The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: Some Guidelines

This is the second post in a series. The preface is here.

I am attempting to be as systematic as possible about this discussion, and so I want to cover all bases I can. So after this post, I will get directly into the heart of the dissussion. First, I thought a few ground rules might be appropriate for myself. They are as follows:

1) With prayer: I have prayed about this. I am not entering into such a divisive discussion lightly, but with a desire for God to speak, and for us to be attentive, rather than dismissive.

2) It is tempting to frame this discussion in terms of “the homosexual issue.” However, I don’t feel comfortable with this framework, as it tends to see real, living, feeling people as an “issue” rather than as real, living, feeling people. As a result, I will make every attempt to not reduce the discussion to “the homosexual issue,” but to constantly keep in mind the myriad of folks for whom this is not an “issue” but a reality. Please be gracious if I fail in this.

3) Many people have an unconscious aversion to thinking and talking about homosexual acts. This, in many cases, is normal. However, I imagine the same holds true for those who aren’t simply “straight.” It is just as likely that heterosexuality can awaken an aversion in them. This so-called “ick factor” might be a reality and may not be something that can be so easily tossed aside. However, it does not, and should not, factor into a discussion about God, the scriptures, and our faith. How we personally feel or any revulsion we may have, is simply that: a personal feeling. Not God’s feeling. So lets leave them out of it.

4) I am trying to be faithful to how I understand our faith, and yet there are others who disagree and/or are gay who are trying to do the same. No matter where the discussion goes, I will not pretend that my answer is THE answer. I trust that even if the data or the Spirit pulls us in different ways, it is not because one of us is unfaithful, but that our journeys are at different places. We should endeavor to respect those who disagree, not dehumanize them.

5) The following are convenient labels, and I have borrowed them from other sources to categorize the various responses that Christians have come to. It is my hope that after the data is discussed, that I will feel comfortable choosing to dwell within one of them and then begin to concentrate on different things. The 4 categories of Christian thought are as follows:

A)     Rejection of God’s design: Being gay simply goes against God’s design and should be rejected in all ways and circumstances. Homosexuals should not be members of church/can’t lead/aren’t Christians.

B)     Welcoming but not Affirming: This is an affirmation of Christian love that requires openness, receptivity, and kindness to all human persons…regardless of any other factor, including the particularity of any kind of human sin. Homosexuality is considered sinful, but indeed, all those whom the Christian community welcomes into its worship and fellowship are sinners.

3)     Welcoming and Accommodating: The Christian community should accept the integrity of homosexual Christians and same-sex unions, demonstrating hospitality and compassion to their brothers and sisters who are homosexual. While in many cases, the heterosexual relationship of marriage will remain normative, and though a homosexual union is not necessarily an intention of God, it is nonetheless understandable, and acceptable as an alternative to those who are alternatively attracted.

 4)     Welcoming & Celebrating: Like celibacy, homosexuality is a variation in creation that does not diminish the authenticity of a person’s humanness.  Like the heterosexual orientation of life, the homosexual way of being human is the gift of God to be celebrated: It is not the disorder of human fallenness.  Homosexuality…the homosexual orientation precisely in its variation…belongs to God’s declaration of the goodness of creation.

In the next post, I would like to deal with HOW we use the Bible in a discussion about sexuality.

 

Jump to part 3, A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts, here.

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13 thoughts on “The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: Some Guidelines

  1. Steph

    I’ve lately been praying about how to handle this very question, especially in the context of one day having children. I have, love, respect, and accept my gay friends. But what if it were my child? I would still love, respect, and accept him or her. But I wouldn’t want to lead him or her down the wrong path just because I don’t want to condemn a way of life. So I’m on this journey with you.

    Reply
  2. lilliana

    I’ve worked with gay people and have also met some at church.I find some of them very nice .But I don’t know how I’d feel if one of my relatives were one.I still get shocked by same gender relationship,but don’t want to judge.Feel it’s better to stay celibate(that’s just my opinion)

    Reply
    1. Optimistic Chad Post author

      Lilliana, It may just be better to be celibate. At least for some heterosexuals and some homosexuals. But I think that barring particular circumstances, the strong flavor of the scriptures leans toward people being made, sexually and emotionally, to be in relationship with another. And I think the huge majority of people who simply can’t imagine living thier whole lives without a spouse would say, “amen!”

      Reply
      1. lilliana

        Yes,I totally agree with you.Some people can’t leave without a spouse.It takes a lot of courage and one should be very brave to leave a single life.Some people say gay people might have psychological. problems.Some gay people believe they are trapped in a wrong body.Does that mean God made a mistake when he created some people?I find this very hard to comprehend,especiallyy when there are a lot of single people out there.Do homosexuals hate the opposite sex so much?

        Reply
        1. Optimistic Chad

          Well, the kind of belief that would assume God “made a mistake” when he created someone gay, is the same sort of belief that would fault God for creating someone with a faulty heart, or creating someone who has aids or creating someone stillborn. It is not necessary for us to ascribe to God the blame or credit for the diversity of human existence, good or ill. It is a better and more robust faith that credits God with creating a universe and a humanity that can change and become more diverse without God’s micro-management. In one view, some might say that God would make room, or accommodate, to those who have blonde hair, or green eyes, or down syndrome, or are homosexual. Right, wrong, or just different, God is capable of meeting us where we are, regardless of our difference.

          Reply
          1. Jason

            Logic works great if you don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. If you do, your other examples – blonde hair, heart defects, stillborn – aren’t really the same. Are they?

  3. Optimistic Chad

    I know many well meaning people that aren’t even aware that “othering” language can be hurtful. I know that 10 years ago, I never thought twice about us/them language. That is why I try to be patient with people who are in different places… perhaps a few minds can be opened up along the way.

    Reply
  4. Optimistic Chad Post author

    I don’t think it is different. But “calling it out” isn’t always the approach that is going to yield the best results. I know that thus far in my life, I have responded better to people being patient and explaining things to me in a safe context, than I have to being “called out,” especially in a public forum.

    Reply
  5. Bored Nihilist (@borednihilist)

    “Call out” was a bad choice of words, as I didn’t mean it had to be angry, aggressive or condescending. I really just meant point out, e.g., as I did in my original comment (though perhaps with more of an explanation what is meant by “Othering language”).

    Reply

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