Baptist Church in Rochester, NY 1870’s: A deacon confronts the pastor for placing a piano in the church, describing it as a “sign of the beast.” This incident, recorded in Helen Barrett Montgomery’s memoirs, was a sign of the times. Although we can only speculate, it has been suggested that this attitude stemmed from the fact that pianos were used in dance halls and saloons. Today there are still churches that claim all instruments EXCEPT the piano and organ are of Satan, but most Christians today enjoy instrumental music as an integral part of worshiping God.
Eastern Europe, late 1930’s-1945: Even theologians participated fully in Hitler’s call to exterminate some 11 million human beings, including Jews, Mentally Handicapped Persons, Disabled Persons, Homosexual Men, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic Poles, Soviet POW’s, Political Prisoners, and Romani People. Why? Presumably because Hitler convinced them that these were all sub-humans and were a threat to their well-being?? Today those of us who read the memoirs of Holocaust survivors, or visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC are muted in disbelief at the horror of such inhumane treatment. One man, who was then well respected and trusted, managed to convince an entire culture that all these groups of people were sub-human and were outside of God’s plan for the human race. Before reading on, pause here for a moment, and really think about this atrocity. How could so many supposedly well meaning people, including God’s people, buy into this ideology? Are we immune to such persuasion?
Southern Baptist Convention, June 20, 1995: The SBC adopted a resolution in 1995 renouncing its racist roots and apologizing for its defense of slavery. 1995. A 1968 survey conducted by the SBC’s Home Mission Board showed that only 11% of Southern Baptist churches would admit African-Americans. Think about that.
North Carolina Baptist State Convention, Nov. 14, 2006: Voted to throw out any church that advocated homosexuality in any way, even knowingly having a gay person in membership. Other denominations have made similar rulings. “Go away homosexuals! You are not welcome in our churches. We prefer to keep you out of fellowship with Christian people, so we can accuse you of being godless and promiscuous!”
There are certain words that set Christians off. Words like abortion, evolution, stem-cell research, women in ministry, Bush, and the winner for this decade, homosexuality. We hear these words, and our brains and tongues go into automatic pilot. We don’t even hear the questions or the issues, just the word. We have rehearsed our responses and are proud to hone our speaking skills every chance we get. Well, I want to ask you to do something different on this blog. This will be a blog that will “ruffle the feathers” of most of you who read it, because it’s purpose is to challenge us to think deeper and to step beyond the comfortable box we have built around ourselves. If you are already finding yourself formulating an earth shattering response, please stop for a moment. Please do one of two things before continuing: 1) Take the time to carefully read and listen to this entire blog. (Yes, I know it’s long!) or 2) move on to another blog without commenting here, and come back later if you’d like.
Still here? Great! I was afraid I wrote all the rest of this blog for nothing! Great, pull up a chair, and grab a drink! We could be here a while!
HOW CHRISTIANS REACT TO GAY PEOPLE
OK, first of all, why is this issue so important to us as the Church? It is important because it is the daily struggle of so many people all around us everyday. Hurting people, searching people, people created by the God who created you and me, the majority of whom have turned their backs on the Church and God, because the Church has turned its back on them, and they don’t make the distinction between the perfect God and His fallible Church. You think you don’t know any gay people? You are blind to them probably because they perceive that you do not understand and would feel the need to share with them how abominable their lifestyle is to God (they have heard it already!), and whatever respect you have for them now would disappear. True, isn’t it? What if you found out your supervisor was gay? Your nephew? Your child’s teacher? Your music minister? Your brother? The guy in the next cubicle? Your daughter? Your husband?
Chances are you would want to protect those you love from them, and/or you would want to help them change. This normal response is riddled with fallacy. First, gay people are no more likely to be predatory or child molesters than are heterosexual people. They are all around us everyday living normal lives just like the rest of us. Now, that said, there is a tendency to more promiscuity within the gay male community, due I think to two reasons: 1) the church has shunned them, so they are not welcome to be a part of a fellowship that’s growing in Christian principles, and 2) men in general are more sexual, and without the constraints put on by God (and wife!), many men fall naturally into promiscuous lifestyles.
Second fallacy: Homosexuals can be changed into Heterosexuals. Despite what we Christians want so strongly to believe, an intelligent view of science and psychology is fairly conclusive that sexual orientation is not a choice. That causes serious problems for our Christian thinking, so we will argue the opposite position until we are red in the face, but ultimately, it doesn’t change the facts. Why are people gay? I don’t know. That jury has been out for a long time, and that chapter is not in this blog!
Having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, for better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. -Ben Franklin (1787)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
The one obstacle to Christians accepting what science knows to be true is their personal interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. There are those who have been taught that the Bible is God’s exact words given directly to us for the purpose of telling us how to live, and that every word in our KJV or NIV is without discrepancy and meant to be directly applied to our everyday lives. A large number of today’s churches teach such an interpretation.
Others, however, view each individual scriptural writing with regard to such questions as who wrote it, who was its intended audience, when was it written and why, etc. This is an extremely important point in understanding the issue of this blog, so if you truly desire to understand the viewpoint I am about to present, please pause for a moment and read THIS BLOG first, pertaining to Scriptural interpretation.
There is much written on the Biblical interpretation of the homosexual passages of the Bible. The literalists cling to such passages as Lev. 18:22 to say “case closed,” and they close it. Much has been written by Christians on both sides of this issue, and I would do it a disservice to attempt to cover the Biblical arguments in a couple of paragraphs. I will say, however, that, despite my assertion that sexual orientation is not a sin, I am offended and opposed to the irresponsible “scholarship” of those who claim the homosexuality of Jesus or his disciples or Paul . . . Jesus had a mission far greater than marriage and family, a mission of salvation for all His people. Truth is what it is. Truth needs nothing added to it. It stands. It is. And extremists on both sides have taken their “truth” too far. I will advocate neither the “closed book” view nor the “homosexuality is condoned in Scripture” view. Homosexuality as we think of it today was nonexistent in both OT and NT times, although the orientation itself is evident across lines of time and place.
For those on the “case closed” side, consider the following Scripture passages. The Bible says it. Shall we apply them to our lives?
Gen. 6:2-4 Uncircumcised males have broken God’s covenant and should be cut off from his people. (bad pun?)
Ex. 21:22 When a man hurts a pregnant woman and causes miscarriage, “yet no harm follows,” (huh?), he shall be fined.
Ex. 31:14-15 Whoever does any work on the Sabbath shall be put to death. (!) (Num. 15:32-36 A man gathering sticks on the Sabbath is stoned to death at God’s command!)
Matt. 23:9 Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father who is in heaven.
Lev. 3:17, 11:6-7, 14:11ff Eat neither fat nor blood, hare nor swine, ostrich
Lev. 11:10 Eating water creatures that don’t have fins and scales is an abomination!
Lev. 15, 20:18 A menstruating woman is unclean, and a man who has relations with her (cut off from people)
Lev. 19:19 Don’t let cattle mix-breed, don’t sow two different kinds of seed in one field (corn and beans?), don’t wear clothes made of two different materials (cotton and polyester?)
Lev. 19:27-28 Don’t round off your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard; no tattoos.
Lev. 20:18; Deut. 21:18-20 A child who curses his parent shall be put to death (!); If you have a stubborn and rebellious son, turn him over to the elders to be stoned to death. (!)
Lev. 20:10 Adulterers shall both be put to death.
Lev. 24”17-20 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, fracture for fracture (opposite of Jesus’ teachings to turn the other cheek)
Lev. 25:39-46 Rules for owning slaves
Num. 5:2 All with a discharge and all who have been in contact with a dead body shall be put out of the camp.
Mark 10:2-12 Remarriage is adultery.
Mark 16:17-18 Jesus said the signs of those who believe will be: casting out demons, speaking in tongues, picking up serpents, drinking poison without being harmed, and healing the sick (Can we call ourselves “believers”?!)
1 Tim. 2:9-15 women, do not wear braids, gold, pearls, or costly apparel; don’t teach or have authority over men; you will be saved in child-bearing (huh?)
Deut. 22:13-21 A woman found to be not virgin (by her husband’s testimony that garment was not soiled), she shall be stoned.
Deut. 23:1 A man with crushed testicles or a cut off penis cannot enter the assembly of the Lord (I’m not making this stuff up!)
Deut. 23:2 Nor a bastard, even to the 10th generation of his descendants (This is plain mean!)
Mark 12:25 No marriage in heaven (not many sermons on that one!)
2 Kings 2:23-25 Elisha curses young boys for calling him “baldhead”, and bears tear 42 of them. (Again, not good sermon material!)
1 Cor. 7:14; 15:29 Paul says an unbelieving spouse is consecrated through the believing one (He also admits these are his own words.); then he defends baptism on behalf of the dead. (Not many Christians believe either of these.)
1 Cor. 11:14 Long hair on a man is degrading.
I’ll stop there. This started out as a blog, not a novel! My point here is that literalism to be applied directly to our 2006 lives causes many problems. God is not confined to any time or culture, and He (not the law) continues to be just as relevant in our culture as He was in the OT times.
13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:34 RSV
Attitudes about homosexuality vary greatly from culture to culture and from century to century. There has likely never been a culture without homosexuals, even in the animal kingdom, but in many cultures, it has been a non-issue. Somewhat like people with red hair. Notably different from most, but an insignificant distinction. Many of the Native American cultures honor their homosexual members, referring to them as two-spirited people, and honoring their special qualities and gifts. Other cultures have made homosexuality illegal and punishable by death. Others, like ours, have singled homosexuals out as morally reprehensible and socially deviant persons.
The culture of our age, including the Christian subculture, has an inflated fixation on sexuality in general and especially on homosexuality. I wholehearted affirm that our younger generations are living in a sexual culture that is harming them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, as the lines of sexual morality are being erased. The free sex mentality, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is most definitely apart from God’s plan for His children, and He stands, arms outstretched, awaiting our repentance. It grieves me to see the emotional and spiritual confusion of my young students as they experiment sexually with multiple partners, sometimes even with both genders. I sympathize with a generation that falls into such harmful choices amidst such a confusing culture, but in no way do I condone such sexual freedom.
WHO ARE GAY PEOPLE?
Who are gay people? Homosexuality has no boundaries. Gay people are born into families of every race and every religion. Gay people are businessmen, public servants, waitresses, parents, siblings, sons, and daughters. Gay people are as varied as their heterosexual counterparts.
Without attempting to stereotype, there are, however, some typical qualities and gifts that gay people often bring to their worlds. Gay men are often especially caring and sensitive to others’ needs, thus often choosing ministerial careers. It is the gay man who will often take in his aging parents to care for them. He is often gifted in the arts, musically talented, and attracted to careers in entertainment, theatre, fashion or design, or often to church music ministry. Gay women typically enjoy sports, many rising into the college and professional levels, and are often driven in their careers, many making great contributions to their professions. One day our culture will stop calling gay people by “sexual” names and embrace the gifts they bring to our world. I hope I live to see it.
Sexual orientation is a misnomer. A person’s sexual orientation is not about sex. It is about identity. This unfortunate label is, in my opinion, a lot of the problem with our ability to see them as we see everyone else. We cannot say “homosexual” without conjuring mental images of “what they do.” I call this the “ick” factor. It has to be wrong, because it’s “icky.” Why do we want to think about what ANYONE does sexually? Do you think about what your supervisor does with his wife? Do you think about what your parents do? (Now, THAT’S icky!) If the ick factor is a litmus test for right and wrong, it is definitely a sin for our parents to have sex, is it not? Not to mention our married daughters. Let’s not think about these things! Not about heterosexuals, not about homosexuals.
The estimates of what percentage of the population is gay vary greatly, depending mainly on the “agenda” of the organization conducting the study. Studies conducted by those who see homosexuality as an atrocity, for example, tend to find far smaller percentages (1-2%) than studies conducted by organizations whose focus is mainly on homosexual advocacy (about 10%). The more trustworthy sources are those with no extreme bias. The American Psychological Association, for example, in 1989 estimated that 10% of men and 5% of women are gay. Personally, although I’m certain it is more than 1-2%, I will remain outside this argument, as it seems to me impossible to arrive at an accurate estimate for something most gay people are not going to disclose when asked by pollsters. If only 1% of Americans are gay, however, that would be over 3 million people. And if 10% are gay, that would mean over 30 million.
Who are gay people? They touch every segment of our population.
In the early 1980s when I was trying to teach myself to play the guitar (a goal that’s not yet accomplished), the first song I taught myself to play was Come to the Water. Remember that one? “And Jesus said, Come to the Water, Stand by my side, I know you are thirsty, You won’t be denied. I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried, and I'm here to remind you that for those tears I died . . .” One of those campfire songs that spread quickly across the young Christian scene, much like “It only takes a spark to get a fire going . . .” Well, years later, churches were tearing this song out of their hymnals, and its popularity was squelched. Why? Because it was discovered that the writer, Marsha Stevens, was a gay woman. (See video below.) Never mind that she wrote music that inspired a generation of Christians, leading us to seek closer communion with God. She was quickly shunned by the Christian music industry.
More recently, gospel singer Kirk Talley who never even had a homosexual relationship, fell from "grace" after it was exposed that he confided in a friend his same-sex attractions. On Dec. 22, 2003, Kirk Talley, beloved Christian singer/songwriter ("Step Into the Water," "He Is Here," et.al.), Dove Award winner, Grammy nominee, the boyish-faced man dubbed "Mr. Gospel Music" found himself pleading to his friend to kill him, and to God to let him die. (GQ Magazine, August 2005)
In 2007 Evangelist Ted Haggard was exposed for a 3-year homosexual relationship. After three weeks of therapy, he claimed he was cured of his years of homosexual struggle. He may have even believed it. (I believe in miracles, but have my doubts that this was one of them.) Then there was Rev. Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church, and New Jersey governor James McGreevey. The Christian community hears these stories and sees sin. I hear these stories and see a culture that forces gay people to deny who they are, and the problems this inevitably brings.
Who are gay people? They as varied and unique as are heterosexuals. Their one distinction is that they are attracted to like-gendered partners.
3:18a He who believes in him is not condemned;
John 3:18a RSV
WHAT IS THE GAY AGENDA?
To be treated with equality. Period. The term gay agenda is another political watch word, meant to set off our emotions. Every person and every group has some kind of agenda. Evangelicals want to Christianize the world. Merchants want to make money. Gay people want to be understood and respected.
WHY IS THE GAY POPULATION GROWING SO RAPIDLY?
It isn’t. The gay population, by all reputable evidence has remained fairly steady, percentagewise, throughout history. The recent difference is not that there are more gay people, but that, with the internet, cable tv, etc., more gay people are becoming comfortable enough to disclose their sexuality, and more are deciding to seek equal rights and recognition.
WHY ARE THERE GAY CHURCHES?
Not only do we like to condemn gay people for not going to church, but we like to condemn them for having churches of their own. What must they do in these churches, we speculate. Probably sexual orgies. The early church was similarly accused. They met privately and talked of such things as love feasts, drinking the blood, and eating the body. Many outside the church accused them of orgies and cannibalism. Having never been to a gay church, I cannot answer this question, but, like you, I have an opinion. I doubt the orgies. I suspect they are Christian people who desire to gather for worship and fellowship, and who unfortunately, are not welcome in our mainline churches. They could push themselves into our churches, and be told repeatedly they are living in sin and need to get right with God, an assertion that by the way, they know to be flawed much better than any of us, or they can create their own sanctuary where they can worship God with others who understand and accept them, or, as is the case for many, they can choose to stay away from organized churches altogether.
RESPONDING TO CHRISTIAN REACTIONS:
1. Love the sinner, Hate the sin. This is probably our favorite response to the issue of homosexuality. It does have a nice ring to it, but it’s flawed on at least two levels. First, it assumes that homosexuality is a sin. And second, I have yet to see what that love for the sinner looks like. It is overshadowed by the hate for the sin. If we believe someone is living in abominable and repulsive sin, does He sense God’s love radiating from us? I challenge us to refrain from SAYING this overused platitude, and to pray instead that we will be filled with God’s love.
2. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. This one is so trivial on so many levels, but some find it catchy. Without giving it more attention that it merits, here’s my quick response: God created trees, so does that mean he didn’t create broccoli? If Adam had green eyes, would that mean that God didn’t create people with brown eyes? Were we to take the time to examine the Hebrew words from which Adam and Eve were translated, there would be more fodder for discussion, but I’ll move on . . .
3. The Bible says be fruitful and multiply. Again, I could write an entire blog responding to this one argument, but I won’t. We have amply populated the earth, too amply, many would argue. Embracing homosexuals as our brothers and sisters would not cause everyone else to stop populating. Homosexuality is not a choice. A certain percentage of people are homosexual, despite what laws we may have for or against, and a much larger percentage of the population will continue to multiply, no matter how much we try to stop it. (Look at our teen pregnancy rates, etc.) The earth is already filled with unwanted and exploited children, in need of love and attention. And Jesus, by the way, was not a physical “multiplier,” as were not many others in the NT.
4. If we don’t stop homosexuals, it will open the door for polygamy and bestiality. Polygamy and bestiality have no relation whatsoever to homosexuality. This has become one of the many alarmist slogans within the opposing political agenda (yes, we ALL have our agendas), meant to appeal to uninformed peoples’ vulnerability. Polygamy and bestiality are behaviors, and behaviors are choices. This political agenda will continue to do all it can to convince us that sexual orientation is also a behavior and a choice. Studies have shown the more times we hear something, the more solidly we start to believe it, and the slogan repeaters are well aware of this. Studies have noted that bestiality practices are not uncommon among boys who grow up on a farm, but if true, I have never heard of anyone desiring to marry his chicken. (I know, “ick” again!)
5. Gay people cannot be Christian unless they repent and change. Nor can any of us. But orientation is not a need for repentance. Jesus said narrow is the gate that leads to life. Narrow indeed for all people, but orientation has no direct correlation with whether a person is or is not Christian. (Indirect, yes, because the churches have shunned the homosexuals.) Nationally recognized organizations like Soulforce, Evangelicals Concerned, and segments of many major denominations, are set up specifically to nurture and encourage Christian gay people. Every major denomination has begun struggling with this issue or most probably will have to do so soon. All the answers for the church are not easy, but may we at least reach the point of understanding that gay and Christian and not by nature antithetical. The most quoted verse of the Bible says WHOSOEVER believes will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
6. Protect the American family. Another political watch word. What does this really mean? Is the American family healthy without gay people? Why are we not wanting to put regulations on how easy it is to marry? Or to divorce? A quick glance into any public school classroom will give witness that the Leave It to Beaver family is not alive and well. Do you know what homosexuals are doing to fit into society? They are marrying your daughters. They love them and try their best to be good husbands, but they will inevitably hurt their “American family”, even if they never stray, because she will always know that something is not right, or wonder what’s wrong with her that she doesn’t please him.
7. I don’t believe people are born gay. OK, without getting too deep into the age old argument of nature vs. environment, it is technically true that humans do not fully develop a sense of sexuality prior to puberty. However, it seems more and more apparent, that there is indeed a genetic factor involved, that some people are biologically predisposed to same sex attractions, and to deny this is to bury our heads in the sand. Ignorance and closed minds are among Christianity’s worst enemies.
Herein is the crux of what divides us as Christians on this issue: Do homosexuals choose to be homosexual? Traditionalist Christians adamantly say yes, and if this were true, I would agree. Homosexuality would be a sin. If it is true, however, that homosexuality is genetically determined, much like eye color, tongue rolling, etc. (which is becoming more and more scientifically probable), then we are essentially saying that it is a sin for these people to be born. A homosexual person can no more deny his same-sex attractions than can a heterosexual deny his.
A century ago we were shouting that pianos in the church were of the devil. Then we shouted that abolition was of the devil. We shout that women in ministry is an outrage. And we quote Scripture to back up all our claims. Now, if the question is about homosexuality, our automated answer is “abomination.” Even Southern Baptist Seminary President Al Mohler recently blogged of the likelihood that homosexuality is biological, and found himself in the line of attack. One thing is for sure, either people are born gay or they are not, and that truth is not dependent on what we think about it.
8. Well, if they can’t change, they should just remain celibate. Some choose this path, just as do some heterosexuals, but history (and Scripture) has shown us that celibacy is not the overall answer. We are created as sexual beings, and that sexuality will likely come out perversely if not naturally, especially, I believe, in men, even if entered into with the sincerest of intentions. Consider, for example, the Catholic priesthood. And consider personally being told to live celibately.
9. If they repent, God will heal them. Again, the fallacy here is the assumption that orientation is a sin. The response of such evangelical leaders as Dr. James Dobson and Jerry Falwell has been to cure homosexuals. Dr. Dobson has advocated the use of so-called ex-gay ministries such as Exodus International. Prior to 2000 Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family featured their own John Paulk, "the story of how one man overcame homosexuality." In 2000, however, when Paulk was spotted in a gay bar, he quickly disappeared from the organization family.
Interestingly, even the president of Exodus International agrees there is no "cure" for homosexuality. People do not choose their feelings, he says. They can only choose their behavior.
3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
John 3:15 RSV
SO I’M SAYING THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A SIN?
Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario. We probably all choose to think of nuns as non-sexual beings, but that is not reasonable, as sexuality is a part of the human experience. Nuns, however, have chosen a life of celibacy, choosing not to act on their sexuality. But does that make them less heterosexual or homosexual? No, it doesn’t. If she is heterosexual but celibate, the church reveres her. If she is homosexual and celibate, do we call her a sinner? If so, we are wrong. If not, we must then realize a distinction between orientation and behavior. And if we cannot even fathom the concept of a homosexual celibate nun, we have our heads in the sand and are choosing to live in our own box, isolated from much of God’s Truth.
So, yes, I am saying that sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is not a sin. That said, however, what is done with that orientation is indeed a choice and can certainly lead to sin, for both homosexual and heterosexual people. Promiscuity is sin. Adultery is sin. Attraction, however, is basic human instinct.
SO IF HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A SIN, HOW SHOULD A GAY PERSON LIVE HIS LIFE?
How should a heterosexual live his life? First and foremost devoted wholly to God, and second, actively loving and caring for others. Jesus said this is the greatest commandment. For all of us. Further, he should seek a committed monogamous relationship with a compatible Christian (unless he chooses celibacy), and should flee from all promiscuous or adulterous behavior.
22:37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 22:38 This is the great and first commandment. 22:39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 22:40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:37-40 RSV
WHY AM I WRITING THIS BLOG?
I am a quiet, reserved, and mostly compliant person, but one of my deepest passions is speaking out for those who are being treated unjustly. My heroes are men like Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr., both of whom had their flaws, but both of whom courageously took unpopular stands for the social issues of their day. Another of my heroes, Thomas Jefferson, left his mark so wonderfully on our great nation. A man of highest intelligence. A man who could see the social injustice of his day. A man who wrote into our declaration of independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, he kept his slaves. It was his culture. He would have been much more condemned by the culture of his day to fight against slavery, than to continue as he did. Two and a half centuries later, it is for this lack of social action that he is most criticized. I am not Thomas Jefferson, or Martin Luther King. But I am one human being living in my own historical era, and I cannot keep from speaking out. The church is wrong about this, clinging to traditional judgments that are increasingly incompatible with scientific truth, and incompatible, in my opinion, with Jesus’ life and ministry.
I blog because it breaks my heart to think of another generation of gay young people struggling alone without family or church support. Another generation of young people believing something is wrong with them and wasting years trying to change in order to fit in. Another generation of church outcasts, confused at why God must not love them and why He doesn’t answer their prayers to change them. I write because you might be his aunt. Or his teacher. Or his pastor. Or his parent. You might be her office mate. Or her neighbor. Or her child’s little league coach. For this reason I write, and I am not alone.
Slowly individual Christians like Tony and Peggy Campolo, and Lutheran scholar Martin Marty, as well as mainline denominations like United Church of Christ , Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) , and Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) are beginning to welcome everyone into their families.
A most interesting Focus on the Family story you may have missed was in 1997, when FOTF co-founder Gil Alexander-Moegerle, having left the organization, wrote a letter of apology for FOTF's stands on homosexuality and women's issues. (This story of course was not broadcast, and Dr. Dobson certainly did not endorse it.) He could no longer keep silent. In his words: "I apologize to lesbian and gay Americans who are demeaned and dehumanized on a regular basis by the false, irresponsible, and inflammatory rhetoric of James Dobson's anti-gay radio and print materials." (See entire letter here.)
Christian organizations like Evangelicals Concerned and Soulforce are offering love and support. Even some individual churches of the most closed denominations are stepping out to welcome all who want to join them. More and more Christians are hearing the cry of the marginalized and oppressed. More and more are choosing to practice God's love.
BUT THE BIBLE SAYS . . .
Leviticus clearly states if a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination. Likewise a few other passages make similar statements. How then, if I am a Christian, can I write such a blog as this?
Prayerfully and fully believing it is God who propels me.
For those who strongly hold to a literalist understanding of the Bible (I don’t like the term inerrantist), this blog will be blasphemy. Your mind is set. May God bless you, and may we not be divided as brothers and sisters.
For the rest of you, if you are seeking God’s truth, not mine, not the church’s, but God’s, I challenge you in three areas:
1. Pray. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment. Pray that He alone will lead your mind and heart to whatever is true.
2. Read. Seek writings of Christians who think differently from you, and try to really understand their position, even if you will later choose to reject it. We never get a full picture of any issue when what we know about the other side is what those on our side tell us.
3. Listen. Seek out people who are gay, and invite them to tell you their stories. When they first knew they were gay, what kind of struggles they have experienced, if they chose to be gay, how it has shaped their view of God, etc. Do not talk to them about their sin. Just listen. This may be a difficult one, because they may not be willing to share their stories with us. If not, it is probably because they perceive us as judgmental and closed-minded. Maybe we are . . .
The apostle Paul clearly states that women should be quiet in church. How do we know this is not God’s mandate for our society? We pray for God’s wisdom and discernment. We read what women in ministry advocates have to say. And we seek out God-called women and invite them to tell us their stories. We witness the Spirit of God moving in and through their lives. How do we know slavery is not acceptable for our society? Likewise. Get to know people. People of all races, male and female, Republican and Democrat, Episcopalian and Southern Baptist. Heterosexual and Homosexual. Listen to them. Understand them. Love them.
Truth is absolute. No one human being has all of it, but truth is not based on what we believe or on a democracy of belief. Truth is not even based on the Bible. On the contrary, it is the Bible that is based on Truth. Truth is. There is no incompatibility between Science and God. God is the Creator of all of nature and its laws. Thus nothing in nature is in itself incompatible with Him. Human scientists sometimes get things wrong. Human Christians sometimes get things wrong. But true science and its Creator are always perfect Truth. I see it as my challenge on this earth to responsibly seek Truth in all things, and to readily admit that there is much I will never know, especially on controversial issues that divide even God’s people. I certainly do not have all the answers on this issue. I write, not to divide, but to challenge, because there are millions of people in our paths daily that Jesus has called us to love, not in word, but in heart. Sexual orientation alone is not a sin in the eyes of God. Of this I am most certain.
Sexual orientation is neither a behavior nor a lifestyle. It is a basic human instinct which can be denied for a time, but cannot and need not be “cured”. (What do you think of the cultures that “cure” female sexuality by mutilating the genitals of the young girls? I cry.) I blog to challenge our thinking, realizing at the same time that with issues such as this, most of us are so set in our opinions that no blog will penetrate our hearts. Forget this blog. Forget my words. But please open your heart on this subject, just enough to hear the occasional voices of the other side. Pray for your gay coworker daily (better yet, your gay son or brother), until you find yourself truly loving him, not flippantly, but compassionately. Then go for coffee, and invite him to tell you his story. Don’t tell him you don’t want him to go to hell. Don’t tell him you love him but hate his sin. Just be quiet and listen.
13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2 RSV
Kathy states: This blog is not meant to be representative of the views of this website or of my own church.
John 10:19-20: The Jews were divided over Jesus’ words. Some said He a demon, or He was mad. Others said “These are not the sayings of a demon.” May I live my life to be so assessed, and may only God’s Truth be gleaned from my writings. Selah.
You may want to go to Kathy's Blog and comment there directly after you have read this blog post in its entirety. I will be posting more of Kathy's blogs during the period that I am away at Camp Meeting, so please check back here for her excellent writings!