Monday, November 16, 2009

Questions from "Anonymous" named Justin: Scriptural justification, and would I support gays if it wasn't for Ray?

From Justin, I was asked a couple of questions, which I have tried to answer.

1) How do you justify homosexuality in scripture?

Where to start? Your question assumes that one needs to justify being gay. You are asking me, I assume, from a legalistic or fundamentalist viewpoint that assumes that the Christian Bible has answers to all questions. Although I believe that the Bible can help us in all situations, it is not a sex manual nor a science book. When we watch programs on the Discovery Channel, we learn things that have been discovered, among other things, about plants, animals, health, and humans. Watching the History Channel gives us perspectives that range from archaeology to recent history - and neither of these resources give answers to all the information available to us, and the vast knowledge available continues to grow.

The FACT is that somewhat less than 10% of the population identifies themselves as gay/bisexual/transgender. There is no need or obligation to justify this existence. You don’t have to justify other variations in human performance, like being a gifted gymnast or athlete. In the same way, there appear to be creative and artistic abilities shown among gay people, and the public gets the benefit of this. We don’t reject the art because of someone’s sexual orientation, neither do we justify the quality of art in any way because of whether or not someone is gay or straight.

On the other hand, we have variations that we consider handicaps, illnesses, and disease. While I in no way liken these to being gay, the variations in our society show value in the diversity of the human condition. In the same way, I don’t feel the need to justify the reality that some giftedness is borne out of tragedy, as when a special needs child shows affection and love in ways that are inexplicable and valued. While there may be spiritual principles evident in those values, it is not specifically a “scriptural” justification of the condition.

In the current times it isn’t necessary to justify one’s near- or far-sightedness, or whether one writes with the right or left hand. In the Bible, lefties were forbidden. As recently as when I was a child, teachers tried to eliminate left-handedness in other kids who preferred to write with their left hand. Right-handedness was insisted upon! Variation was discouraged and sometimes punished. In the same regard, whether someone is gay or straight, and whether they are self-accepting or not, they remain with the orientation that they are born with. Yes, there are bisexuals, too, and some people are more fluid in their sexual preferences. But with the acceptance of many “givens” that have no relationship to sin, morality, or one’s goodness or badness, we have learned to accept difference in the make-up of individuals. This perspective helped me to understand part of the truth about what it means to have something a “given” about oneself, that you don’t choose, and that doesn’t really change.

With that tangent being expressed, I will go back to your original question. What about the Bible? What verses do I use to “justify” homosexuality. Most of all, I use this one:
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 from "The Message" version of The Bible.
I see that verse as one of the most important reasons to love ALL people - to at least TRY to follow the commands of Christ.

#1 - I usually refer those who are looking for Biblical answers to the booklet published by Soulforce, written by Mel White:

I often say that I am not a theologian, and that I don’t want debate. I do accept people who in this day and age say, “I’m gay. I didn’t choose to be a minority. I’ve tried and done everything there is to be straight, but I’m still gay.” And from the love I’ve known through my former husband as well as friends that I’ve met, I believe them. How tragic is it to try throughout one’s life to be someone you’re not destined to be? And how tragic is it that our society tries to inflict the heterosexist majority on those for whom this is impossible?

#2 - I believe firmly that in Bible times there have been romantically-linked couples whose stories are recorded. These people are right before our eyes, but our culture has refused to recognize or give credence to their sexual orientations. These stories are shown in 1 Samuel 18, telling that Jonathan and David were more than the “close friends,” that we were taught in Sunday School. Whether you choose to accept this is up to you, but I see evidence of this love “greater than love for women” as romantic and committed. An MCC minister has written a book referencing these relationships in the following: The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner.

If you wish to read further, I recommend his book.

Now for your 2nd question: Would you have ever supported homosexuals if Ray had never came out?

I wrote to a facebook friend of a friend who asked me the same question, and I’ll copy it here:


Dawn said...

A most excellent piece written. Your ways of wording things are far better than I could ever - God has given you a beautiful gift.

Existential Punk said...

BEAUTIFULLY expressed, Carol!

i especially resonated with this:

'How tragic is it to try throughout one’s life to be someone you’re not destined to be? And how tragic is it that our society tries to inflict the heterosexist majority on those for whom this is impossible?'

THANK YOU for your heart!


Jarred said...

You give some wonderful answers to these questions, Carol. I admire your patience, sincerity, and eloquence.

I admit, however, that the second question bothers me. To be more specific the underlying implication that the fact that this issue eventually hit "so close to home" shouldn't effect you is what bothers me. It demonstrates a growing desire of some to keep the discussion of gayness an entirely theoretical concept devoid of the human element. The problem is, the human element of the topic is inherent to it, and ignoring it merely makes it into something different and ugly.

I also find it theologically troubling. How can any such topic be looked at theologically without looking at the real effects it has on and implications it has for real live people? How does even trying to divorce the theology from those questions fit in with a theology that is centered on reconciling mankind to its Creator? The idea simply makes no sense. To me, the idea of not thinking about the very real people that are affected by the theology in question would be anathema to a Creator who is so concerned about people that He shed His own blood in order to enable the reconciliation process. It also seems to me to fly in the face of a Savior who spent much time showing concern for those around him and even once rebuked his critics by saying that "a doctor comes not for the healthy, but for the sick." (Not an exact quote, I assure you.) Or a Savior who gave sermons as the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Birdie said...

Thank you for showing us your heart, Carol, because I must admit sometimes I feel alone. I work in a church that is only beginning its journey to open and affirming, and I must not rock the boat. (It would be so much simpler if I weren't on staff. Then I wouldn't "represent" the church.)

God must have something special lined up for me, because I have been getting ready for over three years for something: studying, going to seminars, networking, making new and dear friends. Can't wait to find out what it is.

Anonymous said...

Jarred,if you read some of the items Carol mentioned I think your concerns will be addressed.