Friday, March 22, 2013

What Does the Bible Say about Being Gay?

Gay marriage, or just being gay, period.  What does the Bible really say about it?

Fundies insist, "God hates that lifestyle!" even if He loves gay people (which many dispute).

The simplest and most obvious refutation of the apparent Levitical prohibition against "lying with a man as a woman" is that the same Christians who uphold this verse, at the same time reject all the other Levitical laws that happen to conflict with their own sinful lifestyles of eating pork and shellfish, wearing clothes made of different cloth, shaving their sideburns, sleeping with their wife while on her period, etc.  Are we allowed to pick and choose? 

But, it's much more complicated than that, as we find when we do a detailed analysis of the few scriptural verses which appear on the surface to pertain to "homosexuality" but in context actually refer to something else completely unrelated to gay marriage or being gay in general, namely, idolatry.

This issue comes up so often that I weary of gathering the links every time, so I have collected a few of the best ones, below.  I don't feel the need to comment any further, as biblical scholars have already done so, at great length and in considerable depth.

I do have a confession, though:  I have been guilty of sinning against my gay brothers and sisters in the past.  Long ago in my youth, the fundie church I attended said if you wanted to be a Christian, you had to believe that being gay was a sin; there was no room for disagreement on this issue.  I found it dubious, but as a new convert trying desperately to fit in and be accepted, I ignored my own better judgement and went along with their dogma.  One of my dearest friends in high school was gay and had struggled terribly with his orientation for years, persecuted, lonely and miserable, alternately blaming God and blaming himself.   I had not heard from him in a long time, and when he called me, I told him, "I have good news, God can heal you from your homosexuality!"  There was a dead silence and then he replied, "I'm really sorry you believe that, because after all these years I have finally learned to accept and love myself the way that God made me, and God doesn't make mistakes.  If this is what your Christianity teaches then I want nothing to do with it."  My well-intentioned ignorance broke his heart and turned him off to Christ, something for which I will always be ashamed, even though I know God forgives me. 

I began to suspect that my church was at odds with the leading of the Spirit when I felt called to a life of prayer and celibacy and was told that I was disobeying God because, "a woman's duty is to marry and have children."  I ended up joining the Episcopal Church, which supports voluntary vocations.  I asked the priest about the gay dilemma - were the fundies right?  Was it a sin to be gay?  The priest, whose own brother was gay and had suffered through many years of unsuccessful "therapy," said:  "What if it were?  What would you want them to DO??"  I replied, "Well, they could be celibate!"  He smiled and replied, "Easy for you to say, Sister.  You have the vocation, which is a rare gift.  For you it is a joy to be alone with the Lord.  But, for a person without the vocation?  You would condemn them to a life of loneliness!"  I had never thought about it that way before and suddenly felt foolish.

Since then I have met many wonderful Christians who have helped me reevaluate my understanding of this issue and I am now committed to helping my gay brothers and sisters obtain equal rights, the simple right to marry the person you love, which straight people take for granted, and which was illegal for persons of different races, also on a "biblical" basis, until 1967.  At Francis and Clare, Lothlorien House, we offer same-sex commitment ceremonies even though they will not (yet!) be legally recognized in our state.  I feel it is the least I can do.

I should point out that regardless of what the Bible may or may not say about gay marriage, it has no bearing on civil law in the United States, since thankfully the U.S. is not a theocracy and our laws are not based on scripture, the Bible, the Talmud, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, or otherwise.

I have shared some very informative links, below.  I suspect they will have little impact.  Most of the religious people I know are not open to being informed.  But, just in case any readers out there have an open mind and are interested in exploring the scriptural references in the sociocultural context in which they were actually written:

Who Says Homosexuality is a Sin?
Part 1, Leviticus
Part 2:  Romans
Part 3:  Jesus and the Bed Guard

The Clobber Passages

The Bible and Homosexuality

To Christians Who Still Believe Homosexuality is a Sin

Gay Christian 101

What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say About Homosexuality

The Salvation/Sexuality Issue

Paul, the Goddess Religions and Queers:  Romans 1:23-28

Paul's Writings and Idolatrous Practices of the Time

Arsenokaoitai & Malakoi:  Do these really mean homosexuality?

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