Monday, April 8, 2013

Homosexuality and the Bible

I am a follower of Jesus, a Christian.  I try to follow the teaching of Jesus and the apostles as recorded in the New Testament.  I hang out mostly with other Christians.  And all of that has an effect on how I react to social issues in the community at large.  And one of the biggest social issues today seems to be concerning homosexuality.  It is causing much anguish, gnashing of teeth, and condemnation in the Christian community today.  But why?

Well, the Bible does seem to clearly speak against the practice.  I know there are those who argue that those passages that speak against homosexuality are actually mistranslations, but I find that a reach.  There are several New Testament passages, Romans 1:26-27 & 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, that seem to be pretty explicit in their stand against homosexuality.

But this doesn't really explain why so many in the Christian community are so outspoken in their condemnation of the practice.  Why are those same people not speaking out just as loudly against other practices that the New Testament opposes.  Take a closer look at the 1 Corinthians passage mentioned above.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
I seldom hear the same outcry against greed in general, although there are individual exceptions.  And it seems that the outcry against everything else on this list does not approach that against homosexuality.  Why do we pick that one thing to focus our attention on?

I suspect it is because I have a certain amount of guilt concerning most of the rest of these things, or at least recognize that I could easily fall to them.  But, for me at least, homosexuality is icky.  It is not easy to have much physical contact with another man beyond a handshake or occasional hug.  I cannot even imagine anything more intimate.

For so long our culture has been uncomfortable with male intimacy, while at the same time accepting adultery, greed, drunkenness and slander, even while saying they are wrong.  And so, being largely a product of my culture, homosexuality becomes one of the worst thing that I can imagine.  And that's too bad, because I do not find anything in the Bible that would elevate it to such a lofty status.

So how should I respond to the New Testament admonitions against homosexuality?  The same way I do regarding greed.  My primary focus should be towards personal holiness, living up to the instructions of Jesus, Paul, Peter and John.  Second, encouraging other believers to live holy lives.  And finally, responding to the people of this world in the same way that Jesus did, who ate and hung out with sinners and outcasts, those that the religious folks of his day condemned.  Jesus was more concerned about getting them into a right relationship with the Father than with having them 'clean up' their lives.

I am responsible for my own life and actions.  It is not my place to judge those who make no claim to follow the teachings of Jesus.  It is really not my place to tell them how they should live their lives.  It is my place to share the good news of Jesus love with them.  If they accept that, then God will deal with them concerning holiness.  If not, then ultimately it makes no difference how they live.

So, I will not be a voice crying out against the evils of homosexuality in the world around me, in spite of my feelings about it.  Instead, I will try and follow Jesus example, and demonstrate love to my homosexual neighbors.

9 comments:

  1. We, in America, are much more adverse to men touching each other (in a non-sexual way) than in other countries. Throughout the world men will hold hands, kiss each others cheeks, etc. We eschew that behavior as wrong. I find it interesting when human touch can be so comforting, that our puritanical beliefs, push it away.

    I care nothing about an individuals sexual preference. I care if they are a good person. Are they kind, honest, gentle, etc. That is what matters. I also believe in the power of touching. I believe a small hug can provide so much comfort to someone in pain. So I will continue down my road blithely ignoring stuff that just doesn't matter to me and trying to only worry about the stuff that does.

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    1. "So I will continue down my road blithely ignoring stuff that just doesn't matter to me and trying to only worry about the stuff that does."

      Well said :)

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  2. Ed, I completely agree with you. I cannot judge those who are not believers. I have met many gay men who I have found to be sweet and kind. However, I am curious as to how you feel about the current gay marriage issue? Should we as Christians stand up for marriage in this culture, or accept that society as a whole is going to do what they want regardless of what we think. Does it not benefit all of us when society has guidelines that sanction specific behaviors?

    Toni

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    1. As a general rule, I am not in favor of legislating morality, unless it is to protect our citizens from those who would cause harm. So in that regard I would not be in favor of making homosexual unions illegal. I do think more thought needs to go into why we provide benefits for married folks though. Is it just to reward folks for establishing stable relationships. Or is it to make it easier to raise children.

      The biggest concern I have with the current movement to redefining marriage is where does that trend stop? Why cannot three or four people marry, regardless their gender? Why cannot I marry a sibling if I want? What happens when someone is able to finally have a chimp declared a 'person'? It is a confusing and potentially scary future that we are stepping into.

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  3. "So I will continue down my road blithely ignoring stuff that just doesn't matter to me and trying to only worry about the stuff that does."

    I wonder how many times that mantra was repeated by a German in the 30s and 40s and by Americans in the pre-Civil War days.

    And what exactly is legislated apart from morality? Something that causes harm is by definition immoral.

    When we compromise we become compromised, and there's a difference between passive love and active love.

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    1. ""So I will continue down my road blithely ignoring stuff that just doesn't matter to me and trying to only worry about the stuff that does."

      I wonder how many times that mantra was repeated by a German in the 30s and 40s and by Americans in the pre-Civil War days. "

      I have no issue with Karen's comment. The problem is really having the correct things matter to you.

      "And what exactly is legislated apart from morality? Something that causes harm is by definition immoral. "

      But not all things that are immoral cause harm to others. Nor is all legislation about morality, the speed limit for instance.

      "When we compromise we become compromised, and there's a difference between passive love and active love."

      Having a correct outlook is not synonymous with compromise. Having an outlook that is different from someone else is not compromise. I compromise when I change my beliefs to be agreeable. That I will not do.

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  4. Ed,

    If I may, compromise isn't just when you change your beliefs to suit others - it's can also be when you act counter to your beliefs to pacify others.

    That said I completely agree - As Jesus followers we are not to weed "sin out of the garden" by legislating behavior. As if that does any good on it's own. We're to bring others towards and to Christ through love and relationship. Enforcing behavior is not a Kingdom growing activity.

    Here's somthing I think about... In a small group I'm a part of the discussion came up about not "allowing" a homosexual couple to stay in one's home. We extended the discussion and many agreed that they wouldn't allow an unmarried heterosexual couple to say in the same bedroom in their house either. Where I get to wondering about this is - to what good end do we make a stand on how people live in our home? Might it not be more important to welcome people in regardless, THEN be in relationship showing them/and relating towards Christ?

    I have no doctirnal/firm answers on this one, just personal convictions. Thoughts?

    thanks for your blog!

    Brad

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    1. That is an interesting question. While 2 John 9-11 is not directed specifically at this issue, it does set a principal for me. While I am not going to attempt to control what people do outside my home, I am going to take a stand within it. I do not want to be guilty of sharing in what they are doing by allowing it in my home.

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  5. Just responding...sorry so slow: 2 John seems to be to be specifically talking about false teachers denying the closed fist issues of the gospel, not sins of the flesh. Just opinion, and not a deal breaker. Thanks again for your blog!

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