THE BIBLE AND SEXUALITY
It seems a shame to me that the Bible is portrayed as an enemy to homosexuality. What concerns me most is that when the Bible is used to preach against homosexuality, then we of the gay and lesbian community lose faith in the scriptures and stop looking to them for inspiration, help, and connection with God.
So much confusion and guilt has been placed upon GLBT people because of what’s been taught and mistaught from the Bible. The Bible is a collection of books from varied writers in a time and setting far removed from today. So to read the Bible as the literal word of God just does not work. I see the scriptures as containing much truth. Timely truth - for a particular people in a particular place and time... and Timeless truth - words for all people in all times and places. John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" is an example of timeless truth. When you open your scriptures, Let God speak to you personally, because He truly is the Living Word. And His Spirit can uplift you and draw you to Him as you look to Him in these sacred writings.
If the Bible is to be read literally, then most people today do not follow all of its teachings. For instance, the Bible teaches that men who shave their beards should be put to death. And women are not permitted to speak in church, or wear cotton or polyester. The writings contained in our scriptures were written by ancient peoples who dwelt in tents and who thought the world was flat. They had no idea of sexual orientation and the word 'homosexuality' did not even exist.
Out of all the Old Testament passages, only two make any real reference to homosexual acts; Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Both of these passages are a part of the Levitical holiness code which is not kept by any Christian church today. That's because the code was written for a particular people in a particular time and place. It doesn't make sense to try and keep the same rules today. So if the holiness code was 'timely' scripture, then why should the homosexual reference in it be used as a 'timeless' scripture?
Perhaps the Old Testament scriptures were trying to condemn the act of rape and other acts of sex that were not love based. This is certainly how I would read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Bible has several examples of same-sex love. David's love for Jonathan was said to exceed his love for women. Ruth's relationship with Naomi is certainly an example of a deep, bonding love. The Bible does value love between persons of the same sex.
Paul's statement in Romans 1:18-32 has been taken as the strongest New Testament rejection of homosexuality. He is concerned about the influence of pagan culture on the Roman Christians. Most scholars today believe that Paul was referring to homosexual temple prostitution which was performed by various cults. And when he refers to women leaving their natural affections to be with other women, I think he was speaking about heterosexual women. Because I know that if I was to leave my natural affections then I would end up being with a man!
After a two year coming out period in my life where I waged a battle within myself to try to rid myself of this 'sin', petitioning God time and time again for healing, attending healing services, even having an exorcism performed on me, I finally received God's blessing of peace, and an affirmation and reasurance that I am ok the way I am. God made me and God does love me.
During this two year war within myself, I tried to change something about me that I had no choice over. I recall thinking about how my auburn coloured hair would be just as difficult to change ( without help from a bottle) as it would be to change who I am attracted to. Sin involves choice. I did not choose to be a red head and I did not choose to be same sex attracted.
Does this argument then open the door to the idea that homosexuality can be put into the same basket as pedophilia? A pedophile may say that their attraction to minors is something they have no choice about...but Pedophilia is not an orientation. It is not equal love. It is one of the greatest evils in the world because of the trauma and lifelong devasting impact it has on its victims. It is not comparable to same sex love between two consenting adults and it is certainly not of God.
Paul's other reference to homosexual acts is in 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Again, I don't think Paul is referring to same-sex love, and he clearly has no idea about those for whom this lifestyle is "natural".
In my opinion, none of these passages refer to same-sex orientation, but to those who used sex for personal gain.
Isn't it strange that if homosexuality is such a giant evil in the world, our Lord never once spokeabout it. Instead, he spent his time on the real issues of love and justice. The ones who were condemned by Him were those who sought to abuse their position and power for personal gain. Jesus shows us, through his actions and his words, that God is concerned about not who we love, but how well we love. This is why, in God's eyes, there is no bond or free, no Jew or Gentile, no gay or straight... We are all ONE in Christ Jesus.
So please don't throw the baby out with the bath water. The Bible is a precious jewel that can enrich our understanding of, and relationship with, our Heavenly Parent. Don't let the scriptures gather dust on your bookshelf. Feast upon the words and let God's spirit guide you in all things.
Pastor Sue Palmer © 2007