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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Bible and Homosexuality: There are 2 arguments

The bible is NOT clear on this, and I'm about to explain why. I believe there are 2 different positions that Christians can take:

Side A: Gay people can totally go ahead and have monogamous relationships/marriage with someone of the same sex.

Because the bible never mentions gay marriage. Whenever it mentions homosexuality (only 6ish times), it's in the context of promiscuity or prostitution or something else that Christians think is bad anyway. For example, Genesis 19 tells us that homosexual gang rape is wrong. Well, no kidding.

And then there's Leviticus 18:22, which says "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." (Which, there's some sexism in this verse- did you notice? It assumes the reader is male.) So... was that command just for ancient Israel or for everyone forever? There are a lot of commands that we totally don't follow today. How do we know if this is one of them?

Also, it just doesn't make sense that if two people are in a committed relationship and they're trying to seek God and honor God, the relationship is automatically EVIL because they're the same gender.

So, this view treats homosexual relationships the same as heterosexual ones. Like, don't have sex outside of marriage, don't get overcome by lust, don't manipulate someone's heart, etc, things that you need to do in order to be obedient to God, in the context of attraction/dating/marriage. 

Side B: All homosexual relationships are sinful.

Because every time the bible mentions homosexuality, it's portrayed negatively. And the ideal for marriage, as presented in the bible, is one man and one woman. (Though there was a lot of polygamy and stuff- but you can see that never worked out too well.)

For example, in Genesis 2 you have God creating the first couple- male and female (though if anyone makes the "Adam and Steve" joke as if it's an actual argument rather than something appropriate for a snarky bumper sticker... seriously?). When Jesus answers a question about divorce in Matthew 19, he points to the first marriage, and his teaching assumes marriage is between a man and a woman. Everywhere the bible talks about what marriage should be, it assumes a man and a woman.

That's the way God made it- he made men and women to be different and work together. So same-sex relationships just don't make sense/ they're unnatural.

So, gay Christians are called by God to be celibate.

(I got a lot of this info from here. And if I missed any important points in either of these arguments, please tell me.)

Both sides need to be accepting and loving towards gay people, because, you know, Jesus said that. Both sides need to agree that bullying is wrong, that treating people like political issues rather than children of God is wrong, and that mocking/stereotyping the other side is wrong (don't accuse Side A of not taking the bible seriously, and don't accuse Side B of being homophobic bigots).

But which view is correct, side A or side B? Both of their arguments seem reasonable to me. I really don't know which is right.

But the piece that is missing is the reality of God speaking to individual Christians. I will let gay Christians pray about this and listen to God, and whatever answer they come up with, I'll believe it, because they obviously know themselves better than I do. For me, this is just an abstract philosophical discussion- it doesn't really matter to me in real life. For other people, this issue is incredibly huge and personal. I respect their conclusion above my own. (And there are gay Christians on both side A and side B.)

(Oh, and for gay non-Christians: I can't tell them what to do.)

Because I'm not gay, but I know about how conscience works- how I feel when I know I'm doing something wrong. I know how it feels to lust for some hot guy, and to know that what I'm thinking is wrong. I know how it feels to be angry at boys, to desire power over boys, to want to manipulate them- and I know the guilt that comes with that, because I know it's wrong.

Does same-sex attraction feel like that? Or does it feel like a healthy desire to show love to someone, to work together and be better off than if you were separate?

I will never know the answer to that. I'm not gay.

And it's totally possible that in some cases it's healthy and some cases it's unhealthy. In the same way that me being attracted to boys can lead to both healthy and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

So whatever a gay Christian says about God wanting them to be in a relationship or not- I'll believe them. And I'll try to listen and be humble, because I know they have a very different perspective/experience than I do, and I'd like to understand.

And this is different from what I used to believe. I used to think obviously the bible said it was wrong, because, well, that's gross, obviously. And if someone tried to make an argument about how homosexuality is mentioned so few times, or we don't follow the rules in the Old Testament anyway, I would think "okay it doesn't say it SUPER-EXPLICITLY but you know that's what it means." Because, obviously, that's wrong.

And then I decided to actually see what the bible had to say, rather than starting out with the conclusion that "well gay sex is gross, obviously" and only seeing the evidence that fit that view.

So here I am now. Turns out, the bible is NOT clear. I respect both side A and side B. I don't know which one is right. But I want people to know that both sides have legit Christians who are doing their best to follow Jesus.

6 comments:

  1. I was fortunate enough to receive an Advanced Reader's Copy of TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate by Justin Lee, the president and founder of the Gay Christian Network. I finished it in less than a day, and I can say is READ IT to anyone anywhere who has the least bit of opinion on this issue. Not only does it go into the arguments you've laid out here about the Bible, but it first takes you through Justin's personal journey of what was like to be a super devout Christian and realize he was gay. So even though you'll never know exactly what it feels like to be gay, I think Justin does a fantastic job of laying it all out in this book.

    And of course, I have a page on my site devoted to resources about Christianity and homosexuality.

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    1. I really like Justin's blog ( http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/ for those interested), maybe I should check out his book too. ;D

      Also I looked at the link to your site and WOW there are so many links. I'll have to read through a bunch of them. Thanks!

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  2. Just a thought:
    The men of Sodom had wives and kids, who God massacred along with them. And God killed Lot's wife. So they were not 'homosexual' men. In that part of the world it was normal for straight male warriors
    to rape male enemy soldiers they defeated and captured, to show power and humiliate them. They could then kill them, enslave them, or 'send them home'.
    A sicker bit is when the men ask Lot to let them rape his guests, Lot says 'please rape my daughters instead'. They refuse as they are not interested. After escaping, Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt, so to get sons, Lot rapes his own daughters and gets them pregnant.

    On the other side: David and Jonathan, a couple. Possible things between Mary and Anne and Elizabeth. Judas in some explanations is in love with Jesus. Jesus may have been gay. Early Christians actually ALLOWED gay marriages!

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  3. There's a really good fiction book called "The God Box," which follows a gay high-school student dealing with all the implications of this. It's written by Alex Sanchez. However, before he wrote the book (and during), he researched every single verse he could find, and throughout the story, discusses them all (from the perspective of one character to another). It paints an interesting picture. It's a quick read, but you might enjoy it. It's definitely thought provoking.

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    1. Interesting, thanks for the recommendation!

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  4. Maybe I'm a little bit behind on this comment being as this was posted in September of 2012, but I would like to offer a resource that in my journey of faith has been so utterly precious. I am certainly not suggesting that you *need* to agree with it, but it offers a side to this issue that many are not aware of: not only that the clobber passages can be nullified to their condemnation to homosexuality but that there can possibly be affirming passages in the Bible towards having a loving-committed relationship with someone of the same-gender.
    http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/
    It raised interesting questions for me, and I hope that this site can be fruitful for you, as well.

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