10 Biblical Reasons Why The Church Should Support Gays

Dear family.

In a few months, in June, those in the LGBTQ community will be celebrating Pride month, and our pride in who we are. Many from within the LGBTQ culture, as well as straight Christians, look to their faith for answers on what this all means, whether one can be gay or LGBTQ and Christian, and how to engage our world in an increasingly pro-LGBTQ culture.

Many Christians believe that homosexuality and anything else close to it is immoral, which has lead to a long history between the church and LGBTQ people that is fraught with tension, pain and sometimes violence.  Those who believe that homosexuality is a sin often point to several well-known Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments.  Most of the Christian debate about human sexuality has centered on interpretation and emphasis of these passages, however, are they right?  Is there another understanding that can help guide LGBTQ people in their understanding of the Bible, and how God truly sees them?  There are so-called "clobber" verses which are used by those who believe homosexuality is wrong. However, is their interpretation and understanding correct?  It may surprise some to find out that these clobber passages aren't the only Scriptures that can guide faithful Christians as we seek to have a godly understanding of sexual and gender identity and orientation.

In my book "I'm Gay and It's Okay - A Conservative's Mind Change" by John W. Brown, I go into the basics on the Biblical understanding of homosexuality and the Bible.  This will be a further addition to what I wrote then.

Following are 10 verses that, for me, emphasize the value of love over law, God's love for all people without exception, and especially the affirmation of those who have been marginalized, rejected as unclean or unholy historically.

To get this study started let begin in the beginning.

1) Genesis 1:26: "Let us create humankind in our image."

As we start in the beginning, the Bible's creation story makes clear that God, out of all creation, made all humans to be created in God's image.  This God is referred to as Elohim which is the plural name of God, suggesting the idea of God containing a diversity of identities within God's own mysterious and infinite self.

This assurance reminds us that all human beings are made in the image of God, without exception.  Therefore we are all a sacred creation and God's image is broader than our own experience and understanding.  As the prophet says, God's ways are not our ways, nor does God understand and think the same as we do, but is superior to us in every way.  Someone may look or love differently than you do, and still simply by being human, reflect the image of God.  This includes all LGBTQ people.[spacer height="20px"]

2) Acts 10:15: "What God has made clean, you must not call profane."

In Acts 10 Peter is staying in a house in the fishing town of Joppa.  He is hungry so a meal is prepared for him.  While he is waiting for his meal to be ready he goes up on the roof top to pray.  While there, Peter has a vision of a sheet being lowered down from heaven full of unclean animals, which Peter is commanded to kill and eat.  Peter is horrified at the thought, as he is a Jewish man and never eaten anything unclean according to Jewish law.  However when he protests, God reminds him that what God declares clean is above any earthly law and may even contradict it.  Thus, later, when Peter meets Gentiles (Non Jews) who want him to accompany them to the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, based on the vision he had, he went without question, and because of that the Gospel of Jesus is opened to Gentiles as well as Jews, even though under Jewish law this was forbidden.  Thus this passage tells us that God's promise and His beloved community/family are not defined by our own rules and boundaries as to who is, or is not, welcomed by God, and God's promises exceed our own understanding of God's law always.[spacer height="20px"]

3) Acts 8:26-40:  "What is to prevent me from being baptized?"

In this account Philip is commanded by God to go into the desert.  When he does he see a chariot driven by an Ethiopian eunuch, a servant of the Queen of Ethiopia. He is reading from the prophet Isaiah but not understanding.  Philip joins him in his chariot and teaches the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus, and then when the eunuch asks for it, Philip baptizes him. 

One of the definitions for eunuch is what we now call gay men and of them, in Matthew 19:12 Jesus says some are born that way.  In biblical times eunuchs would have been considered "othered" and ostracized by the proper society of that time because of their failure to adhere to sexual norms.  They would have not been considered men, as in order to be considered a male in the ancient world you had to be able to impregnate a woman.  If you could not, or would not, you were not considered male, but a eunuch.

The common cultural understanding of the time would have held that their status as eunuchs barred them from inclusion in God's community.  However, here we meet a eunuch who seeks to know God and follow the path of Christ even as he lives out his sexual otherness as a eunuch/gay man.

Philip had no problem and baptized him, thereby making the eunuch a Christian, and underscoring that his sexual desires were not a barrier to his inclusion in the community and family/body of Christ in the eyes of God.[spacer height="20px"]

 

4) Isaiah 56:3-5: "For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off."

Going back to the earlier quote of Jesus concerning eunuchs, Jesus actually gives three ways a person can be a eunuch. One, as I mentioned, was to be born that way.  Another was to be made that way through castration by another man, and the third way, by voluntary abstention from sex for the kingdom of heaven's sake.  In all three cases God does away with any restrictions on them if they keep the Sabbath, choose to please God and hold fast to God's covenant, then in his house he will give eunuchs a monument, a name better than that of natural sons and daughters and a name that will last forever and never be cut off.  Thus gay and LGBT people are, according to Isaiah, blessed of God abundantly, even more than regular sons and daughters.

This text also establishes that God's love extends to those deemed "sexually other" that we see re-emphasized in Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch generations later, and in Jesus' radical message of inclusion, rejecting no one but welcoming all into his loving arms.  God promises everlasting recognition and inclusion for all who honor God, regardless of whether they have been deemed outsiders by others and unworthy of God's love and being a part of God's family.  God says we are worthy.[spacer height="20px"]

5) Isaiah 43:1: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine."

Having established that LGBTQ people can be believers in God and therefore also Christian, there is another message the Prophet Isaiah has for us.  In the above passage God emphasizes his steadfast love and protection for God's people.  This verse reminds all believers that we are loved and claimed by the God who created us, claimed us as his own, and will always be with us.  As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8, nothing can separate us from God's love.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus will never leave or forsake us, and Jesus himself says he will be with us always, even to the end of the age/world.  This is not from our own achievement or because we deserve it but because of God's devotion and desire for us.  Thus this is for the many of us who are gay, queer, transgender or LGBTQ a reminder that we too are called by name and do not need to be afraid, as we also are a part of God's forever rainbow family.[spacer height="20px"]

6) Galatians 3:23-29: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."

In this passage Paul reminds us that in Jesus Christ there is no separation based on law, religion, sex or anything, as in Christ we are all one.  There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman or gay or straight, as we are all one body with many parts.  As a matter of fact the Christian is called to unify, in spite of division and difference, and to see all peoples as created in God's image, and for who Jesus died.  It is a call to embrace all of Christ's followers even if they don't necessarily believe as we do or share our history or our traditions or our laws.

Paul makes clear, both in these verses as well as elsewhere in his writings, that Christ's promise is open to all, and available and abundant to them with no restrictions.  All those divisions and prejudices that have historically kept different groups of people apart or given power to some over others has no place in Christ's community and family.  This unity is the great equalizer that challenges and does away with traditional roles and understanding of male and female and other traditional understandings of gender. Instead Jesus says the greatest commandment is "pheleo".[spacer height="20px"]

7) Matthew 22:37-40: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Just prior to the above verse Matthew addresses what is the greatest commandment according to Jesus.  Matthew quotes Jesus as saying that love is the greatest commandment, superseding all Jewish laws and prophetic teachings, including those verses that many think condemn homosexuality.  This command is a faithful life which loves both God and neighbor.  It also underpins any and all other commands as there is nothing greater than the love commandment.  Therefore a pursuit of law abiding faithfulness that is not rooted itself in love fails to understand and comprehend the true purpose of the law and the true call of faith.  It is also the mark which Jesus says will identify us as his followers and from which there are no exceptions.  No one is outside of God's love and all are welcomed including LGBTQ people.  That has always been God's way and will be of God's church and community today.  If your religion/church calls you to hate, separation, bigotry, or anything but love then it may be time to re-examine your faith and see if you are a true follower of Jesus and God.[spacer height="20px"]

8) Psalm 139: "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

The psalmist says that while we were still in our mother's womb God knew us in an intimate and intentional knowledge of us.  It suggests that every crucial part of our identity was known to God and crafted by him before we were born.  It also suggests that we are beings made in love and are created good.  This agrees with Genesis 1:31 where it says God saw everything he had made and it was very good.  Therefore, if this be true, then God created us to be gay or LGBTQ, which, as mentioned earlier, Jesus agrees with when he says some eunuchs are born that way.  Elsewhere in the Psalms, the psalmist suggests there is nowhere we can go and escape from, or remove ourselves from God's steadfast love and presence.  God is always there for us no matter what.[spacer height="20px"]

9) Matthew 15:21-28: "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters."

In this passage we read of a meeting between Jesus and a Canaanite woman.  Originally when the children of Israel had entered Canaan they were met with opposition from the Canaanite people living there, and had even enticed the Israelites to worship and sacrifice to their gods resulting in the death of many people.   Therefore they were not allowed in the temple and were considered outsiders and dogs, unworthy of any blessings from God. 

This seems to be the attitude of Jesus at first when he calls the woman a dog, alluding to the fact she is not a natural born Jew who would normally be entitled to something from God.  Then the Canaanite woman challenges Jesus refusal to help her, and he changes his mind, heals her daughter, and commends her faith.  This encourages us to be mindful of our own biases and prejudices, and to understand that God's love isn't as restrictive as our own, but instead reaches out and embraces all.[spacer height="20px"]

10) 1 John 4:7-8: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."

Finally, as draw to a close, we remember the words of the Apostle John.  He says that God is love and all who love are born of God, without exception.  This passage also suggests that true love comes from God and is a reflection of God.  Thus, any genuine love, no matter what form it takes, comes from God and glorifies God.  Finally we need to understand that anyone seeking to follow God must also seek to love others, and anyone who does love, we need to trust, is born of God.

Pray this has been a blessing to you and given you food for thought.  As always comments welcomed