Homosexuality and the Bible
Most modern gay men and lesbians are either afraid of the Bible or unfamiliar with its content, thinking that the Bible has only bad news for them. While it is true that the Bible was written in the context of patriarchal, heterosexist cultures, the message and story of God’s unconditional love in Christ can be the “power of salvation” for gays and lesbians as well as for heterosexuals. A bold, proactive reading of the Bible offers new life for lesbians, gay men, and their families and friends. Consensus is growing among respected scholars of Scripture that the Bible does not condemn such relationships. Contemporary gay and lesbian Christians have focused on proving that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. It is time to move beyond defending this position. It is not enough for the Bible simply not to condemn homosexuality. Gays and lesbians must be able to say, “Yes, it is our story, too!”1
Is the Bible Bad News or Good News?
Lesbian and gay men face discrimination because of social attitudes. Unfortunately, these attitudes are often taught by the church. Sadly, the Bible is often used as a weapon to “bash” gays and lesbians. It is important to remember that such hurtful things are not a reflection of Christ, or the way God wants the church to be, or even what the Bible really says. They are the products of the fallible and imperfect human beings who guide these churches. Ultimately, a Christian’s personal faith should not depend upon a particular church or clergyperson, but rather it should be solidly placed in Jesus Christ. In addition to the biased teachings of certain ministers, Scripture sometimes presents a stumbling block for people who are both homosexual and Christian. Thoughtful Bible study reveals that the Bible does not say what you may have thought it did about homosexuals!
Understanding The Bible In A New Way
There are at least two important things to keep in mind when reading the Bible. First, you must always consider its context. In order to understand any writing (whether it be a letter, a speech, or even the Bible) it is necessary to understand its background. Think about who is speaking, to whom it is addressed, why it was written, and what the culture was like. In the case of Scripture, the cultural and social context of Biblical times was very different from our own. For example, when the Bible says God commands humanity to “increase and multiply,” remember, among others things, this was addressed to Israel, a small, desert nation surrounded by many enemies. They needed to “multiply” just to survive. Secondly, the Bible began as an oral tradition and then was written in ancient languages (primarily Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New Testament) over many centuries. It was copied and re-copied in the original languages, and then translated into other languages. As anyone who speaks or reads more than one language will understand, translating requires interpretation and personal judgment. Even with the best of intentions, translators and copyists are quite capable of human error.2
1 Wilson, Rev. Nancy L. (1992) UFMCC brochure, Homosexuality: Our Story Too
2 from the brochure by The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (1984) Homosexuality and the Bible. Bad News or Good News?