Adrian Thatcher, in his book “God, Sex and Gender: An Introduction,” approaches the topics of sexuality and gender from a theological approach while Andrew Marin, in his book “Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community,” takes a personal look at the GLBT community and its relationship to contemporary Christians.
Thatcher discusses a variety of definitions regarding sexuality and gender, including ideas from ancient Greek philosophers, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and even denominational ideas. He looks at single-sex theory (one sex, two genders), binary theory and multiple-sex theories. Thatcher explains that homosexuality in both testaments of the Bible is condemned because it is a gender infraction. It is not because of the sexual act itself, but the feminizing of masculinity. Because “male” was considered the only sex, and females were relegated to the same category as slaves and animals, then lowering oneself to be a “soft” recipient would be behaving as a woman.
Marin does not go into the theological, scriptural and historical detail Thatcher does in exploring the issue of homosexuality. Instead of taking a stance of right or wrong he proclaims that the unique calling of Christianity is to love unconditionally. His journey in understanding homosexuality began when three of his friends came “out of the closet” in conversation with him. He decided to immerse himself in the homosexual culture and eventually started The Marin Foundation who works “to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church through scientific research, biblical and social education, and diverse community gatherings.” (http://www.themarinfoundation.org/about-us/mission/) He explains that first and foremost we are all God’s children, every race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Marin holds conversation from this standpoint and goes no further.
I’ve read and heard extremely persuasive theological arguments on both sides of the debate regarding the Bible and homosexuality. Here are two of my thoughts on this issue: First, I haven’t found any text where Jesus specifically makes mention of this topic. He may refer to the books of Moses and to marriage and adultery but doesn’t explicitly discuss homosexuality. However, the fact that he does not condemn or condone it is not necessarily a persuasive point as there are many things he does not condemn nor condone. Secondly, if a person considers some issues (such as stoning of women) in a historical context, then all issues must be considered in this light, even, as Thatcher would say, Genesis 1:29, which suggests a vegetarian diet for humans. There is no question that Christians pick and choose which scriptures to take literally and which are decidedly metaphorical. This isn’t unique to Christianity. It is a cultural and societal necessity in any tradition. For a religion to maintain identity and relevance it must stay pure in its core message and flexible in its cultural context. For Christians this means staying focused on the author and finisher of the faith, Jesus Christ, while realizing that the traditions and cultural norms of this first century Middle Eastern tradition may not always literally apply to believers in the 21st century.
Finally, as I was reading and writing for this particular blog I kept thinking of this scripture, “Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:8-13, NRSV)
No matter how persuasive the arguments from either side I hope I always choose Love.