There are a LOT of things in the Bible that we don’t do anymore, such as stoning people, because… well, why DON’T we stone the medium or the blasphemer or people who worship other gods? Maybe it’s that we’ve gotten a different understanding of God’s will over time? So why the rigidity about homosexuality?
Another reason I’m no longer a Biblical literalist, as I was when I was 12, is that much to my shock and surprise, the Bible actually was NOT written in English! So there is often room for interpretation. It’s entirely possible (likely) the Bible doesn’t always mean what we THINK it does.
I’m intrigued by this article Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing, in Patheos. The author, Mark Sandlin, acknowledges that “if you are well-read on the issue of the Bible and its take on homosexuality (or lack thereof), there is little new in here. For you, I hope this can be a quick reference.”
Sandlin writes further: “Perhaps the thing at which we [Christians] are the most persistently exceptional is misinterpreting the Bible then running amuck in the world because of it. Honestly, mad skills.” (I would have written “amok,” but whatever.) “And so we find ourselves here again.”
We would much rather reinforce the things we want to believe than believe the sometimes difficult teachings of Jesus. Who, on a side note, never said a word about homosexuality but did tell us to gouge out our lustful eyes. Which seems to me is more likely to leave us all blind than the “eye for and eye” thing.
I must say that Christians of all persuasions, liberal and conservative, are REALLY good at ignoring “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
Oh sure, this time around we have “softened” our approach, saying things like “hate the sin, love the sinner,” but we fail to recognize that what we are calling a “sin” and the person we are calling a “sinner” are one and the same. A person whose sexual orientation is homosexual, or bi-sexual, or queer can no more separate themselves from their sexuality than a heterosexual person can… We just aren’t loving the person if we don’t love the whole person.
I suspect the “softening” of the language we use has everything to do with making us feel better and very little with making LGBTQ folk feel better, because it certainly doesn’t make them feel any better. As a matter of fact, the love/hate (emphasis on hate) relationship that the Church continues to push on this group of people only serves to push them into closets and into even darker places…
Still, I appreciate the attempts by the church to change the language, and I think it matters for some. Pope Francis saying “Who am I to judge?” is surely a vast improvement over “You’re going to hell,” as though we actually make that judgment. A church is not likely going to go from A to Z on any issue without the intervening steps.
Sandlin notes why the Bible is NOT a sex guide, for reasons you might have heard (marrying concubines and the like.)
Most of us have matured enough theologically to recognize that we need to contextualize the writings of the Bible, and because of it we have moved passed using these examples as the end-all-be-all on acceptable practices of sexuality. However, somehow, we have not managed to apply the very same understanding to the Bible verses that have become known as the “clobber verses” in the Bible. “Clobber” because they are the verses most used to clobber people who are gay or who support gay rights.
He then describes them in turn. Some of the argument was, to me, self-evidently correct, but some were new. Check it out.