by Curtis Price
My view, and many mainline churches views, boil down to how one understands the Bible. Fundamentalists and many evangelicals read the Bible literally as though God dropped it from the sky one day all written out in the kings English. I interpret the Bible with a “more than literal” approach which looks at scripture through the lens of context, language, culture and sitz im leben. With this as my starting point I hear what the bible says to the churches about issues of sexuality and come to a very different view than a literal reading of the Bible.
In regard to the issue of homosexuality, while the Bible speaks of it a very few times, when setting and context is taken into account it seems to be addressing issues of generally unhealthy sexual behavior as in 1 Corinthians 6 , pagan practices of ritual sex as in Leviticus and a polemic against Roman religious practices of the time as in Romans 1. In fact, Romans suggests the sin lies in doing what is unnatural. It seems to me that it would be easy to see this as suggesting that if I were gay, the unnatural thing for me to do would be to be with a woman, thus violating the tenant. Of course on this very crucial and vital issue within the Kingdom of God, Jesus says absolutely nothing. At most what can be said is that on the issue of a healthy, monogamous, loving commitment between two people of the same gender the Bible is mute.
It also has always seemed a little disingenuous that people focus so strongly on the homosexuality part of Leviticus while abandoning almost every other mandate such as wearing a cloth of two fabrics or eating shellfish. Not to mention that the penalties for most of these violations including a man lying with a man is death, which no reasonable person thinks should be done. So it seems we already feel fine picking and choosing which scriptures are applicable and which ones can be ignored, so I suggest there is something more here than just faithfulness to the Word of God.
Additionally, given what the Bible says about it, I’m not sure at what point it becomes an issue. When I talk to many gay people it is just as hard for them to imagine themselves as straight as it is for me to contrive attraction to men. So my question is, at what point is a person outside the parameters of what is acceptable? Is it just being gay, is it when you look at someone and find them attractive, is it when you lust or is it the actual penetration? I think there is a lot of nuance that goes into being gay that is not taken into account by the Bible, and the people objecting to homosexuals.
Of course, the issue of procreation comes up a lot and I know that within the LDS faith that has some added significance. But from my perspective, in a world where the population is nearing 7 billion, it seems the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” has been satisfied. Thus our covenant and commitment to a partner can be, and is, about something more. I say it is about a loving, meaningful, faithful relationship that is edifying to both people and the family they have if they have one. This goes for straight and gay alike.
Finally, and this is strictly personal, I have known many gay Christians whose faith I would stack against anyone’s. I know the Holy Spirit when I see it and I have seen it in many LGBT brothers and sisters. Not to mention that the most committed relationship I can think of, the one that is the best example of what it means to have a healthy marriage, is between two gay men who are the Godparents of my children. Quite frankly, these good people are far more compelling to me than anything else.