Can you be a Christian,
believe in the authority of Scripture
and support same-sex marriage?
This is an important question for the evangelical church today.
Gay Christians are told they must be celibate or marry the opposite sex if they want to be right with God. Straight Christians who affirm gay marriage as a valid choice are told that they are rejecting the Bible to do so.
Is there any way someone could legitimately read the Bible and not see a message against all same-gender marriages? This is what we explore in this essay. First, here is what I believe about my faith:
- I believe Christianity is about radical inclusion, that Jesus especially sought out those rejected by society and the religious leaders of his time, and they became his friends. Later, the apostle Paul's biggest fights were with the Jews believers who wanted to exclude Gentiles unless they conformed to Jewish tradition. He was fiercely opposed to any barriers to inclusion in Christ (Galatians, 1 Corinthians, Romans, Acts...).
- I believe love is the center of our faith. Jesus gave us the two-fold principle of love in place of the 613 commandments of law (Mark 12:28-34). Paul wrote that the law and all commandments are fulfilled in love (Rom 13:8-9). He defines love further in 1 Cor 13. John wrote that God IS love in 1 John 4:8.
- I believe judgement, setting all to rights, is God's job not ours. I'm still often uncomfortable with LGBT questions because I've had decades of reinforcement that it was wrong. I grew up convinced that the Bible is clear on homosexuality as wrong. I made it very clear to a friend just two years ago that I believed his behavior was against God's will. Yet, I also know that Jesus talked more about not judging than he talked about not sinning. His chief adversaries were the Pharisees who were obsessed with getting others to follow the letter of the law, rather than focusing on the heart of the law for themselves.
However, we also see six key verses that seem to directly address homosexuality as a sin, three in each half of the Bible. We need to know if those direct how we carry out the principles above. I've covered each of these in depth, to see if there is a reasonable possibility that they may not be directly addressing committed, monogamous, loving relationships between two same-gender people.
What I believe we see the Bible saying is that:
- inhospitality, to the extreme of gang rape, is wrong (Genesis),
- idolatrous practice with male prostitutes is wrong (Leviticus 18 and 20),
- sex with male prostitute slaves is wrong (1 Timothy),
- older mentors using young boys as sexual partners outside of their marriages is wrong (1 Corinthians)
- and leaving your wife/husband to have same-gender sex in idol worship is wrong (Romans – though this is not Paul's primary interest in the passage!).
None of these are equal, committed, loving relationships.
Also, we can see throughout history that our interpretation of the Bible has changed over time, so the idea of being open to new perspectives should not challenge our faith.
Please bear in mind that this took me over 150 hours to research and write initially (and I'm doing another round of work in summer 2015), and it will take you about 2 hours to read through without any processing or following leads to research/verification on your own. I'm working on a book format in print right now (see sample pages), along with revisions, and it's about 210 pages. Fair warning: this is not a short blog post! But I hope it's easy to read and follow along with me.
Start Reading the Book:
Table of Contents
The Six Verses
- The Sodomites in Genesis 19
- An Abomination in Leviticus 18
- The Death Penalty in Leviticus 20
- Male-Bedders in 1 Timothy 1
- The Effeminate in 1 Corinthians 6
- Unnatural Acts in Romans 1