As they grow up, many LGBT+ persons are attacked for who they are. The bullying they experience comes through school, social media, employment, church, and daily life. Unfortunately, despite the variety of places people are harassed, the majority of these attacks come in the name of Christianity and have some sort of religious excuse behind it. Most attacks are based on a couple of quotes and a lifetime of learning to hate homosexuality and LGBT+ people. It is easy to see heterosexism in Christianity but many Christians don’t share these opinions. One interpretation of scripture should not be the sole representation of Christian morals. In the United Methodist Church, there’s a concept called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral which consists of four pillars. The four pillars are scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. By looking through all four lenses, one can determine a more analytical and educated perspective on homosexuality and the moral path Christians should take based on the information. Only when our perspective enlarges can we truly see God for all He is and better understand His plan for our lives.
The first pillar that scripture must be compared with is other scripture. To begin, the word “homosexuality” didn’t even appear in the Bible until 1946. The word from which it was translated refers only to same-sex intercourse. This is why passages from the Pauline Letters don’t actually reference sexual orientation despite modern translations (Nelson, 186-188). The placement of these verses also carry a great deal of significance. Unlike issues such as welcoming refugees, feeding the poor, and caring for the sick, verses mentioning homosexuality are usually scattered in lists alongside laws concerning mixed-fabric clothing and eating shellfish. This shows why individual quotes might not be as meaningful as they seem out of context.
Aside from the individual quotes, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is popular among anti-gay advocates, hence the term, “sodomite.” The story features a town trying to rape visiting angels and ends with God smiting the entire city. The anti-gay interpretation of the story would imply that, out of a story about an entire town trying to gang-rape angels simply because they are strangers, the fact that both groups are men is the worst aspect of the scenario. The Bible even later says, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy,” (Ezekiel 14:49). Never does the scripture actually mention the sexual aspect of the story. Instead, the destruction of Sodom comes as a result of the town’s greed and inhospitality. While it is true that the scripture does make points against same-sex intercourse, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah does not represent one of these points (Farley, 274) (Nelson, 183-184). This is why we must look at the traditional values and beliefs of the time and how they might give context to verses typically taken out of context.
Despite the sacredness of the Bible and the divine guidance behind it, the texts were written by man and are subject to the tradition and beliefs of the time. One of the traditional beliefs concerns the seed of man, also known as sperm. The fact that an egg was provided by the female was not known at the time and people believed that the sperm contained the entire life in it and the woman was seen simply as an “incubation chamber.” Because of this belief, any “waste” of seed was considered a loss of human life. With this idea of seed being a whole life, it is no wonder that same-sex intercourse would be condemned, even if it wasn’t in scripture.
The scripture also addresses many other issues that, unlike homosexuality, the church has already moved past. The Bible has been used to justify slavery and the oppression of women in the past and many verses and whole books are “forgotten” today because they defend such prejudices. The point is that some things in scripture are generally considered outdated in society, even if people won’t admit that the Bible could ever be outdated. When analyzing the Bible, we need to consider the influence of scripture on tradition but we also need to consider the influence of tradition on scripture as it is a history book just as much as is a guidebook.
The third pillar, reason, operates under the idea that God created the world and everything in it, so seeking a better understanding of His creation through science and logic is simply another way to study God through His works. There are so many haphazard claims made about homosexuality such as when people label it as an unnatural. In the world of logic, these claims have no basis (Whiteway) (Nelson, 193). Reason says that sexuality is a completely natural component of neurology. Sexual attraction is generally understood to be a chemical reaction involving neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and oxytocin in the brain, in response to different stimuli. In regard to homosexuality, numerous studies and accounts have been made of homosexual behavior in animals (Farley, 282). Some same-sex animal couples, like penguins, have even been known to adopt a baby if something happens to its birth parents. So often, claims are repeated over and over again until they become part of the argument, regardless of evidence. However, when compared with actual facts and reason, none of these claims hold up, showing the true lack of logic in arguments and stereotypes assigned to people of the LGBT+ community.
God’s not dead. His story didn’t just end with the Bible, but rather He continues to live on through His children. That means His story is far from over and, to know God’s story, one must know the stories of ALL of His children otherwise we’re just cherry-picking what stories we feel most comfortable with (Farley, 287-288). The final pillar of experience is built by the subjective, emotional, messy stories of God’s children. As an LGBT+ Christian, I am a source and a witness to these stories. I have heard stories of people being kicked out of their own home, subjected to horrible abuse in the form of conversion therapy, refused service and employment and all around love just because of their sexual orientation. People are being forced to choose between leaving their church because they are unsafe and impossibly trying to change who they are. In the end, they find it easier to leave behind their faith because the church has become a dangerous place for them anyways. I, as well as many others, have been told that I am living a lie, I don’t love God, and God doesn’t love me. People claim that they show love by trying to “fix me” and they turn the phrase “I’ll pray for you” into a threat for them to pray for me to change. However, God created me and every other LGBT+ person this way and our testimonies are proof of that.
In Matthew 25: 31-46, God talks about how we must serve the least of these because that is where God is. He said that whenever we don’t feed the poor or clothe the naked, we don’t do it to Him. The entirety of Jesus’s teachings in the New Testament can be summed up in one word: love. There’s never an “unless.” There’s never an “except.” Jesus protected adulterers, tax collectors, and Samaritans. He never once hesitated to touch or be kind to a person looked down upon by society. We’re supposed to mirror Jesus’s example and that would never involve hurting someone, regardless of what you thought of them. Regardless of whether homosexuality is a sin or not, the way the church treats the LGBT+ community is the true “abomination.” The evidence from scripture, tradition, reason, and experience can show the truth about homosexuality and it just doesn’t indicate any path for hatred. The church was supposed to be a light for good. The word “sanctuary” literally means “safe place” yet so many people simply aren’t. The only way to actually treat people as Christ would is though kindness and acceptance. The LGBT+ person people attack is a creation, a child, of God and that person deserves to be not only accepted but cherished as just that, a beautiful example of God’s handiwork.
1. Farley, Margaret A. Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. New York: Continuum International Pub. Group, 2006. Print. 271-296
2. Life Application Study Bible: New International Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1997. Print.
3. Nelson, James B. Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1978. Print. 168, 180-210
4. Whiteway, Eleanor, and Denis R. Alexander. "Understanding the Causes of Same-Sex Attraction." Science & Christian Belief 27.1 (2015): 17-40. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Oct. 2016. eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=daf88b78-e09c-4cf7-a535-049ab2d75333%40sessionmgr4007&vid=1&hid=4102