This topic is very sensitive and very controversial in today’s world. It’s one of the most debated topics in my friend group apart from climate change and other egalitarian beliefs. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, asexual, and any other label that falls under this spectrum passes through the lips of politicians, churchgoers, common people, and religions around the world. Let’s start by reading the bible. I want to say that if you fall on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, please read on even if it feels uncomfortable. There is a place for everyone in the Kingdom of Heaven.
You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act. (Leviticus 18:22)
If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves. (Leviticus 20:13)
So also Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns, since they indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire in a way similar to these angels, are now displayed as an example by suffering the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)
These three passages are a reflection of the law and stories that are found in the Old Testament. In the early church, the only form of scripture they had was the Old Testament. They read and studied the same passages that the Jews did. There were two translations of their texts that were used: one in Greek and one in Hebrew. Post-Hellenization made Greek a common language. In fact, the Jews were very familiar with the Roman lifestyle. The two cultures bled into each other in Israel.
When looking at the texts above, we have to have an understanding that this was a religious law for the Jews. Religion and law were one for the Jews. They did not have a separation of church and state as we do in so many countries around the world. It makes sense when reading the law to say that we should view the LGBTQ+ community in this way, but we can’t settle on the face value of a scripture to determine how it should be followed. Let’s dive into some theology to figure this out.
According to the Christian faith, Jesus was Christ incarnate. Jesus was born as both God and human to fulfill the need of a savior; a liberator of our sins. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice as he was 100% God and 100% man. When Jesus was crucified, he fulfilled the law and created a means of grace for the world. Humanity was redeemed from sin and no longer held to the standard of the law, but held under the love and grace of Christ. Love and grace are what lead us to repentance under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
I know this is a lot so far but bear with me. Whether you approach the scripture as a Fundamentalist or a Progressive, it’s critical to understand the love and grace are the progression and point that the bible moves towards. It’s critical to notice that the Bible progresses and changes as each book passes.
I want to take a look at the new testament scriptures. I know earlier I quoted Jude, but it was to more in-depth look at the Old Testament. Here are some scriptures regarding homosexuality in the New Testament.
“For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers — none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
These are some pretty tough passages to swallow. How do we handle this? We learn and do research. Hermeneutics is “how we interpret” any given text. Biblical hermeneutics is the answer. Let’s look at some historical context.
The bible has a lot of information, but without being a first century Jew or Roman, we can’t see their perspective without study. The first understanding may be shocking. Romans didn’t have gender. Gender is a construct of our society. You either had a dominant person or a submissive person. In that time, a woman was to be submissive while a man was to be dominant – even if there were submissive men. Tim Challies says “Romans did not think in terms of sexual orientation. Rather, sexuality was tied to ideas of masculinity, male domination, and the adoption of the Greek pursuit of beauty.” You were either masculine or you weren’t. You were either dominant or you weren’t. Your masculinity was surrounded by your dominance. You could be an unmasculine submissive person with a penis. Your genitals didn’t give you your sexual orientation.
In that day, Romans had slaves in their homes and slaves in the temples. Both slaves in both home and temple were raped. Rape was seen as a positive connotation towards masculinity. Challies goes on to say, “Christianity condemned the Roman system in its every part. According to the Roman ethic, a man displayed his masculinity in battlefield and bedroom dominance… The Roman understanding of virtue and love depended upon pederasty—the systematic rape of young boys.” So when Paul is writing the Roman church, he is speaking out against rape, pedophilia, and dehumanizing a person. When it comes down to it, it looks like Paul and the Christians of that time were influenced by what was seen in their culture. Under no circumstances is rape, pedophilia, or dehumanizing a person acceptable.
This all seems to be pointing to a common theme: sin takes away from people. Maybe fundamentalists are the ones in sin. So often I have heard that gays are going to hell and that transsexuals are disgusting. I can’t help but wonder who that is building up. Words have power, and they can either give life or tear down. Are the words you are saying helping the LGBTQ+ community or are they increasing the suicide rate? Are your words making the LGBTQ+ community feel like less than human? Do your actions show the open arms of Jesus or are they pointing fingers? Once again, let’s look at scripture.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)
Is it a sin to be in the LGBTQ+ spectrum? I would say no. If you disagree, that’s okay. I don’t care what a person believes as long as they allow freedom and grace to be given to others. If it’s in your agenda to speak against them, I would call that sin. The LGBTQ+ community doesn’t need another angry person telling them they are going to hell, they need a church that is willing to accept them just as they are. If you’re using your words and actions to tear them down, the bible is very clear: you’re committing evil and murdering their spirit. Evil tears down and love builds. Be more like Jesus and less like yourself. Bring heaven to earth and stop your agenda of hellfire and damnation. The church shouldn’t be a place of shame, but a place of grace. I look forward to a day where we can stop this nonsense and accept each other just as Christ accepts us.
Phillips, Adam Nicholas. “The Bible Does Not Condemn.” Medium, Medium, 16 July 2015, medium.com/@adamnicholasphillips/the-bible-does-not-condemn-homosexuality-seriously-it-doesn-t-13ae949d6619.
Challies, Tim. “3 Awful Features of Roman Sexual Morality.” Tim Challies, 28 Oct. 2016, http://www.challies.com/articles/3-awful-features-of-roman-sexual-morality/.
“Sexuality in Ancient Rome.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Dec. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_ancient_Rome.
Administrator. “The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality.” GayChurch.org, GayChurch.org, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.gaychurch.org/homosexuality-and-the-bible/the-bible-christianity-and-homosexuality/.