I wrote parts of this five years ago, when I was struggling with my own opinions on this subject. As an ultra conservative, fundamentalist Christians, Jon and I once cut family members out of our lives for the “sin” of being gay and it took years for God to bring me to a place of acceptance on this issue. It has been said that God has a sense of humor, and He obviously must, considering how drastically my life has changed since then, but I recently had a conversation which prompted me to revisit this subject, and I wanted to share some of those thoughts from so long ago…
I had a conversation with a friend recently who expressed her irritation that many people, upon embracing their homosexual orientation, will then turn to the passages of the bible and either reinterpret the things it says or leave the faith altogether.
I understand her frustration, but I have a slightly different take on it. While it’s true that some leave the faith altogether, it seems to me that others don’t seek to reinterpret the bible simply because they want so badly for the popular church teaching on this subject to be wrong, but because they feel, deep within themselves, that it must be.
When faced with the truth that one of the deepest, most fundamental parts of themselves is considered a sin according to the Christian church, homosexual Christians are left with a series of impossible choices: A. Deny who they are and forever cut themselves off from one of the most powerful manifestations of love we have as human beings, B. Re-visit the (very few) passages of the bible which speak on this issue and seek to understand them in a way which makes sense according to their own experience, or C. Live in the heart-wrenching dichotomy of believing their actions to be sinful, but choosing to do it anyway.
Most of the mainstream church would, of course, have us believe that the first option is best. And while I, personally, don’t wish to judge the struggling believer however they choose to handle this, and have no desire to debate whether homosexuality is “really” a sin, I do want to defend the second option as just as valid as the first, because the truth is, we all interpret the bible according to our own understanding. We all filter the words written there according to our our own beliefs, worldviews, and internal compasses.
For instance, Christians often bring up 1 Corinthians 6:9 in their case against homosexuality, which tells us that homosexuals “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I find it interesting that adulterers are also among those listed as being unable to enter the kingdom of God, and that the bible defines those who divorce and remarry (except for in cases of sexual infidelity) as adulterers (Luke 16:18, Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11.) So according to the bible, anyone who divorces and remarries for any reason other than sexual infidelity is considered an adulterer, and according to the same passage that seems to condemn homosexuality, adulterers are listed as among those who cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet, inexplicably, most Christian denominations make a place for divorce and remarriage regardless of whether sexual infidelity has taken place.
People often like to say “you can’t pick and choose what to follow in the bible.” And yet, we all do it. Are women staying silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34)? Refusing to wear jewelry or braid their hair (1 Peter 3:3)? Covering their heads during prayer (1 Corinthians 11)? Are we cutting out our eyes if we lust (Matthew 5:29)?
I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking “well, that’s because….” and that’s my point. The bible very specifically tells us to do these things, and we don’t “because…” We all – every single one of us – choose which commandments to follow and justify the things we do based on our understanding of the word and the world. And while many Christians talk about wanting a “relationship” with God, rather than a “religion,” it’s often religion which causes us to stumble and mistreat or even persecute our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ. But if we can remain humble, we’ll see that none of us are walking in full truth; none of us are doing exactly what God wants us to do. We’re all in one stage of growth or another, all getting it wrong in one form or another, and that is a good thing. Because if we can recognize this and embrace it, we can keep our hearts soft toward each other and God. We can listen to Him and hear Him when He speaks and truly let Him mold and shape us into who He wants us to be. We can change. We should change. If we’re still doing and still believing the same things about God today as we did when we first met Him, we are not growing.
When we step back and consider the all-encompassing wrongness and wonderfulness of it all, are we really ready to say that those who believe differently regarding homosexuality can’t be Christian? That they can’t know and love Jesus Christ? That they’re going to hell? Can we, just for a moment, lift the veil from our eyes and acknowledge that just because we don’t understand everything about the bible, just because we don’t follow God perfectly, just because we “pick and choose” what to believe regarding the bible (and we all do!) doesn’t mean we don’t know Jesus, or that we’re not Christian, or that we’re “going to hell?”
“To the pure, all things are pure.” (Titus 1:15)
Considering the fact that we’re all getting it wrong in one form or another, maybe this is God’s provision for us. Maybe this is God’s way of keeping us holy, even in the midst of our unrecognized sin. Maybe “all” really does mean all.