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Monday, March 14, 2011

Homosexuality and the Bible

Adam and Steve in the Garden of Eden
I've been taking the last few posts on this blog to respond to a question raised by my friend Mark Adams about how the church can move forward on the homosexual issue. This issues is too important to not discuss in an open and honest manner.

When reading the bible we all have our biases that affect how we read and interpret scripture. The bias of a patriarchal society allowed some people to read the bible as teaching the subjugation of women. The bias of being slave owners allowed some people to read the bible as being in favor of slavery. As our biases change, so too does our reading and understanding of what the bible says. First it's important to look honestly at our biases and see how they're affecting our reading of God's word.

The typical Christian bias is that homosexuality is a sin and that the bible teaches against homosexual relations in a strong manner (though we saw that there are only just a few passages on the topic). It's no wonder that when we come to the bible that we see a condemnation of homosexuality if that's exactly what we expect to find there before we open the book. If we aren't willing to move the conversation to the level of bias we won't be able to move forward. What if the standard Christian bias is wrong? That's exactly the question that we're asking homosexual Christians to consider.

In conversations that I've had with homosexual people and people who interpret the bible to say that homosexuality isn't a sin I think I've identified a couple biases that inform their interpretation of scripture. Please note, this is my opinion based on personal conversations, I welcome corrections and critique. The first bias has to do with happiness. The essential argument is that God must want us to be happy and that romantic relationships are key to happiness. The second bias is that homosexuality is an innate trait rather than a chosen behavior.

There is growing evidence that homosexuality is, at least partly, controlled by genes. Numerous people have gone through gay-cure programs such as Exodus International. And while there is a good deal of debate about the "success" of such program (Exodus won't even comment on the topic), there are many who come out feeling hurt by the process of rejecting who they have been their entire lives. I couldn't choose to be heterosexual, I just am. It follows that homosexuals can't make the choice either.

The first bias of homosexual theology essentially says that God wants us to be happy. Here's where I think the conversation needs to focus. Does God really want us to be happy? Is our happiness inextricably tied to our ability to love whomever we want?

I'll keep discussing this point tomorrow. What do you think?


PastorGregO said...

In this life, at least, our main purpose is certainly not to be personally happy. I had another question for you though James that relates to genetics. I've heard that alcoholics also often tend to have predisposed genetic tenancies. I bet if we really looked for it, we could find that all of us have certain sins that we struggle with that probably have something to do with our genetic make up. This is just a hypothesis, but I wonder what you might think? All of us are predisposed to certain sins and some of us have greater obstacles to overcome than others but I don't think that gives us an excuse to give in to sin.

James Wood said...

I think when we start seeing ourselves as whole people it's not surprising that our genes and our predisposition to sin line up. Paul's "thorn" didn't give him license to sin, but rather the need to let God give him strength.

What if (and this is a big IF), what if Paul struggled with homosexual attraction? We know he never married. We know he struggled with sin that was shameful to him and that plagued him his whole life (Rom. 7, 2 Cor. 12). I'm not saying that he lived in sin, but there's evidence that it might have been a struggle for him.