What a difference a day makes! After my previous post, (https://delemares.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/105/ ) I was sent a link to a video by Matthew Vines which totally revised, revolutionised even, my thinking. I had accepted the traditional interpretation of certain passages in the Bible – Matthew caused me to look at those passages again.
This post describes a re-evaluation of those passages. (I describe the events leading up to this re-evaluation here: https://delemares.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/my-story-2-me-and-the-gay-debate-the-backstory-of-a-blog-3/ ) There is so much more in Matthew’s moving account. I encourage you to watch it for yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, the Bible doesn’t major on homosexuality – there are just 6 short passages, 7 if you include the Genesis account of the creation of Eve.
Matthew has taken 2 years out of college to study these passages carefully. He (along with many others) questions the traditional interpretation of these passages. He asks that we go the extra mile, that we be prepared to step into his shoes and look again at those passages.
He reminds us that Jesus warned us against false teachers, and asked us to judge them by their fruit. What has been the fruit of traditional teaching? So often that teaching has led to hatred and division, instead of love and acceptance.
In Genesis chapter 2, God said that it is not good for man to be alone, and so he created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Matthew describes the lonely life of a gay person if they are to stick to the traditional teaching. God has said it is not good for us to be alone, but gay people are told to do just that.
Matthew then looks at each of the 6 passages. First the account of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. He points out that elsewhere in the Bible (e.g. Ezekiel 16) we are told that the sin of Sodom was their arrogance, greed and not helping the poor and needy. Their intention to gang rape the angels in Genesis was not the main point of the story, God was already intending to destroy them before that.
He then looked at the 2 passages in Leviticus (chapters 18 and 20) and suggests that these laws were part of a whole range of laws that were designed to distinguish the Israelites from their pagan neighbours. The early church at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 declared that these laws were no longer binding on gentile converts. So why should same-sex relations be the exception to that ruling?
Matthew then turned to the New Testament and spoke at some length on the passage in Romans 1, which speaks of unnatural relations between men and men, and women and women. As the term unnatural is elsewhere used by Paul to describe men having long hair, it is better to interpret that as a social custom. In any case, this passage describes men turning away from their women, becoming inflamed with lust for other men – it’s not about gay men in loving relationships.
The other passages are in 1Corinthians 6 and 1Timothy 1, where the meanings of the greek words are disputed (it has been suggested that Paul made one of them up!) but seem to refer to coercive, exploitative, or economic relations i.e. male prostitutes. The terms are included in sin lists which include lying and drunkenness, as I mentioned in my previous post.
In sum, the New Testament passages seem to apply to lustful even violent relationships, not loving, committed, monogamous ones.
So what views have I changed? I’ve concluded that the Bible does not speak about loving, committed, lifelong, monogamous homosexual relationships. The sin of sexual immorality is mentioned many more times in the Bible and includes fornication and adultery; the sin is in exchanging lust for love, it’s about rape and coercion – and applies to heterosexual sex just as much as homosexual sex.
Jesus summed up the commandments in one: Love God – and its rider – Love your Neighbour as yourself.
Do find time to watch the video (it’s just over an hour long). http://matthewvines.tumblr.com/ (there is a transcript attached).
Comments please. I’d value comments on this blog – I’ve had comments on the previous post left on twitter and facebook – I’d value comments left here so all may read and join in the debate.