You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. [Leviticus 18:22]*
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. [Leviticus 20:13]
There shall be no ritual harlot of the daughters of Israel, or a perverted one of the sons of Israel. [Deuteronomy 23:17]
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Lord.
“Yet Jacob have I loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.” [Malachi 1:2-3]
The question “Does God hate gays?” is framed in such a way by the pro-perversion crowd so as to evoke an emotional response. This is due in large part to a certain cult which makes public demonstrations at funerals, carrying signs and banners which proclaim that “God hates fags.” And Christians who have either made no attempt to think through the issue by searching the scriptures for the whole counsel of God, or who fear the rebukes of men more than they value pleasing God, blithely assure the pro-perversion crowd that God does not hate anyone. The cliched response is that God hates sin, but not sinners.
But is the cliched response really true according to the Bible? What does the Bible say concerning the character of God and His relation to creation? I’m not referring to a few proof texts taken out of context to soothe and beguile delicate sensibilities. I am saying we need to look at the totality of what Scripture reveals concerning the nature and attributes of God as He relates to fallen humanity.
Moreover, we need to look at not just one word, as it appears in English translations, but the whole semantic range of words used in Hebrew and Greek. However, we will look at the expanded semantic range in English also since many times those who produced English translations of the Bible would use different English words to translate the same Hebrew or Greek word.
According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, the following synonyms are listed for the verb “hate”: “detest,” “abominate,” “abhor,” and “loathe”. The same semantic range also attaches to the noun forms: “detestation,” “abomination,” “abhorrence,” and “loathing,” along with the adjectival forms: “hateful,” “detestable,” “abominable,” “abhorrent,” and “loathesome.”
Now, lets look at what Scripture says. In Hebrew, the primary word translated as “hate” is an}c* [pronounced “saw – nay”]. Renn’s Expository Dictionary records it as meaning, “to bear great ill will or animosity towards other people or against certain phenomena.” This is the word used in Malachi 1:3 to describe God’s attitude towards Esau. The same word is used in the following contexts to describe God’s attitude towards certain people:  towards all workers of iniquity – Psalm 5:5;  anyone who is wicked and who loves violence – Psalm 11:5;  the wicked – Psalm 45:7.
So let’s dig a little further. What does the phrase “workers of iniquity” mean exactly? What does it mean to be “wicked” or to “love violence” as those terms are translated from the Hebrew in the NKJV?
The phrase “workers of iniquity” in Psalm 5:5 is: /w\a* yl@u&P)[pronounced “pe–ul-eh ah-wen”]. The phrase denotes those so given to evil that nothing they do contributes to the betterment of man or society. The Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament further notes that lup [“pel”the stem of yl@u&P)], as a rule, describes a human action and behavior that is perverse because it does not conform to God’s expectations or demands.†
The phrase is further qualified by the use of the word, /w\a [“ah-wen”], which in most translations is rendered as “iniquity” [NKJV, NASB]. Again, according to the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, the word carries a significant weight behind it—denoting those who seek to bring disaster upon others.
Looking further, we know that God hates those who are wicked and love violence according to Psalm 11:5. The term rendered “wicked” in this passage is uv*R* [“raw-shaw”], and basically refers to one who is impious. Although the term “impious” seems like a mild description, the word carries a deeper meaning, signifying a blasphemer, one who is not merely indifferent to God, but one who is shaking his fist in God’s face as an act.
It is highly significant, that this is coupled in the passage with God hating one who loves violence. The Hebrew phrase is sm*j* bh@a)w+ [“aw-hav khaw-mawce”]. The word translated “love,” [“aw-hav”] is a general term, but usually denotes an intentional setting of one’s affections and desires on the object, which is, in this context, is “khaw-mawce,” rendered as “violence” in the NKJV, NASB, and ESV. This goes beyond the meaning of “iniquity” in Psalm 5:5, because one can be a worker of iniquity without loving violence. The lover of violence is one who actively seeks physical harm to others. An example of this may be seen in Job 1-2. In Job 1, Satan is acting to work iniquity against Job, but he is not yet inflicting harm upon the person of Job. In Job 2, Satan is now working physical harm against Job–he is inflicting violence on the person of Job.
So we see that there are three classes of people God hates:  workers of iniquity—who willfully engage in activities they know are perverse and bring harm upon others;  those who are wicked—who defiantly refuse to accept God’s ways; and  those who love violence—who are so defiant in their rejection of God’s ways, they derive enjoyment in imposing physical harm on others.
But what of other words in the semantic domain? In Psalm 73:20, it is taught that God “despises” the “ungodly.” The word “despises” in Hebrew is hz#b=T! [pronounced “ti-be-zeh”], meaning to esteem as worthless or of no account according to Renn. The same word is used to describe the value Esau placed on his birthright when he sold it for a mere bowl of soup. The word rendered as “ungodly” is actually found back in verse 12 and is the same word translated “wicked” in Psalm 11:5.
Another word in this semantic domain is the word “abhor.” In Leviticus 26:30, God, speaking to and through Moses, states that He abhors anyone who does not keep all of His commandments. The Hebrew word rendered “abhor” is lu^G* [pronounced “gaw-al”] and indicates one whom God has found so destestable as to utterly reject him.
Finally, the last word in the semantic range is “abomination. The Hebrew word is hb*u@oT [pronounced “toe-ay-baw”]. It is used in the Old Testament to describe those whose actions are such that God judges them to be repulsive. In Leviticus 18:22, God uses the term to describe those who engage in homosexual acts. In Leviticus 20:13, God calls those who engage in homosexual acts detestable, using the same word rendered as “abomination” in Leviticus 18:22.
What does this tell us then? According to the Old Testament, God finds homosexual activity to be repulsive and wicked, and He hates those who practice wickedness. Like it or not, that is what Scripture teaches. It cannot be explained away or denied.
However, some claim that that was how God was toward sin in the Old Testament, and that because we are now under an economy of grace, that those standards no longer apply because “God is love.”
Those who make such claims are cherry-picking and proof-texting Scriptures, still ignoring or attempting to explain away the whole counsel of God. In Romans 1:24-32, Paul writes that those who promote and engage in homosexual activity have been [note the past perfect tense]: (1) given over to uncleanness, (2) to their own lusts, (3) to vile passions, and (4) to a debased mind. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul states that those who engage in homosexual activity will have no place in the kingdom of God. In 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Paul states that homosexual activity is contrary to the will of God.
So, in a manner of speaking, Fred Phelps and his cult are correct in stating that God hates homosexuals.
But that is not all there is to the story. Fred Phelps and his cult commit two egregious errors in their presentation.
The first error is in neglecting to mention that, while God hates those engaging in homosexual activities, He also hates ALL who promote wickedness and those activities which are specifically defined as “detestable” or “abominations.” Some other activities so defined according to Leviticus 18; Leviticus 20; Deuteronomy 18; Proverbs 6: (1) incest, (2) adultery, (3) bestiality, (4) child sacrifice, (5) witchcraft, (6) soothsaying, (7) interpreting omens, (8) sorcery, (9) conjuring spells, (10) spiritualism, (11) arrogance, (12) telling falsehoods, (13) murder.‡
Paul further adds in the New Testament, that entry into the kingdom of God is barred to: fornicators, idolators, adulterers, thieves, the covetous, drunkards, slanderers, and extortioners. In other words, the kingdom of heaven is barred to any practitioner of sexual activity outside of the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
James 2:10 further adds that if one fails in even one point of the law, one fails in all.
In other words, all stand condemned as hated by God if they choose sin over obedience. God has not singled out one sin over all others as designating its practitioners as being hated while other sins are glossed over and blithely ignored. That is the first and most glaring error of the Fred Phelps cult.
The second error is that Phelps and his followers ignore what those who are Christians are called to do. Those who are recipients of grace are called to proclaim grace. Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21:
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
If they will not receive the word of grace and reconciliation, we are being less than honest if we do not make them aware of the penalty which awaits for those who reject grace. The Fred Phelps cult has not presented the Gospel—the good news that Christ came to die on a cross for sin, and that those who come to Him in repentance, seeking pardon and release from sin, will not be cast out. They simply present his narrowly-defined view of sin with a message of condemnation—bypassing the cross and preceding straight to judgment.
The more common error of many who claim to be Christians is in the opposite direction. They err by presenting sinners with a view called cheap grace, an antinomian view of Christianity, that those engaged in homosexual practice can be redeemed and pardoned from sin without ever repenting from and repudiating their sin.
The Biblical truth is this: If anyone insists that he can cling to his sins, he has demonstrated that he is not truly forgiven, not truly a believer in Christ.
* Unless noted otherwise, all Bible references are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
† Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997).
‡ Some modern expressions of these practices would include: ouija boards, tarot cards, palmistry, numerology, horoscopes, biorhythms, reading “auras,” I Ching, seances, abortion.