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(Read this series from its beginning here.)
As I consider the misclassification of the mustard seed in this week’s reading and the misclassification of Jesus’s reign of God in the gospels, I can’t help but think of the misclassification of my LGBTQ friends today.
This week’s reading calls us all to question our classification of trees as weeds. Similarly, the call to affirm, embrace, and include LGBTQ Christians in the church is not a call to affirm things that are intrinsically harmful but a call to help us recognize that the LGBTQ community should not be on the “harmful” list in the first place.
This month is Pride Month, and RHM’s recommended reading for June is Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation by Dale B. Martin. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you have not read it, get a copy and do so. You’ll thank me.
From time to time, I get letters from other Christians asking me to explain how I can claim to follow Jesus while affirming the LGBTQ community. These writers typically use misinformed language such as “lifestyle” when they are actually referring to same-sex intimacy. They are often also profoundly certain about how clear the Bible’s teachings are, and they compare my LGBTQ friends with those who are “sexually immoral,” and “child-molesters.” They want me to explain how I could affirm LGBTQ people’s allegedly “sinful behaviors.”
A sexual ethic rooted in the golden rule is a different conversation. I do want to say this, though, loud and clear. Many of my LGBTQ friends are more devoted Christians than I am. I think specifically of a lesbian friend of mine in Ohio. She has been with her wife for over twenty years, and I admire their commitment to each other. It’s absurd to even compare her to those who are “sexually immoral” or “child-molesters”.
As a side note, I also want to add that many straight people practice things Christian, ascetic, purity-culture standards don’t approve, yet no one’s going about saying heterosexuals shouldn’t get married or become pastors. It’s not enough to keep a system in place of making some group an outsider, or less than, while saying LGBTQ people shouldn’t be hurt by it. If this kind of system is still in place, we’re all at risk. Do we have really to have to measure up to Christian purity culture (which many Christians also reject) to be treated with respect and kindness?
There are two lists in the New Testament that the writers of the letters I receive often mention. We’ll unpack these two lists in part 3.