Well my last couple full posts were about religion and politics (the two things you’re not supposed to talk about), so just to make it abundantly clear that I do not shy away from controversy, I figured I’d cover homosexuality next.
First off, just so you all know where I’m coming from, last year I was involved in the original play Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians, which was an incredibly meaningful project for me, so this is a topic I’m very passionate about, and a topic I feel that Christians have dealt with very poorly (I realize this is no surprise).
I’m eventually going to get to my point, but follow me for a little bit.Â I’ve mentioned before on this site that I listen to the podcast “Freethought Radio” which is by the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” who’s main mission is to fight for the separation of church and state.Â I listen to this because I feel like a lot of their points are very valid, and I even agree with them often.Â However, one common frustration I have, not just with the hosts but with their guests is that there’s is a blatant misconception (which Christians themselves are probably to blame for, I realize) that the Bible is a giant rulebook.Â When you need to know how to act morally, you simply look up the appropriate verse, and it will tell you how to act.
This is simply not true.Â The Bible is a complicated, intricate, sometimes ugly, and sometimes beautiful story.Â It doesn’t necessarily imply nor create logic.
If there’s one thing that the postmodern world can appreciate and understand is that truth is an abstract and not a list.Â It is not text.Â So when intellectual people, who clearly think of truth in a similar postmodern way, analyze the Bible as a document of rules, it’s no wonder that they would come away disgusted.Â To think that slavery is not only okay, but subtly encouraged at times.Â To think how miserably awful people a lot of the patriarchs were.Â And probably the most illogical of all, the sacrifice of a son for people who clearly care nothing for him.
One of my personal favorite stories from the bible is of David and Bathsheba.Â Not only did David seduce her because of his own selfish lust, but when he found out she was married, he basically had the husband killed.Â This is King David, writer of the psalms!Â To think he was actually a human being, and a pretty depraved one.Â It makes me think about how depraved I sometimes am, and it gives me comfort to know that God used some very depraved human beings to do some amazing things.Â In fact, in reading the Bible, it almost seems like God prefers it that way.
So all of that to say that I think most thinking Christians would agree with me that that’s a common misconception, and one that can grow immensely frustrating.Â The Bible is not a rulebook, but a story.
when it comes to homosexuality.Â That’s the one rule we can take and apply today.Â There’s a lot of rules in the Bible that don’t really apply today, but are important to understand in context.Â Divorce, slavery, heck even makeup, those we can be okay with because the world is a complicated place.Â But homosexuality is always wrong in any context.Â In fact, it’s still basically the one last acceptable thing to hate.
I’ve had similar conversations in the last several years, but what put this in my mind again was a recent sermon at a church in Chicago I’ve been attending off and on.Â It’s a pretty contemporary church (see my post from a couple weeks ago for more on that), and they were doing a series of “Tough Questions” which were from questions submitted by the congregation.Â The second week they covered homosexuality, which I wasn’t sure if they would do or not (due to it’s controversy).Â I was hopeful, but was unfortunately disappointed.
The main reason for my dissapointment is that I’ve grown tired of the conditional acceptance of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” stance on homosexuality (which is the stance that this church took).Â I feel like it’s sort of the Church version of saying “see I’m not racist, I have two black friends.”
Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but the problem I have with it is that most churches that take that sort of stance claim to be accepting.Â But that’s not acceptance, it’s conditional acceptance.Â The underlying message to that is “you can attend my church, if you’re willing to change at some point.”Â Not only is that not accepting, but it’s completely ignorant to the fact that some people simply can’t change that.Â I feel it would almost be better to be completely unaccepting of homosexuals than to be conditionally accepting.
Christians need to come to grips with the fact that science, psychology, and popular culture might be right about homosexuality not being a choice.Â I won’t deny that some people really really want to change, and some people who go into programs to try to change really do come out changed.Â But most do not.Â That’s just the facts.Â The Church continues to want the world to be black and white, and it just isn’t.
So if even for one sermon we simply assume that even if I believe that it’s a choice or something that can be changed, the people who I’m claiming to be accepting of might not feel that way.Â So if I really want to be accepting of them, I have to take another stance than “love the sinner, hate the sin.”Â Otherwise, I may as well be saying “we are accepting of Hispanic people, as long as they try to not be Hispanic anymore.”
Now don’t get me wrong, though I may not think homosexuality is wrong, I am in no way saying the Church should take that stance.Â I’m instead saying that the Church needs to take a different approach, one that completely focuses on grace and acceptance, and no longer on hating the thing that makes us different.Â It’s hard to not compare what’s happening in the church now with homosexuality to race relations in the church 100 years ago.
I can’t help but wonder what if for some reason throughout history homosexuality was welcome overall in society, or something commonplace enough that it just wasn’t a big deal.Â But for some reason women didn’t wear makeup out in public historically.Â And now there’s women wearing makeup out in public all over the place, and it’s something that the Bible clearly says is sinful, and we can take several different verses out of context to point out how clear the Bible is.
This is simply my opinion, I just want to give you all something to think about.Â I could write a lot more about this, but I’ve covered enough for now.Â I’m sure several things will come up in comments anyway (in fact, I hope they do).Â There is no conditional acceptance of comments from me.Â 🙂