For years, I have been asked what my beliefs are regarding homosexuality and the LGBTQ community. I haven’t been open about this subject publically for many reasons. But mainly because I was unsure how to communicate my convictions in a way that could be heard.
Most of my life I was surrounded by what I believed the image of a family should look like: a dad, a mom and kids. This was the picture – this was the dream. Like many, I grew up with the hope of having a family like that of my own one day. But, also like so many, I got that family – but I also got a divorce.
It’s interesting how much your idea of “family” begins to shift once you find yourself on the outside of lines you once were so comfortable in. Especially when the Bible seems so “clear” about what a good family should be like…
Good families don’t include divorce.
Good families don’t include single parents.
Good families don’t include homosexuals.
Good families don’t include two people who weren’t both professing Christians.
Although much on this list was not directly said aloud, it was certainly implied. I knew where the lines of good and bad, holy and sinful, wrong and right were. And, like any good Christian girl, I didn’t want to be outside of those lines.
But, then there’s this tricky thing called the Spirit. Although I had my neatly ordered box of who belonged where and what label went with what, the Spirit continued to push me beyond those lines. Calling me into a wilderness of questions that blew the ceiling right off of my box.
Because, it’s easy to believe good homes don’t include divorce, until you are divorced. It’s easy to believe good families can’t be run by a single parent, until you are that single parent. It’s easy to believe homosexuals can’t marry and create a family, until your friend does. It’s easy to believe a house without two professing Christians can be good, until it’s your neighbors (who you simply adore).
Yes, the Spirit continues to challenge lines. Over and over again. Generation after generation, we continue to face a conflict between Spirit and what seems to be concrete doctrine.
So, in a nutshell, this is what I believe:
I can be affirming and hold love for my LGBTQ friends while holding onto scripture and my love for Jesus at the same time. I do not believe they are in conflict with one another.
But, I want to share how I arrived here. (And please understand, this was not an overnight shift. This came through years of studying, researching and loads of prayer).
Homosexuality was not a word until 1946:
There are certain verses that include the word “homosexuality”. However, the word “homosexuality” wasn’t used in any translation of the Bible until 1946. (When I first learned that, I was like whhaaatt?)
That was the first time that the two Greek words *arsenokoitai and *malakos were combined to one word and translated as “homosexual”. During the 1930’s and 1940’s many people still didn’t understand what same-sex-attraction even meant. (For further reading on the history of the translation, check out this article here)
Homosexuality in the Old Testament:
The most famous story held up in Biblical debate regarding homosexuality is the account of Sodom in Genesis. The context of this story is significant. No matter how you read it, it is apparent the people of the city were out for violence and rape. That was the situation.
In the words of Rev. Justin Cannon, “To use this story to condemn all homosexual behavior is unfounded and truly stretching this story outside of its historical framework, but that is exactly what has happened…however, it is remarkable to see how the story of Sodom, filled with rape and violence, has taken such a central role surrounding the topic of homosexuality and more precisely in the development of the word ‘sodomite’ as what it means today.” (For further reading from Justin Cannon, click here).
This story was not about “gay” men who were in love with one another. It was about sexual violence to gain power and control.
Homosexuality in the New Testament:
So, if the word “homosexuality” was not even used until 1946, what on earth was Paul talking about?? Now, it is true that when Paul wrote in the New Testament, he was witnessing same-sex sexual acts. But, again, context is crucial. During this time period, Roman male soldiers were known for raping young male boys. It was a hideous practice. And one that should have been openly condemned. When Paul was discussing “homosexuality” during this passage, he was addressing the sexual abuse of young boys by Roman soldiers. Not loving, homosexual relationships.
Also, in other verses such as 1 Timothy 1:8-10, it is important to refer to where the word “sodomite” originated from (see above).
Let’s talk about creation…
I have heard it said many times that if God wanted homosexuals to be part of creation, then he would have made humans like that in the beginning. To uphold this argument, one must believe that if it wasn’t inside original creation, then it can’t be of God.
But, there are many things not included in the creation story pertaining to family that we embrace today. Such as children born with disabilities like down-syndrome. Just ask any family raising one of these precious children, and they will tell you that these children are a GIFT from God. But, according to this argument, would we have to say they are not of God?
And, what about interracial marriage? Is that not of God because Adam and Eve were of the same race? What about adoption? That was not part of the creation story. Does that mean it isn’t God’s plan for families to be built with adoption? (eh, Jesus was actually adopted…)
To say that God didn’t make homosexuals the way they are is to ignore science, biology and the story of any LGBTQ person. They will all tell you that they “came” this way. Did God make a mistake?
I believe we are ALL made in God’s image: meaning I believe we all are created with a desire to love others. Whether that love is extended to the same gender, opposite gender, black people, white people or purple people – if what they are doing is done in love, then I have to believe that is of God.
Look at the fruit:
These days, my theology is pretty simple. If something brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control, then I believe it is of the Spirit. That is called “good fruit”. But if something bears death, pain, agony, hatred and harm then I cannot believe it is of God.
Jesus came to bring life – not death. If something is life-giving, I believe the Spirit is in it.
What is the fruit of telling someone they are “wrong” to be gay, or are “sinful” to love someone of their same gender? It’s EVIDENT: suicide, self-harm, self-hatred, loneliness, depression and anxiety. For me, that is where I draw a clear line. The fruit can’t be any more obvious than that. The fruit is terrible.
But, you sit down with a gay couple who is selflessly loving eachother, their children and their community and you will be hard pressed to find anything but GOOD fruit.
It boils down to this…
We are not discussing something that brings harm to anyone. We are not discussing rape, sexual abuse or self-harm. We are discussing two people who want to love eachother.
We are discussing a homosexual relationship, where two people desire to love one another faithfully. One where they long to build a life together and not be alone. One where they hope to have children, raise a family and grow old together. One where they can make eachother better humans and serve the world around them well. The question is whether you choose to support that love or wish to destroy it.
And then there’s Jesus…
The guy who was the son of God and who the Bible says was the “word” of God. Well, the word of God didn’t say anything on this subject. The one guy who knew what would happen after his death and all the lives coming after him – given the weight of society’s upcoming issues such as racism, women’s rights and homosexuality, one would think that he would have addressed these issues and spared us the ugly history of wars and fighting.
But, he didn’t.
Jesus, the word of God, said nothing.
However, I do find it interesting that what he did continue to preach which was “woe” to the religious. Especially to those who thought they knew who was “holy” and who wasn’t. He did say to love your neighbor as yourself. (Which means all of the rights you want for yourself, you should extend to your neighbor).
Jesus stood with the oppressed and marginalized in society. And he continued to include those that the church rejected. And continued to challenge the idea of who was truly holy and who wasn’t.
So, as for me?
Apart from a shaky biblical argument (at best), what pushed me over the line was the lack of good fruit. I can’t stand for anything that brings death to one’s soul. I stand for what brings life.
Again, I realize that I find myself outside the church majority, but I’m okay with that. (Truthfully I’ve been on the outside pretty much my whole life and I’m quite comfortable here) My convictions are what they are. I love and embrace my LGBTQ sisters and brothers and am honored to affirm and stand beside them.
But, I understand that for many this is a difficult topic. It may make you uncomfortable and uneasy to read the words I’ve written. And, that is OKAY. Let me just encourage you – no matter your beliefs – to be-friend someone in the LGBTQ community. Make room for discomfort. Open your heart and your doors to someone different than you.
In closing, dearly beloveds, no matter who you are or who you love, you are beautifully and wonderfully made. God doesn’t make mistakes.
For, a further in-depth look at all of the passages in scripture regarding this topic, listen to my latest podcast episode here.
PS: To listen in on a conversation with one of my favorite LGBT pastor friends, click here!
PPS: For parents struggling with a child who has come out, please check out the resources at the Harbor website.
PPSS: Remember that this is a safe place. If you post a condemning or harmful comment about those in the LGBTQ community, it will be kindly deleted 🙂