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The Gay Christian Movement

The Gay Christian Movement

Understanding gay spirituality requires an understanding of how God's love for humankind remains consistent while history changes our societies and, ultimately, our theologies.
SpiritualRay Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
By Stephen Lambeth

In the US, there exists an ever-increasing interest in understanding gay-Christian theology and beliefs. This interest in uncovering what it means to be gay and Christian in our time and society has given rise to many theologians, authors, and organizations countering standard, historical arguments, which claim that homosexuality is anti-scripture or anti-Christian. New York City celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 2009 with a parade that included many floats from gay churches, and religious groups.

A Brief History of Scripture Misuse

Throughout history, theologians have misused scripture to discriminate against others. Saul was an early persecutor of Christians. Scripture describes how change came to Saul through the "Damascus Road Experience" (Act 9). Saul changed immediately, becoming the Apostle Paul. Now, Paul is one of the most revered apostles in the New Testament. God's love for humankind changed Paul's understanding of scripture and his theology.

Scripture misuse has halted scientific advances. For example, theologians called Galileo a heretic and made him suffer under house arrest for years. Theologians judged Galileo's science from their limited understanding of scripture and science. It took more than 350 years before Pope John Paul II apologized on behalf of the Catholic Church for their myopic actions.

Since 1865 even though most Christian theologians have discarded slavery-supportive interpretations of scriptures, people had misused scripture to substantiate slavery, perpetuate racial segregation, and condemn racially mixed marriages. Church leaders selected biblical verses for centuries as bases for executing women as witches. Church leaders recite some of Paul's canonical writings even today to keep women out of leadership roles in homes, communities, and certain churches. The women's rights movements have helped church leaders change their theologies, and re-think racial acceptance and role of a woman in society.

The gay-Christian movement is helping renew scriptural understanding in similar ways to stop "Bible-based" discrimination against the gay community. Modern society, theologies, and culture are drastically different from Old Testament society, theologies, and culture. The world experienced by the apostles and the Apostolic Church is history.

Homosexuality, as we understand it today, was unacknowledged by scientists as a sexual orientation until the mid-1800s. The gay-Christian movement articulates how God's love for humankind remains consistent while history changes humankind, our societies, our cultures, and, ultimately, our theologies.

New Understandings of God, Not New Scripture

Christian leaders frequently use the biblical reference to Sodom in describing homosexuality as "sin." Sodom was a city destroyed by God because God found it wicked. Scripture states, however, that the sins of Sodom were arrogance, excess, and inhospitality to the downtrodden: "This is the sin of Sodom ... pride, excess ... and prosperous ease, but did not help ... the poor and needy. They were arrogant and this was abominable (offensive) in God's eyes." (Ezekiel 16:48-49) Homosexuality was not what destroyed Sodom.

Classical Greek is the language of the canonical New Testament. Very often Paul wrote his letters to various churches using colloquial terms, such as "malakoi" (temple prostitutes) and "arsenokoitai" (temple worshipers). These terms have baffled scholars and biblical translators since 400 A.D. These prostitutes and worshipers in ancient Greece practiced sex while worshiping fertility gods; i.e. the terms did not carry a subtext for homosexual relationships as understood in our society. In fact, the actual word, "homosexual," was not introduced into New Testament translations until the late 1950s and early 1960s. Translators could not find other modern words to describe these terms. Perhaps if those translators had instead used "temple prostitutes" and "dirty old men" to describe "malakoi" and "arsenokoitai," respectively, there might be no need for this article.

Many theologians point out that the two most clearly described commitments conducted between two people in the Bible are between Niobe and Ruth, two women (Ruth 1:16) and David and Jonathan, two men (1 Samuel 18:1-4 and 2 Samuel 1:26). These two couples loved each other so completely that they committed themselves to each other fully and, in David's case, created a stronger bond than with a woman. Scripture remains silent concerning what kinds of things a marrying couple says to each other at an actual wedding ceremony.

The Christian Bible does not explicitly denounce same-sex relationships as we understand them in our society and culture. Jesus had nothing to say about same-sex couples. The concept of a homosexual couple living in a home together, working, and making their way in the world was simply not a historical or cultural aspect of Old or New Testament societies.

By comparison, the Old Testament described other acts as offensive or abominable that we in our culture and society consider normal, ignore, or view as unfashionable. For instance, eating pork or shrimp, and playing with pigskin were abominable acts. Adulterers were stoned, unless the adulterer conveniently happened to be the king of Israel. Wearing a garment containing two different fabrics was punishable by death. Moreover, modern society through science understands that sperm together with an ovum results in a baby. The Old Testament frame of mind thought that the man alone delivered life into a woman; women were simply the vessel for the baby when the man had sex with the woman. From that perspective, we understand why women were property, that polygamy and concubines were worthwhile (and even promoted), and why men who masturbated were stoned!

"Love Your Neighbor"
Jesus said the greatest of all the commandments are 1) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul," and 2) "Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40 and Mark 12:29-31)

Jesus expressed God's message of love in the scriptures. The Bible is a message about God's love for humankind. The gay-Christian movement is vanquishing scripture-based homosexual discrimination and promoting God's love for everyone - even God's homosexuals - because they, too, are equal, accepted, and loved in God's sight.