is perhaps the most controversial section of this entire theses and
one of the most important issues facing the church of the 21st Century.
It's a subject that the majority of western Christians believe is an
open and shut case. They would say: 'Homosexuality is a sin. The Bible
clearly condemns it, the Church throughout history has condemned it,
the very facts of biology demonstrate that it's an aberration at best
and our own emotional response to it is usually revulsion.'
how on earth could any serious minded Christian ever endorse homosexuality
(and in this I am including lesbianism) as a legitimate Christian
Only by changing your belief paradigm.
one's world view
once saw a short play on television that made a strong impression on
me. It was set in a doctor's surgery and the doctor wheeled in a patient
who was restrained by being tied to the wheelchair, apparently to avoid
his becoming violent. The patient was clearly delusional and was shouting
to the doctor that they were in a spaceship together and that the doctor
and he were both astronauts. The doctor tried to help him and then began
to wheel him to the waiting room.
this the patient became extremely agitated and said that the waiting
room was, in fact, a disposal hatch and that if he were taken there
he would die. He said that the doctor was suffering a delusional space
sickness and that if he took one of the blue and white pills that were
in his top left hand drawer he would begin to recover.
perhaps you can guess what happened. The doctor took him screaming outside
and then sat at his desk and eventually looked in his drawer and found
a packet of blue and white pills. He took one after much hesitation
and following a dizzy spell found himself in a space capsule - alone!
had had no doubt that he was right. Everything around him confirmed
his perceptions. He had been convinced that he was experiencing reality
but in fact it was a delusion. It caused him to eject his fellow spaceman.
perception of homosexuality is like this.
have been ejecting our fellow believers from the bosom of the Church
believing we are doing God's will. What has been their fate? They have
been indoctrinated with confusion, guilt and self loathing. They have
sought cures and miracles in vain. They have emasculated themselves,
taken to drugs and excess and committed suicide in vast numbers. We
have caused them to become spiritually shipwrecked.
not!" you cry. The Church couldn't be wrong on such an important
the Church be wrong?
Do you think it's impossible for the majority of Christians to be wrong about a significant doctrine? Well, if you have read what I have already written you will realise that not only can they be but for most of the last 2000 years they have been in general disagreement over many doctrines. For example:
Whether or not Gentiles can be saved.
Which day to observe as a Sabbath.
Whether observing days is important or not.
Forms of baptism.
The place of women in the church
you willing to change your paradigm?
can point you in the right direction if you have an open mind. If you
don't, what I am writing will seem like foolishness. If I just quoted
you the scriptures that apparently condemn homosexuality and tried to
say "well these really don't mean what they seem to clearly say"
you would reject my arguments.
if we look at the Bible itself, and you allow me to show you that we
have been using it in the wrong way all along, then you will begin to
see God's truth in a different light.
will need to give you examples where it is clear that we cannot interpret
them in the way that most Christians do. Then we will begin to understand
how we must interpret them in order to correctly understand the spirit
of what God wants us to receive from his holy Word. Then when we apply
these principles in a consistent way across all scripture, including
these that refer to homosexuality, we will see them in a new light.
This could be a difficult exercise and not one for the faint hearted. It is scary to question one's fundamental assumptions. You can begin to feel disoriented and fearful; not only for your own sake but for fear of what others will think of you if you embrace such different ideas.
to accepting homosexuality
To most Christian readers, the thought of God accepting practicing homosexuals into the church body is repulsive, mentally and emotionally. I think the basic objections come under these headings:
|1.||It's not natural, it's a perversion.|
|2.||It's condemned by lots of verses in Scripture and approved by none.|
|3.||Christians agree that it's sinful and they can't all be wrong.|
|4.||It's repulsive, which just shows how wrong it obviously is.|
|I don't propose to give an exhaustive refutation of each of these arguments (I'm sure you will be glad to read) because others have done that much better than I could. On the Links page are some books and web sites if you are interested in finding out the truth for yourself. What I will do is just briefly give you a summary of what I feel is wrong with each of these objections.|
It's true that God says that he made man male and female. Physically
their bodies are designed to "fit" together in sexual union
and this is how we reproduce. Accepting that this is a norm, however,
doesn't address the question of those that God has made that don't fit
occurs naturally in the animal kingdom at every level. It also occurs
naturally among humans of every race and society and has done throughout
history, despite the fact that many societies have tried to deny it.
is not a single condition that is always caused by the same things.
Sometimes the cause is primarily genetic, sometimes environmental and
sometimes a mixture of each.
sad, ignorant us! Because of our prejudices and fears and ignorance
we cause our loved ones to suffer. We don't mean to harm them. We love
them and want the best for them. Religious dogma doesn't help. It confirms
us in our mental chains. "God made them male and female" the
minister tells us.
in these cases he didn't. What do we do? If someone has a beautiful
baby boy or girl we are happy to credit God with such a creation. We
count their fingers and toes and marvel at the intricate beauty of the
baby's form. But if they have a deformity we start to look for someone
or something to blame. The implication is that God's perfect will was
thwarted somehow. The truth is that we live in a fallen creation and
nothing in the physical world is perfect. The creation is subject to
so the male and female bits fit together. Does that mean that the only
sexual consummation that is allowed is where the organs "fit"?
What about heterosexual, husband and wife intercourse that doesn't involve
vaginal penetration? Is that a perversion too? This gets us onto shaky
ground. What is natural? I know some denominations that prescribe approved
sexual positions. Are birth control devices natural?
Must sexual activity produce offspring to make them legitimate in God's eyes? I have looked in vain through the early chapters of Genesis to see references to producing children as a reason that God made marriage.
It might seem that many scriptures clearly condemn homosexuality, but
in fact they don't. The truth is that the Bible has very little to say
about homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.
It is tragic how "sodomy" has come into the vernacular from the Biblical stories about the city of Sodom. The sin of the men of Sodom was not homosexuality as the Bible makes very clear itself.
|There is much good research to show what the sins of Sodom were, so I won't spend time on it here.|
It is assumed that because most Christians agree that it's sinful, then
it must be because they couldn't all be wrong. But the fact is that
most Christians have been wrong about quite a lot of things - and homosexuality
is just one more.
When it comes down to it, you have to look at Scripture for yourself and decide what it says. If you are looking for verses that confirm to you that the Bible condemns homosexuality, then you will find them if you simply read them in many of today's translations and without careful examination. They were translated by men who almost universally believed homosexuality to be a sin! On the other hand, if you delve deeper and listen to careful exegesis of these verses with an explanation of the social and historical context and the original Hebrew and Greek, you will see a totally different picture emerging. (You probably won't be looking into it unless you or someone you love is gay).
4. For many people the most powerful motive for condemning homosexuality is the fact that they find it repulsive, which just shows them how wrong it obviously is.
is almost impossible to argue against. The more anyone does, the more
you become convinced that they are the agent of the devil.
looking at it from another angle. When I first became a Christian I
joined a fundamentalist Church that believed we should obey every word
of Scripture from the Old as well as the New Testament. This wasn't
possible, of course, because they contradict each other, but we tried.
One of the teachings was that we shouldn't eat pork because Leviticus
11 prohibits it. So we didn't. Moreover, many members of that Church
will tell you how repulsive even the smell of bacon frying was to them.
When we came out of that Church, my wife found that it took years before she could eat pork products without feeling squeamish.
conditioning is hard to break
from my church reinforced the prejudice I already had against gays and
just served to confirm my negative emotional response to all things
Even when I had intellectually proven to myself that God makes some
people gay, that he loves them the way they are and that he doesn't
condemn homosexual sex ( but rather selfish love and unfaithfulness
and lack of personal commitment) I still found that it took a long time
before I could react positively to gay men and women.
didn't change the way I thought because of the way I felt. I came to
understand the truth and now my emotions have followed. I see gay and
lesbian men and women as precious brothers and sisters and delight in
their contribution to society and the Church in particular.
what can I say? Unless you are hungry to know the truth it's easier
to stay in the accepted, popular, comfortable illusion. After all, it
took us slavers in the United States and Britain a long time to think
of black people as having souls like "real human beings".
today, most evangelical Christians believe that God condemns homosexuality
and that the Bible forbids it. This is completely untrue. The Bible
doesn't condemn homosexuality at all. It has been translated by largely
homophobic scholars who have changed the original Hebrew and Greek to
make it appear to be against homosexuality at first glance. However,
true scholarship and understanding of the context of the "anti
gay" verses reveal an amazingly different viewpoint. Are you open
minded enough to at least look at the evidence? It's extremely difficult
to do this because our emotional programming over sexually taboo subjects
is incredibly powerful.
truth is that God makes quite a lot of us either lesbians or gays. He
loves them no less than straight people. Similarly, (despite the teachings
of those who insist that healing is in the atonement and that God's
will is always to heal) God makes a lot of sick and deformed people.
He loves them just as much as those who are physically and mentally
sound. He isn't trying desperately to heal them now and their imperfections
don't thwart his purposes for a single one of us.
In fact, his power is made complete in our weaknesses. We are all flawed in many ways.
Scriptures on Homosexuality
is the main section of Scripture that is used to show that the Bible
teaches the sinfulness of homosexuality. It is the plainest statement
on the subject. It is in the New Testament, which gives it added weight
for some who realise that there are many doctrinal statements in the
Old Testament that we have almost universally accepted are no longer
valid for Christians today.
So let's look at it and see what it actually says. If we can see that this doesn't condemn homosexuality we will have discredited the main witness for the prosecution.
us now prayerfully look at what this letter to the church at Rome was
of all, Paul was writing to a first century church that was a mixture
of Jews and Gentiles. In this part of the letter he is addressing Gentile
idolatry. Later on in his letter he goes on to say to the Jewish believers
that they are no better because they had the law, but at this stage
he is building his argument and he is talking about Gentile worship
of false gods.
writes that they are without excuse because God can clearly be seen
in creation. He says that they willingly rejected that knowledge and
turned instead to idols. Because of this perverse rejection of him,
God gave them over to sexual perversions, typified by the change from
heterosexual sex to homosexual sex along with other base sins.
the way that people thought at that time is important to help us understand
why Paul wrote what he did. For the Jews, homosexuality was seen as
a Gentile perversion and one which was either associated with idolatrous
activities or pederasty (where an older male took a younger male sex
like other writers at the time, knew nothing of "homosexual people"
but only homosexual acts. To him, anyone who engaged in homosexual activity
was perverting their natural sexual appetites. That's why he says they
"Abandoned natural relations". He is, therefore, describing
people who changed their natural heterosexual activity to unnatural
- for them personally as well as "by the nature of things, which
Paul accepted as a given. It was the changing of the natural sexuality
to the unnatural (like the changing of the worship of the true God to
the false) that was anathema to Paul.
fact is that today we understand homosexuality better and realise that
for some, homosexuality is their "natural" inclination and
not something they have chosen in any way. Some few religious people
still resist this truth but it is out of ignorance and/or a refusal
or inability to examine the evidence objectively.
This therefore is the scenario he depicts:
|1)||God is angry because men have wilfully rejected him in favour of idols.|
|2)||Their hearts became darkened and they changed from heterosexual activity to homosexual and lesbian activity.|
|3)||They became full of greed, envy, murder, depravity, hatred of God, evil, heartlessness, ruthlessness etc. etc.|
|4)||They are without excuse because they know better but continue in wilful rebellion and sin.|
far from being a blanket condemnation of homosexuality it is in a specific
context condemning the behaviour of Gentiles who have turned to worshipping
false gods and to perversions of their natural behaviour.
this describe your gay Christian friends? Of course not.
you were to have been able to travel back in time and to ask Paul what
he thought about two men who were naturally homosexual and who were
living in a permanent, loving, faithful relationship together, what
reaction do you think you would have got?
of all, the concept would have been alien to his way of thinking. He
would probably have trouble accepting that you were describing a reality.
Because of his culture and personal understanding he would almost certainly
find the concept objectionable. He might well doubt whether they were
truly Christian, because of his own preconceived notions but would be
honest enough to say that such were not the object of his criticisms
in Romans 1.
In Paul's mind the only men who engaged in homosexual activity were heterosexual men who were perverting their own sexual drives by, for example:
|Engaging in idolatrous worship practices.|
|§||Sodomising men they had defeated in battle.|
it was, for Paul, clearly shameful and depraved. He wrote with the limitations
of his own cultural understanding.
He also insisted on the covering and silencing of women in church, remember. He said that men should not have their heads covered because they are the image and glory of God. He said that women should cover their head because they are not. I personally believe that is fundamentally wrong. Women are as much the image and glory of God as men.
Some excellent advice for troubled parents
This correspondence between some concerned Christian parents about their lesbian daughter and Maggie Ellis was truly inspiring to me. It was first published in Christianity magazine and when I read it I realised that Maggie had replied with so much more wisdom and empathy than my numerous replies to similar pleas for help that I wrote to Maggie and asked her if I could repeat it here for you.
Maggie graciously said Yes.
She is an Accredited Psychosexual Therapist and Lifecentre Director. Lifecentre is a charity for people who have been sexually abused, so not directly for people with varying orientations. Their vision is repairing and preventing the impact of sexual violation. You can find their web site on http://www.lifecentre.uk.com/
|Here is the correspondence:|
My daughter is bisexual
My husband and I are committed Christians in a thriving Church who would appreciate your advice concerning our 19-year-old daughter. Lucy (not her real name) told us about a year ago that she was bisexual and was in a relationship with another girl, Jemma. We have talked and prayed over this situation almost daily since we were made aware of it but are struggling to make any headway. Lucy feels she is doing nothing wrong at all in pursuing this relationship (which is sexual) whereas my husband and I and our two other children are repulsed by the whole thing and do not know how to cope with it. We allow Jemma into our home and she stays over sometimes as we live in a rural area with no buses after 6pm. The girls are not allowed to sleep together so Lucy sleeps on the sofa when her girlfriend comes over. We have tried so hard to bring our children up in Gods ways and need guidance, encouragement and help in order to maintain our relationships with her as a daughter and sister. Our church is aware of the problem but Lucy no longer attends and says we are out of touch with modern living.
"I am sorry to say, but you are going to have to accept that you are not going to change Lucys sexual orientation and instead focus on changing your response to it. Your daughter is now an adult, albeit a new one, and your relationship as parents has to shift from rule-setters and teachers, to friends and unconditional supporters. The roots of a persons sexual orientation are made up of profoundly complex drivers. You are exceedingly unlikely to change her through talking it through or making them sleep in separate rooms in your house. Give up trying to influence her, and focus on loving her.
God has given her and us free will. When we walk away from Him and also when we walk with him, we do endless things that He knows are not the best for us. He pays the heart price to give us free will. The reward for Him is the possibility of a true loving relationship with us. The relationship is worth more than the behaviour. He bridges the gap with His overwhelming grace. This is the best model to help you know how to be with your precious daughter. I want to encourage you to focus your love on her as a person, beyond her current sexuality. She needs to know that she is unconditionally accepted and loved. Her bisexuality does not define her. She is so much more than this: she is her dreams, her gifts, her personality. Build relationship with Lucy as a whole person, including but bigger and beyond her sexual preferences.
Once she feels this, take time to understand her. Maybe she feels safer and more relaxed with women for good reasons. Listen and learn.
You need to move on from your repulsion or it will create a barrier between you that could drive her deeper into her sexual identity. Focus your eyes and hearts instead to notice what is beautiful and honourable about Lucy and her girlfriends relationship. This may seem a big leap to ask you to take, but it will help for you to see beyond the sexual. Appreciate what is good about their friendship, the way they care for each other and how they make each other happy. If you can allow yourselves to see the heart within their relationship, rather than just focusing on the sexual behaviour, it will help you get beyond your repulsion, and help them grow as human beings defined by much deeper currents than sexual expressions.
As for your decision to make them sleep separately, be honest with yourselves that this is for your sensitivities, it is not achieving anything that is likely to change her or that is for her. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as you are not holding it with an unreal agenda, as this would cause further tension.
We all have dreams and presumptions about our children, but the journey of parenting, having given them roots, is now to give them wings. You are going to have to trust her to fly her own way. One of your biggest challenges now is yourselves rather than Lucy. The good thing about this is that you have the power to change yourself, whereas you do not have this for her. Use the power you do have and trust God to work good in the rest. Ultimately, love and grace are truly enough and have a deeper magic than we realize."
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