Saturday, November 1, 2008

No on Prop. 8, Part 3

It seems that the debate on gay marriage raises a larger issue within Christianity today, which is the debate about how literally verses within the Bible should be read.

This is something that I struggle with.

I am not convinced that homosexuality is a sin, as many others are, because I see the Bible as a greater story of love and redemption, with Jesus coming to challenge the status quo of an empire that placed value on power and prestige. He came to preach a new message of LOVE and a new type of kingdom where it was easier for the poor and oppressed to be accepted into than those who gained power by perpetuating injustice in the world.

As our understanding of the world has increased, so has our understanding of the Bible.

When Galileo first came up with the Copernican Theory (the earth and other planets revolve around the sun), the Pope told him to abandon it, because it went against the teachings of the Bible. Later, when the theory was proved through scientific study, Christians accepted it and it didn’t undermine their faith in God.

Today, the American Psychological Association, based on in-depth research, calls homosexuality normal, and states that therapy to try to change a person’s sexual orientation reinforces discrimination and stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for these people. This is especially true, it states, for those who have grown up in conservative religious settings. Instead, therapy should focus on helping them cope with prejudices, resolve internal conflict, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. Other major medical and scientific organizations agree.

I am not saying we should take the authority of the APA over the authority of the Bible or God, so for those who use Bible verses to defend their views on why homosexuality is wrong, let’s look at the text.

Leviticus 18:22
, Leviticus 20:13
These verses do condemn homosexual behavior, but verses within Leviticus condemn much more that we no longer follow like putting people to death for cursing their mother or father and death for an adulterer. It also says don’t eat fruit on a newly planted tree until its fifth year, don’t clip your beard, don’t get a tattoo, etc. How literally do we take the Bible here?

Romans 1: 24-28

An excerpt: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural 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 indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”

Taken literally, these verses are condemning a perversion of homosexuality, not all homosexuality, just like the Bible warns against perversions of heterosexuality. The people discussed in these verses who did not think it was worthwhile to know God were giving into lust, not love. For many people who are homosexual today, they are not giving into unnatural relations, they are merely doing what is natural for them; they are not acting in lust, but in love, and they are not denouncing God, but including him in their lives. Looking at these verses, it is my belief that those who take the Bible literally should accept homosexuality.

There is much more that could be said on this topic, but this is long enough already. More to come… Once again, I welcome any thoughts or concerns.

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