April 01, 2006

Debunking Stereotypes

I was reviewing some of my previous posts to this blog and noticed a trend. A lot of what I write is meant to point out examples of bigotry and/or hatred toward the GLBT community by supposed Christians. I only hope I do not come across as too negative. I don’t want this blog to become merely a forum to bash the religious right. I also want to offer affirmations of how GLBTs can be in harmony with Christ while not feeling forced to hide or renounce their homosexuality.

When I began writing “Straight, Not Narrow” in June, it served primarily as an outlet for me to vent frustration and anger about the way GLBT people, including some who are now among my dearest friends, are treated. I continue to be amazed how age-old stereotypes are put out there and used against the GLBT community. For example:

“They have a very transient lifestyle. They don’t commit, they just sleep around.” If that was the case, why is there such a push for same-sex marriage? If this stereotype was actually true, wouldn’t the GLBT community be happy with the status quo? Sure, some gays and lesbians bed-hop. So do some straight men and women, but there is a small fraction of the outrage over that than the perceived “homosexual lifestyle.”

“They have serious emotional issues.” Let me ask this question; if you had been taught since you were a child that your natural sexual orientation made you a sinner and that you would not be allowed in God’s kingdom unless you renounced it, wouldn’t that cause YOU some emotional issues? If you were taught that it was evil to express yourself in the way God made you, wouldn’t that knock you a tad off center? I know it would work that way with me, anyway.

“Homosexuality is a choice.” Since science can not prove with 100% infallibility that this is a genetic condition, the “fundamentalists” insist that it must not be. If it was genetic, that would be troubling because they would have to answer why God would make someone a certain way and not want them to follow their nature. It’s like backing into the logic—the religious right wants to consider homosexuality sinful, so they claim that it is a conscious choice. Of course, many gays who have been “cured” soon relapse. This situation, which you can read more about on Ex-Gay Watch, has made the leadership at Love In Action somewhat unstable.

“The Bible Clearly Says Homosexuality is Sinful.” I would recommend reading two books that helped me understand why that statement is not true; “The Children are Free” by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley and “The New Testament and Homosexuality” by Robin Scroggs. Briefly, I learned from these and other sources how the focus of many scriptures “fundamentalists” use to support this statement applied to promiscuity, not specifically homosexuality.

I believe with all my heart and have had the feeling validated by the Holy Spirit that the GLBT community is welcome in the kingdom of God as long as they accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Every person ever born of a human mother and father has sinned, and every single one has the opportunity to receive eternal life through Christ, even if they are a practicing homosexual. God did not give us a gift, and I have learned how homosexuality can be a gift, for us not to be able to use it for His glory.

I got fired up about things today because I have been involved in a message board debate over a column written in Charisma Magazine titled “To Be Gay…..And Christian?” This column, and most of the posts on this message board thread, leaves no possibility open that GLBTs (and me for accepting them) are anything but deeply troubled sinners.

It turns out I’ve received a few visitors from that web site. While no one has posted about anything in this blog, I hope at least one of them read something that made them stop, think, and consider that there are two sides to the debate about the place of GLBT’s in Christ’s church.

Jesus wants us to think and he wants us to understand. Most importantly, he wants to guide us in that process. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we just won’t get it.

If we allow our prejudices and prior teaching get in the way, we won’t get it either. It’s those people that are adamant they DO get it who are among the biggest roadblocks to the GLBT community being a fully respected, accepted part of our society and the church.

I don’t want bigotry and ignorance to win out. That’s why I’m here, and I’m glad you are visiting.


  1. Mr. Johnson, I will move the question over here to your turf. And please know right off the bat that I not a racist or a bigot or any of the sort. What concerns me about your post is you are adamant about proclaiming the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior and thus by doing so are more-than-likely misguiding others into your false beliefs. My question to you was, what do you do when you read 1 Corinthians 6 and encounter a person who is living in sin as described in that chapter? If you love them, you tell them the truth. You don't blast them or disdain them; you tell them humbly (because we are all sinners) that they are living in sin. I am yet to understand how we are to get around verses in the Bible that so plainly condemn homosexual behavior?

  2. Gary,

    I am happy to answer your question. In my NIV version, the word homosexuality is not mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6, nor is it even referred in the notes for that chapter. Either you are looking at a different translation (a point I made on the message board) or you are falling into the trap of automatically classifying homosexual behavior as "sexual immorality." That is a leap which is not supported by this text in the NIV.

  3. I would also like to add that I try not to fall into the trap that anyone who believes homosexuality is automatically a sin is a racist or bigot. Some who hold that view are, others are, in my opinion, misinformed.

  4. Well I was surprised when you said the NIV doesn't mention homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6 so I looked that up.. ?? Since we are on the verses that condemn homosexuality explicitly I am further convinced by reading Romans 1 (specifically vs 27 and on) that the Bible is adamant in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. What do you do with verses like that?

  5. there is hope for all of us who are enslaved to one form of sin or another, Jesus said... deny yourself I don't for a second think that homosexual behavior is an easy thing to get over, just like any other sexual tempation isn't easy to overcome... it is the fight in us against the sin that marks us as followers of Christ. We can't indulge in sin and be followers of Christ at the same time, granted we all fall at times (everyday for most of us unfortunately) but we don't live in and endorse what God's Word so explicitly forbids.

  6. Gary,

    Obviously you are correct. It did not occur to me to look above the "sexual immorality" subheading. You are clearly referring to "homosexual offenders." Going back to the original Greek writing (using The Interlinear KJV-NIV from Zondervan Press) that word was actually sodomite.

    Entire books have been written about Sodom & Gommorah, but let me touch on some things which led me, and can hopefully lead you, away from the direct correlation of that word to homosexuality.

    1)Genesis 19:4--.....all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house.

    Are we really to believe that every man in that city was homosexual, or that they were simply wildly promiscuous.

    2)Genesis 19:8--Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.

    Why would someone offer up women to a group of homosexual men to do anything except go shopping or cook dinner? Even more importantly, why would the homosexual men brutaly rape them, which Genesis reports is what happened.

    3) There are nearly twenty references to the story of Sodom further into the bible. Not one of them I know of references homosexuality. If that was the rampant sin there, don't you think that would have come up at least once?

    This thinking goes against a lot of the traditional teaching in our churches. That does not mean it is wrong because it too is based in God's word, only I believe this teaching moves to a higher level of truth and understanding.

  7. Thank you for bringing these thoughts into this forum. I welcome people from any viewpoint to come here and exchange ideas.

  8. Hi Gary, if I could give a couple studies on two of your points...

    1 Corinthians 6

    the study

    I am further convinced by reading Romans 1 (specifically vs 27 and on)

    the study

    Jim, if this is inappropriate, or might be inflammatory, please feel free to delete. I don't mean to cause any unrest.

  9. Jim,

    Thanks for the heads up about the Strang board. Your posts there are excellent. May God bless your efforts. I've registered.

    It always amazes me how narrow minded some people can be. They miss the whole thrust of Christ's teachings. Instead, they pick out tidbits here and there to justify hatred of others. No wonder people who are generally kind and understanding of others are turned off by this crassness. Who would want to be associated with this intolerance and meanness of spirit?

    It's hard for those of us who would present the "good news" that God loves us all as shown by the ministry and sacrifice of His Son, when there are those who equate Christianity with hatred and intorerance of our neighbors who are gay.

  10. Well, it is sad to me that I can't convince you and thus should not be suprising to me that God's Word doesn't either. The most extensive and compelling argument in the Bible against homosexual behavior is undoubtedly Romans 1:22-27 it goes as follows:

    22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Gentlemen, don't try and distort what you read and twist it. It is plain that homosexual behavior is condemned. Jarrel those studies are not compelling at all! The text clearly states that both men and women gave up gave up natural relations---that is it right there, homosexual behavior is a rebellion against God. Homosexuality says God doesn't have the right to order your sexual behavior. God created man for woman and the likewise, for procreation.

    Mr. Johnson, I read the account of Sodom again this morning to re-acquaint myself with the account--it is plain there as well that the men that surrounded the house wanted to "know the men" inside of Lot's house--homosexually--I am persuaded to think that homosexual behavior wasn't the only sexually immoral things going on in Sodom also. I think that your post on practicing What they Preach was pretty close to being on the mark... I think that Christians should be focused on fornication and exposing it for what it is as they should be homosexual behavior as well.

    This next bit is lengthy but worth the time,

    Consider this quote from an ariticle I read last week:

    "Increasingly, however, some now concede that the Bible condemns homosexuality in every relevant text, but that Christians are no longer bound by the authority of these texts as we deal with the present moral crisis. One scholar who takes this approach is Brian K. Blount, Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Blount specializes in "cultural hermeneutics," and he applies this approach to the issue of homosexuality and biblical authority in an essay entitled, "The Last Word in Biblical Authority." Blount's essay is published in Struggling with Scripture, which Blount authored along with coauthors Walter Brueggemann and William C. Placher. The book emerged out of a symposium on the theological interpretation of Scripture in which the three were participants. Blount begins his essay by suggesting that some persons simply must have the last word on any subject. "Many people treat the biblical words that way, believing that those words, all of them, must always be the last words standing. Now in matters of faith--in matters of understanding our human relationship before God and God's moves to nurture, develop, restructure, and refine that relationship through the prophetic and incarnate Word--most of Christendom, I think, agrees that those inspired words are lasting words. But in matters of the proper way to appropriate those words of faith ethically, there is and has always been considerable discussion and debate." Well, give Professor Blount credit for honesty. When he looks to the Bible, he does not see eternal words that are to be received as fixed and determinate, but as a text that is to be divided between "matters of faith" and other, presumably negotiable issues. In making his case, Blount points to the issues of slavery, gender, and sexuality as evidence that "even the inspired biblical authors, when they applied God's prophetic and incarnate Word to their very human situations, allowed those situations to influence how they heard God and therefore how they talked to each other."Several clarifications must be inserted here. First, the Bible does not sanction race-based chattel slavery as practiced in many parts of the world, America included, throughout history. The Bible does seek to regulate slavery, but there is no way that slavery, gender, and sexuality can be linked as equal issues in terms of biblical interpretation. Nevertheless, Professor Blount argues that when confronting biblical texts that deal with these issues, the contemporary church must not allow these words to be the last word on the subject. Instead, he argues that "ethical biblical authority is contextual biblical authority."The interpretive key, according to Blount, is the human spirit. "The role of the spirit is a constant," he explains. "Laced into the fabric of human beings is that part of us that reaches beyond the boundaries of our flesh and blood and touches the essential voice of God's own Holy Spirit. Did you ever hear someone say a room is wired for sound? We're wired for God, wired by God with a human spirit that despite its limitations can be touched by God's Holy Spirit. In every time, in every place, in every moment of history, the spirit plays this interlocutory role." He argues that the church should hear God's voice "like an inaudible whisper--sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce--that jangles the nerves of the human spirit until, tensed and alert, it attends to what it is that God wants to 'say.'" Nevertheless, what God says "will be different according to the variable conditions in which the human spirits who encounter it find themselves." Note his argument carefully. He is suggesting that human experience is the key to interpreting scripture, and that the words of Scripture may take on different meanings in different contexts. The ethical teachings of the Bible, he asserts, are limited to specific times and specific places, where the prejudices and realities of any given time may shape the biblical text in unethical ways. When such texts are encountered, they "ought to be challenged when we find that they were influenced by their contexts in such a way that they are damaging, and not life affirming, in a contemporary circumstance."Professor Blount understands that he has set himself up for some difficult questions. Which words of the Bible are to be seen as living and authoritative and which are to be seen as ethically substandard? He accuses the contemporary church of wanting to remain in an infantile state, unwilling to acknowledge the reality of these issues and instead desiring a stable and authoritative text. "We're too often not ready for the meat of mature considerations about the words of texts that were often right for their own times twenty centuries ago but may well be wrong for our time."This raises a most interesting question. Is Professor Blount arguing that, assuming his interpretive scheme, slavery was at one time ethically right, but is now to be seen as ethically wrong? When did this transition in the morality of slavery take place? Similar questions could be addressed to the other controversial cases he raises. Sometimes, he argues that the Bible simply has to be put in its place. He cites Carlos Mesters to the effect that the poor and oppressed in Latin America have had to learn to put the Bible "in its proper place, the place where God intended it to be." As Mesters affirmed, "They are putting it in second place. Life takes first place!" We've often made the biblical words the last word in the sense that none of them can ever change," Blount argues. "Even if the words were on the mark for a first-century community but are no longer on target for ours, even when they have become like rickety, arthritic knees that don't bend and twist so well in the new race we're running for God, we treat them as if they just started competing yesterday. A last word can't breathe; it can't endure this marathon of living with the people of God who run in the presence of God's ever-living, ever-sustaining Holy Spirit." Beyond this, Blount argues that treating the biblical words as fixed and enduring transforms them into literary artifacts. Over time, these words become fossilized and the faith becomes more like an exercise in archaeology than a living faith "that celebrates seeing God say and do new things in new times." To be clear about this, what Blount argues is that God is now doing and saying something different than he did and said in the past. Responding to new realities, new people, and new contexts, God is presented as leading His people in new directions, often in contradiction to where he presumably led His people previously. For most mainline Protestant denominations, the issue of homosexuality is now where the question of biblical authority is most clearly encountered. When he gets to this issue, Blount makes some rather surprising concessions. "The New Testament's words on homosexual behavior are also clear. They are words of condemnation; I don't try to deny that. I don't think anyone should," he asserts. Nevertheless, these words are to be seen as coming out of a "particular context" that is significantly different than our own. Thus, "I don't think the words are any longer living, but are, rather, dead words if we try to read them without contextually understanding them today."This is where "cultural hermeneutics" serves as a license to liberate the church from the undeniably clear words of Scripture. Applying his tools of cultural hermeneutics, Professor Blount argues that the Apostle Paul "was inspired by God's Word in a world where sexuality was understood in a radically different way from how it is understood today." For Paul, homosexual activity was tied to idolatry and the "unnatural" dimension of homosexual acts related to the fact that they were not related to procreation. Blount argues that the Apostle Paul derived his understanding of sexuality from the larger secular culture of the Greco-Roman civilization. "He tied his understanding of sexuality to an understanding of sex acts that were properly condoned only when done according to the natural order designed for procreation or as a remedy for the burning passions of lust that apparently threatened the eruption of human bonfires all over the ancient world."Pushing further, Blount argues that Paul's thoughts should be divided between his creation theology and his Christ theology, and the two theological strains should be seen as competing with one another in the text of Paul's letters. Brian K. Blount attempts to offer a hermeneutical rationale for denying the authority of biblical texts that condemn homosexual behavior. In the name of liberating humanity, he would liberate the church from the actual words of Scripture and look instead for an "inner dynamic within the biblical text that transcends the actual words." This is why a doctrine of verbal inspiration is indispensable to biblical authority. If the very words of Scripture, in the original languages, are not inspired of God, and thus precisely the right words for the church throughout all time, then we are left in a constant battle to negotiate the meaning of the biblical text. Its meaning in one generation might be very different from its meaning in another, and generations to come might actually reverse the interpretation settled upon by Christians living in our times. In other words, God seems to be leading His people in many different directions over time, and the biblical text becomes a fabric that can be stretched in any number of different directions, all claiming to be led by the Spirit of God. Professor Blount's approach should be understood to be more honest than the arguments made by many others, who would seek to subvert the text by denying that the words actually mean what they appear to mean. Blount accepts that the Bible clearly condemns homosexual behavior, and he advises his colleagues that it is unwise for them to argue otherwise. Nevertheless, he then makes an astounding jump of theological imagination to suggest that the church should simply liberate itself from these words, and should do so in the name of God's own Spirit. We are reminded all over again that debates over these contentious issues are, at their very base, debates over the nature of biblical authority. Professor Blount wants to affirm some understanding of biblical authority, but his methodology actually places the human spirit and the interpretive community in the roles of greater authority. The biblical text simply has to give way to the "living Word" that the church now experiences. How long will it be before similar arguments begin to emerge within circles that think themselves solidly committed to biblical authority? We can only wonder--and watch with great care."

    What can I say to persuade you? The Bible does condemn homosexual behaviour, it dishonors God--please don't think of this as hate or narrow minded--and I am definitely not missing the thrust of Christ teachings--if I profess to love you I am commanded and convinced that sharing the truth and proclaiming the truth is far more loving than not.

  11. Gary,

    I don't feel hate from you. I believe that, like me, you are following God's word as you understand it. We have no real hope of changing each other's views. I know you believe you are practicing God's love. You know I believe you are missing the point.

    I posted over on the Strang board to bring another side to that discussion, not to convince people intransigent in their views like you, but to hopefully give others who are still open to learning beyond one interpretation of the bible and really trying to understand the fullness of God's love. I believe you are limiting Him as so many people do--we subconciously take Him down to a level where we can understand Him. I don't understand why he made me straight and other homosexual, but I don't have to. I just know He loves all of us the way He made us and that all who accept Christ as savior will receive a seat as His table through his grace.

    May God bless you and your family through your walk with Christ.

  12. @original article "Debunking Stereotypes"