This week we discussed what the Bible says about being gay. Our conversation started with an case study of Christina and Johanna. Both grew up in the church, through middle school they were great friends and would often tease each other about boyfriends. Christina noticed that Johanna stopped coming to church about halfway through their junior year. Johanna passed it off with being too busy and not having the time. One night while they were out grabbing some dinner together Johanna told Christina "I think I'm gay." Christina didn't know how to respond, she was confused and never would have guessed Johanna was gay. Johanna explained that this was why she had stopped coming to church saying, "I know God doesn't approve of me anymore." Christina wondered, Is it wrong to be gay and Christian? What does the Bible say about that?
Obviously, this topic is one of the most complicated we could be talking about in this study. With the amount of polarizing statements in the media it can be frustrating and hard to decipher how to respond as Christians.
In the book UnChristian one of the major reasons young people abandon the church and their faith is because Christians are perceived as "anti-gay." Teenagers are aware of the postures people take regarding this topic.
The ELCA in 2009 published their statement on human sexuality. A group of trusted people came together in 2000 to help bring together this statement. You can view the statement here. (This is a 60 page document with roughly 6 pages on the topic of homosexuality). The ELCA came to the conclusion that it was better to leave room for interpretation and flexibility, due to the diversity of understanding represented within congregations.
We took a look at some of the Bible verses where homosexuality is written about, including passages like Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10.
Context is important! Some scholars claim that one or more of these passages may not directly constitute a condemnation of LGBT practices, but instead are contextual to what was happening in those specific places and cultures when these parts of the Bible were written. One thing to also consider would be the translation of the word homosexuality in the Bible. There is no word for homosexuality in greek. When scholars translate from the manuscripts they are using their interpretive lenses to describe the situation to the best of their ability. So using the word homosexual is the "best" description of what they are translating, not necessarily the most accurate.
Others believe the passages teach that God designed people only for relationships with the opposite sex. They also note that Jesus always taught about marriage in the context of male and female relationships, never in the context of same-sex relationships.
Romans 1:18-32 is often time cited in arguments that the Bible places homosexuality outside of God's best plan for human beings.
Here are two viewpoints (among many) on this passage:
Viewpoint #1: This passage makes it clear that God designed males and females for relationships with each other. Anything outside of that is unnatural according to how God created human beings. God brings judgment against people who commit sexual sins.
Viewpoint #2: This passage is addressing the Hellenistic culture as practiced by Romans of Paul's time that promoted worship of many gods. As part of their worship, first-century Romans practiced homosexual rituals. This passage is not speaking against LGBT people in general; it is speaking against the worship practices of that pagan culture.
One of the goals of this session was to help our youth develop compassion for others and their views of this issue. We hope you will continue to open up a conversation about how we can respectfully participate in a dialogue with others with whom we might disagree.
And remember, it's okay to not have the perfect answer. God is bigger than our questions and doubts. God is in the midst of our struggles to understand the world and to love others around us.
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