There are so many issues wrapped up in your post and the responses so far and there's no way to do them all justice.
I start with issues like these is by trying to have an understanding of the person who is propounding a view that embodies hatred. I don't think people come to hatred in a vacuum. I understand that things that are different are frightening, but I also notice that people who have a broader world view, whether through education, or travel, or innate open mindedness, have a greater ability to distinguish "different" from "wrong."
I also understand that religious, theological, and spiritual issues are, by their nature, beyond our explicit understanding and the uncertainty borne of not being able to understand something quickly and completely is in itself frightening.
So I know that many people turn to simplistic religions in order to feel as though they have a hold on some answers. And even religions that are rich in theology and have truly great thinkers among their theologians can't expect the average person to understand the metaphors or grasp the subtleties.
So to me, the bottom line is that there's a fear and suspicion of people who are different from us -- because if they're NOT like me and are NOT going to hell, does that mean that people LIKE me ARE going to hell? See what I mean? People have a deep seated need to be right (I do, don't you?).
But if we believe that we are created beings, and that God created us, where do we get off telling God that his creation is wrong? But I know that this argument doesn't go anywhere with most people, because if they really believe that something (anything) is a sin they'll say it's not God's creation but man's free will. So that means that homosexuality MUST be a choice, in their minds.
I've had many arguments on these boards about whether homosexuality is a choice and I've learned that some people can change their minds about this but they have to have an open mind to start with.
But when you're discussing this with your friend, there are a couple of ways of approaching the question that might get them thinking.
One thing is this: If homosexuality is a choice, then anyone can choose it. Most people who believe that homosexuality is a choice also vilify homosexuals, so if you suggest that they too could choose homosexuality, they'll vehemently deny it. So then you say, well, if you can't choose YOUR sexuality, why do you think homosexuals can?
Another thing is this: I've heard many homosexuals say that if they HAD a choice, they would choose to be heterosexual because who would willingly sign up for the kind of abuse that homosexuals receive? So you can pose that question.
But you see, all of this discussion requires that the person with whom you're discussing the issue have the possibility of seeing other points of view. And to the extent that their religion and thus their world view requires that they accept without question the word of whoever it is that's telling them that homosexuality is bad, then you're fighting a losing battle.
On the Bible translation issue and the Old Testament vs. New Testament issue, a couple of thoughts.
I prefer the Jerusalem Bible because it is a relatively recent translation that was done from original sources and the team of people working on it was unparalleled. I find it the clearest and most beautiful translation. And it's also about as accurate a translation that you'll find. I started a master's in theology at one point (gave it up along the way) and all of the professors that I knew then would lecture with two books open in front of them -- the Bible text that they were teaching in the original language and the Jerusalem Bible.
Old Testament vs. New Testament. Think of the Old Testament (if you're thinking of it from the Christian perspective) as the history of a people forming a relationship with God and creating a language and forging a bond, all in preparation for hearing further teachings that the language (including, for example, the prophesies) have prepared them for. This will help put in context some of the harsher, less understandable things that are attributed to God. Don't expect that the writers of the Old Testament will have the same context as those of the New Testament or the context that we have today. It's actually quite valuable to read the books of the Bible (particularly the New Testament) in chronological order, as in the order in which they were written. You start to see that we assume too much if we assume that everyone is writing from our perspective, divine inspiration or no divine inspiration.
Hatred is hatred is hatred, however. I've reached a point now that I don't put any work into maintaining friendships with people who are so intolerant that they can classify ANY group as bad or sinful or whatever.
Some days, there's nothing but air. -- Frank Romeo Cockatiel
~ ~ ~
All meetings end in separation
All acquisition ends in dispersion
All life ends in death
- The Buddha
Every hundred years, all new people