Monday, 7 August 2017

Sex, Sin, And The Bible

Today, a friend of mine (who happens to identify as christian and gay) posted a link on his page to an article entitled 5 Things You May Not Have Realized About Paul’s Anti-Homosexual Words. My friend asked that people read it with a willingness to understand, rather than a desire to prove the author wrong (or heretical, or whatever).

Since he 'came out' a few years back, this friend has been treated appallingly by certain christians. People who had known and loved him for years seemed to suddenly view him as a monster to be hounded from their midst, rather than a brother to be loved. I know firsthand how maliciously christians can act towards those who fail to comply with their 'truth', and I understand his desire to be loved and affirmed by those who have judged and rejected instead.

The Bible Clearly Says...
But I suspect that this attempt to reach out will fail. Not based on the merits, or otherwise, of the arguments put forth in the article, but because christians have always disagreed over what the bible really says about a great many topics.

From human issues like slavery, racial inferiority, and the equality of women, to theological ones such as the rapture, the pre/mid/post-tribulation timing of such, and the question of whether the earth was created in six literal days, christians have shown that there is only one thing we can be absolutely certain of: the bible will always be used to "prove" completely contradictory things.

So while my empathy for my friend is real, I would suggest to him that he's on a road to nowhere. Because people who are certain of what the bible "clearly says" will simply dismiss out-of-hand any argument contrary to their own. So where to from here?

Well... rather than trying to prove who's right and who's heretical, maybe we need to go back to the example Jesus set. After all, isn't he the one we are supposed to be following?

For starters, Jesus showed he was actually willing to set aside "what the bible clearly said" in order to love. On more than one occasion he was reprimanded by the religious leaders for breaking the law regarding the Sabbath. On each occasion he had "clearly" contravened the law, and yet what was his response? Did he repent because they showed him chapter and verse? No! He basically told them to take a hike, declaring that doing good (and loving others is very good) took precedence over such rules and regulations. In other words, the 'law of love' trumps other, lesser laws.

Likewise, it is important to learn from Jesus's response to the religious leaders when they tried use a woman - caught in the very act of sexual sin - to trap him. When confronted with the law regarding sexual conduct, he turned the focus back onto her accusers, masterfully pointing out to them that they were all declared guilty under "The Law". In doing so, he was not only highlighting their incredible hypocrisy, but was also telling them, in no uncertain terms, to concentrate on their own sin, not that of others.

And before anyone thinks they have an ironclad 'gotcha' by gleefully pointing out that Jesus told the woman to "go and sin no more" just think about this: if Jesus was the only one qualified (by being sinless) to cast the first stone, he was also the only one qualified to tell the woman to refrain from sinning! So next time we hear someone use Jesus's words to this woman as a justification to point out the sins of others, just remember that we are only as entitled to do that, as we are to cast the first stone.

As far as I am concerned, we can argue theology and biblical interpretation until we are blue in the face, but it will change nothing - least of all people's opinions about their own correct thinking. Yet if there is anything that is "clear", it's that Jesus told us love is to govern everything we say or do. Judging and rejecting someone because we believe they are sinning is not an act of love - no matter how we try to spin it.

So regardless of what we believe the bible says about homosexuality, our calling (and example) is to love. If we want to worry about sin, let's worry about our own. But I think we would do far better to let God "worry" about it, and simply concentrate on how we can treat others so that they actually feel loved. If we are being honest, I think we'll agree that that task alone is enough to keep us busy for a lifetime.

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