I know that I am treading dangerous ground with this post. But I also know that many of my acquaintances, friends and family members have been shocked that I, a longtime Christian, have changed my stance on homosexuality and they want to know why (some have outright asked, others have only hinted around the issue, but I know they wonder). For that reason, I am writing this post. This is not in any way an attempt to change anyone’s mind about the issue. I know I don’t have the power to do that even if I wanted to. This is about my personal spiritual journey and beliefs. Making the decision to change has not been easy. I knew it would make some people angry, that many of my former friends would snub me over the issue and that some would call me an outright heretic. I accept that…as long as I truly feel that I am doing the right thing.
So now on to the reasons why my beliefs have changed. There was a time many years ago I had no doubts about the whole “homosexuality is a sin” belief. It was what I had always been taught in church, so I figured it must be true. However, as I grew older I started to question many things about the belief. I studied both sides of the issue thoroughly. I read books written by folks on both sides of the fence. I checked out the New Testament verses about homosexuality in Greek to see what might have originally been meant. I wrestled with my conscious and my guilt complex from all the years of hellfire and brimstone teaching. And in the end, I knew my beliefs had to change. Here are the reasons why:
1) I came to see the hypocrisy in taking the few new testament passages about homosexuality so literally, while we easily excuse and make exceptions for other phrases that we do not like in the new testament. You know, the sections that say that anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery and the sections that say that women should be quiet in church and are not permitted to teach. Or that women should not have “braided hair, gold, pearls or costly garments” and that women shame their husbands if they refuse to wear a head covering when they pray. These statements are very clear in the Bible and at one time were taken literally but as the church evolved, we realized these beliefs were hurtful, confining, judgemental and unfair. How about the sections that say that slaves should be obedient to their masters? Obviously the Christians helping the slaves escape from the south during the civil war ignored this teaching and thank God they did! The same could be said about the old testament, but since I am a Christian and not a Jew, I am focusing mostly on the new testament since it is under the “new covenant”.
2) The concept of a same-sex, loving, monogamous relationship did not exist in the public mind in the times of the new testament. The public image of homosexuality that did exist (from what I understand), was the practice of having homosexual relations in certain pagan belief rituals, which obviously would have been looked down on by a religion that wanted to separate themselves from the pagan religions. In ancient Greek culture there were also homosexual prostitutes (which is probably why some uses of the word “homosexuals” in the new testament may be better translated as “male prostitute”) and a practice called pederasty which is a lot like our idea of child molestation today. None of the things that the Christians were upset about back then would have been anything like the situation we have today – consenting, monogamous, loving same-sex couples who only want the same rights every other couple has.
3) I really do believe that people do not “choose” to be gay. They are made that way. Science seems to support this belief more and more. But more than that, my personal experience has made me believe this. I’ve seen some who really tried, with all their hearts to become straight, but they couldn’t change who they are. No one wants to be hated, called names, snubbed by their family, condemned or mistreated. Being straight would be SO MUCH easier in this world. But we are who we are. I’ve known Christians who fervently loved God but were gay. Many tried to “pray the gay away” and force themselves into heterosexual relationships…to no avail. In the end, they normally ended up giving it up and walking away from the church entirely or being miserable and hating themselves.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly I want to talk about a little thing called grace. Jesus came to bring grace and forgiveness. He came to show the way. Does that mean he wants us to read the Bible looking for reasons to condemn people? Should we throw out all the “sinners” from the church? All those who lust (because according to Jesus that is the same thing as adultery), all those Christians who become enraged and angry (because Jesus said this makes you subject to judgement), any Christian who has hatred in their heart (because 1 John says that is the same thing as murder), anyone who is divorced and remarried, etc, etc. Maybe, just maybe, we should strive to extend grace to others like God gives it to us…