Bible


While I have, of course, “struggled” with my sexuality for about 25 years, it has really only been in the last year that I have felt compelled to truly embrace who I am. When I started blogging about this in March of this year, I initially titled my blog “through the storm,” realizing that, whatever the outcome of this journey, it certainly felt like living through a storm. As a man of faith, I imagine myself in the disciples’ boat, with Jesus sleeping in the bow as a mighty storm whips up the waves in the sea.

 

I remain in this storm… but it seems to have taken on a different nature. I no longer feel so alone. I no longer feel I need to be silent. Jesus still sleeps, but the presence of God is yet a common feeling and powerful reality for me. I know that He is in control, even when the questions keep coming, the anger in me rises repeatedly, and the doubts loom larger than my faith.

 

I have lots of questions.

 

How can I be real? How can I be truly honest? I am being honest with myself. But I still have fear that if I am totally honest with my wife that that would be like giving in, and saying goodbye to my marriage and my family, which I truly value. I admire Casey for the honesty with which he is proceeding.

 

Reflecting on my previous post, I wonder why I was so taken by Jim Lyon’s sermon? There really was nothing new there – nothing that I hadn’t considered before. I still have questions about why we Christians want to take the whole Bible so seriously, when the truth is we all pick and choose which parts of it we want to follow.

My big question is about this scripture: But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust. (I Corinthians 7:9). First of all, I don’t really believe Paul had an understanding of homosexuality as we do today. He saw it as unnatural – Romans 1 proves this. In a sense I see it as unnatural too, in that it was not part of God’s original design. But then, nor do I believe that physical blindness or paralysis or arthritis were part of His original design. Just as diseases and physical imperfections were part of the fall, so is homosexuality. We have learned that homosexuality can no more be “cured”, than can blindness. Sure, there are some cases where miracles or medicine or both have cured blindness, and I believe that in some cases miracles or psychotherapy have changed homosexuals to heterosexuals. But for most of us – as for most blind persons – our sexual orientation seems to be immutable. So, lets assume Paul gained an understanding of homosexuality as we understand it today – as a fixed orientation that is both unchosen and immutable. What would he say to homosexuals in a similar predicament to the heterosexuals mentioned in 1 Corinthians? Would he not give them similar advice? What would Paul say to gay men and women today? I find it hard to believe that he would have been as judgmental as he comes across in the scriptures.

I guess one big question per post is enough…

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Last Sunday my daughter had the privilege of attending Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, where she heard this sermon on “The Bible, Homosexuality, and the Church”, preached by Pastor Jim Lyon.

Jim is probably the most articulate and persuasive preacher I know, having heard him numerous times both live and via recordings over the last 15 years or so. This sermon is no exception. I find his arguments most convincing… which again has me questioning many of the conclusions I have come to over the last twelve months. (Of course, there are a few points I would argue with, particularly his use of Leviticus.)

I am not saying that I am ready to start condemning LGBT folk to hell, as Jim comes close to doing. I still believe in God, whose mercy triumphs over judgment, whose grace is unlimited and truly amazing. I guess what I am saying is that this sermon has once again has me questioning what God really expects of as same-gender attracted individuals. Once again I am faced with questions and doubts than I have answers for.

I attended a Lutheran church this morning, and was reminded of what I still believe:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

I have written the following lengthy comments in response to Jay’s latest post, and thought it would be useful to post if here as well.

Jay,

When I started work on my MA in psychology, the first paper I wrote was on the etiology (causes and development) of homosexuality. I think doing this research was one of the things that eventually led me to give up on my quest to become straight.

No one really has any idea what causes homosexuality. As with most psychological phenomena, research shows that BOTH environmental factors (nurture) AND biological factors (nature) influence the development of homosexuality. Most research also suggests that it is fixed in early childhood, and that it is more or less immutable (cannot be changed).

For me, the most interesting research into whether it is environmental or biological has been work with twins. A well-known longitudinal twin study looked at twins separated at birth. If one twin was gay, there was a 52% chance that the other twin was gay. Since in the general population, most research suggests that less than 5% of men are gay, the chances then of both twins becoming gay because of environmental factors should be 5% of 5% – or 1 in 400. Therefore, this was pretty strong evidence for biological factors causing homosexuality. Of course, the question of the other 48% of twins where one is gay and one is straight is still an important question. Obviously there is something going in the environment as well as in biology. Because of this, many people have compared homosexuality to alcoholism. Alcoholism runs in families, and has been shown to be influenced by genetics. However, some people with the gene that would make them likely to become alcoholics do not become alcoholics: there have been environmental (familial, societal, or religious) influences that stop them from becoming alcoholics. A similar thing is probably going in with homosexuality. I say this guardedly, for a couple of reasons: (1) There really is no substantial evidence of a “gay gene,” so the comparison to alcoholism breaks down right there. Most current researchers claiming a biological cause for homosexuality in humans believe it will be found in a hormonal process that takes place in the womb. (2) Psychological research has repeatedly run into dead ends when trying to identify the environmental factors that contribute to homosexuality. It is popular among ex-gay Christian ministries to talk about an absent father and domineering mother (for gay men), or an inadequate relationship with the same-sex parent, or childhood sexual abuse (all seen as types of emotional trauma) as causes of homosexuality. However, empirical research in these areas has proved inconclusive.

Of course, there have been many Christians who claim to have been healed of homosexuality. Their journeys have been long and difficult, even though they say it has been worth it. But their motivating factors have been fear of displeasing God, fear of displeasing their families, and possibly even fear of going to hell. (I guess I could put this in more positive terms: their motivating factors have been a desire to please God and their families, and their goal of going to heaven.) I understand it in terms of repentance – repentance meaning, literally, “changing your mind.” So, when you change your mind about your sexuality, you become straight. This seems to be another way of saying “fake it ‘til you make it.” I tried to do this until it became untenable to fake it anymore. As much as I believed God wanted me to be straight, I couldn’t make myself think that I was when my desires towards men were so powerful. However, from stories I have heard, some individuals have been able to convince themselves that their homosexual desires are evil, and that thinking that they are gay is a lie from the devil, and that the truth is that God made us all straight. They have repented, or “changed their minds.” And every time they inadvertently find themselves attracted sexually to someone of their own gender, they remind themselves of God’s decree against homosexual behaviour, and of the “truth” that they are straight, and somehow succeed in ignoring or having victory over the attraction/temptation. To me, this is simply being dishonest with one’s self, and I have decided I cannot live like this any more.

Sorry for how academic this comment is sounding, but your post struck a chord with me and I feel I need to be detailed about how empirical (scientific) research has helped me work through these questions.

The other issue for me was that none of the environmental factors really applied. While my father was not perfect, we had a good relationship most of my life. I never experienced abuse of any kind. My mother was/is strong emotionally, but I could never describe her as domineering. The model just didn’t fit for me.

Jay, I have been where you are at. You want to be a faithful, loving husband and father. You want to experience the full pleasure of heterosex. You want it to be satisfying for you, because that would make your life and the decisions you face so much easier. I feel the same way. If you want it “bad enough”, you might be able to do it. But there are many stories out there of many who have tried (for example, Peterson Toscano, Anthony Venn-Brown, Mel White) and eventually gave up in order to keep their sanity and self-respect.

That being said, I also want to say that you are in a good place. You are being honest, you are being true to your marriage vows. You are choosing to live in a way that seems right to you, in spite of your sexual desires. These are important and honourable decisions you have made – I have made similar ones, for similar reasons. But I find that the longer I live accepting myself as a gay man, the more I come to realize that my current situation must change. And ultimately I get to decide how to change it. Of course, our wives could make some decisions that force us to make some changes sooner than we might wish; we will still have choices to make if and when that happens.

Keep living each day with integrity, brother, and one day you will know what you need to do, whether it’s seeking to change your orientation or to embrace it.

This has been a rather melancholy week for me. I’ve been challenged in my thinking by a number of people. The sad part is, these challenges seem to have led me further towards doubt and away from faith. In this post I list some of the real people dealing with real issues of sexuality, and how their journeys are touching mine.

 

I read the saga of Jay and Anginae and Nate and Ace… I admire Jay for his faithfulness, Anginae for her honesty and acceptance of her dilemma. I feel for Nate as he deals with his desire to be unfaithful, and wrestles with the occasional feeling of nostalgia for his former wife. I feel for Ace as he struggles with his own jealousy, and wonder how anyone can expect him to let Nate work through his own journey. I pray for you guys. May you all know God’s peace, live with His mercy, and grow in His love.

 

I read Joe moderates journey through numerous years in the ex-gay movement to this month when he will marry his groom. I want to celebrate with him. I see the pain of his journey, but wonder why mine couldn’t have been easier than it has been.

 

I think of the guys who I chat with… Manuel in Korea, who seems trapped by his commitment to his work and his church, and cannot even consider peeking out of his closet;  Tom in Ontario, who has his own struggle of self-acceptance and fear.

 

I think of younger guys like Brandon, so committed to the faith of their fathers, to the inerrancy of scripture. I envy their enthusiasm for their Lord. I remember the days when I was there. Was it sin that hardened my heart against seeing the truth of my condition? Or was it the truth of my condition, of my sexuality, that led to a more rational and functional acceptance of who I am and who He is?

 

I think of Eric, taking another step out of his closet towards self-acceptance and personal fulfilment. I want to celebrate with him, to cheer him on, to say, “you go, guy!”

 

I celebrate as Tarald begins to return to the Bible to find the true story contained therein of mercy triumphing over judgment.

 

I share the pain as Quinacridone considers what he is missing by staying married…

 

Yesterday I found myself reading a very insightful piece on davidinman.net, where he talks about the so-called inerrancy of the Bible. He discusses the contradictions in the New Testament, beginning with places where the synoptic gospels contradict each other (i.e. the details of what the disciples were to take with them on their journey). He then points out a contradiction in morality – namely, the appropriateness of eating meat sacrificed to idols (this practice was initially condemned in Acts by the apostles, until Paul takes it upon himself to set them straight). Why does God allow such errors, of the Bible is truly His word and not “man’s word”? Why would he tolerate the moral ambiguities contained in this book? So, the ambiguities in scripture about sexual morality become more pronounced for me… 

 

I see all this stuff happening in cyberspace, on the blogosphere: I see doubt, and heartache, and despair, questioning God, questioning the Bible, I see spiritual fervour, I see men and women seeking authenticity and seeking purity. I see some wondering what purity is. I see fear of change, fear of self-acceptance, fear of coming-out, fear of tempting God. I see loneliness and yearning for human companionship and sexual fulfilment. I see judgment. I see mercy. I see courage and compassion and boldness and humility. 

 

I see all the heartache of this journey in lives around me: in families where there is a gay son or a transgendered father. I see some convinced their same-gender attracted family member is just giving in to temptation. I see some being pushed back into the closet. But I see men and women boldly seeking to be who they are. I find it hard to believe that this is not a move of God. Just as it was a move of God to bring the church to the point of valuing equality of race and of gender, is it a move of God to bring us LGBT folks to a place of self-acceptance and away from shame?

 

But in order to see this as a move of God, I have to come to a different view of scripture, a different view of church and salvation. I have had to re-evaluate my faith. I wonder, is it possible to have any degree of certainty about these things? I really want to believe in the Jesus who came to earth to die to save people from hell and from their sins. But I find it more and more difficult to believe in a God who creates people like me, who then allows us to struggle with particular so-called sins like homosexuality, and then condemns us to hell when the struggle becomes too much to bear. The God I believe in is the Father of the prodigal, ever hoping for His child to return to him, without judgment. The God I believe in is the One Who was more willing to condemn the religious leaders of His day, the money-changers in the temple, and the rich, than He was to condemn an adulterous woman. The Jesus of the gospels is a Jesus I can follow. The God of Paul I am not so sure about.

Last weekend I spoke to a waiter who was serving coffee for a Pentecostal group having an “impartation luncheon” at a local hotel. When he went into the room, there were bodies all over the floor, and he was approached and asked whether he was going to heaven or hell. He said, “I’m just here to pour coffee!” I later mentioned his experience in a discussion with my wife. The comment she made to me during a later discussion really opened my eyes to the road I am on. She was lamenting the lack of response to her ministry, the lack of interest of “the lost” in finding salvation. She was lamenting the spiritual apathy of the waiter for whom pouring coffee is more important than his soul. There was a time when I too would have shared her concern. And in a way I still do. But I trust God. I trust him to bring about justice. And to demonstrate mercy. I trust Him to respect and honour each of His children. And justice and mercy has a lot more to do with the way we treat each other than with whether or not our private sins are going to send us to hell. Jesus came to bring a kingdom of peace and justice, to bring God’s will to earth as it is in heaven, to offer bread and forgiveness, to deliver us from evil. He didn’t go around asking if people were going to heaven or hell. He went around offering mercy and forgiveness and healing and freedom, and proclaiming an end to religious zealotry and legalism.

 

One of the things that I find challenging in David Inman’s blogging is his appeal to honesty. I am finding it hard to be honest. I can articulate on this blog where I am inside, but I cannot bring myself to tell my wife where I am. I cannot bring myself to tell her about this blog where I share my journey with the world. I have close friends who I haven’t talked to for months, afraid that they will stop me from travelling the road I am on. What am I afraid of? Is it the fear that James Alison talks about in this article ? Is it fear of judgment, or fear of being convinced I am wrong? What could be wrong with that? Am I just intent on justifying pursuing my sinful desires, or am I really seeking the truth? I believe the latter. But if I really believe the latter, then I would not fear telling others of this journey. Somewhere along this journey to me is the journey towards transperancy…

 

As I search the internet, I am finding grace and truth in places like exgaywatch, Sojourners, the gay Christian network, and liberal churches like the Disciples of Christ, the Anglicans, and the so-called emerging church. This is in many ways a surprise for me, but it also explains where I am on the journey.

 

Thank you to all of you who have chosen to journey with me.

 

 

In response to my post, Reading Romans One, Kevin recently posed this question:

Do you not believe that God can protect His Word and keep it so that when we read it we can clearly see what He means?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

Hi Kevin,

 

Thanks for the question. Yes, I believe God can protect the Bible and keep it so that when we read it we can clearly see what He means. The problem is, He chooses not to. Otherwise, He would be writing it in Canadian English for me today, or in American English for you today, instead of relying on scholars of ancient languages to do their best in translating it for us. God has not changed His methods. Instead of doing miracles for us all the time, He uses frail men and women to bring his Kingdom to earth. He expects us to use our own intellect to reason through these issues.

 

The Bible is full of numerous apparent contradictions, and promises that have never been fulfilled. For example, Jesus stated, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24) Yet, some of Jesus own prayers were not even answered (think of his prayer in Gethsemane, and John 17). Versions of many of the stories of Jesus differ between the gospels. God commanded, “you shall not kill”, yet throughout the Old Testament we read stories of God commanding His people to kill others. The list could go on and on.

My point is that God does not protect the Bible from contradictions that make it “not so easy” to see what it means. It is because of this that we have Bible scholars and theologians today. Because of this, I have to get to know Him intimately, not just His book. Because of this, I have to get to know the Word. And when I say, “the Word”, I am referring to Jesus, not to a book. In John chapter one we find out that Jesus is the living Word of God. It is through Him that all other things make sense, not through the Bible.

Now, Kevin, you’re probably thinking that I have little respect for the Bible. The truth is, I still believe the Bible is the most significant book in the world today. It is still useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Through this book God has chosen to give has His message of salvation, of mercy, of grace, and of justice. Through this book I get to know Him, His attributes, His kindness. Through this book I get to know the true Word, His Son, Jesus. It might be infallible (meaning it will not fail me, or God), but the Bible never claims to be inerrant. It never claims to be greater than the God it tells the story of. I choose not to worship the book. I choose to worship my Creator.

To go back to my original point, the Bible is a book written by men. To be sure, these men were inspired – just as I might concede that Chuck Swindoll and Rob Bell are inspired preachers, or Jeremy Camp is an inspired songwriter. The Holy Spirit worked in the scripture writers in the same way he works in men and women today… His methods haven’t changed. So, just as I consider carefully the words of Spirit-filled men and women today, so I consider carefully the words of Spirit-filled men and women of Bible times. I take the words of Jesus as authoritative. I take other scripture as inspired, but filtered through the world view and prejudices of the writers. I consider what Paul wrote in the purer light of the words of Jesus.

www.nakedpastor.com recently posted this thought-provoking cartoon:

BIBLE MAN! He comes from another world, another age, inerrant King James Version in a 100% genuine bonded-leather shell. He means business. Do not cross him. Do not transform him. Do not modify him. Do not redact him. Do not criticize him. Do not analyze him. Do not twist his words. Believe everything he says, without question, without pause, without doubt. He will not share your brain with philosophy, science, mathematics or history. He demands total and unequivocal allegiance. He will dominate your world. THIS IS FUNDAMENTAL: DO NOT RESIST!

 

I spent time today looking at the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) website… (my own denomination once held talks with this group about what they had in common). While the Disciples are often described as “liberal” (probably because of their emphasis on justice), I think their stance is still rather evangelical. It is their openness and inclusiveness that really attracts me. While LGBT persons do not yet have full recognition within this group, they are probably among the most inclusive of any denomination.

 

 I love their “principles of identity” statement that they are working on. Here it is with some commentary:

 

1. We confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world, requiring nothing more – and nothing less – as a basis of our life together.

 

Nothing more, and nothing less, than Jesus. That would include no judgment, no rules, no expectations, other than mutual faith in Him. I can go along with that.

2. We hold the centrality of scripture, recognizing that each person has the freedom – and the responsibility – to study God’s Word within the community of the church.

Freedom! Yes, a church that offers me freedom to study God’s Word. That implies that no one is going to tell me how to interpret it, as long as we do it together.

 

3. We practice the baptism of believers, which emphasizes that God’s grace demands a response of faith and discipleship, while also recognizing the baptism performed in other churches.

4. We gather for the Lord’s Supper, as often as possible, experiencing at this table the gracious, forgiving presence of Jesus Christ.

 

Recognizing… “other churches”! Declaring an open table! And here, accountability rather than authority:

5. We structure our community around the biblical idea of covenant, emphasizing not obedience to human authority but accountability to one another because of our shared obedience to Christ.

6. We participate in God’s mission for the world, working with partners to heal the brokenness of creation and bring justice and peace to the whole human family.

7. We hear a special calling to make visible the unity of all Christians, proclaiming that in our diversity we belong to one another because we commonly belong to Christ.

Justice… peace… diversity…

Sounds like the Kingdom of God:

 

8. We witness to the Gospel of God’s saving love for the world in Jesus Christ, while continuing to struggle with how God’s love may be known to others in different ways.

9. We affirm the priesthood of all believers, rejoicing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit – which include the gift of leadership – that God has given for the common good.

10. We celebrate the diversity of our common life, affirming our different histories, styles of worship, and forms of service.

11. We give thanks that each congregation, where Christ is present through faith, is truly the church, affirming as well that God’s church and God’s mission stretch from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.

12. We anticipate God’s coming reign, seeking to serve the God – Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer – whose loving dominion has no end.

 

These are lofty principles the Disciples have set for themselves. As keltic, who I believe is a part of the Disciples, has experienced, there is still a long way to go for total acceptance of us LGBT folk. But at least the door is open and the conversation has begun on the basis of common faith in a risen Lord.

A few weeks ago Brandon issued a serious challenge for gay affirmative Christians to convince him that it was okay to be gay. I decided I would take him up on the challenge, along with numerous others.

 

First, I am going to assume that at issue for Brandon are the Biblical texts that “clearly” prohibit homosexual behaviour.

 

The first step is to determine the approach we will use to the Biblical text. While I have attended seminary, I am by no means a Biblical scholar. However, I contend that the Bible needs to be understood as the story of the interaction of God and humankind in recent history. That statement does not concede that all scripture is inerrant. Indeed there are many scripture passages that clearly contain error. A good example of this is the long rants of the friends of Job. While these passages sound like good theology, God himself corrects them by the end of the book. So, taking, say, the first twenty chapters of Job as truth would NOT be a good way to come to some conclusions about the nature of God.

 

Likewise, we must recognize that there are large chunks of the Bible whose interpretation has been contested for centuries. The books of Daniel and Revelation are examples of this. I have spent much time analyzing the different approaches to interpreting Revelation, and have concluded that anyone who thinks he/she knows what it’s all about is … misguided, to say the least. Every Bible scholar takes some of Revelation literally, and some of it allegorically or symbolically. It seems to me like there is no real pattern or reason as to how to decide what to take literally. My basic rule is that any assertion about what a text with an obscure meaning is saying can only be made by comparing it to a text that has a clear meaning. Thus, Revelation is to be interpreted in the light of Jesus words about what would take place after he “went to prepare a place for us,” and in the light of Paul’s prophetic words about the end times in Thessalonians.

 

So, with a healthy scepticism about the value of seeing all scripture as inerrant, and a healthy scepticism about taking all scripture literally, I approach Romans 1. For me, this is the most problematic passage that makes any reference to homosexual behaviour. (I do not see any of the Old Testament passages that refer to homosexuality as relevant to a modern discussion, and the other New Testament passages are filled with enough controversy about translation difficulties that I see their meaning as obscure at best.)

 

The most common way that pro-gay theologians explain away Romans 1 is to say that when Paul refers to natural and unnatural behaviour, he is saying that a person who is homosexual by birth is naturally gay, and therefore it is not unnatural for him or her to have sexual relations with someone of the same sex. I must state that I have never found this argument convincing. Recently, however, I am realizing that Christian fundamentalists like to take the Bible literally ALL THE TIME. So, for someone raised in the extreme religious right, it seems acceptable to take this passage even more literally than Paul ever imagined. My problem with this approach is that it fails to see the big picture. It’s like being unable to see the forest for the trees.

 

To take a narrative and contextual look at Romans 1, one gets an entirely different picture. Paul is not at all attempting to say that what is natural is acceptable, or that what is unnatural is unacceptable… this would open up all kinds of immoral behaviour. When we come to Romans 2:1 (and I am indebted to James Alison for these insights), we see that Paul’s intention all along was to get the attention of these self-righteous Roman Christians. To get them going. By mentioning all the corruption around them, by playing on their tendency to judge others, by appealing to their homophobia, he got their attention. He hears them condemning all the miscreants mentioned in chapter 1. And then he turns it back on them, saying “you are condemning yourself…”! The implication is that if we hold each individual accountable to the Levitical law, there is indeed no chance for any of us to find salvation.

 

As we continue reading Romans (and I would suggest reading the whole book in one sitting to get the overall picture) we begin to get a picture of a race condemned. None of us are able to live up to the law (chapter 3). We are all without hope – apart from the grace of Christ, through faith (chapters 3 and 4). In chapter 7, Paul emphasizes out freedom from the law, using the example of a widow who is freed from the law of marriage by her husband’s death. Eventually, we come to Romans 8, and the emphatic declaration that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We have been called, justified, and glorified, and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (“Nothing” in this passage actually means “nothing”. Think on that one!)

 

Eventually we come to Romans 14, where once again we are admonished to stop passing judgment on one another. When I get to this chapter, I am reminded of the issue of circumcision of the Gentiles that was addressed in Acts 13. I believe (thanks to the insights of Jeffrey Siker) that the acceptance of LBGT persons as members of the body of Christ today is a similar issue. To have to be straight in order to be saved would be like demanding the Gentiles be circumcised in order to be accepted into the body of Christ. The whole tone of the letter to the Romans reminds me of Jesus in John 10:16, where Jesus hints at welcoming Gentiles (and LBGT folks) into the kingdom: “I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.” 

Bruxy Cavey in The End of Religion says we need to focus on principles instead of rules and precepts (page 99). Jesus said the same thing when he summed up the law in two commandments, both referring to love.

In summary, my point is that when we read the scripture as narrative, when we see the beautiful story of a God of grace and mercy and hope reaching out to a hurting world of pain that sweeps through the whole of scripture, it is very difficult to see a God who condemns any one group of people. The only requirement for salvation is receiving grace through faith. We are then called to live out our lives not in judgment of others or according to the letter of a law, but in terms of the love and justice of this God of mercy and grace. And I know of no reason why LGBT persons are any less equipped to do this than are any others of God’s people.

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