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August 2014

Jesus and the Gays I: Our Apartheid?

Many people in our culture believe the Bible condemns people who are gay or lesbian.  People believe this condemnation is obvious, and even central to Christianity.  I believed it as well.  It took years of serious study and praying as a Christian for me to discover that it isn't true.  The Bible does not condemn people who are gay or lesbian.   It doesn't teach that gay sexuality is a sin.  It doesn't.

If you believe being gay or lesbian is a sin, you can misinterpret passages in scripture to support your belief.  You can take passages with vague meanings and insist they support your agenda.  But if you read the Bible on its own terms, there is no condemnation there. None.

I would like to present, in as succinct a fashion as I can, why as a disciple of Jesus and a student of the Bible, I am compelled to support Marriage Equality.

But first, let me talk about a similar situation in South Africa.  In South Africa, in the time of Apartheid, people thought it was obvious that the Bible supported Apartheid - that the separation of black and white South Africans and the superiority of the whites was God's will.  There were two stories that were used to set up this belief: Babel showed that God separated us into different cultures and races, and the cursing of Canaan showed that the black races were cursed by God.  Those were primary stories through which everything else was filtered.  For example, Jesus' command to love neighbor would be filtered through the notion that this love needed to be carried out in a world where God wills the white South Africans rule the black South Africans.  Aparthied was foundational; everything else had to fall under the rubric of white supremecy.

It is obvious to us now that this reading was a twisting of what is actually in the Bible.  The Bible was read through the lens of an anti-black bias.   But at the time, people actually believed that Apartheid was in the Bible, and not only that, but the Biblical mandate for Apartheid was clear and obvious.

In the same way, people in our time think the Bible obviously condemns people who are gay or lesbian.  But what if it doesn’t?  What if the condemnation we see is only a result of the anti-gay bias we bring to the text?

In my next post, I will look at the story of Sodom to show how it does not condemn people who are gay, but rather has been misused in a way similar to how the story of Canaan and Babel were misused in South Africa.