In my 30 years as an advocate for God’s like for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human beings, I’ve had countless conversations with those who reckon differently than me about God, Scripture and the place of the LGBT faithful in the church.
Throughout these years, I’ve heard, glance at and have been questioned many of the same questions — and by a wide variety of human beings. Today, I share with you the five questions I most commonly hear, as well as my answers to them. I do this in the hopes that others share their responses as well and we continue to learn from each other.
Inquiry 1: “How can you ignore the clear meaning of Scripture and all of Christian tradition that says same-sex like is a sin?”
Christian history is a flowing stream of fresh insight. Our understanding and interpretation of Scripture has changed over age, and continues to alter, as our understanding of the earth God has made for us expands.
For instance, there are single Bible verses such as, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything,” (Colossians 3:22), that have been used in our history to justify acts immediately considered repulsive — like slavery or forcing women to remain silent in church. As we learn, we grow, and our understanding and interpretation of Scripture changes.
We should capture solace that our knowledge of God is always being reformed through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And the fountain from which fresh inspiration springs is the dialogue between our different interpretations of Scripture. There have always been and always will be disagreement in the church about what the Bible method. Some Christians glance at the Bible as saying same-sex like is a sin. Other Christians glance at the tales of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18-2 Samuel 1) and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts as affirmation of gay men and therefore a foundation for including LGBT human beings within God’s like.
I choose to participate in the complete lifetime of Christian history, sharing the inspiration the Holy Spirit gives to me. And since Scripture teaches me that Jesus has drawn all human beings to Himself (John 12:32), I therefore see God’s embrace of LGBT human beings as the clear meaning of Scripture and the present culmination of the whole arc of Christian history.
Inquiry 2: “How can you be certain that you aren’t just making stuff up to justify something that is culturally trendy?”
That I really perceive God correctly and am doing God’s will is a affair of faith. This is fair for every single one of us, regardless of our interpretation of Scripture. Christians live by faith in Jesus’ like, not by certainty (we demand only gaze at the state of the earth to know we live by faith in God’s like).
This being said, we have excellent direction on how we know whether we are doing Jesus’ will (culturally trendy or not). He said, “You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16).” And Paul outlines the best fruit: “like, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and self control (Galatians 5:22).” Nurturing these virtues everywhere I can assures me that I am doing God’s will and not making stuff up to be culturally trendy.
Familiarity has taught me that God’s inspiration can come from an infinite number of messengers, including both Scripture and culture. So what I give myself to, as a Christian, is to commence every day committed to like God and my neighbor and to be as attuned to the Holy Spirit as I possibly can in order to know how to do that.
Inquiry 3: “Don’t all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human beings violate the Biblical requirement of monogamous marriage between a male and a woman?”
In the Bible’s tale of creation, God declares everything excellent, until this moment: “Then the Lord said, ‘It is not excellent that male should live alone; I will constitute him a helper as his partner (Genesis 2:18).’” There is nothing in Scripture that requires who this companion will be. In circumstance, the whole of Scripture (including the apostle Paul) looks upon women as the subservient property of the husband (and most of the age with complete acceptance of owning multiple wives). Marriage in ancient Hebrew and Greek meant the male taking the woman as his property. This really contrasts with our modern understanding of marriage, which is based on a commitment of like between equally mature and willing adults.
We have the testimony of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians who tell us that God has bound them to a person of the same sex as their partner for lifetime. And we have seen the marvelous fruits of the lives of these believers who contribute to their families and communities with greater ability and joy since of the loving partner who is at their side.
LGBT human beings in loving partnerships have all the qualities that we value in marriage. These qualities are the essence of fidelity in marriage espoused by Scripture. And let us not forget Jesus’ warning, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9). Again, with no stipulation as to whom God has joined.
Inquiry 4: “How can any Christian, in excellent conscience, engage in or condone sexual practices that are both unnatural and perilous?”
I see the border between safety and danger running through the lives of all human beings, not between straight human beings on one side and LGBT human beings on the other. All sexual activity includes inherent possibilities of danger. The best protection against these dangers is to engage in sexual activity after there is intimacy on other vital levels of lifetime — to be assured of mutual like and consent between mature adults. This holds for all couples.
For those who shun and constitute outcasts of LGBT human beings, they constitute a self-fulfilling prophecy. A son or daughter will come outside as LGBT in some communities and be met by an environment that is hostile. They watch as their family and church ties get severed. Their moral support structure — that which guides the making of excellent moral choices — disappears and they are left to navigate the earth on their own. Some who are lucky find a community that is open and affirming and can prosper, while others do not find moral support and wind up making a series of terrible decisions.
Immediately imagine for a moment if more human beings in our communities and in the church were welcoming and affirming of LGBT human beings. If instead of shunning and turning their backs on their minor or neighbor, they could continue to encourage excellent, safe, moral choices that also allowed them to be who they were before God. The outcome, and our earth, would be wonderfully different: safe and overall bigger for it.
Inquiry 5: “How can you dismiss the path Jesus can heal human beings who suffer from an affliction like alcoholism or same sex attraction?”
No Christian would deny that Jesus healed those who suffered from affliction. What I dismiss is the assumption that same-sex like is an affliction. I do this since I trust the witness, in term and deed, of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians and of those who know their like and gifts.
Sadly, I know many LGBT human beings who started their understanding of themselves where tradition and religion taught them: They believe for years that they are defective, sinful and demand to be healed. They beg Jesus for that healing for years. And His answer to them is that they are whole and excellent as they are. Period. Their souls have been tried in the refiner’s fire and I trust their discernment of God’s will. The goodness of their lives since accepting God’s like shows they are fair.
Yet, some in our society try to “heal” these children of God through reparative therapy (efforts to alter LGBT human beings to being “straight”). They hold up a very small select hardly any as examples of “success” and don’t like to discuss the hurt done to so many others. The hurt that is inflicted by those programs is an egregious assault on the souls of the LGBT human beings who go through them. They demand to be stopped.
Yes, Jesus can heal human beings of their afflictions — however if there is no affliction then there is no demand of healing.
Finally, I must comment on the equation that some try to constitute between alcoholism and being born gay which disturbs me greatly. My mother was an alcoholic. She died well before her age from throat cancer related to drinking and smoking. Alcoholism is a terrible, deadly progressive disease that affects one’s own body, intellect and spirit. As the disease consumes the alcoholic’s attention, it also eats away at the relationships with all who like them. For those who live openly and honestly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the hurt to body, intellect and soul comes from outside, not from within. It comes from those that shun, cast away and turn their backs on their family, friends or neighbors who have the courage to come outside. Trying to equate the two demonstrates a misunderstanding of both.
Thanks in advance to those who share their own answers to these, and to those who sincerely inquiry these questions and honestly comment on my answers.
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