Right now – and for the rest of our lifetimes – one of the biggest and most important discussions in the Christian church centres around the issue of the inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQI people in the church.
Progressive Christians do not see that God is opposed to gay marriage and LGBTQI people. They see the negative Biblical chapters as talking about sexual abuse, rape and idolatry. But the biggest problem they have with attempting to show a positive Biblical witness towards LGBTQI people is that the Bible never directly addresses the issue. There are no LGBTQI role models in the Bible (positive or negative, as it happens).
But if we use the Bible as a legal textbook or Constitution, looking for a subparagraph clause somewhere to proof text our position, we will always be disappointed – on multiple issues, not just this one. That’s just not how the Bible works.
The Bible is best interpreted when we use it to see – and show – the character of God, and our relationship with the divine.
A few years ago, Layton Williams, wrote in Sojourners about the Ten Bible Passages that Teach a Christian Perspective on Homosexuality. This is well worth reading (here at Sojourners or an extract below):
… In his book God and the Gay Christian, Christian LGBTQ activist Matthew Vines challenges LGBTQ-condemning interpretations of these Scriptures — sometimes referred to as “clobber passages.” But these clobber-texts aren’t the only Scriptures that can guide faithful Christians as we seek a godly understanding of sexual and gender identity.
Here are 10 Bible verses that emphasize the value of love over the law, the God-belovedness of all people, and the special affirmation of those who have been historically rejected as unclean or unholy.
Last Saturday, I joined a group of Christians who attended the Johannesburg Pride Parade. We didn’t protest against it – in fact, we did the opposite. We held signs showing our support of the LGBTQI community, and apologising for the way the church has treated them in the past.
The responses we received were overwhelming and amazing. Many people were in tears as they saw us, and understood that we were bringing a message of love and grace. For those are into signs and wonders, there was a beautiful double rainbow over the whole event.
Many Christians who are against affirming gay marriage and LGBTQI people reference the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to show that God is angry with homosexuality and will judge it. But this is not what these stories are about. In this episode we get into the Bible, and look at why God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, and what these stories mean for us today.
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In his regular blog this past week, Christian author, theologian and pastor, shared the following reflection on his preparations for a sermon on The Wedding at Cana. Richard sends out a daily email with his Meditations – sign up for that here.
Today, openly queer Episcopal priest Elizabeth Edman shares about the first time she preached on the Gospel passage about the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). Her use of the word “queer” as a verb may be off-putting or confusing to some, but if you are familiar with Jesus’ first miracle, the context of the story will help you understand what she means.
In this episode of the ALLin podcast, Graeme Codrington gives an initial overview of the seven Bible verses most often referenced when Christians are considering issues related to LGBTQI people and gay marriage. He shows that the traditional interpretation of these verses needs to be questioned. The rest of the Bible presents a strong argument for accepting LGBTQI people into our churches and faith communities.
Here are some direct links:
iTunes and Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/all-in/id1476711332
The second episode of our new podcast, ALLin is now available.
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Episode 2 explains what the podcast is about, and shares seven beliefs we have about LGBTQI and the church.
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Dr James White and Graeme Codrington will engage in a public debate on the topic of “Does the Bible restrict marriage to a man and a woman?”
DATE: 17 August 2019
TIME: 6 – 8pm
VENUE: Fontainbleau Community Church, Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
There is NO COST to attend. The venue holds 750 people, on a first come first served basis. Doors open at 5:30pm.
The event will be livestreamed and recorded, and will be widely available for free afterwards.
I found an article on Patheos by Benjamin Corey that I think is important. While I believe that marriage is for every couple who love each other and wish to pledge before God to do so faithfully and monogamously, many Christians are still struggling to overcome a lifetime of cultural indoctrination against the LGBTQI community and gay marriage. As Christians, they need to be encouraged to do more than be judgemental towards gay people. Using their own conservative theology and world view, I believe we should appeal to them to adjust their attitude and actions towards gay people. This article is superb, as it presents five issues for conservatives to seriously consider. I hope they will.
Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin
Please consider that regardless of whether you’re able to fully accept this or not, there are gay Christians.
… Perhaps your theology on the issue might not ever change or evolve, but please know, these are real people you’re talking about. This isn’t just a “concept” or an inanimate object – these are real live Christian brothers and sisters that deserve every bit of love and empathy as anyone else. Maybe you haven’t counseled the teenager in your church who wants to kill themselves because they’re finally realizing that they’re gay and always have been. Maybe you haven’t had a friend weep in your presence over the fact that they realize they are gay, but also realize they did not choose to be – and that they’ll never be accepted by the tribe. Maybe you haven’t had a chance to serve in church for years on end next to someone who you never realized was in fact, gay the whole time and also unwavering in their love for Jesus and commitment to the church.
These things have happened to me, but I get that maybe you’ve never experienced them. So please, just consider that we are not talking about an “issue” here – we’re talking about real people. People created in the image and likeness of God. People with feelings, passions, hopes, and dreams. When we allow this to simply become an “issue” within modern Christian discourse, we end up dehumanizing the very real people we’re actually referencing.
Please become willing to reexamine what the Bible teaches on homosexuality.
SUMMARY: The Bible does not say anything on the subject of women’s rights, and actually appears to say they should not lead or preach in church. Yet, in many churches they do. The Bible supports slavery, and never says anything to oppose it. Yet, no Christian today would support slavery (many did in the past). We can learn something from these two important social shifts that took place in the last two centuries, and how Christians had to change the way they read the Bible. These are both good analogies for what has to happen with regard to gay marriage.
In this section of our study on the Bible and LGBTQI issues, we’re looking at common objections to gay marriage. Once people have (at least sort of) realised that their seven “bash them” Bible verses don’t quite say what they thought they said, they go to the next set of arguments. We are dealing with these common objections now. The biggest one is: “where does the Bible affirm gay marriage”?
In the previous part of this study I looked at why this question is actually very bad theology. It wants the Bible to do something that the Bible doesn’t do, and it asks the Bible to provide answers for questions the Bible itself doesn’t ask. In other words, it breaks the rules of Biblical interpretation to try and answer this question in the way it has been asked.
It is, however, a good question. After all, if we could find one verse that affirmed gay marriage, or one positive example of a gay relationship in the Bible, then there would be no argument. I agree. But, of course, if we could do that we wouldn’t have had the issue in the first place, so that point is a bit moot.
In this section of our study I want to show you an even better way to answer this objection. Your response comes in the form of three questions: