by Lana Hope cross posted from her blog Wide Open Ground
Around three years ago I changed my mind about LGBT individuals and their right to marry. I grew up in a family who did not really acknowledge or mention gays. I had no idea gays even existed until a guy in our homeschool group married someone whose mother was lesbian, which prompted me to look up the word in the dictionary.
Ignorance, you might suppose, is better than growing up hearing harmful things spoken about gays. But for me, my church and my upbringing still fed negative images in my mind. And there was really, for me, one reason for this — I read the Bible black and white, read it as if it had no errors, read it as if it held all the answers for the 21st century, and read the Bible as if judgment was always looming upon us.
I am not excusing any of the harmful thoughts I had towards LGBT individuals, or my lack of really accepting them. Nevertheless, at all times I hated the anti-gay theology I felt compelled to imbibe. I mean, I really, really hated it. One of my good friends in college was lesbian, several of my other friends had relatives and friends who were lesbian, and I liked everyone of them. We laughed, we cried, and we talked forever. I knew, instantly, upon leaving home, that my gay friends were awesome. My freshman year when one of the guys in my class asked if I wanted to attend a gay wedding with some of the other people in our group, I instantly said yes, even when my heart was screaming, you are going to hell.
When I graduated from college, I met only more awesome LGBT folks. At one point I was teaching freshman composition at a community college and one of my students did a research paper and presentation on marriage equality. After telling the class she was dating a woman, several students stood up and hugged her. At that time I thought, “how cool is this?” Yet again, my theology was telling me it was evil. I felt bad that the student thought I was super-for marriage equality by how I treated her, all the while I was looking for something wrong with her, that “caused” her to be gay.
The war between how I was trying to treat gays and my theology lasted for several years, until three years ago when I began to make peace with the idea that being gay isn’t a sin.
What changed? I stopped seeing the Bible as black and white, stopped asking the Bible for permission to treat people kindly, and no longer believed that the Bible held all the answers for mankind. In fact, I started to believe that the Bible has errors.
Last week the Gospel Coalition publish the viral article 40 Christians for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags. The article is basically a challenge for Christians to be able to explain — from scripture — why they believe that God is okay with gay people getting married. The thing is, as much as I appreciate those who are working so hard to make the Bible gay friendly, such as Justin Lee or John Shore, and as much as I would never invalidate the significance of their work, the me today still finds myself agreeing with the Gospel Coalition and other conservative believers that there is no persuasive arguments for gay marriage in scripture (although I don’t think the arguments are as strong as these groups. Surely it is true that Jesus never condemned gays).Maybe it’s the philosopher in me, but when I read the Old Testament, I do read a grand heterosexual narrative that begins with a man and a woman reproducing. I have trouble seeing how the ancient metaphor “become one flesh” was speaking about gays too, and I have trouble reading Paul as pro-gay.
I am not saying that my interpretation of scripture is right; nevertheless, if I still believed the Bible held all the answers for the 21st century, I personally would be opposing marriage equality this week.
I am glad others are making the Bible gay friend, both for our LGBT brothers and sisters and because fundamentalism needs to be challenged. At the same time, I also hope that we continue to challenge the fundamentalist narrative that the Bible has all the answers for the 21st century. For me, it was only in realizing that love triumped a black and white reading of the Bible that I was at last allowed to let my head knowledge follow my heart and truly begin to love LGBT individuals.
Lana Hope was homeschooled 1st-12th grade in a small town and rural culture. Involved in ATI, her life growing up was gendered, sheltered, and with a lot of shame and rules in disguise of Biblical principles and character qualities. After college Lana moved to SE Asia and began working with the abused, and upon discovering that the large world is not at all like she had been taught, she finally questioned it all, from Calvinism to the homeschool movement to the foundation of her Christian faith. Today Lana is a Christian Universalist, holds a B.A. in English, and is currently working on a M.A. in philosophy. She blogs about the struggles she has faced leaving fundamentalism and homeschooling behind and how travel and missions has wrecked her life for good and bad at her blog