Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Church and Homosexuality

I am a Christian. I was baptized when I was seven years old, and grew up in the Christian church. I believe that the Bible is a holy book - the divine, inspired word of God. I have a wonderful, growing relationship with God and my savior, Jesus Christ. I also reject the church's stance on homosexuality.

Yes, I know this doesn't make me popular among the evangelicals. For that reason, among others, I almost didn't post this today. I don't want to make enemies, and cause rifts and division within the Christian faith. I prayed about this, and said "God are you sure you want me to do this?" and even as I received confirmation from Him that I should, I still felt trepidation in typing these words. I must be obedient, though, and step out in faith. I am not here to win the favor of those around me, but yet to speak the truth as I understand it.

That truth, as I see it, is that God = Love. Meaning, God loves everyone from Mother Teresa to Adolph Hitler. We, as humans, cannot fathom a love so deep, it is the same for two aforementioned individuals. Our minds reject such a notion, because it just seems wrong. Some would say, 'yes, but God did not approve of Hitler's life and actions?'. There is truth in that statement, and I agree, but, at the moment, I am speaking of love alone. The love of God is so deep, and pure, it transcends any wrongdoing  we can fathom. Even vile and offensive people are loved.

Most Christians would agree that it is not okay to hate anyone [person]. These Christians might say that it is acceptable to 'love the sinner and hate the sin'. I don't believe that is, at all, what God's message is. It is not okay for a Christian to hate. The bible does not call us to hate anything except evil. Some Christians might assert - "well, the bible says homosexuality is an abomination; that is evil".  But is it really?  Let's explore that theory. shall we?

In Hebrew the word "toevah" (abomination) means, an act that is unclean or within the ritualistic guidelines of Jewish law.  This is different than innate evil, as the word abomination connotes in our English language. So, from this we can surmise that the abomination spoken of in Leviticus, of men lying with men is not evil, but simply not part of the Jewish tradition.

Therefore, homosexuality, as we see it in modern times,  is not subject to our hate. We are no longer living our lives as Jews did under the Levitical law, if we were, we would all be subject to death, for I fear that we have all broken some of the 600+ laws, that, in Old Testament days were punishable by death.

As for the passages that are generally brought up in this discussion from the New Testament, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:26,  in these passages, it is unclear what Paul's intended meaning was.  What it's almost almost certain that he was not, speaking of homosexuals as we think of them today. The Greek words "malakoi" and "arsenokoitai" in our NIV and KJV translations of the bible, are used in reference to homosexuals. If Paul had meant homosexuality, as we think of it today, he almost certainly would have used the Greek word "paiderasste", since that was the common term in that day for male homosexuals.

Obviously, Paul spoke on the subject a reason. He wanted to warn believers against disobedience. He spoke to the people of the time, in a context that was relevant for them. We no longer live in Paul's time.  It stands to reason, we need be careful to interpret things within the framework in which it was written, not from our own viewpoints, and the standards of today. At any rate, nowhere in those scriptures, does Paul say to hate anything?  No, he simply warns against our disobedience.

In all of Jesus' teaching he never mentions homosexuality at all. This is significant because Jesus was very bold and plain in his speech.  His messages were clear, even when he spoke in parables. He was quick to denounce the sin of the Pharisees, and the disobedience among his disciples.  He had no trouble telling people what was acceptable and what wasn't. So, if Jesus omitted homosexuality, it is remarkable to note.

Most all of the teachings of Jesus have a central theme - that of love. Jesus was very clear in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, that Christians are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Furthermore, he describes our neighbor.  Our neighbors aren't only those who are the same among us.  No, Jesus' teachings includes, as neighbors, those whom we are traditionally taught to stay away from; be apart from, if you will. Loving those outside our circle, or frame of reference, is an act of kindness and benevolence, which we are required to show to all persons we encounter, according to the teachings of Jesus.

Admittedly, no Christian one wants to be like those zealots standing outside of a funeral holding "God Hate F----ts" signs, that's a given, in most circumstances.  Some among the body of believers, are still uncomfortable with homosexuality.  It's my belief that for this reason the phrase 'love the sinner hate the sin' was created.  Christians view it as a banner to stand behind.  The directive, appears nowhere in the biblical text, however, it has grown in popularity.

Its popularity might very well exist, because it makes those who are personally revolted by homosexuality, feel righteous, and, to my mind gives the believer a false impression that they're doing right by God, while still (unknowingly) holding on to their prejudices.  The [love the sinner, hate the sin] expression is, at best, an empty phrase, and at worst, is divisive, hurtful and demeaning to an entire group of people.  Who gave Christians the right to find fault with homosexuals and to patronizingly proclaim  they will love them anyway?

No other group of people, besides LGBT, can today's Christian judge in this manner and get away with it. Throughout history, the bible has been used as a poison dart to fling at those who did not measure up as 'normal' in the society of the times. Jews, Blacks, women...the list goes on. Homosexuality is just the last frontier in terms of subjugation and judgment on the part of a fearful people.

Shame on modern Christianity, I say, for perpetuating stereotypes, prejudices and judgmental bigotry in the name of Godly piety. And shame on all who continue to think solely inside the boxes of \ small and narrow minds, instead of allowing God's grace, mercy and love to guide them. Love without caveats (Agape Love), this is the love of God and it's the love we are required to spread.  To do any less is disobedient and in my book (the Bible), disobedience = sin.