That was the best article I’ve read in a long time (Patricia Nell Warren’s Choice in Sexual Orientation: The Sword That Cuts Both Ways). Very powerful. I’m struggling myself and this was a huge help. Very well said. Thank you.
I strayed across your Web site while searching for resources that I could give a friend coming to terms with his sexuality. I like what I see – and the open letter to your critics is especially poignant.
As one of God’s Rainbow children, I call down His Blessings upon your work – may they be forever successful.
I’ve visited your site a couple of times, and I feel compelled to ask you some things as well as explain some things, as best I can. First, I’m impressed with your site; you do a great job of showing God in His best light – His amazing love and grace. I’m not sure how anyone could reject Him based upon your words. In fact, it strikes me that perhaps the people who are most in jeopardy of “getting Him wrong” are heterosexuals.
As you say:
“It never ceases to amaze me how so many people forget the boards in their own eyes and instead concern themselves with the splinter they believe they see in my eye. I don’t, for one second, believe that God forsakes me. I don’t, for one second, believe that God hates homosexuals. I don’t, for one second, believe that I will go to hell because I am a lesbian. I don’t, for one second, believe that I “chose” to be gay. I don’t, for one second, believe that homosexuality is a “sin” I must “repent” of. I don’t, for one second, question my salvation. I don’t, for one second, question Ivan’s salvation. Therein lies the difference.”
Here’s my problem: I, too, have studied the Bible and have sought to understand God’s heart and will for me. I want to know what HE (not I) deems right. I know He loves me unconditionally. He loves you the same, no question. But when it says “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” (Lev 18:22, NIV), why are heterosexual people made to feel like the villains for viewing homosexual BEHAVIOR as wrong? I don’t care if you rationalize your behavior with lots of words and interpretations, but please stop making me out to be so ugly because I see homosexual behavior as wrong. I won’t try to change you with my arguments, so please don’t give me labels like homophobic or intolerant or even hateful.
Your sister in Christ,
Editor Candace Chellew Responds:
Thanks for your letter.
I don’t see myself as “rationalizing” anything. And I don’t see you as a “villain” because you believe homosexual behavior as wrong because of this Old Testament verse. What I do believe, however, is that you’re misguided in your interpretation and perhaps you haven’t spent enough time thinking about WHY you find homosexual behavior wrong. I think with a little education on the meaning of that verse in particular, and maybe some personal exploration on why you have arrived at the belief that homosexual behavior is wrong, you might discover that you’ve been misinformed.
First, as for the verse you quote. Leviticus is part of the “Holiness Code” (Lev. 17-26) deemed so in 1877 by German scholar A. Klostermann. This code gives prescriptions for moral conduct and cultic purity. This code, scholars believe, evolved gradually within the early Jewish community and finally served as a catechism for use by priests and Levites. The particular verse you quote condemns, specifically, cultic practices of fertility cults outside the Jewish community. The behavior that is condemned here, then, is sexual behavior between men used in a religious ceremony among cults of the time to ensure crop growth or a good rainy season. This passage is not condemning loving, committed same sex relations.
It might also be worth mentioning that within the Holiness Code you’ll find many things condemned that we routinely practice today — including sowing fields with two different seeds, or wearing clothing made of two different materials [like a cotton/poly blend, for instance] (Lev. 19:19). The Holiness Code also condemns tattoos (Lev. 19:28) and demands that anyone who curses their father or mother should be put to death (Lev. 20:8). So, you see, there are many, many areas of the Holiness Code that are rejected out of hand today. However, many people (such as yourself) continue to pull out that one verse (out of context) and continue to use it to condemn people when you, yourself, violate the Holiness Code on a daily basis. I believe ‘hypocrisy’ is the word for that kind of behavior.
As you scan other verses that are used to condemn homosexual behavior, you will begin to see, that if you read these verses in context to the books that they are in, the kinds of behavior that are condemned are sexual behaviors that use or abuse other people. Same-sex prostitution is condemned, but so is heterosexual adultery and prostitution. Pederasty (sex with children) is condemned. Sex within fertility cults is condemned. All of these behaviors, whether performed by a straight person or a gay person, are condemned.
What the Bible does not condemn, however, is sexual relations between people who have made a commitment to one another. The Bible does not speak against sexual conduct between two consenting adults who have committed their lives to one another. Within this context of a loving, committed relationship, sexual expression is the natural outgrowth of that edifying relationship.
But, I’m sure that within your tradition, you have not been taught to make this distinction. Instead, you’ve been led to believe the lie that everyone within the homosexual community is just out for physical pleasure. That all homosexual behavior falls within this category of “if it feels good, do it.” You’ve been told the lie that all homosexuals are hedonists who are just waiting and searching for that next sexual experience whether it be in a back room at a bar or in a public park somewhere. This is not true.
There are some within our community who seek anonymous sex. It is true. However, there are some heterosexuals who do that as well (the typical ‘one night stand’). But, simply because one segment of the community does this sort of thing does not make it true of the whole community. I can condemn heterosexuals having one-night stands without condemning heterosexuality as a whole — can you see the distinction? What you, and others like you, do is condemn an entire group of people based upon the stereotypical view of our community. You do this without exploring further whether the stereotype holds true. I can tell you that it does not. For every gay person who seeks sex in a public park there are far more gay people at home with their spouses living a life you might find as utterly normal as your own. We have homes, kids, cars, jobs, and lives just like you do. We are just as committed to making our relationships work as you are. We fall in love, we break up, we hurt and fall in love again, just like you do. We’re not animals driven by some sexual urge — we are humans driven by the need we all share for companionship and love.
So, when you say you find homosexual behavior wrong, I would urge you to think about why you believe that. Have you explored what the phrase “homosexual behavior” means? Can you begin to see the distinction between love and lust? Gay people love and lust just like straight people. The lustful behaviors do deserve your scorn, but our loving behaviors do not — not any more than loving behaviors between straight people do.
I do hope you’ve read this entire letter and I hope you’ve begun to think through your beliefs and why you hold them. Don’t just accept the scriptural “proof texts” as your reasons — explore the myths out there that are told about gays and lesbians. I think if you do that, you’ll find many of your beliefs to be erroneous. We are not the monsters or sexual predators that many conservative Christian portray us to be. We are simply human beings in search of love, a fulfilling life, and in many cases, a strong connection and relationship with God.
Thank you so much for Candace Chellew’s article, Reality of Resurrection, in the Mar/Apr 2002 issue of Whosoever as well as her interview with John Shelby Spong about his latest book. (I just returned the copy to the public library and ordered my own.)
Also, I’ve just forwarded the URL for Whosoever to the local Integrity group that I belong to. I hope it is, at the least, interesting to them. If I’m lucky, it will be thought-provoking to generate discussion.
It is a scary proposition to get rid of a theistic God; to reimage God as the source of all love from which creation and life comes rather than a parent watching from above. I am trying to understand deeply that God’s love come into this world through me and you and everyone who wants to know the reality of God. What scares me, too, is how God’s love can be withheld from the world when we’re not willing to live in that reality.
Thanks for all your good writing.
Wow! What an amazing find on the Web. I have been looking for anything that might help my friend Mark who has just given up on the whole “make me straight” journey. We both believe strongly in our faith AND our love for others. I salute you for creating a place where people who are searching or just looking for some validation can come and receive the great news of Jesus Christ. Keep it up, and I’ll be sure to spread the word about this site.
I am a straight female, Christian and married, and I am just outraged at these bigots who can hide behind something that only speaks of love. How they can possibly believe that Jesus Christ would punish someone for the one most important thing he teaches, Love?
I can honestly tell that never once in my life did I feel that being gay was wrong, it just was never an issue, I never thought anything of it, I just figured some people are gay and some are straight. So when my Brother came out, my whole family didn’t look at him any differently, cause he didn’t change he has always been my brother and I Love him. And it just makes me so angry to know that people can hate him for this. But I think this is wonderful of you to point out these misinterpretations and hopefully it has opened a few eyes. Because as long as you can reach one person they will pass it on through life, thus you can reach the whole world.