But the Bible Says So— a case for LGBTQI+ inclusion in our faith.

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While writing Unseen, there were several occasions when I wanted to dive into theology and defend my beliefs, but I realized that would A) take away from the larger story and B) make me appear insecure in my faith. Nevertheless, like many people who are struggling with the idea of inclusion and hitting a brick wall at Biblical fundamentalism, I find it necessary to address the “clobber passages.” Sadly, these few verses in the Bible acquired this name because they are wrongly and hatefully cherry-picked and hurled at gay Christians without any regard to context. Though my heart’s desire is to dwell on any of the other verses in the Bible which promote Jesus’s love, mercy, and unconditional inclusion, there is a need to solve the intellectual quandary that many face. For some, a misunderstanding of these verses may be the only thing tethering their hearts to disapproval.

In anticipation of the release of Unseen, I’ve decided to act preemptively and lay some Biblical groundwork. Because theology is something I don’t dwell too heavily on throughout the story, I thought this would be a great prelude and one that might prepare hearts and minds for this affirming perspective. I’ll admit, the material is a little uncomfortable. I’m not even a fan of the term “homosexual” because it holds with it such an awful stigma— one of sexual obsession, uncleanness, and defilement. But despite the cringe I feel upon hearing the term, I choose to reclaim it, understand it, and give truth to it’s hurtful origins. I’m grateful that you are taking time to be receptive, to broaden your mind, and join this movement of radical inclusion.

So let’s dig in.

The infamous story of Sodom in Genesis 19.

In ancient times, being hospitable was of utmost importance. In this story, Lot invites travelers into his home, which, by the cultural standards I mentioned, is the proper gesture. What happens next is less than hospitable. Some random men of Sodom suddenly demand entry into Lot’s home with intentions to assert their dominance over the newly-arrived travelers. Terms used in this passage indicate that the men wish to rape the newcomers in order to prove that their presence isn’t welcomed in the city. In response to this outrageous request, Lot makes an even more outrageous counteroffer— that the enraged men could have the daughters of the house. Let’s face it: the Old Testament isn’t the best conduct manual. And Sodom isn’t condemned to damnation because of gay people. These men from Sodom were rapists.

The many abominations in Leviticus.

To preface this fiery passage, let’s begin by understanding that the term “homosexuality” wasn’t even coined and used until the 19th century. And get this: it wasn’t taken off the American Psychiatric Association’s mental disorders list until 1973. Gay people were just straight people with a problem. Yeah, chew on that for a second. The realizations of sexuality are in their infancy, folks. Matthew Vines, prominent author an founder of the Reformation Project explains: “Leviticus forbids the eating of pork, shrimp, and lobster, which the church does not consider to be a sin. Chapter 19 forbids planting two kinds of seed in the same field; wearing clothing woven of two types of material; and cutting the hair at the sides of one’s head. Christians have never regarded any of these things to be sinful behaviors, because Christ’s death on the cross liberated Christians from what Paul called the ‘yoke of slavery.’ We are not subject to the Old Law.”

Paul and the degrading passions.

Here are the verses that act as an ostensible nail in the coffin for many Christians who do not affirm the LGBT community. But do we really understand what Paul is saying? More specifically what he is saying in the Greek language? Most people interpret the portion of the verse that says “exchanging natural relations for unnatural” to mean that anything besides heterosexuality is abnormal. Obviously personal prejudices, biased leanings, and cultural traditions skew everyone’s view of normal. Besides, this is a faulty interpretation Paul’s writing anyhow. Mark Sandlin, an ordained Presbyterian minister from the South writes: “In reality, physikos [produced by nature] has more to do with how things naturally occur in God’s Creation […] It is concerned with what is of our nature and not with what is defined as acceptable. That is to say, Paul is concerned with how God created something or someone to be.” Like I mentioned before, the understanding of the spectrum of sexualities is still in its infancy, so we can’t expect Paul to have had any frame of reference beyond heterosexual relationships. Sandlin goes on to say that “understood this way, it would be equally sinful for someone who is only attracted to someone of the same sex to have sex with someone of the opposite sex. It goes against their nature; they just weren’t born that way. Ironically, those telling LGBTQ folk that these verses mean they have to stop being LGBTQ folk are actually telling them to commit the very sin against which these verses warn, going against their nature. God has a wicked sense of humor.”

Genesis, the Creation, and the “Adam & Steve” joke.

God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. Hilarious, you guys. The rhyme and everything. Hilarious. But let’s really understand this! Yes, man and woman were created in God’s image. It’s a wonderful illustration to begin our understanding of God and infinite possibilities. All things which God has created are beautiful. You know who else God created? The 1.7% of children who are born intersex in the U.S. Intersex is when someone doesn’t fall into the typical definitions of female or male. Or they may perhaps exhibit physical traits of both. The fluidity of the human body and how we are bathed in hormones in utero become beautiful pieces of evidence that we are created in God’s image— a mysterious God without bounds, without gender, without partiality. With God, patriarchy dims, prejudices subsides, and preconceived notion vanishes like a vapor.

These handful of verses that I’ve covered are among the most quoted when some Christians persecute the LGBT community. It is comforting to know that there are faith communities who are the exceptions to this, though. And on the flip side of that coin, there are gay people who don’t care about Biblical standpoints or Christianity in general. But, when the dust clears, there is small and often frightened community of gay Christians who yearn for their allied counterparts to understand their plight— their plight to be accepted, understood, loved. My relationship is monogamous, committed, and God-centered. My heart aches to know that some might discount its validity.

I hope you read these with a heart wide open. Feel free to reach out with comments or questions. I’d love to keep this dialogue open, provided that it is one of respect and kindness.

Stay up-to-date on news about my upcoming book Unseen: Being Gay in the Bible Belt. Visit my website, subscribe to the mailing list, and join in on the conversation!

(Resources: The Gay Debate by Matthew Vines and Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing by Mark Sandlin.)

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5 thoughts on “But the Bible Says So— a case for LGBTQI+ inclusion in our faith.

  1. After speaking with a very wonderful Biologist who is also a Christian these are the things I have learned:
    It’s not natural unless it happens in the natural world.

    It’s not organic to have intercourse with the same sex. Even plants have to have male and female parts.(even pinecones are male or female)

    In nature, natural occurrences are not subjected to the feeling of the species or the individual. The species does not get to choose what is natural. Therefore it would then becomes artificial.

    If homosexuality is natural, then natural selection will take its course. Individuals of a species who practice “homosexuality” would ultimately not be able to reproduce, so, therefore, the gene dies with the individual.

    I love you no matter the choices you make in your life. I am by no means a perfect person and I would be a hypocrite to not love those who have different lifestyles. I will not argue your biblical points because you are totally convinced you are right and I don’t have to answer for anyone but me on my day of judgment. My only question is, why do you and your community label yourself, separate yourself, and refer to yourself as a “gay” Christian? I never tell anyone that I am a ‘straight’ Christian. You are either a Christian or you’re not. No label is needed. You are a child of God and that is the only label needed.

  2. You are entitled to believe your perversion of scripture. You are wrong. But you are entitled to believe it.
    Beautiful writing, beautiful ability to convey your feelings on paper doesn’t make it any more true. You could write just as beautifully for a case for atheism. It’s a talent.
    It’s funny, I haven’t come to your blog since my last post and something today prompted me to look. Never have I been so disappointed, ever. Your desire to be and condone something makes you come across as desperate and your book will probably sell well. It’s because we have a world full of people that are so self centered that they no longer want to conform to the scripture as it’s written, they want to make scripture and history fit the life they choose no matter what it is.
    Satan never made it difficult to follow him. It’s his tactic.
    Good luck with your book and your upcoming marriage.
    I hope the road you’ve chosen fulfills everything you’ve ever wanted because you have destroyed your place in this family and destroyed my happiness, my life. But it’s fine.

  3. What a great way to analyze this common topic of controversy. And to clearly stand up for something you believe in, no matter what, is a beautiful thing.

    My brother, whom I love with all of my heart, told me he was gay when he was 16, I was 19. I was hurt by his choice because we are taught to believe that “being gay” was a one way ticket to hell…an abomination to God. When he was 22, he began the process for a sex change and now lives as a transgender woman. Again, I was hurt, because of religion. But after getting a chance to know the love of Jesus for myself, and seeing my brother grow and love God as he does, I can not believe that He would condemn him for his sexuality. I absolutely believe that he was born to love who he loves.

    Now, the Bible teaches us about many sins, yet people want to act as well if homosexuality is the top sin. Sin is sin.

    I hope your book launch is a success. Do not listen to the haters, walk in your purpose and adhere to the calling on your life.

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