To the well-meaning Christians, please stop.
If a loving relationship between two adults is filled with mutual care, generosity, compassion, and respect, but those two adults are of the same gender, you call it sin. Meanwhile, as long as they are of opposite gender, you call a marriage where two people might treat each other with contempt, act abusively, or attempt to use and control one another, a holy union blessed by God.
When you call loving and life-giving committed relationships between two people of the same gender a sin, you are presenting a God that is more concerned with external genitalia than with the core of who a person is or what a relationship is like. This says something horrible about God, because any god who would have such poor judgement is a very ugly and small god. This is, in fact, the exact opposite of the God that scriptures point to, who looks not on outward appearances, but is most concerned with the heart.
Of course, you have been told that these Scriptures condemn same-sex relationships, and presumably that is the reason you are condemning them as well. And while this assertion may or may not be true, if you insist on a reading of the text that makes God look bad, you are valuing the text over God. If the Bible is more important to you than God, it is your god. This is idolatry. (Bibliolatry, precisely.) And to be clear, condemning loving and committed same-sex relationships as sin portrays a god who is shallow, self-contradictory, and small—a god who is only in favor of love if the plumbing is “traditional.” This is not doing God any favors.
Not only that, but when you condemn same sex relationships you are saying horrible things about Scripture. There are multiple ways to read almost any text, and many Biblical scholars do not, in fact, believe the few texts that mention sexual intercourse between same gendered participants are discussing what we talk about when we talk about same-sex marriage. The ancients didn’t have a concept of orientation, and in every instance (there are seven) where same-sex relationships are condemned or forbidden, it is precisely in the context of extra-marital sex: whether rape of captives, cult-prostitution, pederasty, or orgies at the bathhouse. These people aren’t gay in our sense of the word. They are in traditional marriages and having extramarital sex with people of the same gender on the side. To use scriptures condemning extra-marital and often non-consensual abusive sex to condemn exclusive and loving same sex relationships is manipulating and using Scripture for your own ends; precisely the problem with the same-sex relationships Scripture was condemning. And when you do so, you also imply that Scripture cares more about genitalia than justice, more about anatomy than compassion.
Condemning same sex relationships also cheapens marriage and sex. Saying marriage isn’t valid if the genitalia aren’t shaped the right way is an immature assertion that reduces the beauty of a loving and committed relationship to the sexual aspect. Not only that, but this assertion reduces sex to a purely anatomical act, instead of a beautiful dance of intimacy, affection, and connection that is supposed to be about offering the core of who we are to the other—not about simply gratifying or own desires. The point of both marriage and sex was to be a reflection of a God that was three but one, plural but united, and that this God invites humans into that same sort of relationship with each other and the universe.
Calling same sex relationships sin is also damaging to your credibility. You say you love people, but condemning same sex marriage means you believe 4.5% of the population should not share their lives with the people they love, because of your preferred reading of a few passages. When you call same sex relationships a sin, you are piling shame, loneliness, hopelessness, and rejection on them. You are creating barriers which make it almost impossible for them to enter into a relationship with their Creator. You are pushing God’s kids away from God.
This is flagrantly violating what Jesus said was the core of all the Law and the Prophets: to treat others as you would wish to be treated if you were in their shoes. I can imagine what it would be like to try and be a gay Christian. No one that I am aware of wants to be treated the way Christianity has treated gay people. When you condemn same-sex relationships, you are declaring that you are the kind of person who either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care. (Neither case is super-awesome.)
As a Christian (and a human), I don’t believe there are any excuses for treating someone else in a way that we wouldn’t want to be treated. Scripture does not have your back on this one, any more than it has had the back of all the crusaders, slave owners, supremacists, nationalists, or misogynists who have come before you. They all found ample scriptural support to justify treating other humans in ways they would never wish to be treated themselves.
If you are choosing to love others in a way that causes them harm, you need to stop.
When you call same sex relationships sin, you are saying horrible things about God. You are saying horrible things about scripture. You are saying horrible things about marriage and sex. And you are doing harm in the name of love. And to all those who are not part of your shrinking tribe, you are making yourself look pretty bad as well. This behavior is one of the key reasons people are leaving Christianity. So, really, when I say this, it’s not just on behalf of gay people, it’s for you, too! (Win-win! Yay!)
It’s the least you can do.
-The Rest of Us
*Note: This is a guest post by my good friend and United Church of Christ pastor Dan Wysong.