I think both fundamentalists and “progressives” have abused, misused, and distorted the consistent biblical message of human relationships and homosexuality. And they’re making it impossible to reach a peaceful resolve.
The fundies have singled out homosexuality as the “abominable sin” and not loved like Christ. They have neglected what the Scripture says about divorce, and the most oft-mentioned sins of greed and idolatry. It’s a sin in and of itself, and it should be repented of now.
And others who believe themselves to be more loving and tolerant (believers proudly promoting LGBT community) have created a synthetic fog over something that I think couldn’t be more clearly written in Scripture (Gen 19: 4-29; Lev 18:22; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Rom 1:26-27, etc.). They are trying to “love” their neighbor while disregarding truth.
Yes, I expect some backlash from those who think any claim to something being “clear” in Scripture is presumptuous, even wreckless. Nevertheless, I think some things are clear. I won’t apologize for that.
I suppose that those who want to claim this isn’t clear in the text would try to use that as reason to advance their cause. I think even if a person became convinced that the Scripture is unclear on this, it still doesn’t give them the go-ahead. It doesn’t make it acceptable behavior.
There is much in the Scripture that is open to interpretation, no doubt. Have you read Christian Smith’s book? We do have an issue with interpretive pluralism. There are many issues of theology that ought to be left open and discussed frequently. But I just don’t think this is one of those issues.
Honestly, there is a part of me that simply can’t believe we’re even having this discussion. Maybe it’s because the church has failed to love like Christ that it has even become what it is in our culture.
OK… OK… back to what I was saying about our dilemma.
One group singles out the sin (fundies), the other group imagines it’s not a sin (progressives). Both are wrong, and are only adding to the confusion–perpetuating the venomous cycle of hate speech toward those who disagree with them. Is this the best we can do?
The insistence that since Jesus is silent on the issue is very misleading. In the first place, this wasn’t an issue among first century Palestinian Jews. Why would Jesus speak directly to something that wasn’t even being debated? Even then there is no guarantee Jesus would enter the debate if there had been one. Instead, he would offer another way of confronting the issue. So, while Jesus doesn’t speak about it directly, he does mention it indirectly as he discusses the divine design of human relationships (Matt 19:4-6).
Secondly, Jesus also never says, “Thou shalt not smoke pot and have group sex.” So, what? You can’t build a case off of silence from Jesus. Besides, we serve a living Lord, not a book filled with arbitrary rules. Can we please stop treating the Bible like an operator’s manual?
If Christ truly resides within you, and you’re seeking to live out your faith in community, ask yourself: “Does Jesus and the universal church approve of my behavior?” That’s much different than doing what feels right or good, or even squabbling over what some feel are ambiguities in an inspired ancient text. It goes beyond the text to the living Jesus alive in a living church.
Not only does Jesus speak about the intentions of our God-given humanness, the creation testifies to the plain truth of intentional design for human relationships. But it will not stop people from exchanging the truth of God for a lie; even ignoring what is “clearly seen” in creation (Rom 1:18-32). There are some things that are not part of our God-given humanness, no matter how much we feel it, that should be forsworn.
Listen to N.T. Wright discuss this here.
So, while I think the biblical text is clear about human relationships—from Genesis to Jesus, from Paul to Revelation—I would propose that both may be assuming that divine revelation (Scripture) is enough or can by itself settle the issue. While I think the OT, as well as Jesus & Paul, are plain enough (even after doing historical-grammatical exegesis)… let’s allow for further revelation beyond the biblical text.
For me, what ought to settle the issue is a combination of divine revelation, natural revelation, historic Christian traditions, human reason and experience, and the present consensus of the church. All of these must align, in my opinion. And I see that they all (in the end) testify to a very clear expression of the divinely created order of human relationships.
Now, how should we respond as Christ followers? I think there is a way for those of us who believe in loving like Christ to do just that without affirming any sinful lifestyle that is destructive to mankind. That means we must discover a third way that looks like the love of Christ, and not some sappy sentimentality that rambles on about tolerance with no moral boundaries. Being judgmental and lax about sin (any sin) both miss the mark.
Let me be clear. There does in fact come a time to say with Jesus, “Go and sin no more.” But not before coming alongside others with a co-suffering love and seeing yourself in their own sin.
We must see sin as a misuse of our human energies. It’s a sickness… for all of us. It’s a distortion in our soul. It’s resurrection life hitting a snag. When we can see that, even in ourselves, then we can offer others a way out.
Let’s discover a third way, brothers and sisters. Lord, lead us.
D.D. Flowers, 2012.