First off, here are the verses that are commonly used to demean and demonize the LGBTQ community. This article explains why the anti-LGBTQ teachings of the modern church aren’t actually supported by these scriptures.
There is more than one viable interpretation of these few verses. Choosing to accept interpretations that greatly harm and demean the LGBTQ community is just that- a choice. The church once had to choose how they interpreted scriptures regarding slavery and the treatment of women too, and before that they had to choose how to treat unbelievers (think Crusades and Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials). This issue is no different. If my sexual orientation and atheism is a choice, then certainly how Christians choose to interpret these verses is a choice as well.
If in doubt, it’s always better to choose the side that causes less harm to others. After all, Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If we can know a tree by its fruit, then the fruit of these anti-gay teachings are rotten to the core. There’s nothing edible or beautiful about this fruit; all it brings is hurt, division, and turns people away from Christianity. Shouldn’t that be enough reason to reevaluate which interpretation you choose to accept?
Remember, your choice directly affects people like me, since we have to live in the society that you help create by teaching and promoting these ideas. If you’re wrong about which interpretation is correct, wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of compassion for the real people that are affected by your choice? Just a thought.
I want to clarify that I don’t hate people who believe it’s a sin, nor do I oppose their right to talk about their beliefs or live according to their conscience. In fact I have a lot of empathy for you, since I was there myself not long ago. I remember how hard it was to feel conflicted between empathy and what I thought scripture was saying. I remember the relief I felt when I no longer had to adhere to cruel and destructive ideas. I want you to know that you do have a choice, that Christians who say there’s only one possible interpretation are either misinformed or are being dishonest.
I’m so tired of these few verses being misconstrued and misused to demonize and condemn loving couples and LGBTQ individuals, causing immense distress to the entire LGBTQ community (including me personally) and forcing many Christians to choose between their faith and their sexual orientation. The few verses that supposedly condemn loving same sex couples have been used to support the personal gain or prejudices of some, just as the verses about slavery and subjugation of women were also once used to support racism, slavery, and mistreatment of women. (Some Christians today continue to hold these racist and sexist ideas that they claim scriptural support for.) If the church was wrong in how they interpreted scripture on those issues, why not this one? Isn’t human interpretation of scripture prone to error?
When I was still a Christian, I was shocked when I dug deeper into this issue- the church that I had always trusted to tell me the truth hadn’t told me the whole story. The church had told me a single version of the story and then emphatically told me not to question their version, even though this teaching was causing immense harm to the LGBTQ community. I was literally told “there are some things we just don’t question.”
At the very least, articles like the one I linked to that show the opinions of other educated and passionate theologians should indicate that this is NOT a black and white issue like how it’s been portrayed by much of the Evangelical/Fundamentalist community. Like many other issues of scriptural interpretation (such as slavery and the role/treatment of women), there are historical, cultural, contextual, and linguistic factors that must be taken into account. I learned this in hermaneutics class in Bible college, but ironically this specific issue was exempt from that process. This process was liberally applied to slavery and other verses that were unpalatable to modern believers, but when it came to homosexuality, they refused to genuinely consider that context and correct translation might change the meaning. I was surprised and disheartened at the hypocrisy in how these different social issues were addressed by the church. I thought that we were supposed to seek the truth, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it might make us or how much we had to dig for it, but they didn’t seem to care about the truth. Their current beliefs were more important than seeking God’s heart.
I no longer personally believe in the authority of scripture, nor do I believe in a deity. However, this issue has always and will likely continue to affect me personally whether I wish it or not, so I’m well within my rights to comment on it. Here’s why I object to these anti-LGBTQ teachings, even when portrayed nicely, and why I talk about it so much:
1. Scripture is being used to berate and belittle the LGBTQ community, denying them legal equality and social dignity. (Myself included.)
2. It’s also being used to demonize and belittle Christians who dare to interpret these scriptures differently than their peers. (This happened to me when I was still a believer. I lost friends and the respect of my peers because I didn’t view these few verses the same way they did.)
3. LGBTQ Christians are being told or they feel that they must choose between their faith and the person they love, or the chance to ever fall in love and have a life companion (many denominations encourage or demand celibacy for LGBTQ Christians).
Even though I don’t believe in God or follow Christianity anymore, it saddens me that any Christian should feel pressured to choose between their sexual orientation and their faith, or that they should be bullied or looked down upon for believing that it’s not a sin when clearly there are viable alternative interpretations of those few verses.
There is obviously more than one viable option here, you do have a choice. So which interpretation will you choose to accept? One interpretation that causes immense harm to the LGBTQ community (including depression and suicide and bullying) and is driving people from Christianity in droves? Or, an interpretation that seems to line up much more with Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance and better accounts for historical context and language interpretations?
If we can know a tree by its fruit, and the fruit of the current anti-LGBTQ teachings is hurting millions of people and is driving them away from Christianity, then shouldn’t the rotten fruit be thrown out and replaced with fruit that Jesus could be proud of?