I read yet another story today about someone who loves someone of the same gender being rejected by the Church. You know, I’m getting really sick and tired of it. And if it’s tiring for me, I can only imagine what it feels like if you’re the one being rejected.
I think what it boils down to is the same kind of argument, the same kind of “simple” reading of the Bible, that also rejects women in leadership/authority/pastoral ministry. This black and white, “well, the Bible says it right here,” “the Bible clearly says…” view of Scripture. Well, as someone who has studied the Bible, its context, its history, its overall themes, I would like to state that there are precious few things the Bible “CLEARLY” says. Even Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” and “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Figure that one out.
The Scriptures are truly inspired. But inspired and inerrant are two different things. Authoritative, and authoritative in every word are two different things. Martin Luther said that the Scripture was the cradle in which we find Christ. Scripture is NOT Christ. Christ is found there. God’s message in Christ is found there. It is through Scripture that we can come to know God, the story of God’s people, and God’s saving message of love in Jesus. It is GOD we worship, not Scripture. The Bible doesn’t save us, only God can do that. GOD is perfect, Scripture is not. And because of that interpretation can be a struggle. For me as a Christian, all things boil down to what Christ said are the two most important commandments – to love God and to love my neighbor. In Christ God showed us what love is.
It is important for us to understand WHY the biblical authors (yes, authors, plural) wrote about certain things, so that we can discern, as best we can in the struggle of interpretation, God’s Will for us. If it was shameful for a woman to speak in the Corinthian culture, then women speaking in the church would not help the spread of the gospel. But what would Paul have said about the “PROPHET” Anna from Luke’s gospel, who was speaking about Jesus and praising God in the temple? Also, women speaking in public was a problem in the United States right through American suffrage – Susan B. Anthony had tomatoes thrown at her when she tried to speak! But in our current day and age, women hold very important positions of leadership, and speaking in public is no longer a disgrace or controversial. Would Paul still condemn it? I really don’t think so.
In the same manner, would Paul look at a relationship of two people of the same gender who love each other and are devoted to each other as equals, and who love Jesus together, and still call that an abomination? I have a hard time believing he would. Remember, when Paul wrote those letters, he was writing to specific churches in specific places at a specific time. Did he think he was writing for people 2,000 years after the fact? ABSOLUTELY NOT. He thought Jesus would return any minute, he was in no way thinking decades, or centuries or millennia ahead. There are fundamental truths that will be for all time, and other statements in Scripture that were meant for the time in which they were written. It is up to the Church to discern which is which.
For me, the words and message of Jesus trump everything else. And you know what Jesus said about homosexuality? NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. He said a whole lot about loving each other, taking care of each other – he said a WHOLE lot about caring for the poor, and taking care of each other’s physical needs.
And even if homosexuality IS a sin, (which I don’t believe), Jesus didn’t rank sins. He didn’t grade one sin as any greater than another. He died for it all. Can any of us say that we don’t sin continuously? Jesus said that if we look at a brother or sister in anger we’ve committed murder in our heart. THAT is sin – sin specifically named BY JESUS himself. If we are so quick to condemn others for the LOVE they have, (about which Jesus says nothing), then how much quicker should we be condemning ourselves for the anger and judgment we have towards those others (about which Jesus says plenty). It seems to me we’re pointing at the speck in our neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in our own.
Jesus loves me, a sinful straight woman.
Jesus loved my Uncle Bruce, a sinful gay man.
Jesus loves my husband, a sinful straight man.
Jesus loves my friend, Sarah, a sinful gay woman.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for only some people. He died for everyone. He doesn’t just love some people. He loves us all. And thank God for that, because if I thought there were some beyond his reach, some people that Jesus could NOT love, then there is the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I AM one of those left out.
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39c