This post is a response to Lisa Ling’s special on OWN called “Pray the Gay Away?” No matter what your views are, be sure to watch this episode. It was incredibly fascinating and insightful, and I’m really glad Lisa put this together. I know many were offended by this, and that it’s even a subject that OWN deemed worthy enough to be discussing. But the fact of the matter is there are thousands of gay and lesbian individuals who really and truly do struggle with aligning their faith and their sexuality. Their struggle is worth documenting just as much as any other, and I applaud Lisa for making this.
Like I stated in my very first post on this blog, I really want anyone to feel free to agree with me or disagree, I don’t judge and I don’t force. This is truly just a part of who I am. I feel like because I am a Christian, our government and much of society wants me to put that part of me away when it comes to voting or discussing important topics like this one. But I wonder how I can possibly be expected to put my faith away, when it embodies my values and ethics, my beliefs about what is right and wrong and on the human condition, and (mostly) my actions. My faith is such a huge part of me, there is no possible way to put it away.This particular post is my beliefs on homosexuality and the Bible, and my next post will be on the specific responses I have to the show.
First of all, I believe the Bible is true, in its entirety. I believe that the laws in the Old Testament are “the law,” and there is great value in it. But, Jesus came so we didn’t have to live by “the law” any more to be seen by God as righteous, pure, or holy. Jesus Christ came to us, died for us, and rose again so that we may have eternal, and a relationship with God that does not depend on our actions. The New Testament to me is a more applicable guideline on how we should be living today, with Jesus as our rock and salvation, not our actions. That being said though, the things the Bible (and specifically the New Testament) tell us what to head to and what to stay away from are incredibly important because it points us in the direction of things that are holy and pure. Lisa mentioned in the program that there are 6 passages in the Bible that talk about homosexuality. I was only able to find 4 so far (if you have the other two that specifically speak about homosexuality, please share them in the comments. I found lots on the subject of sexual immorality, which can be interpreted in many different ways.
Leviticus 18:22 – 22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Leviticus 20:13 – 13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
I Timothy 1: 8-11 – 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Notice the first two passages are from the Old Testament, embedded in text all about the law concerning sexual practices. As it’s quite obvious to see in these passages, God declares homosexuality (along with a lot of other acts) as sin. In a lot of the passages in this part of the Bible, the punishment for such acts is death. Now turn to the New Testament and look at how people are called to behave. The Bible clearly still defines homosexuality as sin, along with a lot of other acts. Please note though, that it never states that homosexuality is the end-all-be-all sin that will separate anyone from God forever. Instead, these passages show that Jesus washed those sins away on the cross. Also, take a look at how Jesus treats people who disobey the law, and according to the law of the Old Testament, should be put to death:
John 8:1-11 –
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Wow. This passage always floors me and opens my eyes to so many things. First of all, the Pharisees over and over again are proved to be the sinful ones, with their pride and their arrogance about upholding God’s law, without taking into account God’s love when He wrote the law. They think they are “hot stuff” because they are “good people.” There are so many Christians like this now, who think they are so special because they follow everything God says to a T without accounting for love and compassion. Second, the woman has disobeyed the laws of sexuality (not any different than homosexuality) that God gave in the Old Testament, and according to that deserved to be put to death. However, Jesus (God incarnate) actually does not condemn her, but loves her, forgives her, and sets her free. This is what Jesus does! When we sin, He does not condemn us, hate us, etc. He loves us and forgives us! He also calls us to check our own lives before “throwing stones” at someone else who is in sin. The third thing I notice is that after Jesus forgives her, He calls her to leave her sin behind her and follow the ways of God. This part is just as important to the rest of the passages to me. So often society shows that God absolutely accepts us and does not condemn us, He forgives us. The problem is when people focus on this part without taking into account that once we are forgiven, Jesus also calls us to leave our sin behind us. He does not say that we can go and live our lives just like we did before, but to pursue God on a deeper level and live to follow Him instead of ourselves and our desires.We do sin even after we are forgiven of our sins and “born again,” but God has already forgiven that. If God didn’t know we would sin even after we became Christians, why would He save us at all? He knows already, so it’s important to not let sin take hold of us and keep us in bondage, but to live in the forgiveness God has already given us and know we can have a beautiful relationship with Him.
Okay, so to sum up this portion, here is what I believe about homosexuality and the Bible: 1) Homosexuality is sin. This is shown in the Old and New Testament. This means that it is not “one of those laws” like eating pork or not having 5 tassels on your cloaks that is not applicable any more, as it is still shown as sin even after the death and resurrection of Jesus. 2) It is not my job to condemn homosexuals for their sins. Homosexuality is not worse than any other sin, including my own sins that I fall from like gossip, slander, complaining, or other bad things I do. Jesus does not love homosexuals any less than He loves me. My job is to treat people with respect and love, no matter what. 3) When we receive Jesus’ forgiveness and enter into that relationship with God, it will enable us to leave our sin behind us. This is a process and will not be achieved immediately. Just because we slip up or still choose our own way sometimes does not mean that God loves us any less or turns His back on us. But as we continue to pursue a deeper relationship with God, it will become easier to leave our sin behind as He will continually help us every single day. This is for any sin, not just homosexuality. The Holy Spirit empowers us to break the strongholds of any sin and to live the the light of Jesus.
One more note: I know many say that there are so few passages on this subject, and it’s unfair to make those passages such a chief part of any belief. I absolutely agree with this statement. However, I believe also that if it is in the Bible, it is there for a reason and should not be ignored. Does the Bible say that divorce is wrong? Yes (without certain criterion). Does the Bible say that adultery is wrong? Yes. Does the Bible say that lying, gossip, and slander are wrong? Yes. If I believe that homosexuality is a sin and should not be committed, I also need to believe that divorce is wrong (in most circumstances in our society) and that all adultery is wrong, all gossip and complaining and all these other things are wrong. It is important for people to not be hypocritical, and to be willing to take a look at their own lives before condemning others.