Same sex relationships

I am on a journey, a journey which is not yet over.  Over the years, my ideas, my beliefs, my politics, my heart and my attitudes have changed enormously.  But my faith in a living God who loves us and wants a relationship with us has not changed.  So I approach this subject with some trepidation and I hope with some humility.

I want to talk about relationships between people of the same-sex and address the issue of same-sex marriage in the context of a loving, committed relationship.  I don’t believe that God treats people differently that he has created but who are attracted towards people of the same sex as he treats me, a confirmed heterosexual.

Promiscuity and unfaithfulness to the person we are committed to is wrong because it hurts us, and other people and is therefore against the prime directive of “loving our neighbour as ourself”. This is true whether we are same-sex orientated or not and we should not judge these activities differently. But what about two people of the same-sex who want to live together in a loving committed relationship? I have come to believe that God can bless such a relationship, and that relationship is no obstacle to  following Jesus Christ.

How do I, as a christian, deal with the few passages in the bible which appear to condemn homosexuality? Now I am on a journey and do not claim to be an original thinker on these issues. I am not a theologian but I have a thinking mind and I trust a compassionate heart and can weigh up what others have written.

The Old Testament law

Moses gave the ancient Israelites laws which would set them apart from their neighbours who worshipped false gods and lived in a corrupt society.  Paul said that God has set us free from the law and so no longer need to live in fear of eating lobsters or wearing clothes made of cotton and polyester! We have discontinued following these laws, along with rejecting institutionalised slavery. To say that “lying with another man is an abomination” is not helpful and needs to be rejected as an argument against homosexuality.

What is “normal”?

“A man leaves his mother and father and cleaves to his wife”(Genesis 2:24).

This text describes “normal” sexual behaviour but does nor condemn different arrangements. There are two types of opposite, one is the complete reverse, the other is just what is different.  For instance the opposite of light is darkness, which is merely the absence of light. There is no such thing as anti-light. Light can overcome darkness, but darkness cannot cancel out light.

In the same way, the opposite of normal is not abnormal but different. I think we could say that God created men to be normally attracted to women. But same-sex attraction is not abnormal, it is just different.  Most English men have white skin but some have brown or black skin but this does not make them abnormal just different in one way only.  Most people are right-handed but some are left-handed and fortunately we no longer regard this as abnormal.

Point to consider: Perhaps we need to emphasise the verbs, “leave” and “cleave” rather than the nouns, “man” and “wife”.

Diversity

God created diversity and this needs to be celebrated, not judged or feared.  Fear of people who are different is to some extent inbred within us.  When society was tribal we feared a neighbouring tribe who was different from us, but who might invade us!  Racism flourishes when people of other races are regarded as sub-human.

I used to fight against the idea that same-sex attracted people were made that way. I have now concluded that God loves diversity and did in fact make each one of us with an in-built orientation towards people of opposite sex or the same sex.

Paul

We need to consider the words of the apostle Paul.

“Because of this [referring to idol worship], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26–27)

Vines, Matthew. God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (p. 95). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

These verses have traditionally been used to condemn all sexual activities between members of the same sex.  But Paul was referring to temple idol worship and the idolatrous and adulterous  practise of sexual activities of men and women at the temple outside of their relationship with their spouses.

Matthew Vine writes much more about this:

“Remember, the most common forms of same-sex behavior in the Greco-Roman world were pederasty, prostitution, and sex between masters and their slaves. The majority of men who indulged in those practices also engaged in heterosexual behavior, often during the same times in their lives. That isn’t to say that no one pursued only same-sex relationships, or that no same-sex unions were marked by long-term commitment and love. But such examples were rare enough that the overwhelming majority of visible same-sex behavior fit easily into a paradigm of excess. ”  (p. 104)

And …

“In Paul’s day, same-sex relations were a potent symbol of sexual excess. They offered an effective illustration of Paul’s argument: We lose control when we are left to our own devices. We have no moral anchor without God, so chaos and confusion are a typical result when we abandon him. While that principle remains true today, the specific example Paul drew from his culture doesn’t carry the same resonance for us. That isn’t because Paul was wrong—he wasn’t addressing what we think of today as homosexuality. The context in which Paul discussed same-sex relations differs so much from our own that it can’t reasonably be called the same issue.

Same-sex behavior condemned as excess doesn’t translate to homosexuality condemned as an orientation—or as a loving expression of that orientation. Given the cultural status of same-sex behavior in the ancient world, it’s not surprising that Paul condemned it. He opposed all forms of lust—sexual desire indulged to the excessive height of same-sex behavior would have been no exception.

Where does this leave gay Christians who seek committed relationships? They don’t pursue same-sex relationships because they’ve grown tired of heterosexuality and are seeking a new outlet for their insatiable lusts. They pursue same-sex unions for the same reasons straight Christians pursue opposite-sex unions. They desire intimacy, companionship, and long-term commitment.”

Vines, Matthew. God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (pp. 106-107). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Incidentally, I have also studied books which present a more traditional point of view but I must say that these have been less compelling.

Celibacy?

It is often been suggested that the only course of action for a same-sex attracted person who wants to follow Jesus Christ is a life of celibacy. But I think that this is unrealistic and unreasonable.  Some people do choose a life of celibacy and this can be good, but it should be a voluntary choice.  It should not be to obtain the acceptance of their heterosexual friends. If a same-sex couple live a life love and commitment to each other, then they hurt no-one and God can bless their relationship,

Conclusion

I realise that I have not offered a full biblical response in defending same-sex relationships but I would urge you to read Matthew Vine’s book on the subject.

The minimum the Christian Church should do is stop all judging and start accepting gay christians as equal brothers and sisters who share in the redeeming love of God.


 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 312 other followers

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have read your column George on the issue of gay love and God, and I must disagree with you. Firstly, I have no problem with people who are gay, but that does not mean that it is right or that gay marriage is right. Marriage should be between a man and a woman no other situation should be allowed. I am all for a civil partnership for gay people, but not marriage. Why should the majority have to change for the minority. Nowadays every Tv reality show we watch has gay lifestyle forced on us, gay people are only a small percentage of the population and yet they are on every reality show, it has become obligatory. We have a higher percentage of black people in the population, yet they do not get represented in the same numbers as gay people. Another example is how everyone is encouraged to support and contribute to Aids charity, which is a good cause, however more people die from Malaria than Aids, but this cause does not get the same media attention, which is unjust. Religious people always stood up for what they believed to be right according to the bible, and if the bible has to be manipulated and watered down to suit modern thinking, then throw it away and follow science. Everyone nowadays wants to be seen as modern and follow the trend, as is the case in abortion. No one has the right to say that a God would condone homosexuality, that is distorting the facts.I believe that gay people are as loving as the rest of us and I love all people, but I do believe it is wrong for society, the population is heading towards a situation that it is alright to have sex with either men or women, which will destroy the very fabric of society. We are being brainwashed to accept anything without question, if you disagree with anything you are classed as either homophobic. chauvinist, racist, or anti-Semitic. It is time Christians stood up for what is right, even if that offends some individuals, not becoming wishy-washy in a bid to be modern. No doubt I will be attacked for my views and if that is the case then so be it. I love all people including gay people, but I still have the right to disagree.

    AE

    Like

  2. paul jeffery says:

    Thank you for sharing George, this is very well written and express many of my own beliefs having travelled a similar journey. I believe the churches approach has caused a lot of pain. I can relate to everything the bible depicts as sin to be morally wrong because it hurts other people and/or yourself however same sex relationships are not harmful, homophobia is and to describe homosexuality as an illness or disability can be very damaging. I personally agree that god blesses a loving same sex relationship as an example of everything that is good. lets stop judging and open up your hearts to a community that are very caring and inclusive christlike characteristics we could learn a lot from…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very brave of you George to acknowledge the journey you are on and the conclusions you are coming to.

    Many including myself have unanswered questions but realise that the churches attitude along with others has been unhelpful, judgemental and divisive contributing to the misunderstanding rather than being agents of a Healing Kingdom.

    I guess I am not alone in recognising people are complex beings and yet the church very often pursues a one-size-fits-all mentality, where we all look, think and say the same things. Heaven help us and it is.

    I am thankful you and others are pushing us to think and see God is way bigger and able to handle what is going on in our world without wanting to fry everyone who thinks differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Reilly says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/09/08/ai-can-tell-people-gay-straight-one-photo-face/
    There is increasingly compelling evidence that, in most cases, homosexual preference is not a lifestyle choice. This has not taken God by surprise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No it has not taken God by surprise. It joins all the other results of the fall as described in Genesis such as ill health, mortality, guilt and a propensity to want to do things our own way. We have to live in a world defined by all these things and they are both inside and outside each of us. God anticipated all these and still loves us. To me the important question is not whether homosexuality is right or wrong but rather how we deal with it in our own lives and in others in a loving, non-judgemental way that seeks to be renewed in the spirit of our minds.

      Like

  5. Alan Hilliar says:

    Thanks George. I’d recommend that you follow Sara Gillingham on Facebook. She offers some very thoughtful and caring personal insights into being “Intersex in the House of God”. I’ve included below my own comments in response to a posting from Sara about a short speech she made to the parish of Badshot Lea and Hale.

    “Sexuality is a complex and very individual subject. We’re all starting to explore our sexuality and what it means to us individually. In an era where we are recognising the immense individuality of every person on God’s earth, it’s no longer appropriate to try to put people into “boxes” and to label people if they don’t “fit” into entirely human created categories. Instead, we need to recognise that young people in particular want to explore their sexuality and decide who they are under God. We need to be the loving and accepting people of God, recognising his immense variety in creation and not a narrow minded and critical church

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jane Hall. ( Carillon ) says:

    An interesting and thoughtful read George . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you George for being willing to go public on your thinking and journey on this and other subjects. I am convinced that God is far less worried about doctrine than we are. He asks for relationship and union which will always involve being non judgemental. Isn’t it strange how the Christian church spends so much time condemning same sex relationships but seems to totally overlook things like gluttony, gossip, love of money or pride which the Bible has far more to say about.

    Liked by 1 person

Please Add your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: