Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Q&A on Homosexuality & the Bible (one more time)

Q1: From your perspective, what does the Bible say about homosexuality?

A: From my perspective, what the Bible or any sacred text says about human
sexuality has little relevance in civil discourse. Human rights, liberty, and equality cannot be denied because of narrow interpretations of ancient texts.

The ancient people represented in the bible probably didn’t share our contemporary, scientific understandings of human sexuality. For that matter, they believed the world was flat, often blamed natural disasters on divine wrath, believed that women and children were secondary in status to adult men, and assumed that slavery was a natural part of the social order. I disagree with each of these ancient opinions and I would also disagree with any opinion that denied the sacred value of same-gender loving people.

That being said, I find no where in scripture where mutual attraction or committed love (regardless of the genders involved) is condemned. The very few and isolated passages that are used as anti-gay texts always seem to be condemning sexual acts associated with violence, prostitution, or idolatry, never consensual, adult relationships!

Moreover, the prime theme of the gospels can be summed up in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Jesus himself is quoted as saying the whole of scripture (“the Law and the Prophets”) rested on that truth. On another occasion he said the greatest of all commandments were simply to love God and to love one’s neighbor. Jesus’ inclusive and progressive view of how scripture should be used certainly makes room for genuine, mutual love and attraction regardless of the genders involved and, his view would also seem to condemn violence and bigotry used to hurt anyone for any reason.

The bible isn’t a rule book to be used to justify prejudices. When the bible is reduced to a legalistic code to exclude, control, or condemn others, it is diminished and the religion of love it is meant to promote is weakened and cheapened.

Q2: Do you have any Bible texts to back up your opinion?

As a thinking person, I don’t need “proof-texts” to justify my opinions. However,
there are scriptures that easily lend themselves to my views, some of which were mentioned in my answer to the second question. I could also mention times when same-gender love is featured in the bible and even praised. Jonathon and David leap to mind, as do the Centurion and his “servant” in Matthew’s gospel (chapter 8, and repeated in Luke’s gospel). Critical readings show that these relationships could have been romantic. But again, I don’t need biblical justification for my own thoughts, opinions, and lived experiences. We have learned many things since the days of the bible, and we can use that knowledge as well as our own independent thinking when approaching the bible.

Q3: What should be the Christian response to those who have chosen to live a gay or lesbian lifestyle?

The first thing would be to not insult same-gender loving people by reducing their
life and love to a “style” of life or a “choice.” I doubt very seriously if most people choose their sexual orientation. Most people are either gay or straight or bisexual as a matter of ontology; they don’t choose their sexual orientation, they discover it. The choice is whether or not to live openly as the person one is.

However, for those who “choose” to be honest about their innate sexual orientation and live proudly as the people they are, I would hope they would be treated with dignity and respect, by Christians and non-Christians alike. We cannot love our neighbor if we have already prejudged him or her to be disordered, sinful, or inferior.

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