I’ve been spending a lot of time these days trying to understand LGBTQ people and their struggle. And it is a serious struggle. Every Christian with a same-sex attraction (SSA) I’ve met has begged God to remove that desire from them, hundreds of times. They did not want to be that way. But for reasons known only to God, that temptation has not been removed. So, now what for them?
In a few weeks, I’ll begin a five-week blog series, a discussion guide for small groups, we’ve been writing, entitled, “Leading Your Church to be as Gay-Friendly as the Bible Teaches.”
However, today I want to explore the question I posed above; “So, now what for them?” LGBTQ Christians read the same Bible as you and I and the verses that discuss same-sex sex appear to be clear and unambiguous. Verses like these;
“Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 18:22
“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Leviticus 20:13
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:26,27
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10
So, there they are! Same-sex, sex (and all kinds of heterosexual sex outside of marriage as well) are forbidden by God. Therefore, every Christian, gay or straight has a choice to make when it comes to our sexual practices. Obey or disobey God. For thousands of years, those were the only two choices.
But does the Bible really mean that? But many Christians with a same-sex attraction believe they have been offered a third choice. The debate has shifted from what the Bible says, to what the Bible really means when it prohibits same-sex sex. In this argument, generally referred to as an “affirming position,” they believe God actually affirms or approves of loving, monogamous same-sex sexual relations and marriage. In my five week series, I’ll explore much deeper how they treat each of these verses I’ve quoted above. However, each of their arguments center around this assumption, “What God was actually prohibiting was a completely different form of same-sex, sex than modern homosexuality. Those sexual prohibitions were for exploitive, domineering or temple worshiping sex.” In other words, “What God meant to say, was…” and off they go second-guessing what God really meant.
In all fairness, many straight Christians have done similar theological gymnastics to get around God’s clear teachings on divorce, sex before marriage, materialism, ect. No Christian is immune from the temptation to explain away an “inconvenient truth” from God. But affirming Christians have developed it into a new hermeneutic of biblical interpretation.
To believe the Bible means something completely different from what it apparently and pretty straightforwardly says, you have to make one or more of these assumptions;
The writers of scripture did not understand what God was really telling them and they just got it wrong. Or,
God just assumed everyone would understand he was talking about exploitive, temple worship homosexual acts and not prohibiting loving, monogamous sex or marriage. Or,
God just didn’t anticipate the controversy that would be generated over this issue in the 21st century and therefore hadn’t thought to clarify himself. Or,
God was not capable of, or concerned enough about guarding the translation process from language to language, and culture to culture to protect it from translation errors. Or,
God has given his church the freedom to interpret scriptures in the context of this present culture and therefore some of his old commands on moral issues, no longer apply, and he must be a bit surprised most Christians are stuck in an Old Testament mentality.
Any one of these assumptions I’ve mentioned is enough to fatally undermine any believer’s confidence in authority of the Bible. It was the tempter’s first question ever asked of humans, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1)
My primary concern about Christians who hold to an affirming position, is not first and foremost about their sexual behavior. It is the danger they pose to Christianity by the dismissal of how the church has always understood the Bible – as God’s will made known to humans. I believe it’s far safer to assume God means what he said, than asserting, he didn’t without any real biblical proof to back-up that assumption.
In the same-sex marriage debate let’s keep our eye on the ball. It’s about the willingness of Christians to accept what God both said and meant as the rule for our lives, whether we like it or not. It’s about God and the Bible – not same-sex behavior!
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