Whether you agree with my analysis of the so-called Biblical “clobber verses” in previous blog entries or not, the discussion about LGBTQI issues in the church is really centred on the issue of marriage (and sex). The next few entries in this series will be focused on what the Bible says – and doesn’t say – about marriage.
Since I began my work on this issue over a decade ago, most Christians have shifted from being totally opposed to LGBTQI people to now welcoming them into their churches – even if only as “sinners” who need be “healed”. But they believe and teach that LGBTQI people should be celibate, and they believe that marriage can only be between a “natural man” and a “natural woman”. For them, the actual “sin” of homosexuality is same-sex sexual activity, and since they also believe that sexual activity is confined to marriage, LGBTQI people should neither marry nor have sex.
Most countries that have legalised gay marriage have actually created a new category called “civil unions” rather than including LGBTQI people in laws about marriage – this is largely been done to placate conservative religious groups. Churches are enabled to hide behind this legal distinction, by acknowledging civil unions as legal entities but continuing to deny gay “marriages” in their churches.
We are spending a lot of time in Romans 1, because this is the passage that most people point to when they want to exclude LGBTQI people from the church and Christian faith. This is the fourth part of our mini-series in Romans, and looks in even more detail at the original text and specifically at Romans 1:26-27, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
What were the women, and men, actually doing? And what did Paul condemn in these verses?
We will discover that Paul’s issue is temple prostitution and pederistic relationships. And that he is not actually condemning same gender sexual activity in these verses. That’s right: the verses don’t say what you’ve been told they say. And once you see what they do say, you won’t be able to unsee it.
In Romans 1, Paul says that women and men were “given over by God” to their “shameful lusts” and did what is “against nature”. What did he mean by this? And does that apply to LGBTQI people today who want to get married to their lifelong, loving partner?
In this episode of the ALLin Pod we do detailed word studies of what it means for something to be shameful and unnatural. Neither of them are what you might expect: they’re related to things that are socially unacceptable, rather than something that is morally wrong or evil.
This changes completely how we should understand this passage.
This is part 2 of the mini-series in the book of Romans, Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In the first chapter of this letter, Paul appears to list a whole lot of sins, including same gender sexual activity. But if you read on into Romans 2, and in fact the rest of the letter, the tone and purpose of the first chapter seems to change. So, what was the purpose of the letter, and what light does that shine on how we should understand chapter 1. Graeme Codrington explores these questions, and comes once again to the same conclusion: that Romans 1 is not addressing loving, consensual LGBTQI relationships at all.
This is a long episode, and we highly recommend that you have a Bible handy to follow along the readings. In fact, we recommend you read the whole letter to the Romans before listening to this episode.
Further readings on the purpose of the letter to the Romans:
We finally get to the book of Romans in our study of the verses that have traditionally been used to oppose gay marriage and the inclusion of the LGBTQI community into churches. This is the start of a four part mini series on Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, and in this episode we read through the text looking at the plain meaning of Romans 1 and 2. We’ll get into more detail in the next episodes, but even on the plain reading of the text, it is clear that Paul is not talking about loving, committed, monogamous same gender relationships – he’s talking about something else.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says that those people who are “malakos” are outside of the Kingdom of God. This is a Greek word that means “soft”. It is a strange choice of word for Paul to use if he meant to describe homosexuals. In the context of the passage, and with understanding of the culture of the day, this word makes a lot more sense if it is describing effeminate young men who made themselves available as “call boys”.
The Covid-19 disruption has had a huge impact on schools, and they are not going to be able to go “back to normal” anytime in 2020, or possibly even 2021. Parents are struggling to “home school”. Parents might be able to go back to work before children go back to school.
Here is a suggestion for churches, religious organisations, sports clubs and other community societies to help parents and children who are struggling right now.
Please listen and share this idea in your community. We all need to help each other deal with this Covid disruption.
I talked about how the Resurrection of Jesus is deliberately linked back to two big themes in the Old Testament:
1. the Creation Sabbath, which reminds us that the world is meant to be a place where we all have work and rest in a natural rhythm, and
2. the Exodus Passover, which reminds us that we are not meant to be in slavery to our work.
Jesus did not come to merely save us from this world and give us a hope of life after death, he came to save us from incorrect and oppressive systems in this world. Maybe Covid-19 is the reset the world needed to move us towards this picture of what the world is meant to be.
A few years ago, a good friend of mine, author and pastor Brian McLaren wrote a magnificent, thought-provoking piece about the type of Christianity the world needs now. It’s more relevant than ever.
For my friends who are Christian leaders, please read and re-read the last two lines a few times. That’s really the whole thing there. This isn’t something you’re likely to hear in your church – but it should be preached every week.
The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think: