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You probably heard or read about NBA player Jason Collins, announcing that he is gay. And you probably heard or read about ESPN commentator Chris Broussard’s comments that Jason (and a good portion of the population) is “walking in open rebellion to God, and to Jesus Christ.”
Not that anyone asked me, but I find it incredibly inappropriate for Broussard to make such comments. One wonders who died and made him God?
I would suggest the first, and most important, thing to remember is that Broussard’s opinion is just that — his opinion. Thanks to the Internet and Social Media, we have the opportunity to find out what everybody thinks about everything, so the challenge for us is to decide what makes sense for us and what does not. A lot of it — in fact, most of it — we can look at as just background noise.
But, since he (and no doubt many others like him) brought it up, what does the Bible really say about homosexuality?
(You might not have set foot in a church in years, decades, or ever. But sometimes we carry guilt and shame from the “collective consciousness” — what a lot of people think and talk about. So I invite you to just think about what you think about when someone mentions the Bible, and stay with me as we take another look.)
Some fundamentalist Christians believe that the Bible is basically a fax from God, and that every word is pertinent today, just as it was when it was written. They use passages from the Old Testament in defense of their beliefs against homosexuality. But if that is the case (and I don’t believe it is), you can’t pick and choose. It’s everything or nothing.
Instead, I would suggest that we should consider the Old Testament for its historical significance, only.
Starting in Exodus, the children of Israel were being freed from slavery by the Egyptians, so there were lots of rules and regulations about what they could and could not do, with the ultimate goal of keeping them alive, keeping them in line (and separate from the godless heathens), and populating the Earth.
Before that, there is the story of Sodom. In the story (Genesis 19:1-29), two angels, in the form of men, are sent to Lot’s house in Sodom. While there, all the men of the city, both young and old, surround the house and demand that the visitors be brought out so they could “know” them. The word “know” is used in the Bible in two ways — to meet, and to have sex with. The problem with the traditional interpretation (hence the word, sodomy) is that all the men of the town could not have been gay, or there wouldn’t be any young men. You get the point. Instead, Sodom’s “sin” had to do with inhospitality and injustice.
In Leviticus, there is a long list of abominations, rules and regulations, including not eating pork (Lev. 11:7), the requirement of circumcision (Lev. 12:3), not trimming the corner of one’s beard (Lev. 19:21), and no tattoos (Lev. 19:28). It calls for a sentence of death for adultery, or cursing one’s parents. You’re probably familiar with Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, where it refers to one lying with a man as one would with a woman. But consider that they were trying to populate the Earth, and believed the purpose of sex was to procreate, period.
And by the way, Deut. 15:1-2 states that every seven years, “every creditor shall release any debt that his neighbor owes him … it is called the year of the Lord’s release.” Call your credit card company and tell them that. See how far you get.
Of course, in the Old Testament you will find examples of same sex love, between David and Jonathan. In 2 Sam. 1:26, David said to Jonathan that “your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” And Ruth and Naomi were an item as well. In Ruth 1:16, Ruth said to Naomi, “where you go, I will go; and where you dwell, I will dwell; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
In the New Testament, there is no record of Jesus saying a word about homosexuality. He did, however, speak a lot about love, kindness and compassion.
Paul’s statement in Romans 1:18-32 has been taken as the strongest New Testament rejection of homosexuality. He is concerned about the influence of the pagan culture on the Roman Christians. It is now widely accepted that the reference in this chapter, and in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, had to do with temple prostitutes, and people who used their sexuality for personal financial gain.
You can prove just about anything with the Bible. But it is important to open and read the whole chapter.
Often people who call themselves “Christians” engage in bullying the LGBT community, often from the pulpit. One wonders why they spend so much time on this subject — maybe concern about their own straightness? (Check out Brandon Wallace’s blog, The Gay Christian for a great article on this.)
The point is that we will never change their minds, and that is just fine. But parents, preachers and popes have no more of a connection with God (Spirit, the Universe, your Higher Power) than you do. The opportunity is for us to determine what is true for us. What I know is that I was born this way (thank you, Lady Gaga). To say that God is somehow unhappy with us is like saying that God hates blondes, or people with blue eyes. It’s just nonsense.
Each of us is the beloved of God. Not anyway, but period.
Take care of yourself.
The Rev. Jerry Troyer, a native of San Diego, is the senior minister of Joyful Living Church, a non-denominational New Thought spiritual community. He is the author of the new book, “Coming Out To Ourselves … Admitting, Accepting And Embracing Who We Truly Are. Troyer and his husband, also named Jerry, live in the San Diego area with their golden retriever Roxie. Visit his website HERE.