I feel like this topic is coming full circle. Remember that night, not quite two years ago, in the hotel lobby in Cape Town? A group of LGP8’s, new to each other and travel weary, stayed up late in the evening to earnestly and respectfully discuss homosexuality and the church. We were vulnerable, we were seeking, and we were listening and sharing. Fast forward to today – and I don’t know how many books later – we are back on the topic of homosexuality and the Biblical directives to the church. I’m so curious to read and discuss the LGP8’s thoughts, emotions, and spiritual growth on this topic. My heart desires to write a quality, well researched blog…but my time is truly limited this week. So please listen (through my words) for my desire to exhibit love and openness to ALL.
If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly you may already anticipate my perspective on our text this week, Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, Sprinkle et al. I appreciate the challenging and controversial topics we’ve tackled this semester and this week is no exception. Sprinkle, as editor, delivered a brilliant manuscript which literally captures two (well actually four – two “affirming” and two “traditional”) views on homosexuality. “Each of these scholars sets forth his or her own understanding and their reasons for that understanding–rooted significantly in biblical, cultural, and contemporary research as well as pastoral concerns.” Even though you may perceive me as solidly liberal, I actually appreciate hearing both sides of every controversial argument. I want to draw my own conclusion – informed by education, consciousness raising, prayer, and impact on marginalized and oppressed populations.
You’ve heard me openly admit I’m not a theologian, so please understand my thoughts, feelings, and spiritual conclusions regarding homosexuality are based on my own Biblical study, direction from the Holy Spirit, relationships with LGBTQ family and friends, and affirming arguments as well as counter arguments. “Read all the essays with an open mind and an open Bible. Have the courage to go where the text leads and explore how it applies to the twenty-first-century church”. And if we don’t share the same conclusions about homosexuality, the Bible, and the church, please know that’s ok with me. I respect you, so please respect me.
Megan DeFranza, a contributor to this book and researcher on intersex, argues that although “Adam and Eve may be the majority story, but they are not the exclusive model for what it means to be human. By extension, heterosexual marriage can be seen as the majority story, not the exclusive model.” I appreciate DeFranza’s perspective because it’s similar to how I approach the teaching of sexuality orientation to my social work students and to my clients. I often provide the analogy that sexuality is on a spectrum…with very concrete attraction to the opposite sex on one end of the spectrum to concrete attraction to the same sex on the other end of the spectrum. And then there’s a lot of space in between (where someone might identify as bisexual, or have some feelings of attraction to the same sex or opposite sex).
“The Sexuality Spectrum is a proposed theory of human sexuality that posits there is a continuum that accounts for every variation of human sexuality/identity without necessarily labeling or defining all of them.” It is naïve to believe that a “typical heterosexual” experiences sexuality in the same way as every other heterosexual. Just look around your family, your church, your community, your state, your country, your world. Heterosexuals are choosing to express and act on sexuality in very different dimensions – i.e. Porn, S & M, adultery, swinging, abstinence, polygamy, etc.
While the “biology” case is often presented by the Christian Traditional Framework as humans are made physiologically to engage in sexuality via opposite sex attraction (and I too believe this was the case when God created Adam and Eve), I often counter that discussion with our human “fall”. As soon as Adam and Eve fell from grace, we (meaning humans) were no longer perfect. We are born with disabilities, we are born without limbs, sometimes our brain doesn’t develop in utero, our DNA may carry genetic mutations which make us prone to cancer or Alzheimers, our heart may have a congenital defect, we may be missing an organ…we have a predisposition to addiction or mental health. I can go on and on and on with human physical limitations. But the truth is that although God may have originally designed us to have a perfect, heterosexual body, it is no longer the case. I, for example, carry the BRCA 1 mutation which makes me 72% likely to develop a breast cancer, 44% likely to develop an ovarian cancer, and puts me at risk for fallopian tube, peritoneal, and pancreatic cancer. There are also some studies that link melanoma to the BRCA 1 mutation. And whose fault is this mutation? No one’s…it’s pure genetics. It’s not the fault of the individual or the fault of the parent. But it is our family reality. I’m not being blamed or shamed for who I am. So why is it ok to do so with homosexuals? My personal belief (and that of mounting research) is that homosexuality is biological. It may not make sense to the heterosexual who has never experienced same sex attraction, but the research is showing genetic/chemical/brain differences.
To my LGBTQ friends and family, and to the LGBTQ community, I am sorry for the targeted persecution from the religious right. You are a child of God and a person of worth and I stand with you as an ally and advocate. I earnestly call on Christians around the world to embrace you with love and understanding and to welcome you as a valued member of the church.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. Romans 14: 10-14
 Preston Sprinkle, and Stanley H. Gundry, eds., Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology), Zondervan.