Editor’s Note: Last Sunday, the nation witnessed a horrific tragedy in Orlando, Florida. Over 50 patrons of a gay nightclub were murdered in the worst mass shooting in US history. In the aftermath of this tragedy, we’ve seen beautiful outpourings of love and solidarity across the country. We’ve also seen many who would place themselves under the “Christian” banner double down on hateful rhetoric and verbally attack the LGBT community.
First, we at Brazen Church want to offer our voice in love and solidarity with the LGBT community. Second, we want to help move the conversation on homosexuality forward by dismantling a common misconception – the idea that the Bible offers a crystal clear take on this issue. The reality is that homosexuality in the Bible is anything but straightforward… but you may not realize that if you read in English.
The following post was written by Dr. Donald Haynes for The United Methodist Reporter ahead of the 2016 General Conference in Portland. Dr. Haynes is a highly respected minister and a longtime writer, and despite coming from a more “conservative” theological stream, this is what he sees when he takes an honest look at scripture.
In the January-February 2016 issue of “Good News” magazine, Thomas Lambrecht wrote a very helpful article in which he presents quite clearly four of the proposals being circulated prior to the 2016 General Conference regarding the ordination, the appointment or the marriage of persons of LGBTQ sexual orientation. Any reader should thank Tom for bringing these into focus for all elected delegates to preview. I respectfully present a response.
Prior to his excellent specificity about potential legislative proposals, Tom wrote, “The root issues are biblical authority–‘will we keep church teaching in line with what the Scriptures say….’? This rather pejorative statement implies that the Scriptures speak with a unilaterally definitive voice on homosexuality. That is a stretch! To my knowledge, there are only seven biblical references to homosexuality. The most frequently quoted is Leviticus 18:21-22 that is in the context of Mosaic cultic laws, most of which we ignore. Most likely, he joins this text with other interpretative voices in Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10 or even I Timothy 1:8-10. At least these are the passages over which I have more deeply poured and whose interpretations I have researched from biblical commentaries.
For me, there are some major stumbling blocks in making the Bible a manual of jurisprudent specificity rather than holistic principles: