with loving, committed same-sex relationships.

The word arsenokoites literally means “man who has sex”, as arseno means “man” and koiten means “intercourse”. It was, in fact, a word Paul coined, borrowing from the Septuagint’s translation of the Levitical passage: “You shall not lie [koite] with a male [arseno] as with a woman.”

Truth is, we have no way of knowing for certain what Paul meant. That it follows malakos in the 1 Corinthians 6 list means that the most probable meaning is male prostitutes and the men who use them, especially since that’s where Paul takes the discussion (1 Corinthians 6:15-20). The New Revised Standard in the latest 2021 edition, translates these two words as follows: “male prostitutes” and men who engage in illicit sex” (1 Corinthians 6:9)—correctly capturing the sentiment Paul expressed.

Moreover, the first century Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria (20 BC – AD 50), interpreted the Levitical passages as condemning Canaanite shrine prostitution. His writings and thoughts on the matter were widely accepted. He was also a contemporary of the apostle Paul and the other apostles. Thus, Paul may have coined this word in agreement with Philo’s interpretation, condemning both parties involved in prostitution.

1 Timothy 1:9, 10

By the time Paul wrote to Timothy, it’s reasonable to assume Timothy understood Paul’s use of the term arsenokoitai.

If the term had further evolved, that Paul mentions “kidnappers” (Greek: andrapodistes) after “sodomites” in 1 Timothy 1 list, a term used of “slave traders”, he may also have had those responsible for the widespread kidnapping of girls and boys sold into sexual slavery in mind.

Or Paul may have used the term to refer to pederasty—the sexual activity between an older man and an adolescent boy, a common practice in the first century. In the Greco-Roman world, where the pubescent male was considered the pinnacle of sexuality, older men would often exploit boy slaves or even young male apprentices to serve at their pleasure. It was an obvious and heinous abuse of authority and power, but an acceptable cultural practice highly prevalent in ancient Greco-Roman society.

Martin Luther’s original German translation from 1534 used the phrase “boy molester” (German: knabenschander) to translate arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1, as pederasty was deemed the issue Paul was addressing.

In other words, while we cannot be 100% certain what Paul did or did not mean by inventing the term, we do know two things:

  1. He did not use any of the many contemporary words for homosexual activity. If he intended to condemn homosexuality, he could have simply used any one of the following common words: erastes, eromenos, inaidos, paiderasste or arrenomanes—to mention just five.
  2. There’s little doubt that Paul was referring to the crimes of sexual exploitation and abuse common in the first century. Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with sex within a loving, consensual and committed relationship.

Thus, these two words malakos and arsenokoites are the only words that describe male-on-male sex in the New Testament. And neither of them refer to “homosexuality” as we understand the term. Rather, they describe abusive sexual relationships borne of the misuse of power and wanton desire, and have nothing to do with committed, consensual same-sex unions.

It’s worth pointing out that the New International Version (NIV) merges the two words together in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and comes up with the terribly unfortunate translation, “men who have sex with men”. This does not do any justice to the two words, separating the corrupt connotations of each, implying that any and all same-sex activity is condemned. To put it bluntly, this translation is utterly incorrect and dangerously misleading.

Idolatry and Eroticism

The final passage in the New Testament is again from Paul, in his epistle to the Romans.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

(Romans 1:18-27)

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul began his extended teaching on God’s glory and humanity’s fallen nature.

To demonstrate just how far humanity had fallen from God’s glory, Paul referred to an example the Roman believers knew well: the goddess cults that mixed brazen idolatry with ritualized prostitution. The Isis Cult, for instance, was not particularly popular with many Roman citizens and may have served as Paul’s point of reference.

The Cult’s festivals promoted their ‘goods’ through the streets of Rome and its followers worshipped animals as described in this passage in Romans: “birds, four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23).

These festivals brought to the streets what usually occurred behind the “closed doors” of the pagan shrines. While billed as celebratory festivals, it was often an in-your-face show that the average Roman found repulsive. Even Caesars Augustus and Tiberius found the cult “pornographic”. (That the cult originally hailed from Egypt certainly rubbed the Romans up the wrong way, too.)

In other words, Paul’s reference to pagan idolatry and how the goddess cults used prostitution to lure followers into an unbridled quest for self-gratification was an example of how far humanity had fallen from God’s glory.

That’s the big take away from this passage.

If we seek to lift verses 26 and 27 out of Paul’s description of what went on in ritualized shrine prostitution, we’re left on shaky ground that’s subject to speculation and interpretation based on personal bias—there are at least ten ways to interpret these verses.

Making dogmatic statements based on conjecture would only detract from the point Paul was trying to make; that is, even though the goddess cults demonstrate how far humanity has fallen, we have all fallen short of God’s glory (1:28-3:23).

Regardless of one’s view of versus 26 and 27 in Romans 1, this passage has absolutely nothing to do with loving, committed same-sex relationships.

Two Questions

To sum up then, the passages in question address sexual ACTS in specific CONTEXTS—contexts (pagan rituals, prostitution and power abuse) that frame those acts as wrong. They neither address being gay nor do they address consensual, committed same-sex relationships.

Since there are no biblical commands forbidding a committed love relationship between two consenting adults of the same sex, as mentioned at the start, many opponents return to the male-female marriage model as the basis of claims against same-sex relationships.

And while there are related questions that arise about marriage and family, Paul’s choice of singleness is one example of why other lifestyle choices don’t fundamentally undermine the male-female marriage pattern or invalidate the sanctity of marriage and family.

Yes, these related questions are important and need answering. For instance, how important is it for children to have both male and female parental models? And assuming it is especially important, how do we as a community and society better support not just same-sex couples, but single parents, too? Positive and humane solutions can only be found in a spirit of acceptance, one free from condemnation.

The critical issue for Christians who remain opposed to consensual (not abusive), committed (not promiscuous) same-sex relationships comes down to answering these two questions:

  1. Does God really intend that each and every person can only find and express lifelong love and companionship (a God-given desire) in a male-female union—even those born with same-sex orientation?
  2. If so, on what basis does one claim or justify this stance given that the Scriptures do not forbid consensual, committed same-sex unions?

If your answer to Question 2 is personal conviction, then heed Paul’s advice to the Romans:

“Let each be fully convinced in his own mind … let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

(Romans 14:5, 13)

In other words, on non-essential matters, be true to your own convictions but don’t judge others by them.

If your answer to Question 2 is church history or denominational tradition, perhaps it’s time to think for yourself on the matter.

Can I suggest you start with 4 Reasons for Being Affirming?