This article, the third part of my series called Defending My Politics with My Faith, will focus on homosexuality and LGBTQ Rights. There might not be a topic that is more widely divisive across Christendom. There are just about as many ways to interpret this topic as there are people. The way a Christian looks at this topic likely hinges upon their own experiences and the experiences of people they know. I think it’s safe to assume that the more conservative the Christian, the more likely they are to take a hard stance that homosexual acts are sinful. The more moderate to progressive Christians will take anywhere from an “I’m just not sure and it’s none of my business” to a “no love is sinful” approach to the topic. This series is about what I’ve come to believe, so let me get straight to it.
I have come to the personal belief that sexual relations within a monogamous, loving, and committed relationship are not sinful, period. I believe that what happens in a bedroom between two adults in love is nobody’s business but theirs, no matter what is between their legs. I believe that our nation’s Constitution protects the rights of the minority against the will of the majority. I believe that laws that discriminate against the marriage of two consenting adults in love are unjust and I would believe that even if I didn’t believe the things I listed previously.
I’ve never been a homophobe, even when I was a much more politically conservative fellow. I’ve always been of the opinion that being gay is not a choice someone makes. I’ve known too many people in my life that are gay to think otherwise. As a teacher of middle school children, I know that many of my students over the last two decades had already figured out that they are not heterosexual before they ever got to me in the 8th grade. I’ve had many students who have come to understand that the sexual organs they were born with are in conflict with their gender. These things don’t happen by choice. Very few people would sign up for all the extra baggage that comes with that life if it were a choice.
I can almost hear some of you asking, “but what about what the Bible says about this? Doesn’t it clearly say it is a sin?” Your Bible probably does say that. The most commonly cited Bible verses used to condemn homosexual acts are two verses in Leviticus, and one in 1 Corinthians They do appear to come right out and call homosexuality a sin. Most English translations of Leviticus 18:22 say something on the order of, “Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination.” Most English translations of Leviticus 20:13 say something like, “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, and they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” If you take those translations at face value, which I would guess the majority of Christians do, then you’d have little choice but to be convinced that the Bible condemns homosexuality. It’s as clear as crystal. But, not so fast. The Bible wasn’t written in English. The original Greek word that is translated as homosexual acts between two men in modern English translations isn’t interpreted correctly. Actually, it was only changed to say “man with man” in English translations in 1946. The Greek word in question, “arsenokoitai,” properly translated actually means grown men having sex with young boys.
I don’t think very many people would argue that anyone having sexual relations with young boys isn’t completely immoral and would certainly qualify as an “abomination.”
Translations matter. A lot.
But, let me just play devil’s advocate with myself for a moment. Let’s say I don’t buy that biblical interpretation. Let’s just assume that I’m going to continue to take the hard line and insist that homosexual acts are sinful and an abomination before God. Fine. I’d still believe in full rights for the LGBTQ community. I would feel that way as an American citizen and as a Christian. As an American citizen, I know that the Constitution wasn’t written exclusively for people of my persuasion. In fact, just the opposite is true. The Constitution protects the minority from the will of the majority. It’s just that simple. If I get rights, so do you—even if you are completely the polar opposite of everything I stand for. And as Christian, I understand that sin is sin. Any sin is an abomination before God. So even if I considered homosexual acts sinful, I would understand that all of us were made in the image of God. I believe that LGBTQ people are born as they are (in the image of God). I know that I sin, I know that you sin, I know that all have sinned (and continue to sin) and fall short of the glory of God. That’s really all I need to know, even if I adhere to modern English translations of the Bible because I also know this; taking a hardline approach against homosexuality does two things…
- It drives a wedge between me as a Christian and my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. If I’m called to love my neighbors and live my life in such a way that they see Christ in me, I probably shouldn’t alienate and ostracize other people for what I perceive to be sinful behavior because…
- I am a sinner. When I attempt to point out the speck in another’s eye, I expose the plank in my own. I don’t know what Jesus thought about homosexual acts, because he never said anything about that. But I do know what he thought about hypocrisy.
I have tried to educate myself on this subject so that my stance is informed. The conclusions I’ve arrived at are my own, but I do feel comfortable that they dovetail nicely with my faith.
To take this a step farther, I have come to the personal conviction that if I vote for candidates whose political platforms would discriminate against my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, then THAT act of voting would be sinful.