“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle, or like, premarital sex between heterosexuals … it says that that’s a sin … I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ,” he said on the show. “So, I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize that person as a Christian.”
~ Chris Broussard, ESPN Commentator.
Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
I do so wish to avoid judging those who judge others. Thus, I have tried to avoid comment upon the religious right rhetoric about LGBT people. Yet, it is becoming increasingly clear that statements like the above quote stray from even the most basic of Christian tenets, Jesus’s command that we “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34-35. Moreover, for a biblical literalist, the above scriptural interpretation (Not cited, but denominated as biblical by the phrase, “it says.” ) is simply inaccurate. Finally, one of the most basic rules of journalism is that the media represent all sides of an issue. And, there is another side to this story.
So, what is gained by my silence? Some great Christian leaders have posited that to be silent in the face of oppression is to join the oppressor. (E.g., Dr. King, and more recently, Bishop Gene Robinson). Thus, I gladly risk the criticism that I am being judgmental in favor of speaking out on behalf of the oppressed. I speak my truth to power.
Now, about Gay Christians. The term is neither an oxymoron nor disingenuous. I personally identify as LGBT and Christian. I believe that Jesus is Lord! According to scripture, I cannot make such a statement lightly, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3). Moreover, if I say it and believe it than scripture guarantees my salvation. (Romans 10:9). Hence, the scriptural formulaic equation for salvation is not exclusive. I can be Gay and Christian. And I am not alone in this belief.
There are a whole host or Christian organizations, many of which we see on Face Book every day, dedicated to the same proposition. We are in the minority now, but I believe that as we continue to change the world that all of Christendom will likewise evolve. One such group is called Fortunate Families, a national organization of Catholic parents with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender children, with a passion for social justice advocacy and a focus on the Catholic Church and LGBT issues. In my present church affiliation, Methodist, we have the Reconciling Ministries Network whose purpose is to mobilize United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. The Episcopal church has an organization called Integrity, whose mission it is to inspire and equip the Episcopal Church, its dioceses, congregations, and members to proclaim and embody God’s all-inclusive love for LGBTQ persons and those who love them. Perhaps you know of others.
When it comes to scripture, I am merely a “jack-theologian,” so-to-speak. While I have a minor in religious studies, I certainly do not have any sort of divinity degree. However, I have at least read the passages to which I refer. I understand that they have been through multiple translations over the millennia, and were written in a vastly different culture with a vastly inferior world view, knowledge and technology, and that they were gathered into what we now know as the Bible by church fathers in the Third Century. (Even a cursory search reveals that the origins of the Bible is a complicated story rife with dissension and debate). Scripture did not even have line and verse until the 16th century. (The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne). People believed over the entire 4,000 or so years that the various books of the Bible were written that the world was flat and the heavens (and God) resided a few hundred feet above them. Science now informs our world view to cast aside such notions, as well as the notion that the Biblical genealogy found in Genesis denotes the age of the world.
Against that backdrop, we have the self-righteous and inflammatory conclusions above. They can be summarized as follows: The bible says that homosexuality is a sin in open rebellion to God and Jesus. In claiming to be LGBT and Christian I must, as Gene Robinson says, “unabashedly” assert that this statement is false! None of the Gospels attribute to Jesus as ever uttering a single word about homosexuality, much less the word itself, or that he would accord it to himself as “open rebellion.” No such word existed in Hebrew or Greek, the two main languages in which the books of the bible were written. The word “homosexual” is not in the Bible, except in oblique translations of the six or so references to men “lying” with men in the Hebrew text and Paul’s letters, the most notorious of which is found in Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” (Evidently, the only reason one lies with a female is to have sex. But is it okay if I lie with a woman until I need glasses? Sorry, I digress (impishly laughing to self with tongue firmly in cheek)).
The Hebrew term, shiqquwts is translated as “abomination” by almost all translations of the Bible. The similar words, sheqets, and shâqats, are almost exclusively used for dietary violations. Toeba, is also translated as abomination in some texts. Many modern versions of the Bible translate it as “detestable”or “loathsome.” I hear one Rabbi refer to it as “yicky.” Biblical literalists interpret this to mean that same-sex sexual activity is an abomination and therefore inherently sinful. (Note, however, that it is not one of the Ten Commandments).
However,please consider that a word or phrase which has been translated through multiple languages over centuries and the subject of great debate and disagreement among the worlds great scholars and theologians, inherently, cannot credibly be taken as a modern-day literal truth. Moreover, this supposed proscription was part of what is called the ancient Hebrew Holiness Code which highly regulated the everyday lives of ancient Hebrew men, from what they were to wear to what they were to eat. Violations of these rules were also called abominations. The code referred to how they were to treat one another too. Later prophets make this clear. In a little referred to scripture, Ezekiel says at 16:49-50: “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. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.” Clearly, Sodom’s lack of hospitality is the abomination.
Yet, there is no mention of the word, “homosexual,” again defying the literalists. They cannot rely on the literal words of scripture to reach the result they want, but must interpret the meaning of the words used through their various translations over time in spite of later clarification within the Bible’s own pages. Now I wonder how to characterize the above quotation from the ESPN announcer. Is it hospitable, or detestable and loathsome? Is it an abomination? What would Ezekiel say?