The Patristic Understanding of Scriptural Teachings on Homosexuality: Re-evaluation of the Viewpoints of John Boswell
Nathan K. NG

Homosexuality has long been a controversial issue for modern church. Does Scripture truly object to homosexual acts? Does the Church consistently reject homosexual relationship from the beginning? Concerning these questions, John Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century published in 1980 may be said to be a classic.The author claims that his book "is specifically intended to rebut the common idea that religious belief — Christian or other — has been the cause of intolerance in regard to gay people." Many pro-LGBT authors follow Boswell's viewpoints and quote this book as an authority.
This article revisits the concept of proper sexual relationship in ancient Greco-Roman world and explicates the common attitude of the church fathers towards homosexuality. On this foundation, the article evaluates the arguments of Boswell one by one and points out that his interpretations of related biblical verses, including Genesis 19:1-29 (and Judges 19:14-25), Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, First Corinthians 6:9-10, First Timothy 1:10 and Romans 1:26-27, are all biased and problematic. By neglecting numerous opposite evidences, misrepresenting academic opinions, and twisting genuine meanings of Greek words, Boswell has systematically constructed a fallacious picture on biblical and patristic views. Why John Boswell, an established international scholar, has to publish such a controversial work? The weak and mistaken arguments of the book prove to the contrary that the early church was truly against homosexuality.