I start off this blog with humility and respect for those that have a different view on the LGBT+ Community. While I respect many teachers in the Christian community, I believe that what many of these teachers are doing is damaging gay Christians of faith. This, as a result, is turning and pushing many away from God and His love for all people. So I begin this blog and many for the future, with a dissection of Jordan Riley and will break down homosexuality in the Bible from both a historical and cultural perspective and prove that homosexuality is not a sin. You see, Jordan Riley believes that not one verse in the Bible approves of homosexuality. He believes, like any other far-right Evangelical/conservative Christian, that the Bible is the only source for how we should live and that every view point that doesn't match theirs is wrong and is blasphemy against God. But his beliefs are far from being Biblical. I hope that the research that I present in this blog will help you to understand more about the Bible and what it does not say.
“Homosexuality is a result of the rejection of God (Rom 1:21–25). Gay marriage is the institutionalization of the rejection of God . . . The Bible teaches how Christians should respond to gay marriage. Don’t condone it; no matter how much we may love our friends and want to see them happy, real love is bringing them to a saving relationship with Jesus,
Just a little background on myself. I first came out to my parents at the age of 17. For several years, I questioned scripture after scripture. I was told by many that it was impossible for me to be gay and still claim to be Christian. I was told that I couldn't get to Heaven unless I repented and turned back completely to Jesus, devoting my life to Christian ministry. At one point, I was even told that I could not serve in ministry and was given the offer to receive help at Teen Challenge in Muskegon, MI. I never did go. This was the beginning of my life as I stepped out of the closet.
I went through several relationships, of which most of them did not last. In 2014, I did the unthinkable and tried to force myself to go straight. I prayed with several pastors and rededicated my life to Christ (though I really didn't need to). I tried to date a few women, but could never bring myself to kiss them or do anything sexual with them. It didn't right at all. I couldn't even hug them. In September 2014, I entered into my sixth relationship with a guy (name withheld for obvious reasons) and began losing my faith. I really nearly came so close to losing my faith. I really started questioning God, the Bible and Christianity. I did not know where to turn or who to turn to. i started talking to a pastor from the Nashville area and got some great advice about relationships. It was then, that I went back to researching my faith and started writing my thoughts out about homosexuality, Christianity and the Bible. God has brought me very far from one moment saying that yes, I'm gay and then nearly losing my faith to now being ever stronger in knowing who I am and where I belong in God's love for me. So with that, let's begin.
I want to first, break down the word homosexual.
The English word homosexual is a modern compound word that never appears in any biblical manuscript. It is made up of the Greek word homo, meaning “the same”, and the Latin term sexualis, meaning sex. The word started showing up a little more than a hundred years ago was first used in the Revised Standard Version Bible in 1946. Many, especially in the Evangelical community believe that homosexuality and sodomy are both the same thing and mean the same thing. In case you're wondering, there is no Hebrew or Greek word associated with the word Sodomy. A Sodomite was simply an inhabitant of Sodom just as an Australian is an inhabitant of Australia.
Homosexuality in Sodom
One of the most common passages of Scripture that is completely taken out of its historical context is the story of Sodom. Let's begin by reading.
1) And the two angels came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth; 2) and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn aside, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your way. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3) And he urged them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. 4) But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; 5) and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6) And Lot went out unto them to the door, and shut the door after him. 7) And he said, I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly. 8) Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of my roof. 9) And they said, Stand back. And they said, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and drew near to break the door.
This passage so far, as it is written, says nothing about the men having sex with men. What it says is that the men wanted to have sex with angelic beings that were under the protection of Lot's house. Lot offers his daughters to the men. Notice what is happening in the story. The men wanted to sexually assault the angels, a form of rape, specifically "gangbanging". Yet the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality. It is in fact mentioned in Ezekiel:
Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness,
The sins of Sodom are primarily inhospitality and not taking care of those who are poor. Therefore, when looking at the historical context of Scripture, the story of Sodom is and cannot be used as a means to claim that homosexuality is sin.
Homosexuality & the Holiness Code
Leviticus is the book of the law. It is also called The Holiness Code and was written to separate the Hebrews from the Babylonians and the Canaanites both morally and ritually. This was a way of also making the law pure. Let's read what Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 says:
You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.
If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable thing. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands.
Well, there it is. I guess that covers it. I'm going to Hell. I'm going to burn forever.
Yeah, not quite. If you take Leviticus literally, then you have a major problem with understanding historical viewpoints. The Hebrew word that we are looking for is “Toevah”, which means “abomination” or “detestable” as related to idolatry and cult prostitution that were engaged in by the Canaanites. To understand Leviticus even further, in that time period, if two men were together and the one other was treated as a woman would be treated, he was basically taking a lower status, which was out of line with the Law.
Another great verse that is commonly taken out of context is Romans 1:24-27:
24) Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25) because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. 26) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27) and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
I've heard many sermons on homosexuality and this is the most common verse that pastors start off with. They do it simply because it is the easiest way to convince people that homosexuality is wrong. It's easy to do when you don't do research nor know the history and culture in which the Bible was written. It's also easy when you assume you know the thoughts of the author of the text.
When looking at this verse, we need to look at the men first:
“The men likewise gave up natural relations with women…”
They gave up natural relations with women, which means that these men mentioned here were heterosexual by nature. These men, divorced themselves from their own nature, and were consumed with passion for one another. And it wasn't just the men, the women as well did the same thing. What they did was not lusted after each other, which of course is a sin that Jesus talks about, they also engaged homosexual activity that was contrary to their nature. As we see, context is everything.
This passage also takes place around false idol worship and temple prostitution. Paul clearly wrote on that. Here, we see that there are both a number of men and women, both plurals. This constitutes this to be a sexual orgy… everyone filled with lust and “dishonorable passions” having sex with whomever.
Research uncovers the pagan practice of “sacred sexual orgies.” Baal was the Canaanite deity that was worshipped with sexual orgies on Mount Peor in Moab at the time of Paul's writing. As Rev. Justin Cannon writes, "Anyone who isolates the phrase “natural relations” to declare homosexual relations unnatural is interjecting their own prejudice and reading entirely outside of context. Even if we were to isolate that phrase it could only be used to condemn heterosexuals who go against their own heterosexual nature and engage in homosexual activity."
From The Good Book by Peter J. Gomes, “It is not clear that Saint Paul distinguished, as we must, between homosexual persons and heterosexual persons who behave like homosexuals, but what is clear is that what is ‘unnatural’ is the one behaving after the manner of the other” (page 157).
I can't into the entire scope of my research for obvious reasons. The research is really extensive and somewhat boring to many. So I'll save for a book at some point in the future. The Bible really does not fully address the topic of homosexuality. Jesus never talked about it. Nowhere does the Bible talk about a loving and committed homosexual relationship. The only thing the authors of the Bible knew about homosexuality was what they saw expressed through the pagan worship of Baal, temple prostitution, etc. To use the Bible to condemn homosexuality, as we see, involves a projection of ones own bias and a stretching of the Biblical text beyond that of which the scriptures speak. Historically, however, the Bible has been taken out of context and twisted to oppress almost every minority one could imagine including women, African Americans, children, slaves, Jews, and the list goes on. Do we truly understand the greatest commandments? While it is true that God did create Adam and Eve, it is a narrative about creation. Take a look at what Peter J. Gomes says:
“…the authors of Genesis were intent upon answering the question ‘Where do we come from?’ Then, as now, the only plausible answer is from the union of a man and a woman…The creation story in Genesis does not pretend to be a history of anthropology or of every social relationship. It does not mention friendship, for example, and yet we do not assume that friendship is condemned or abnormal. It does not mention the single state, and yet we know that singleness is not condemned, and that in certain religious circumstances it is held in very high esteem”
Out of all the verses that one could use to bash gay people, this is one that could do it. "Oh, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." But God did make Adam and Eve and Steve and Jessica and Johnny. God made everyone unique. Once again, Genesis is a narrative of creation and Adam and Eve is the relationship that can be used for this account to make sense. Only a procreative relationship makes sense for this story. In spite of this knowledge, if someone were to solely base their belief on the Creation Story and nothing, their opinion would be out of context and also creates a weak argument. Marriage is a sacrament designed for a very specific purpose. Sex within marriage can fulfill two divine functions: the procreative and the unitive. If homosexual sex can fulfill one of the two divine ends of sex, is that not reason enough to bless lifelong homosexual unions/marriages?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
There is so much more that we can do in supporting the LGBT people, by throwing open our doors on Sunday and setting aside our prejudices and personal beliefs. When we do that, things will begin to turn around for the better. We'll be able to better live in peace and harmony with each other. We'll be better equipped to open up new dialogue about issues ranging from homosexuality to homelessness to family living to whatever we need to talk about. Both sides of this argument need to be educated because I believe there is a lack of understanding when it comes to historical and contextual theology. I pray this blog has opened up your heart and hopefully will help you to more understand.
May the peace of the Lord be with you.