I can’t pinpoint the exact moment my mind changed.
There wasn’t one conversation or one book that convinced me.
God enlightened my heart over time.
I just stayed open.
Isn’t that always the way?
“But the Bible says…”
I believe the Bible is a holy text inspired by God. But it was written, translated, and read by imperfect humans. It is not the fourth member of the Trinity- not intended to be used in a silo, but alongside the Holy Spirit and the model of perfect love Jesus gave us.
The Bible doesn’t say anything, it reads. What is says is up to how you interpret it. If the Bible stops you from fully loving another person- you’re reading it wrong.
Put another way, if you’re not reading LOVE, you’re not done reading.
Yes, the Old Testament says that a man who has sex with another man shall be put to death. But keep reading dear one. You’ll soon find that you can be put to death for: committing adultery (Leviticus 20:10), cursing your father or mother (Leviticus 20:9), having sex with a woman who is on her period (Leviticus 20:18), working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), and lying about virginity (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
In the New Testament, the original Greek words, arsenokoitai and malakoi, have been translated to “homosexual”. But their original meanings are ambiguous at best. Scholarship suggested the words are closer to describing someone who uses authority to gain sex, someone who uses sex to hurt another human being. There was no Greek or Hebrew word for a committed same-sex relationship. For example, in 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Paul was likely citing the exploitation of young male proteges by older scholars, not a relationship between two consenting adults (Adventures in Missing the Point, Mclaren & Campolo).
In an effort to get it right, we have failed to read scripture in the context, language, or culture in which it was written. Selective and literal interpretations of the bible are dangerous. The word of God has been used to justify slavery, segregation, and the subjugation of women. To use the Bible to disenfranchise LGBTQ+ people and perpetuate homophobia is counter to the heart of Jesus and sinful.
Love God, and love your neighbor
When we read scripture with culture and context in mind the Bible’s original meaning becomes clear. It transforms into a story of the Creator revealing unending, unimaginable, love for His creation. And once I gave myself permission to follow Jesus over everything else, it was amazing how much more this oceanic love made sense.
Jesus would have known about homosexuality. He was an educated rabbi, he would have been able to recite the verses that condemned it.
But he never mentioned it. Not once.
I find this astounding.
Jesus was, however, very concerned with those who look for sin in the lives of others without dealing with their own dirty laundry (Matthew 23). He was very concerned with the religious elite who decided who was in and who was out. Out of all of the religious laws and commandments in the Old Testament, Jesus picked two: Love God, and love your neighbor (Matthew 19:19). Just two! And they are the hardest two commands because they beg us to ask more questions, like who, and how, and why. We can (and should) spend our whole lives struggling to fulfill these two commands well.
I honestly believe most people are trying to love God the best way they know how. In our Christian narrative, we believe all humanity is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), and our divine DNA confirmed further by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:10, Galatians 3:1-5.) But somehow we’ve forgotten that our lesbian neighbor is filled with the Holy Spirit too, that she is also made in God’s image. We’ve forgotten to see her as a whole person, with dreams and goals, and divine inspiration. Instead, we see only her sexual orientation, only that which we have been told is a sin. We end up, as Richard Rohr says, “Trying to love God with our own small and divided heart.”
But Christ reminds us again and again that by loving the creation, we love the Creator. It is in loving our neighbor that we also love God (Matthew 25:40-45).
Love one another…and pass the body glitter
Culture. Context. Jesus.
These are my familiar friends. I’ve spent the last decade attempting to reconcile my feminism and my religion citing culture, context, and Jesus. Every post on this blog represents another step in that journey. But so consuming was my desire to find a place for women in the arms of God that I forgot to embrace my LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers along the way. I have used culture, context, and Jesus, to plant my feminism and faith firmly in the radical love of the Divine. But it was years into my journey before I realized the Creator’s heart was deep enough and wide enough to love all my neighbors.
For me, celebrating Gay Pride isn’t just about marching in a parade or waving a flag. It is a reconciliation, acceptance, and healing. It is an attempt to make up for the years I spent thinking “love
the sinner hate the sin” was good theology instead of just offensive. I have a responsibility to stand alongside the LGBTQ+ community and demand they be treated justly and loved fully. We have a responsibility to care for the deeply wounded souls our theology has shamed.
I celebrate Gay Pride
…because the LGBTQ+ community is my neighbor, fully made in the image of God, and worthy of love.
…because I do not believe there is any place for shame in the family of God.
…because fearful and hateful church rhetoric has created a culture where gay and lesbian people can be abused in the name of God. And I will not stand for it.
… because the heart of the Divine is wider and deeper than I’ll ever understand and until I die I will err on the side of love. Surely that is where Jesus is.
I will continue to love my queer neighbor because I have a responsibility to model the love of the religion I profess to follow.