Such an uproar! And it will only get worse. The Episcopalians are going at it now during their General Convention in Minneapolis. The Roman Catholic church just issued a paper against same-sex marriage. Mainstream Western Christianity seems to be polarized into either of two camps: gays and lesbians should be a part of the church, or homosexuality is the bane of the church.
And I wrestle with this one – a lot.
Conservatives argue that homosexuality is against scripture. Guess what? - they seem to be right.
I Corinthians 6: 9-10 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Romans 1:27 “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
Leviticus 20:13 " 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Etc. etc. etc.
As a church-going, Bible reading man, I would be rightly hooted down by my fellow Christians if I protested against Biblical teaching. But - - I wonder about something. Supposing the Bible is correct, but we don’t always understand it correctly? Maybe our culture colors the way we understand the Bible.
For example, lets look at slavery. No reasonable person I know – religious or not – would think slavery can be justified. We look back upon the institution as it once existed in America and are repulsed. How could our predecessors even think that it was okay for one human to own another human? Ugh.
But, back in the early to mid 1800s, there was ample use of Holy Scripture to justify slavery’s existence.
Take a look at Exodus Chapter 21. (No really – look it up. Go to http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=NIV&passage=exodus+21&x=10&y=8) This is a full set of instructions on the proper purchase and care of a Hebrew slave. The Jews even enslaved their own people! If the slave took a wife, and the couple had kids – the kids belonged to the master too.
Peter, Jesus’ appointed leader of the new church, wrote in I Peter, Chapter 2:18-21 “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
And Paul, the missionary who was responsible for changing Christianity from a Jewish sect into a full-blown western religion, hardly condemns slavery in this passage written in his first letter to Timothy: “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.” (I Timothy 6:1)
There are more passages – just Google “Slavery AND Bible” and you will see what I mean.
This gets complicated, but is it silly to say we may be violating God’s will by doing away with slavery? I have a tough time figuring out how the Bible’s endorsement of slavery is being ignored 150 years after this country fought a war over the issue, yet we seem so certain that God has no place in His church for homosexuals.
Part of my confusion stems from Jesus wonderful condensation of the commandments: 'Love God and love one another. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.' (Matthew 22:37-40)
I wonder - will the church look back on today's condemnation of homosexuals the same way we look back on slavery?
What’s a Christian to do?