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multiple citations God, the Bible and Gay Pride - Part 3

Three New Testament references are commonly given as against God’s acceptance for being LGBT. They are all located in epistles or letters written by the Apostle Paul.

Romans 1:26-27

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

I Corinthians 6:9-10

9Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

I Timothy 1:8-11

8Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers,

 10fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

The NRSV uses the term sodomite and other translations use homosexual and others yet talk about those who use and abuse each other for sex. Then we hear about natural and unnatural. How do we find our way through various translations and come close to knowing what was meant?

Matthew Vines authored the book “God and the Gay Christian” which supports same-sex relationships. Matthew is an evangelical Christian who writes out of his own experience of being gay and Christian in a church that condemned homosexuality.

He is not alone in this. So many who were raised in the church—mainline and evangelical, conservative, Bible-believing Christians have faced or are facing this crisis of identity.

As I finish this synopsis of the 6 passages of scripture, I want to share a video by Matthew—some of what we have already heard and some other elements of biblical study for these New Testament references.

The central message is that these scriptures do not condemn what we know today to be same gender loving committed relationships. Science affirms a spectrum of sexuality.

People are not all the same. If we will take time to think about relationships in general, what we know is that any relationship where 2 people commit themselves to each other is never perfect, never easy and sometimes isn’t going to last. The Church and our culture has changed about being divorced and being Christian, having children before and without being married, and having sex outside of marriage, yet we continue to hold LGBT people as aberrant and unaccepted by God.

As people like Matthew Vines, Justin Lee, Colby Martin, Ken Wilson, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, and many others have changed their hearts and minds about God’s love for the LGBT community, they have sought to find another way through the Bible to be affirming of all people.

They have consistently said that the Bible holds to a love ethic—that despite our human failings which are part of the stories of scripture, God loves humankind. Jesus is the story of how deeply God loves us and this earth that is our home. Jesus, who never said one word about homosexuality, came to teach us what it means to love one another. Those who refute an interpretation that condemns, witness to this love with these scriptures:

Romans 13:8-10

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Galatians 5:13-14

13You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

In the movie, “For the Bible Tells Me So” a man is asked what the Bible says about homosexuality. He says, “The Bible says it’s a sin. I don’t know for sure because I’ve never read it, but that’s what I’m told.”

We have a responsibility as Christians, as people who take the Bible seriously just not literally, as an open and affirming congregation, but…most of all as people who say God loves everyone, to shatter the myth that the Bible is anti-gay.

Why does this matter? And why does it matter that I spent the last 3 weeks sharing these scriptures and helping us, but especially those who are LGBTQ, to know that God does not condemn them for who they are?

It matters because we are talking about people—they are daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, moms and dads, neighbors and co-workers. It matters because they matter to God. It matters because we are all part of God’s diverse creation. It matters deeply to anyone who is LGBTQ.

It matters to the son who was told to change his name when he came out because his family didn’t want anyone to know he was once a part of them. It matters to the daughter who was afraid to tell her parents, struggling to even say the words, “I’m gay.”

It matters to the couple who last year were spit on as strangers assumed they were gay. It matters to the couple whose neighbors called them fags.

It matters to the granddaughter, who after coming out to her parents at 16, decides at 26 to tell her grandparents she is gay. Imagine what it feels like when the letter she writes to them is returned along with her picture, saying we can’t accept this is who you are.

God doesn’t want this and neither do we. Imagine what it was like for her mother to hear the sobs of her daughter and to know that it was her parents who rejected their granddaughter.

It matters to the mother and father who are helping their transgender child become the person they know themselves to be and for the first time can honor that by saying this is my son.

It matters to the same-sex couple who want the most important relationship in their life to be recognized and acknowledged just as any other couple.

Those who carry privilege in our world often tire of hearing about these things. We aren’t homophobic or racist or sexist. We welcome anyone. Why do we need to have a rainbow sign or talk about pride or know there is another way to read these scriptures? For me, privilege comes with responsibility. Jesus said it like this: “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Luke 12:48