Bible believing Christians are in favor of same gender loving relationships. Surprised? I know I was when I first learned that there are Christians who take the Bible seriously and make no apologies about their support for LGBTQ persons.
Way back in the day, when I was still in high school, I first developed a stance about this issue. My thoughts were motivated by good intentions, but they were also influenced by ignorance. Since the popular ideas I was exposed to consistently conflated a “biblical” or “Christian” stance with heterosexual marriage, I assumed that this was the only way to be a Christian. I thought that no Christian could support gay marriage. I was ignorant of narratives that didn’t fit into the way I understood the world, I was ignorant of critical scholarship about the Bible, I was ignorant of how the Bible has been interpreted over millennia, I was ignorant to the fact that taking the Bible seriously does not always mean literally, and I was ignorant as to what divine inspiration means to different people. Most of all, I was ignorant to that one simple fact: there are Bible believing Christians in favor of same gender loving relationships.
Now that I have learned a lot more, I have come across many resources by Christians that support same gender loving relationships and they make their cases with diverse arguments. In this blog I do not plan to flesh out all the arguments that are made, but I would like to introduce you to some central strategies that are used and point you to resources where you can find a more in depth engagement of said strategies. As I see it, there are three main methods (not every argument out there will fit into these three) by which progressive, Bible-believing Christians support gay marriage and assert that God does not distinguish between hetero and homo relations. In brief, they are as follows:
- I call this the “love conquers all” approach. Love is the number one command in Jesus’ ministry. That means every action needs to be filtered through the lens of loving God and our neighbors. It also means that love trumps anything else in the Bible. As for the other commands in the Bible, we don't take all them literally or seriously, so it is up to the "traditional marriage" advocates to show why this issue must be taken more serious than the things we ignore (eating shrimp, wearing clothes with mixed fabric, women with short hair, etc).
- I call this the “it’s not really about that” approach. The passages often interpreted to condemn gay sex are not actually about that. A closer look at all the frequently cited passages shows that the issues tend to be about oppression and inequality combined with their ancient worldview of gender roles. None of the passages that are cited are about homosexual orientation (a modern idea different from practicing gay sex) or about loving relationships between consenting adults.
- I call this the “analogy to slavery” approach. We need to change the way we use the Bible in order to avoid perpetuating moral evils simply because we have a textual basis for doing so. What many people are doing with condemning homosexuality is the same thing that White Christians did with supporting slavery (except that the Bible makes a much stronger case in support of slavery). In both cases churches are supporting a past status quo that was wicked because they find a textual basis in the Bible. Understandably, Black churches during slavery found a basis for ignoring passages that urged them to accept oppression, and all churches would benefit from following this model.
Here are a few good articles by Christians that you could easily read or share:
- This is the best of the three. It is long for an article, but articulates so many of the major concerns in a very clear way that shows the shortcomings of the "traditional view of marriage." https://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php
- This article is much shorter and has a little combination of methods 1 and 2. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/teachingnonviolentatonement/2015/06/the-supreme-court-why-christians-can-and-should-support-marriage-equality/
- This is a five part article that articulates the debate pretty well. It mostly follows methods 2 and 3. At the bottom of each page there is a link to read more and at the end there are a list of books (none of which I have read, so I can't recommend them): http://www.religioustolerance.org/ashford01.htm
In terms of books on the topic. My favorite is The Good Book by Peter Gomes. A section of the book follows method 3 and it is very thought provoking with challenging us to think about how we use the Bible.
(Note: The last three resources after this are more scholarly and may be tougher to sift through. So, proceed at your own risk.)
Two other books on the topic are Homoeroticism in the Biblical World by Marti Nissinen and God and Sex by Michael Coogan. I took extensive notes on both and wouldn’t mind sharing those notes if you ask for them. Nissinen does a great job at going into depth with method 2 by looking at the whole ancient world and fitting the Bible into that. This makes a much stronger support for the claim that what these passages are actually about is not same as what we think of with same-gender loving relations. Coogan's book is about sex in general and the overall scheme of it makes it clear that a "biblical view" of sex is something we definitely aren't conforming to in other regards, which begs the question as to why we would do so with gay sex. Both of these books are good reads, but they are more scholarly than Gomes' book.