Many people know that I support marriage equality, but many do not know why I could believe that to be OK. When this issue comes up, especially on Facebook, all I get is scripture quotes. I don’t get the feeling many people want to listen to anything different than what they grew up with. I want people to know I did not take this change lightly. Sure, my wife did have something to do with it because we discussed it for years. I would share what I found studying the Bible and theological books and she would share things people shared with her (because everyone seems to share things with her) and things she found in books. Ultimately I am responsible for what I believe and no one else, just like you are responsible for what you believe.
“I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality.” I’ve heard that so much in the last few years. However, I don’t believe the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin. In fact it barely if at all discusses homosexual relationships. How can I say that being a pastor? Actually, I find it pretty easy today, but just a few years ago I would have had a different view point. Change in my beliefs did not happen overnight. It was through a lot of study and learning that I came to my conclusion. I hope that you as the reader will consider what I have to say and make your own educated decision. Please look up the verses, read books etc… but maybe most importantly, talk to a homosexual and learn about them. They aren’t really much different from you.
They want to be loved and to love. They want to go to church and serve God. They want to be treated with respect. They want to be a family and live in peace, go to work or school and hang out with friends.
A few years ago, my eyes were opened to the homosexuality issue. Up until then, I really had not thought about it much. My eyes were opened, not by the church, not by my wife, not by the Bible, but by a person. This person happened to be a homosexual. Up until this time I believed only what I had been told from my youth. Homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals will burn in hell. After all that is what the Bible says.
Though I did not talk in detail about homosexuality, this person really tried to follow Jesus. They loved God but felt they were screwed because they would be rejected by the church and according to the church, by God.
This did not seem right to me. How could someone who really wanted to love God and follow the Bible have no chance to make it to heaven? You might say that they did have a chance. That is that they needed to repent. But repent from what? Their actions were more Christlike than many “Christians” I’d known over many years. They had a great compassion for people. Most Christians I’ve met, especially in the past ten years, really only cared about themselves, and what the church could do for them.
So I started doing some research. What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? Have we really been taught the truth or are we missing something? I got out my Greek and Hebrew Bibles and grabbed every book that I could find on the subject. Wow, there are some differences of opinions, but you probably knew that. Even on the same sides, people have discrepancies. But the following is the basics of what I discovered. Unless otherwise specified I will use the NIV translation.
Some of these verses we don’t need the Greek and Hebrew; we just need to take them in context.
Leviticus: 18; 22 “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Taken by itself it could be very damaging. However we often neglect to read the verses around it. Verse 21 states “”‘do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.” In other words the “sin” of lying with a man is connected with the temple worship of those who worship Molech. It is not about personal relationships, as the first 20 verses of that chapter. The next few verses after verse 22 seems to be connected too. So to me this verse is and has been taken out of its context. It’s not about relationships but prostitution at the shrines of Molech.
Leviticus 20 is all about the punishments for the crimes. Previously the writer of Leviticus has described crimes and now he lists the punishment. Verse 9 – if anyone curses his parents, DEATH, Verse 10 – adultery is DEATH. Then as you continue through the chapter you find out that sex with mom is death, and sex with daughter in law is death, sex with an animal, death, sex with sister, death. Then Stuck in the middle of these is verse 13. “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman,” Death. So I’m not sure that we can take this into consideration without looking at the other verses about homosexuality. In the Old Testament there are none that specifically mention homosexuality except the above mentioned verse and a few in the books of Kings that specifically mention temple prostitution.
1 Kings 14:24 And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (ESV)
1 Kings 15:12 He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. (ESV)
2 Kings 23:7 He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the LORD, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole. (NLT)
According to many scholars, Leviticus would have been written sometime after the books of Kings so quite possibly the author of Leviticus could easily have been referring to this type of action rather than two people simply having a relationship.
So as far as the Old Testament, I find very little that directly relates to homosexuality outside of cult prostitutes. We don’t have temple prostitutes today so this is not an issue for us to worry about.
In my next blog I will discuss the Romans 1 and what I have discovered has or does not have to do with homosexuality.
Also if you want my thoughts on Sodom and Gomorrah and Judges 19 you’ll have to read my blog, “Rethinking Sodom” https://hadespotos.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/rethinking-sodom/
This subject is going be at least 4 blog posts (maybe more) and I’m sure I won’t touch everything I have discovered. so please keep coming back. I typically post every Sunday and Wednesday.