Rejection, shunning, condemnation, ridicule, bullying, all in the name of God. If you are LGBTQ, or the parent of an LGBTQ child, or anyone who is affirming and including, you have likely been on the receiving end of this kind of treatment. And worse.
Does such treatment have anything to do with God? No, not really. It is about fear.
Does it have to do with the Bible? Not at all. Those who use Christian Scripture to stand against same-sex relationships are twisting those Scriptures to justify the marginalization and oppression of an entire group of people.
The rest of this post is courtesy of our friend, Pastor Jim Rigby. With his permission, I share it with you.
5 Things You Need to Know About the Bible and Homosexuality.
1. Neither Greek nor Hebrew had a word for the modern concept of homosexuality. The English word “homosexuality” was not coined until the 19th century. This means that phrases like “a man shall not lie with a man as with a woman,” are not as clear as it may seem. They may refer to other same sex practices such as temple prostitution, rape or pederasty, but we don’t really know. Jesus did not mention the topic.
If the point of the text were to condemn all homosexuality, it is strange that women would be left out of the prohibition. The best concordances and modern commentaries no longer use the word “homosexual” to translate those phrases because they could mean other things. In any case, because the terms are not completely clear, the benefit of the doubt should be given to those being attacked.
2. It is dishonest to say biblical marriage was between one man and one woman. Many characters in scripture had multiple spouses. Some of them impregnated their slaves or the widows of their dead relatives. “Biblical marriage” was nothing like our modern concept of marriage. The Bible says nothing about needing a wedding license, nor the blessings of the church.
(For more on the issue of the Biblical definition of marriage, you can read Susan’s post about it by clicking here.)
3. The “cleanliness codes” of Leviticus were cultic practices, not ethical norms. I will let Rabbis explain what Leviticus means to modern Judaism, but in the Christian covenant such cultic practice are clearly overturned. “Unclean” foods were considered acceptable, and Christians were specifically commanded to call no person “unclean.”
The healings of Jesus seemed to focus on people whose illness would render them “unclean” by the Levitical Code, and one of the first converts to the new religion was a Eunuch. If the Levitical prohibitions were still intact that never would have happened.
4. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often interpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality, but the prophets clearly refute that interpretation. The crime of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality, but cruelty:
“This is what your sister Sodom has done wrong. She and her daughters were proud that they had plenty of food and had peace and security. They didn’t help the poor and the needy.”(Ezekiel 16:49)
And: “Hear the word of Jehovah, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? …And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:10-17)
5. Finally, the ace in the hole for those who try to use the Bible to attack the LGBTQI community is Paul’s diatribe in the first chapter of Romans. What homophobic theology always leaves out is the whole point of the passage, which is found in Romans 2:1, “Therefore none of you has an excuse when you judge others.” In other words, the entire passage was NOT a condemnation of homosexuality, but of judgmental Christianity.
Amazing isn’t it? That so many unloving people in the church have taken stories and passages condemning mistreatment of the vulnerable, and used them to persecute the vulnerable?!
When heard in the spirit of love, the stories of the Bible are a source of ever-widening compassion. When heard arrogantly and lovelessly, the Bible becomes one of the deadliest books ever written. When we project our current prejudices upon the ancient stories we “weaponize” the text in the same way violent prisoners see every spoon as a potential knife.
Christianity was a call to a new understanding of humankind where there are no longer religious insiders and outsiders, no longer masters and slaves, and no longer gender roles. (Gal. 3:28)
Gay bashing is a renunciation of the very heart of Christianity.
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