catapult magazine

catapult magazine


The Gay Rights Fight


Nov 19 2004
05:26 pm

First, let me say that I am delighted that there is conversation around this most timely and important topic.

Next, let me share my awareness that anything I write next is not bound to change any minds. My intent is to share my perspective, one that has changed over time by talking with and listening to my gay, lesbian and transgender neighbors, Biblical scholars, and a wide variety of clergy.

A very basic question raised is “is homosexuality a sin?” To answer that I first need to return to my Lutheran (ELCA) heritage to see that sin is defined as “unfaithfulness.” Next, I find that the Lutheran norm of “scripture alone” is not sufficient to answer this question. As with other issues such as divorce, women’s role in the church, dietary regulations, sexual intercourse during menstruation and others, the Bible is contextual and tied to worldviews and social particularities, much of which we have chosen not to adopt. If we determine as we do with the rest of the Levitical text that this “Holiness Code” is man made or made for a different time and culture then there are no clear prohibitions. Jesus says nothing at all regarding homosexual activity but does talk about divorce. Jesus gives us the great commandment as an all inclusive law.

When word alone didn’t answer the question, Luther’s appropach was to determine if the action in question promotes the gospel – liberation, freedom, person being made right wtih God, love, and what prohibits that. As my seminary prof put it, “When thinking of what constitutes a sin, in addition to seeing it as un-faith, I think of the golden rule. In that sense, the whole issue of homosexuality is about something else but sin.”

It is interesting to see how much “sin” talk has been attached to sexuality in general (our puritanical roots are showing) and how little “sin” talk has been attached to things like greed (and Capitalism is about nothing if not greed). This is where we who enjoy heterosexual priviledge have a responsibility to speak out against any behavior toward those marginalized that does not encourage love, peace and reconciliation.

Here is where I lose patience with the arguments against homosexuality: Each of us is being called to leave behind our sinfulness – and each of us are living smack dab in the middle of sinfulness. I don’t conclude that homosexuality is a sin (and there are much more articulate Biblical scholars than I who can lend voice to that conclusion) but even if it WERE a sin, how dare we assume it is any greater than the sins each one of us commit every single day. It is my job to love God above all else and to love my neighbor next. And I ask God to help me. It is up to God to bring about transformation.

I want to mention that I have not always held this position. I once swallowed the whole line of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” It was only through dialogue such as this, through reading and listening to people far wiser than I, by listening to my gay, lesbian and transgender friends, through prayer and discernment that I have come to see that my call is to stand in solidarity with those who are considered by human beings to be “outside” the norms.

I am glad that Brett has found a wholeness in claiming a heterosexual identity. This sometimes happens and I would never deny him or others the ability to live that way. But the gay, lesbian and transgender individuals in my life have found wholeness in their sexuality as well – often after years of a painful and, dare I say, unholy attempt to live in a heterosexual relationship, complete with kids, for many years. Such denial led only to pain and isolation.

Finally, I think we miss a lot when we talk about “individual” salvation. The Biblical witness is that of the whole community or the whole creation being saved. That means we are all in this together. As Christians we are called to healing and to community.