Monday, August 24, 2009

Homosexuality and Christianity

I was recently sent this link:

It comments on the recent proposal before the governing board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) to allow open, practicing gays to serve as clergy. The article is posted on NewsMax, so it is written with an anti-gay slant and hints that the ELCA will be split apart if this proposal is passed.

So, the question is this: is homosexuality incompatible with Christianity? As a Christian, should I hate all homosexuals and make it my mission to point out their transgression and actively persuade them to give up their life of sin? Should I protest Gay Pride marches and vocally oppose gay marriage laws?

I think the answer is no. As the article states, the ELCA, and in fact most Christian denominations, do not follow a literal prescription of every verse in some English translation of the Bible. Like the article states, what about women? Paul says that they should be silent with covered heads and no braids. What?! I don’t get the no braided hair rule at all. Why should I not braid my daughter’s hair? She likes it!

In reading the Bible, especially Paul's letters, I believe that you have to take into account the context of the culture and the local circumstances that the particular church was facing. The braided hair concern of Paul most likely was directed at a local custom of another religious sect (like the followers of Isis or Aphrodite). I think he was concerned about people trying to turn Christian worship services into worship of one of these other gods. He probably wrote it to preserve the integrity of the local Christian community, and physically distinguishing themselves from the actions of other religions was a way to do this. Did he mean for the no braids rule to become part of everlasting Christian doctrine? No.

So, what about homosexuality? The book of Romans has a lot to say about this. All negative. It is easy to think that Christians should be anti-gay. However, the local custom was that gays were promiscuous. I believe that this is what Paul was arguing against, whether it is heterosexual or homosexual promiscuity. Paul would probably dislike the scantily-clad leather outfits I have seen on groups of gays in the French Quarter, and would probably have strong words against the one-night-stand mentality of gay pick-up locations. However, I do not think that he would condemn loving, monogamous homosexual partnerships.

Why? Because I believe that our relationships with others is our relationship with God. We should treat others as we want to be treated, and I cannot see how two consenting adults in a loving relationship is against God or creating any problems for me. I fully support gay marriage and I hope that other Christians realize that allowing someone to fully care for their life-partner is the loving, compassionate, Christian thing to do.


  1. Interesting discussion. Homosexuality in Christianity brings up all sorts of issues. I can envision arguing on many different levels over this issue.

    Thinking about it a bit, the main issue seems to hover around "morality" or "sin". Two questions:

    1. Do Christians find it morally disturbing to be a homosexual, or a sin to be a homosexual?

    2. If Christians do, can they tolerate people who sin?

    It seems clear that if someone says "no" to 1, then they most likely do not have a problem with homosexuals. If they say "yes" to 1, then they have to move on to question 2.

    Question 1 is interesting to debate and it is where the bible come in. Does the bible really call out homosexuality as a sin? I think that the arguments that were raised in this post are interesting, but I would say that they are not too convincing on the sin part. The prime argument that you are making is that "times have changed - what used to be a sin, should no longer be a sin." I am not sure that I buy this argument, since it is also a pretty slippery slope. While I agree that church dogma needs to adapt to the times, I am not sure that there is much wiggle room here (in the bible).

    (I have to say that I personally don't think that homosexuality is a "sin", because I don't think that it is morally wrong at all. I think that sins should be things that harm other people, such as lying, cheating, killing, stealing, raping, etc. These sins go against just about everyone's belief of morality. Which I guess just frames the argument as a moral majority defines sin.... and we are back at the beginning. Nuts.)

    So, moving on to question 2. If Christians fundamentally believe that homosexuality is a sin, then can they tolerate people who are sinful?

    Once again, I get stuck in the argument. If you equate all sinners in the same barrel, then I can envision how it would be hard to tolerate someone who sins. But, since I feel that there is a very wide range of sins (in which homosexuality isn't even on it...), I have a hard time understanding the viewpoint of "a sin is a sin is a sin".

    Is a person who occasionally lies in the same category as someone who commits murder? I don't think so. Is someone who cheats on their wife equivalent to someone who steals from old people? I envision sin as a big gray scale, where pretty much everyone is on it somewhere. Indeed, I find it morally outrageous that some of the loudest voices in the fights against immorality come from people who are extremely immoral.

    Where do people learn to group all sinners in the same lump? I think that the answer is obvious - their parents, the TV, school and church. When people on TV call Obama and others "Hitler", that just about says is all. Both sides do this. They demonize the other side. This is in essence saying that if someone doesn't agree with you, they are evil. What a stupid thing to do.

    We should be teaching that everyone acts immoral ways somethings. That morality is different for every person, and that what one person finds immoral may be perfectly acceptable to another person. This is really the only way that we are ever going to get along in the county.


  2. I think that a response to your comment deserves its own post. I'll get to that soon, perhaps.

    In the meantime, I just did some surfing and found this link:

    It is a detailed refutation of the conservative Christian anti-gay viewpoint and a well-reasoned defense of why Christians should accept gays in their midst. It is a lengthier and more in-depth version of what I believe about this topic. Very nice.

    The ELCA convention approved the measure, by the way, allowing practicing gays to serve as clergy and other leadership positions in the church.