On Christianity and Homosexuality

March 21, 2012 § 4 Comments

I recently heard a new catchy argument about homosexuality floating around the Christian community: “There are arguments on both sides, but only one side has Scripture to back it.”

I think I have proven that wrong in other posts, and so have many other people.  I have pointed to the ways the Bible was used to condone slavery and mask an evil practice, and to fight against it.  And many other Scriptures can be added to the argument.  Take the only dialogue between Jesus and Satan in the Bible, which undoubtedly shows that Scripture can be used wrongly.  And the fact that most of Jesus’s arguments with religious leaders of his time Jesus was regarding the letter of the Law.  While they applied dead letter, Jesus had the right application of the Spirit of Love as his argument, which seems a much better backing to me.

To me, it feels like this argument embodies much that is wrong with contemporary Christianity.  It comes from the totally wrong spirit.  It does not even feel loving.  It is meant to shame and silence people who would call the Christian community out for emulating the homophobia and bullying of mainstream culture under the guise of spiritual and loving behavior.

And it shows a fear and laziness in how some of us bear challenges to our beliefs about sexual ethics.  If we were truly guided by a living Spirit, we would be ready to embrace new information, to make arguments in peace, and grow into new truths.

We need to collectively face the reality that our history as a culture includes rampant violence regarding sex.  And that Christians have offered no alternative with strength of Spirit or beauty of vision enough to move the hearts of people and motivate them to change the way the teachings of Jesus did.

Perhaps some might envision the Kingdom on Earth as a place of nuclear families with heterosexual couples who married as virgins and never masturbated.  But there is nothing radical about that vision, and it will not motivate the world to change.  It will instead create a norm that we will attempt to impose upon one another with blatant or subtle violence, and draw us away from reality and the living context in which the Spirit can move and create beauty and instead into a detached and dead religious practice that creates confusion and suffering leaves us vulnerable to the manipulation of false spiritual leaders seeking power.

I think the Spirit is moving us to a grander vision, one beyond fear, where we can see how sad and weak violence is and how alive and creative and filled with joy we can be through and on the other side of the process of healing.  I think we are called to rethink what we’ve learned regarding sex,  and I am glad those questions are being asked relentlessly.  And I don’t think throwing up blind arguments that misapply dead letter to a living world with a living Spirit can stop it.

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§ 4 Responses to On Christianity and Homosexuality

  • How true!

    It saddens me when people use the bible as if it were just some sort of rule book: It isn’t. What God has given us (for I do believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God) is a guide to the essential principles of the Kingdom and many, many examples of people trying to work out what they mean in practice.

    God does not want us to be robots, mere automatons. He wants a people who will grow up, and that means using our brains, hearts, and spirits to work through difficult decisions under the guidance of His Spirit and in community with one another.It is a hard path and may involve a lot of hard discussion and disagreement (look at the ending of slavery), but it is the only way.

    I went through a very hard time a few years ago and almost the only people to support me were two wonderful, Christian women who are married–to each other. Where were my heterosexual Christian friends?

    One other thought on the subject: Why do we assume God hates homosexuality more than any other sin (if it is even a sin at all)? Surely God hates infidelity, self-abuse, lying, and a whole lot of other things as much, and probably more, than this! If that is so, even if we accepted that it is a sin, why do we then go on to demand that it is the first sin homosexuals must give up? If we could see their hearts and God’s working inside them, maybe He wants to deal with other issues first. But, as I implied already, I am not willing even to go so far as to state that homosexuality is sin, at least not in any more cases than heterosexuality can be sin.

    Thanks for your post, God Bless,

    David.

  • Rairun says:

    I’m not very knowledgeable about Christianity, but the impression I always had was that the bible was often vague and/or contradictory. It’s open enough to interpretation that two honest readers can use it to support different ideologies.

    Your argument makes perfect sense to me, but I don’t have faith that your interpretation was what the author intended. That’s why I have a hard time saying your type of Christianity is true Christinianity while bigoted Christianity isn’t. Both are probably valid readings of the text – you can’t say one is more Christian than the other unless you are defining what being a Christian means based on what feels right to you, by giving more weight to passages that express what you consider important in life. It’s not that they are wrong about God; it’s that you worship (if you are comfortable using that word) different gods that go by the same name.

    I have this type of relationship with feminism. I used to say certain brands of feminism weren’t feminist at all. Now I realize it’s not up to me to decide what the word means. Nonetheless, the “right” kind speaks to me like little else – powerful stuff.

    What I like about your post is that it taps into what has always attracted me in religious imagery. Even if I don’t believe in the literal existance of the Spirit, I do think it conveys a life I am thirsty for – a bittersweet openess in which you can (and eventually will) lose everything, but which also makes you open to new experiences. It’s about doing what feels right without denying others the same opportunity. That’s pretty much how I’d define love if you asked me. I decided many years ago that if something involved any sense of ownership and entitlement, I wouldn’t call it love. And I see the Spirit as a metaphor to this drive that consumes me, that makes this feel so right, in my life.

  • We might be seeing from different angles rather than disagreeing, though I am not quite sure.

    I see a huge distinction between the Bible and Christianity, which I usually refer to by saying “the letter of the Law” and “the Spirit of the law” referencing how I think Jesus saw the distinction. You absolutely can get totally opposite things from the text of the Bible, as history has proven. There is this popular concept of “literal” interpretations of the Bible that is often used to back and end arguments, which I think can be shown to be flawed on every level. My argument is always that the Bible is dead letter, and it is the Spirit that brings it to life. I believe there is a spirit that can be overlaid on the text that warps and distorts anything beautiful and divine and worth “worshipping” about it. And there is a Spirit that can move you as you engage with the text that is Divine and makes meaning that changes you. Both of those are based on my personal experience. When I became a Christian at twelve-years-old, and I tried to figure out what Christians did so I could do that, what I came up with was that they studied the Bible and applied it to their lives. So I did that. I read the Bible in different translations in pretty good sized chunks nearly everyday for the next twelve years, and it was an intensely meaningful practice in my life that shaped a lot of who I am in an authentic and lasting way. It was from that personal study that I started to defy a lot of what I’d been taught about what the Bible said and what I should believe. I believe that there is a real and a false, an authentic and an inauthentic Christianity, because I see the way of Jesus and the Spirit of his life and teachings as embodying a love ethic, and much of what is touted as Christianity as fear-mongering and anti-loving and totally opposite his teachings and remarkably like what he resisted and denounced and was eventually killed by.

    I feel similarly about feminism. I found this quote online somewhere that said, “True feminism seeks not to make women the equals of men within an exploitative system, but to liberate both sexes from oppression.” I feel like that more or less sums up what I see as the distinction between true feminism and something else using the same language. A lot of what is labeled feminist still mirrors the ethic of dominance at the heart of patriarchy. Once a political stance betrays the values upon which it is founded, I think it collapses in on itself. There has to be some integrity to it for it to be authentic and valid to me.

  • Rairun says:

    As far as I can tell, we only disagree on a minor point. I think the “Spirit that can move you as you engage with the text that is Divine and makes meaning that changes you” is in fact you, or me insofar as I engage with the bible (or any other text) and derive something meaningful and personal from it, or pretty much anyone else. Basically, I don’t think there’s anything divine to it other than the fact that it feels divine to us.

    The other day I saw Jeff Mangum from Neutral Milk Hotel play most of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. It’s such a beautiful album. I’m not even quite sure why I’m bringing it up – possibly because it leaves me with the same sense of awe for being alive, in a reality that is often so messy, with an eagerness to heal all the pain. It kind of reminds me of that one famous Kerouac quote from On the Road where he says the only people for him are “the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved”. People often overlook the “mad to be saved” bit – as if he were talking only about passion. Yes, he is talking about being in love with life, but I think he means a different kind of life, and also our struggle to attain it. It’s very radical in the sense that he is embracing life for what it is while desiring change with all his being. It’s not so much about getting rid pain as it is about being free of oppression.

    This sort of impulse is what attracts me to religion as something that can be meaningful to me. At its best (I know, big caveat here), religion is about as radical as it gets. Unless I misread you, we are more or less on the same page here. The only difference is that I’m an atheist and you are a Christian. I could argue in favor of atheism with very persuasive arguments, but that’d be a whole different discussion – and, when it comes down to it, quite irrelevant to the one we are having here.

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