Let’s Be Honest About Homosexuality and the Bible
January 1, 2020
A conservative pastor in my community recently preached a sermon on the “abomination” of homosexuality. Most religious people in my town agree with his assessment. They say that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior and that we must not go against the Bible.
However, it’s time for believers to admit that this issue is not nearly as simple as saying, “For the Bible tells me so.” The Bible only has about seven brief passages on homosexuality. We must be extremely careful about using these few isolated verses to condemn all gay people.
Let’s put things into context. The Bible has more than three hundred verses that affirm slavery. Large numbers of passages affirm and command the practice of genocide. The Bible says that the penalty for picking up sticks on the Sabbath is execution by stoning.
The Bible teaches that women are the property of their fathers and husbands. The Bible forbids women to speak in church. The Bible says that divorce for any reason is unacceptable.
The Bible teaches that sassy teenagers should be executed. The Bible teaches that polygamy is acceptable to God. The Bible tells us that the earth is flat. The Bible even says that mixing different fabrics in clothing is an abomination to God.
Most Christians in the twenty-first century totally ignore all of these passages, and for good reason. However, many believers hold fast to a handful of verses discouraging homosexual behavior, which were written during a time when people had no concept of sexual orientation.
Sadly, people use these verses to support prejudice against gay people, to discriminate against them both in society and in the church, and to brutally condemn and wound them.
Rather than cherry-picking a handful of passages that support our prejudices, we must look at the big picture of the Bible, which values love, mercy, grace, inclusion, and justice. And we must especially pay attention to the teaching and example of Jesus, who never said a word about homosexuality.
However, Jesus did break down human barriers. And he offered grace, love, compassion, kindness, and mercy to all—except arrogant and judgmental religious people. And he included all people into the community of faith.
It’s past time for Christian believers to end their never-ending assault on gay people. Instead, it’s time for the Christian community to rise to the example and teachings of Jesus and choose inclusion over exclusion, kindness over mean-spiritedness, mercy over judgment, love over hate, and justice over discrimination.