Essay on homosexuality and the bible


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Gay students, knowing that I was sympathetic, have talked to me about their struggles with family and church. I would have liked to have been open about my own journey in these conversations, but was silent. It pains me to think that my silence contributes to homophobia. But as I stated, my acceptance of my sexual orientation came later, rather than earlier, and thinking about making a move now is daunting. Be the first to know. Get our free daily newsletter. Advice to highly sensitive academics for avoiding burnout opinion.

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Essay about being a gay faculty member at a Christian college

Each presbytery and session, thus, is required to work out a way to live within the new constitutional guides on who is eligible for ordination not only to the office of clergy but also for sessions the offices of elder and deacon. Removing the previous ban simply means that presbyteries would not automatically be required to say no to otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians.

This has been a long a complicated battle, and I'm glad it's ended the way it has, though it's causing continuing division within our denomination. To set the stage for what I have to say about scripture and homosexuality, I want to share with you a column that I wrote for The Kansas City Star on the subject of gays in the military, a hot topic then.

It will give you a sense of where my heart is in this area and how I approach such subjects. It also will tell you some things about the general subject of homosexuality that may prepare you for what I have to say about what the Bible says about it. Just for the record, I am heterosexual and have been married for a majority of my life.

I am the father of two daughters. My wife and I, between us, have six children and eight grandchildren. None of our children is homosexual. My guess is none of our grandchildren is, either, but the oldest of them is only 14, so that may change. Since then, that number of responses has been exceeded several times, and each time that happened, the subject was sexuality. I can already name a few of the people who will heap calumny upon my head. I will even admit that some of these people sincerely believe what they will say, however meanly they say it.

What will light such fires? I want to share with you some of my ah-ha moments about what, in a limited context, has been a subject of national debate in recent weeks: homosexuality. I have often wondered how -- years ago, say -- white Americans who supported, tolerated or were simply silent about the enslavement of blacks could live with themselves. From this distance, the evil of slavery seems so astonishingly clear.

I know any analogy between our treatment of homosexuals today and African Americans in the last century breaks down at many points, and in some ways trivializes a black holocaust that was fueled by the slave trade. So such an analogy is, finally, an inadequate tool with which to analyze our situation today. And yet for all that, it is true that the same kind of unexamined -- almost blind -- support that so many whites gave to slavery is similar to the way many of us, myself included, have approached the subject of homosexuality and homosexuals themselves in our time and place.

Too many of us have been operating in ignorance and self-inflicted stupidity. We have not carefully examined the basis -- including the religious justifications -- for our anti-gay sentiments. I am convinced that years from now -- or much less, I hope -- people will look back on our treatment of gays and lesbians today the way most of us now look back with horror at the way slaves were treated in much of the 19th century and before.

Other analogies might be drawn, perhaps with greater clarity and resonance.

Same-Sex Attraction

For instance, our oppressive treatment of homosexuals might be compared to the way our androcentric culture historically has treated women. Most of us now cannot imagine an American society in which women are denied the right to vote. And yet that very foundational liberty was withheld from women even through one-fifth of this very century. While we would not tolerate such foolish, destructive treatment of women today the repression of them has, in most instances, become subtler than banning them from polling places, and thus harder to root out most of us have supported or unquestioningly tolerated oppressive treatment of homosexuals, including officially banning them from military service.

Just for the record: I am heterosexual, married to the same woman for nearly 25 years. My education in this area happened over a period of several years and it continues to happen, since there still is much I do not know or understand, and probably always will be. But I now know this: We diminish both ourselves and them when we treat gays and lesbians as somehow subhuman. This dehumanization of homosexuals is reflected in our very language, because what we fear or do not understand we tend to derogate. Many people base their discrimination against gays and lesbians on what they understand the Bible to say on the subject.

Even my own denomination -- the Presbyterian Church U. I will not use this secular space to discuss my recently clarified views on why I think discrimination against homosexuals based on biblical standards is a result of misreading scripture. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but the ever-present prejudice born out of a pervasive ignorance that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

In his otherwise excellent book, Bishop Spong adopts -- without ever quoting a source for it -- the widely used figure that about 10 percent of our population is homosexual.

Scriptures

In searching for the origin of this figure, I was inevitably led back to the studies done by Alfred C. Kinsey in the s and s. It appears that up to 10 percent of the males whose sexual behavior Kinsey was studying identified themselves as being homosexual to one degree or another. The Kinsey data reported that about 8 percent of U. Only about 4 percent of men were exclusively homosexual throughout their entire lives.

What we do know is that Kinsey ended up using a sort-of sliding scale in which a small percentage of the persons studied was identified as always and exclusively heterosexual and another small percentage was identified as always and exclusively homosexual. Though by far most persons were identified as predominantly heterosexual, there turned out to be, in fact, a spectrum, or continuum, of sexuality.

Which meant that even most heterosexuals had some homosexual tendencies or experiences, and vice versa. Or heterosexuality, for that matter. Some research into the subject continues, but it is, at least from a rigid scientific point of view, inconclusive.

By the way, since I wrote this article, Atlantic Magazine devoted its March cover to a story about the status of research into the biological causes of homosexuality, and I recommend the article to you. But even since that article was published other studies have been released tending to suggest that there may be some biological causes for homosexual orientation.

Specifically, research consistently seems to support the assertion that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice; that it is not related to any environmental influence; that it is not the result of an overbearing mother or an effeminate or absent father or a seductive sexual encounter. Some researchers are finding that certain biochemical events during prenatal life may determine adult sexual orientation, and that once set it is not amenable to change.

In more than three years of volunteer work with people suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome AIDS , I have met dozens of gays and lesbians, and I have come to understand in a profound way that their sexuality -- like my own -- only partly defines them. They -- and I and you -- are much more than sexual orientation. In many cases they are richly talented, uniquely gifted people who have much to offer our society. If I could change anything in that column today, I would advise people that Bishop Spong has developed a reputation for radical thinking in the Christian community and many people, including me, believe he is wrong on many issues of theology.

If you hold the latter view, your interpretative work is not yet done. In other words, hermeneutics refers to the science of the methods of interpreting Scripture. Dan iel Migliore, who taught systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, has written a book called Faith Seeking Understanding , and in it he says a couple of vitally important things about how Christians should interpret the Bible.

I think Biblical literalism requires one to hold a very low — almost robotic — view of scripture. People with my view of the Bible believe that the word of God is revealed to us only as we interact with scripture through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. We do not believe in the Bible. We believe in the God of grace attested in the Bible.

When it comes to trying to understand what the Bible has to say about sexual matters — or almost any other subject, for that matter — we also must keep in mind that specific passages must be seen in light of broader concepts in order for us to make a judgment about whether what is being said should be taken as words for people in a particular situation 2, or more years ago a situation that may no longer apply to us or whether what is being said should in some way guide our behavior today.


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For instance, the practice of polygamy is simply assumed throughout much of the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament. It is never expressly forbidden and, in fact, is even protected by Mosaic law which you can verify by reading the 21st chapter of Deuteronomy. Should we, then, adopt the practice of polygamy because it was common in early Biblical times?

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