For some of us this is a no brainer, for others this would be an issue a bit more complex for ourselves and our families to deal with.
I recently watched the thought provoking documentary, "For the Bible Tells Me So", (available on Netflix) which explores the journeys that four different Christian families with fundamental evangelical roots took when they experienced one of their children being gay. These personal narratives were accompanied by commentary from voices like Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, all giving their views on what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Honestly, almost as soon as I personally consider the question I posed at the start of this post, I already know my answer. I see every human as no less than a miracle. Knit internally within their mother's womb by the very intentions of our Creator. I can't imagine something like my child being homosexual as a factor that would shift internally within me my love and affections towards them. Would I choose a lifestyle of homosexuality for my child? No. Would I reject them for it? No.
Most of the families in the film had a very hard time when their adult or adolescent child came out with the truth concerning their sexuality. A mother's tears unraveled the tragic tale of openly rejecting her daughter, subjecting her to insults and harsh words of condemnation after she revealed her sexuality. The end result was that her daughter had been so swallowed up by her pain and feelings of abandonment and rejection that she felt no other choice but to end her life by hanging herself in a closet using her dog's leash. I couldn't imagine the pain, grief..and yes, guilt, that her mother might have felt by how her reactions towards her child's sexuality had helped drive her to such an end.
That same mother went on to study the Bible voraciously, looking for answers about what it really had to say regarding homosexuality and what she found prompted her to become an active advocate rallying those around her to encourage the Church in openly accepting homosexuals. This was also the result for the other families as well, with the exception of one.
One family in particular that really inspired me was former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and his wife's reaction to their daughter breaking the news to them that she was gay. Him and his wife had a tearful yet loving reception of the news exclaiming the importance of parents to have an unconditional love for their children. Their tender and unwavering love towards their daughter was truly touching and I believe, glorified God.
So what does the Bible really have to say about homosexuality according to the documentary?
First, one of the most important themes that was stressed among all the commentators and theologians interviewed was the necessity of reading the Bible from the context of the culture that it was written. The Bible was written by a specific people during a specific time and for one to get a truly clear picture of what God's message is in a passage they must first realize the context in which that passage was written.
One of the major verses that those who advocate that homosexuality is a sin use is Leviticus 18: 22:
22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Pointed out was the fact that that verse was one verse among many in that passage that included a whole list of actions that were deemed as abominations. Actions that are not seen as abominations today like eating shrimp or planting two seeds in the same hole. What the theologians and commentators emphasized was that those laws were "holy laws" written by those at the time in that culture to help them live holy lives. The reason why a man wasn't to sleep with another man was because that law was written in a culture that was striving to grow and that would have went against it's goal of increasing it's population for prosperity and survival.
One other major source that those who oppose homosexuality to the lengths of feeling it is a sin deserving the punishment of hell is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Experts in the film made it quite clear that Sodom and Gomorrah was not destroyed because of homosexual acts but because of inhospitality and cruelty. There are other verses in scripture that support this argument. After a little digging, these are some verses I came up with:
49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
Neither spared he the place where Lot sojourned, but abhorred them for their pride.
In Luke 10:10-13, Jesus, describing the sin of inhospitality, mentioned Sodom:
10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
The documentary is produced from a very liberal perspective, with only liberal commentators and experts providing opinions and information for the views presented. I think that's an important thing to note. As one who has been for most of my Christian walk steeped in conservative evangelicalism I could identify rather quickly with the biased slant that was being espoused. I, however, could identify much truth in what they were saying and frankly was refreshed by the overall message of love and tolerance the film expressed. The sentiment in the film was frankly more attuned to my natural inclinations towards this issue, rather than those of which I've been taught.
It was truly painful to listen to their clip of James Dobson, host of popular evangelical radio show "Focus on the Family", saying that "homosexuality is a preventable disorder" and if "your child tells you that he or she is gay/lesbian, you should not try to accept them but get them changed." Experts warned that this line of reasoning is deeply flawed and potentially very harmful. Dobson actually has a program parents and children, or adults on their own, can be involved in that will help them get "straight". While this might alter their behavior, it still suppresses who they are internally which can have devastating effects, as is seen by the countless number of suicides among homosexuals that have felt severe rejection and condemnation from their families and communities after the sexual orientation became known.
I think this film would be beneficial for liberal and conservative Christians alike to view. It's important, in my opinion, to hear all sides to an issue. You might not agree, and perhaps be vehemently opposed, to some of what is expressed in this documentary, but hey, it makes some great dialogue. And if we, as the Body of Christ, can't enter into civil dialogue with one another about an issue that threatens to divide the church than we are not honoring God.
God is all about unity within the Body, for that's the only way it can properly function and manifest His Kingdom here on earth.
I feel it's important to confront some of these issues, in a non-threatening way with others, discussing them in respectful forums and perhaps settling at the end of the day to agree to disagree. With world hunger on the rise, wars causing death and destruction across the globe and people still suffering the lingering effects of natural disasters...what's the point of dividing ourselves over something that might not be a real issue anyways?
Any thoughts? I'm sure you have some! Please leave them in the comments section!