[Disclaimer: This blog and the posts contained within it are solely the representation of my personal thoughts and beliefs. They are in no way representative of the thoughts or beliefs of communities or organizations I am involved in or discuss. Such communities would include, but not be limited to, Fuller Theological Seminary, the Pasadena International House of Prayer, the School of Supernatural Ministry, the Live Bones student prayer group, Christian Assembly Church, etc.]
[In a previous post I have explained that most common approach to the Bible I have encountered in Christianity is the “Truth mine” approach. In this approach the Bible is “mined” for timeless and eternal truths that govern Christian belief and behavior. I then have pointed out why this approach to the Bible is highly problematic for a number of reasons. I have suggested it would be better to read the Bible as Revelation from and about God and an Invitation to participate in His ongoing story of redemption.
How one approaches the Bible, how one chooses to interpret it, certainly impacts what you learn from the Bible and how you apply it in your daily life. So what does it look like to approach the Bible as Revelation and Invitation as compared to approaching it as a Truth mine? What will be different?
To answer this question the next several posts are going to examine the question “Is homosexuality a sin?” I will attempt to answer this question through both approaches to scripture so that they can be held up side by side. Hopefully by examining one issue in more detail my words about interpretation will come into focus.
But why am I focusing on homosexuality?
Homosexuality is a very polarizing issue that many Christian leaders, speakers and many of my fellow seminarians (the people who should be leading the discussion) do not want to touch with a ten foot pole.
In a recent article it was revealed that Sojourners refused to accept an add from an LGBT group that hopes to promote LGBT equality in churches because, “Sojourner’s position is to avoid taking sides on the issue…” Sojourners is one of the most progressive voices in Christianity that has taken a stance on many major issues that have cut across the grain of the status quo. They have taken a side on divisive issues such as war, poverty, social justice, race, etc. But on this one issue, their stance is to avoid taking a side.
In an article in the Semi (the Fuller newspaper) Randal F. reported that, “In the last three years, punk pastor Jay Bakker has led a public campaign with The American Family Outing in an effort to recruit prominent Evangelical pastors to affirm homosexuality in their churches. Notably, Bakker visited Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Bill Hybels and Fuller alum Rob Bell asking for their televised support. So far, none of these pastors have done so.”
The point I want to highlight is this: Rob Bell, who does not even believe in Hell, will not affirm homosexuality. Apparently breaking with Christian tradition on the issue of Hell was not a big deal, but affirming homosexuality is simply too controversial for Bell.
No one wants to get near this issue.
Here at Fuller a number of students will voice their support for the LGBT community or advocate for the acceptance of LGBT people into the church, but only secretly and privately. Many are well aware that their blogs, status updates, and conversations might be screened by future employers and many future employers (a.k.a. churches and denominations) are decidedly not welcoming to the LGBT community. (The recent issue in the Semi was a rather rare exception to this.)
On this issue I believe fear silences many people on both sides and it is fear that prevents the very dialogue that needs to happen. I know fear is what kept me quiet at my home church for many years on this issue when I struggled with the blatant hatred of homosexuals promoted there. Here at Fuller the exact opposite is true. No one wrote into the Semi with an article that condemned homosexuality because that is not a popular opinion to have here at Fuller.
When fear silences dialogue all that is left over are the extreme voices that are trying to bludgeon their point home, not meet other people in civil dialogue and conversation. These voices, on both sides, are often very hate-filled people hoping to accomplish an agenda that often has little to do with homosexuality, sexuality or Jesus.
I have previously written that dialogue should abound where dogma has reigned and I think this is one issue where that is very true. That is why I have chosen to examine it while I flesh out my thoughts on interpretation more.
My overall aim in the next several posts is three-fold. First, I want to show the implications of how we choose to read the Bible. Second, I want to contribute my best understanding of the intersection between, God, sexuality, homosexuality and sin as this is an ongoing conversation that is happening at Fuller, especially in regards to our community standards. Third, I would hope to deal with this topic as compassionately and tactfully as possible because I realize it is a deeply personal issue to certain people on every side of the debate and I am an outsider writing about something that has deeply impacted the lives of others.