The older I get the more certain I am that there are no certainties. And I didn’t accept this fact kindly. I actually came to the conclusion kicking and screaming. If you know me, you know that accepting uncertainty is entirely against my nature. I am strong-willed and opinionated and like to have things figured out and I don’t have any patience to do so– ALL things must be known and done and they must be known and done NOW.
Is it possible that there is no god? Yes. Based on what “evidence” we have, the best I can say is that it’s a good possibility that a creator god exists. And if he exists, then it’s likely that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And if that’s true, then it’s likely that Jesus was his son, that he was crucified and resurrected, and that if we believe in him we will have eternal life. Of course you hear believers say that they can’t prove God and you just have to experience him for yourself, but even those experiences can be explained away by neuropsychology. The fact is, though, that no matter how much they try, no one will ever be able to disprove God, either. So I began my own personal faith journey by, to the best of my ability, doing away with all of my pre-conceived notions, boiling things down to the bare minimum and working my way up from there. I decided to believe in God based on the possibility of his existance because when it came to a head I thought that if there is a God then I do know one thing for certain: that I want to know him. And you can’t know someone (some THING, some entity, whatever) before acknowledging its existence. And from there I concluded that the best way- the ONLY way– to know God is through Jesus Christ.
Okay, and so then there’s the bible and we’ve decided it’s the infallible Word of God and all that, which, if you ask me, is a hell of a lot trickier decision to make than believing in God in the first place. There is SO much to consider when reading and interpreting the bible. Author, purpose, cultural context, how the original language was translated, and not to mention the canonization process and what made it into the bible we accept as authoritative and what didn’t and why. I completely understand the sense of security Christians feel in interpreting the bible uncritically, literally, unquestioningly. It’s because as soon as one part is questioned it kind of rocks your faith and you have to start questioning everything else you believe. For example, I figure it probably scares the crap out of some to consider the possibility that maybe the world wasn’t created in six days… that the Genesis story was written in poetic story-telling form probably passed down by word of mouth for generations before being recorded by Moses… that perhaps the flood was localized. I used to think folks were vehemently against the theory of evolution because they feared it removed God from the equation, but now I think it’s just because when you grow up learning about God a certain way you get these ideas of who He is and you get comfortable with those ideas. You don’t want the version of God you have in your head challenged because then you start to wonder if you ever really knew him at all. …And you have to face the fact that maybe you didn’t. And that’s a hard thing to face. –Been there done that. It’s when I decided I didn’t really own my faith at all. It was actually a pretty rough crisis.
Okay. so. Sharp thought turn here: what if the practice of homosexuality is not a sin? We’ve been taught that it is… it’s in the bible.
I think it’s safe to say that MOST Christians believe that homosexuality is undeniably a sin- a gross abomination- no questions asked. Therefore gay people, especially practicing ones, have been ostracized from the church. That’s just how it is. People don’t feel loved or welcomed by those who proclaim that their lifestyle is unacceptable and unworthy of equal civil rights. Naturally.
To be honest, (and it has surprised me), the more I study the bible, the less concrete stances I take and the less specific convictions I have. I feel like one of Jesus’ most passionate teachings was to never put law before love. …to never even let it drive wedges in your relationships if it wasn’t worth it. As a matter of fact, if there was ONE attitude that Jesus explicitly condemned, no questions asked, it was self-righteous legalism and hypocrisy.
Jesus never really brushed the topic of homosexuality. Unless you consider Matthew 19 where Jesus, in answering a question about divorce, reiterates that male and female become ones flesh, what God has joined together let no man separate etc., and that not everyone can accept that teaching because there are “eunuchs who have been made so from birth” (etc.). “Born eunuch” was a common term in Jesus’ time for men whose sexual tendencies were NOT toward the opposite sex (as opposed to men born without testicles). So, to me, this is at LEAST evidence that Jesus acknowledged that some were not born heterosexual and he did NOT condemn that.
In the new testament, Paul also mentions homosexual practices. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul lumps men who have sex with men with the wrongdoers who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Of course, Paul was speaking with the people of Corinth which was known for its pagan prostitution practices and rampant sexual immorality. As a matter of fact, it is very possible that Paul was referring specifically to these pagan practices rather than homosexuality in general. Another interpretation is that the original greek word Paul used for men sleeping with men- “arsenokoitai”- is actually a very rare word and hard to translate. Since there were many common terms for homosexuality in Paul’s day, if he was referring to homosexuality in general then perhaps he would have used a more commonly known word.
But even if we assume that Paul WAS referring to homosexuality in general… I mean, let’s be honest: he also taught that women ought to be veiled when praying, shouldn’t teach or have authority over men, and will be saved through childbearing. I’m just saying. Paul was human and his understanding was limited to his time and culture. I think it’s better to take away principles of his teachings rather than hang on word-for-word, because if we take what he said about women out of context of his time and culture, it would seem that he was entirely sexist. It probably wasn’t a good idea to practice homosexuality in Greece in Paul’s day due to the breakdown of the family unit and widespread disease.
ALSO. God created Adam and Eve to become one flesh and commanded them to populate the Earth. Of course. That makes sense because that’s what was needed. Does that apply to us today? If a heterosexual couple married and decided to purposefully NOT have children, would they be just as outside the will of God as a homosexual couple?
So, is homosexuality a sin? I don’t know; I can’t say for certain. However I DO feel passionate about making sure sexual minorities do NOT feel ostracized, unwelcome, judged, or less than among Christians (or anyone). And I do NOT wish to deny them equal rights based on a couple of inconclusive biblical mentions.
On an emotional note, I’ve seen what denial and shame of sexual orientation does to people. It kills them to fight it. I’ve seen them live a life that feels unnatural in order to gain approval and acceptance, and they have destroyed others’ lives in the quake of their front. I think if anything is worthy of judgement or condemnation, it’s the way we have judged and condemned homosexuals; it’s the way we have held the law over their heads, putting it before our love for them. That’s not Jesus’ way. That’s not what he taught us to do. And the more we fight against gay marriage, the more we exacerbate this issue and divide.