This article appeared in my June 22nd column entitled, “Christianity and Society,” that appears in the “Sacramento Valley Mirror.”
“He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8)
With the exception of relatively few denominations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are fully welcomed in churches or allowed to partake of all the sacraments of those churches. Most churches view homosexuality as a sin!
The Roman Catholic Church views homosexuality as being “disordered,” and its practice as being “intrinsically evil.” And most other churches, in one way or another, concur with this view.
This view seems to arise from a relatively few selected Scripture verses that have nothing to do with one’s having a homosexual orientation, but has to do with same-sex expressions of idolatry to false gods. An excellent book that goes into great detail on the subject of Christianity and homosexuality is written by Rick Brentlinger entitled, Gay Christian 101: Spiritual Self-Defense for Gay Christians – What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, and I strongly urge all Christians to read this book. This book eruditely and incisively debunks all of the apparent justifications that professing Christian homophobes when invoking the Bible to support their erroneous contentions.
The reality is that I can use the Bible to far better affirm slavery, segregation, and the subordination of women that I can to assert that homosexuality is in any way sinful, unless the latter is used as a means of idolatry or temple prostitution to appease or beseech false gods. In any event, the big lie has been that God condemns homosexuality within the context of same-sex love, and when a lie is repeated often enough, many people come to believe it as true. Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, used this fact to manipulate the minds and behaviors of most in Nazi Germany, and it has been no less effective in making most of the institutional Church homophobic.
As the above verse of Scripture enjoins us, we must do our very best to live just lives so that we can be salt and light in a sin-cursed world; be merciful to others and always be humble when reading Scripture and in our walk of faith with God. In all our pronouncements and attitudes, we must be humble, always recognizing that God is far bigger than the Bible; He can’t be put in a box that meets our personal and/or cultural biases. Frequently, people read the Bible and impose their own biases on the text, when they should let the Bible speak to them in its own terms, always recognizing the biases they may be bringing to that text.
Moreover, we can easily fall into the trap where we worship the Bible, rather than our frequently inscrutable God Whose ways are past finding out; Whose ways are higher than our ways; Whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Romans 11:33, Isaiah 55:9) It is easy to fall into dogmatism and legalism, particularly when we perceive we have a vested interest in maintaining our paradigm or way of seeing a particular subject, such as what we perceive to be “normal” sexual expression. If we let the Bible speak to us, rather than impose our own biases upon it to justify ourselves and our perceptions we will, indeed, be able to walk more humbly with our God.
As I get older, I realize not only how little I know about the mysteries of life, but also how many gray areas of life there are. Sometimes, even willful sinning, known to be a sin by the person, may be beyond his or her control, and may be the best for that person to be used by God in his or her brokenness. (2Corinthians 12:9) And, although God is not the author of sin, that sin, as all sins, is still covered over by the Blood of Christ and through that brokenness, God can best use that imperfect crock of clay through whom to work His will.
If a person has to spend his or her life suppressing emotional/sexual feelings and activity within the context of monogamy, he or she can become warped to the point that God can’t use that person as He would like. After all, God knew when He saved us everything we would do, and even every sin we would commit.
He saved us because of His love for us, and because He could use us to work His will in us and in the world. This fact is certainly true for LGBT people as well! God doesn’t only choose heterosexuals to be His own possession!
We show our love for God by fulfilling the commandments that Jesus prescribed: love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; love our neighbor as ourselves. And LGBT people are our neighbors!
Frankly, I think that God is much more concerned with “corporate sins” than with “personal sins,” especially those that are imagined constructed sins! Downsizing, mergers and ensuing layoffs, technology that displaces individuals and families, an economy that requires most couples to work outside the home often to barely make ends meet, homelessness and our callousness to the poor and disenfranchised, an increasingly sociopathic culture which diminishes human worth and dignity, honed to a fine art in the medical and drug establishments so as to main a robust “bottom line,” etc. are the sins that cry out for vengeance from God rather than one’s affectional/sexual desires.
Regarding Scripture verses that are often used to condemn LGBT people, in the Old Testament people were to be fruitful and multiply, anticipating the birth of the Messiah. Clearly, in this context, homosexual conduct was forbidden. In the New Testament in Romans 1:21-32 and in 1Corinthians 6:9 the thrust of Paul’s argument is that once having known God one turns his or her back on God and worships the gods of this world, be it sex, alcohol, pride, etc. When one worships any one or more gods of this world over and above God Himself he or she is not fit for the kingdom of God.
This is the thrust of Paul’s arguments in these verses of Scripture. And the worship of the false god of homophobia also represents this type of idolatry that God hates!
The Bible is called “the lively oracles of God” because it speaks anew and afresh to each generation, with its own particular problems and struggles. By reading the Bible both literally and literately, we see that we are dealing with lively things that must always be approached with the utmost humility; the humility that must also be manifested when we walk with God on our journey through life.
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.