Because "it is sometimes argued" that the Bible says little or nothing against same-sex unions, the document states, it "seems therefore necessary to examine the passages of Sacred Scripture in which the homosexual problem is discussed"
The text then conducts an "exegesis," an assessment of the places in the Bible which reference the subject.
Exegesis, Fr. Michael Kolarcik explained, is "bringing out to the surface the meaning of the text."
Kolarcik is rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He told CNA exegesis is "a certain type of interpretation. It means that you begin with the text and you try to understand from the text what it is trying to say."
This is opposed to eisegesis, which is "reading into the text" or reading "into the text what you want it to say," he explained.
He said in Catholic exegesis "we try to use every tool available to help us to understand what the meaning of the text was when it was written, and its movement through history – how a text was interpreted previously – and also, what application it has today."
The Biblical Commission's study notes at its beginning that the Bible does not speak directly about "the erotic inclination of a person towards the same sex, but only of homosexual acts."
It examines the Old Testament stories of Sodom in Genesis 19 and of Gibeah in Judges 19, stating that the story of the sin and destruction of Sodom has become almost "famous for the question of homosexuality."
Examining the Biblical passages, the book notes that the Sodom passage "is not intended to present the image of an entire city dominated by irrepressible homosexual cravings; rather, it denounces the conduct of a social and political entity that does not want to welcome the stranger with respect, and therefore insists on humiliating him, forcing him to undergo an infamous treatment of submission."
That interpretation of the destruction of Sodom, Kolarcik explained, is "a completely reasonable interpretation," and has been taught in theology courses for decades.
"That doesn't mean that the other element, of any sort of sexual depravation is not there as well," he added.
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The study next examines the Book of Leviticus, in which "we find a precise list of prohibitions regarding immoral sexual acts and among these is listed homosexual relations between males."
In Leviticus "the gravity of the perpetrated act, as well as the qualification of 'abominable thing,' is highlighted by capital punishment. There is no notice that this sanction has ever been applied; however, it remains that such behavior is considered to be gravely inappropriate by the Old Testament law," the text states.
The law in Leviticus, it continues, is "intended to protect and promote an exercise of sexuality open to procreation, in accordance with the Creator's command to human beings, taking care of course that this act is inscribed within the framework of a legitimate marriage."
The study then examines the references to homosexual acts in the New Testament, in particular, Romans 1:26; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10; and 1 Timothy 1:10.
Looking at these three texts, the report points out that the "unrelatedness" of homosexual acts to the "Christian way of living is accentuated by St. Paul's introductory rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 6:9: 'do you not know that...?'"
This, the report states, is "to point out a truth that should be evident to its audience."