Often when I introduce my girlfriend to other Christians, a look of horror appears on their face, which I’ve come to realise sums up some or all of the following:
- Steff, your partner is leading you way from God,
- You are unrepentant,
- You must not view the Bible with authority,
- You’re skipping past parts of the Bible to promote your relationship,
- You probably want me to support same-sex marriage, too.
So to save a few more of these awkward encounters, because it’s exhausting to be on the receiving end of them, I thought I would debunk this list of assumptions – which are totally myths – below.
Myth #1: I don’t view the Bible with authority
The Bible can be a confusing wormhole sometimes…
No Kidding. What’s with God telling Moses “thou shalt not murder” (Ex 20:13)… and then guiding them to kill thousands of people to conquer different nations for pretty much all of the Old Testament?
The Apostle Paul comes along later and does quite a bit of talking about how unnecessary circumcision is (Romans), and declares a rule to the churches that if anyone was uncircumcised at the time of their calling, “let him not seek circumcision (1 Cor 7)”… yet a few letters later he’s circumcising Timothy so he can fit in with the Jews on their missionary journey (Acts 16:3).
Paul also tells people not to eat with a brother or sister who is sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, drunkard or swindler (1 Cor 5) …but didn’t Jesus seemed to be eating with these guys all the time?
These are just a few quick examples that come to mind, and I’m not trying to make a theological argument out of any of these – most of them have clear answers to what are seemingly contrasting passages. But what we can all agree on is that the Bible – as a sometimes confusing wormhole – needs discernment. Like any historical book, it helps to know the context, the genre of writing and the original language to get the best meaning from it.
And, quite potentially, you see these examples as a lame comparison to the “clear-cut” teachings about same sex relationships in the Bible, but whatever your view is, we can all have some level of agreement here.
I say this not to debate Biblical interpretations, but to stress that we can’t keep associating a difference in Christian opinions about same-sex relationships with a lack of Biblical integrity or a lack of adherence to Biblical authority. People have prayed, reflected, called on the Spirit for guidance, made intellectual and heartfelt decisions about LGBT-related passages in the Bible. They haven’t just thrown it all to the wind. And we can’t keep saying they have.
As a Christian in a same-sex relationship, I believe in the same over-quoted Bible verse as you, used in every Biblical authority conversation: “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).”
Let me leave the skeptics with a question to ponder: Have you ever thought that some of those Christian supporters of gay relationships might be trying to use scripture to teach, rebuke, correct and train you?
Myth #2: I ignore parts of the Bible to promote a gay relationship
This one flows on pretty similarly from the first answer… that I believe all scripture is God-breathed and useful. I have just come to interpret it differently. And not with a weak heart or conscience.
And many others have written about this better than I ever could – If you are serious about being more informed about the Bible and how we can use it in the LGBT space, here are some texts I can recommend.
I would also give an added challenge to Christians with LGBT friends, that looking into this in-depth needs to be a priority. While we wait, our LGBT neighbours are being turned away from church, severed from their relationship with Jesus. I would give an added challenge to Christians without LGBT friends, that to even begin a conversation about this “issue” needs to begin with love. Love for actual people. How many of our LGBT friends have you spoken of without ever listening to?
An article written by Justin Lee, Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network, who believes God blesses same-sex marriages.
David P. Gushee takes the reader along his personal and theological journey as he changes his mind about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inclusion in the Church.
From an evangelical missionary who once fought in the culture wars against gay rights only to undergo a reluctant reversal, this is Peter Aelred’s biblical, and balanced defense of same-sex relationships.
Myth #3: I am unrepentant
In a recent sermon, Tim Keller described “repentance” not as an act of accepting that we have sinned, doing hurtful things towards God, and then realising we need to stop doing them. But rather, repentance is about acknowledging that I am completely and utterly corrupted by sin, that everything I do is tainted by sinfulness i.e. nothing I do can please God. And therefore that the only option I have to be in relationship with God is to cling wholeheartedly and fully to Jesus.
So if we truly know this about ourselves, and truly understand how beautifully undeserving we are of this gift, how can we do anything but turn to our Saviour in wholehearted worship – in praise, thankfulness, and in a life of service to our Lord.
People may look to the outside of me to make a judgment about my heart, but seeing Jesus on the cross – along with everything that that means – regularly brings me to tears. Tears of thankfulness, tears of sorrow and tears of repentance.
Just a thought to reflect on: if you are truly concerned that someone is unrepentant in their actions and want them to change heart; keep sharing God’s love for them through Jesus. Because a heart transformed by the love and sacrifice of Jesus, is a truly repentant heart. And if the knowledge of God’s love can be found in His Word and in the Church, we need to stop dis-communicating LGBT Christians from our communities. Can I say that again? We need to stop dis-communicating LGBT Christians from our communities.
Myth #4: My gay partner is leading me away from God
Remember that phase Jesus went through of spending his time with the sick and lost and hurt? Those times he was called out by the religious leaders of his age for hanging with the lowly and rejected? When he saw the crowds of people and was moved by compassion for them because they were lost?
That’s the kind of gal my girlfriend is.
I see God so beautifully in her. In her heart for the poor and lost. And in the way she unconditionally loves me. She is literally a slice of heaven. An insight into what eternity living with God will be like.
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
– Matthew 7:18
Myth #5: I believe all Christians should support same-sex marriage
As a Christian I affirm freedom of belief as a fundamental human right, particularly beliefs that are informed by the Divine, and most particularly again beliefs that are formed by the Bible. Just as I acknowledged at the start of this writing, people have prayed, reflected, called on the Spirit for guidance, made intellectual and heartfelt decisions about LGBT-related passages in the Bible.
Our triune God works through His Spirit, and I encourage you to believe as you are convicted. No one should be pressured into supporting something that their conscience will not allow them to. Beliefs which are sacred, personal and based on scripture.
I think this is especially important for LGBTIQA Christians. With genuine hearts to serve God, however you are convicted to follow Him – in celibacy or in relationship – I affirm your decision.
I also believe differing opinions about this can be positive within the Church, as they push us to think outside the box and to chat more openly.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
…all of this needs to stop happening in actions that come from fear! And begin with actions that are soaked and soaked and soaked again in love. Our conversations need to be a mutually respectful and supportive dialogue.
Same-sex marriage legislation is inevitable (come on, can we all just accept this already?), but we have a very wonderful and critical chance to redirect and shape better relationships between Christians, LGBT peoples and the broader community than has happened in other countries where “the boot is now on the other foot.” Christians are rightfully worried about their treatment if marriage legislation changes. But the Australian community is only reacting to the way Christians have acted towards them – the boot should never have been on our foot.
If we want to write public letters of opposition to same-sex marriage legislation, we must compliment that with public letters of apology and public messages of welcome into our churches.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
Inside the church, we need open conversations that are affirmed with unity.
Outside the church we need love and humility.
Finally, if you disagree with all of these words and still believe these myths to be true about a Christian in a same-sex relationship, then I encourage you to move ahead with LGBT Christians in love. Truly walk with them, not above them. Read the Bible (with mutual respect) together, serve together and grapple with what it looks like to live as Jesus did in this world together.