Today in my Sunday school class we began our discussion of homosexuality. It immediately took an interesting turn, with one person suggesting that “gay activists” are trying to expose children at a young age to the idea of homosexuality, so that they will treat it as normal. An individual involved in education replied by pointing out that the aim is to have children treat other children in their class who may have gay or lesbian parents as normal rather than with ridicule.
This helpfully led us away from trying to immediately tackle Bible passages that may be related to homosexuality, whether any of them still deserve to be applied, and if so why, and the subject (on which I already know people in the class disagree) about whether homosexuality is a sin. It got the discussion to focus instead on how even Christians who think homosexuality is a sin should view, treat and interact with homosexuals.
I sought to stimulate discussion about this by offering as a parallel the way people in the class might view local Hindus (there is a significant Hindu population in Indianapolis). Hindus break one if not indeed both of the first two of the ten commandments, whereas homosexuality doesn’t even get a mention in that famous list. Yet I was confident that people in that class would not object to their children being taught by a Hindu (unless they were teaching them religion, perhaps), and would most likely be able to establish friendships with them and talk on occasion about topics other than making images of God or monotheism vs. polytheism. And so the challenge was to not be inconsistent by being more tolerant of something that the Bible is less tolerant of, while being less tolerant of something about which the Bible says far less and about which it speaks far less clearly.
We’re going to tackle Leviticus next time. In particular if there are readers whose expertise is in the Hebrew Bible and who have the time (or want a break from grading), I’d welcome input about key terms like to’evah as well as other aspects of the subject.
I’ll just conclude by saying that I continue to be impressed with the capacity of the people in my church to state and discuss their convictions in a way that genuinely listens to what others have to say, and to explore disagreements in a way that facilitates learning rather than simply sparking heated arguments.