- Posted February 21, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
On the Bible and Homosexuality in 21st Century America
I’m a gay man in 21st century America. More specifically, in Rural Kentucky which often, as a culture base, tends to alienate people like me. More importantly than being a gay man, though, I’m a Christian in 21st century America, so it pains me to see the two—homosexuality and Christianity—be dichotomized by religious “scholars,” preachers, and lecturers who are conservative.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not attacking a political side here. I, myself, tend to be quite conservative on quite a few topics, i.e. abortion. I’m merely presenting a view through an alternative lens to the seemingly never-ending “gay-bashing” that is based in a conservative, Evangelical doctrine of the Bible. Pastors like Vision America’s Rick Scarborough (h/t Huffington Post Gay Voices) come to mind, as does my hometown pastor, and pretty much every Baptist preacher I’ve ever heard preach.
Hell—even my own family is guilty of this.
They cite Bible verses such as I Corinthians 6:9 (NET), “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,” and Leviticus 20:13 (perhaps the most often cited passage): “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them,”
They feel like this gives what feels to be credence to their argument—that homosexuality is a choice, and that the choice is an abomination.
Firstly, to address the obvious, Homosexuality isn’t a choice. Homosexuality is a scientifically observed and reinforced phenomenon caused by, as reported by respected outlets such as Time Magazine and the National Geographic organization, distinct biological factors such as brain hemispheres and the introduction of hormones during pregnancy in early fetal stages. Most people who speak such vile things (such as Rick Scarborough) don’t know that, or, in the case of certain family members, outrightly refuse to believe it. Sure, we still have much to learn about the condition—but those of us who live it every day know that we didn’t choose to take on this life. I know I never chose this path, and I don't know of any of my LGBT friends who did.
In regards to the Biblical argument, most arguments I’ve heard don’t take into account several things. Those citing Leviticus, for example, don’t usually take into account the fact that Jesus “fulfilled” the old covenant as shown in the book of Matthew. He stated, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). A popular interpretation of this passage, one to which I subscribe, is that Jesus recreates the laws as presented within the first five books of the Hebrew (old) testament by merely showing up on Earth. By that, I mean, no longer would man be required to live under the stringent and all-encompassing laws presented in those books, simply believing in Christ and spreading his word grants a Christian eternal life.
When discussing passages such as that from Corinthians take into consideration the evolution of scientific (biology, psychology, etc) understanding we, as a people, have partaken in over the past 2000 years since Jesus’ time. Socially, psychologically, the writers—albeit “divinely inspired,” which is an ambiguous term at best—simply did not understand the human brain, the human body, or the psychosocial impact upon the body and mind as we do. To pretend otherwise is to deny the empirically traceable technological and scientific advancements we’ve made as a species.
Furthermore, it is undeniable that the same Bible written in Jesus’ time does not exactly correspond to the one that is mass-produced today. After generations of translations and retranslations, certain messages have been twisted around, i.e. the introduction of “homosexuality” instead of effeminate in many instances. Since homosexuality was first scientifically observed in the 19th century, it certainly would not have been understood in 1st century CE writing.
Besides, the Bible of the Christian Testament portrays a just, forgiving, and loving God. Why would this God create a child only to condemn them to Hell no matter what: either a gay person is lying about who they are (lying is a sin), or they’re perpetually living a life of homosexuality (which, according to the most ardent conservative, evangelical preachers, is also a sin).
A just God would not do that.
A just and loving God would understand the circumstances of his child who believes in him with all his heart.
Man, however, is not as just, and certainly not as compassionate. Thus, we have people like Rick Scarborough, like many conservative preachers out there, like even some of my family members who say really, really vile things in the name of their faith. The Bible’s purpose is not to give substance to your own bigotries—rather, it is designed to teach you the message of true Christian love. A love for your neighbor that is merciful and compassionate. Unfortunately, this love is lost when certain biblical passages are bastardized and misrepresented and this love is something sorely missed out on when discussing homosexuality in 21st century America.