Most heterosexual Christians I know exhibit a massive misunderstanding of homosexuality. I would put myself in this category. That’s why I’ve started an in-depth study of the issue, including conversations with LGBT
Christians. I still have a long way to go and I’m excited about the journey. But it doesn’t take long before you realize: We Evangelicals have so much to learn.
For instance, I often hear Christians use the term “homosexual” or “gay” without a specific definition in mind. Do we mean people with same sex attraction? Or people who are in a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender? Or someone who experiences some level of same sex attraction, but still possess more attraction to people of the opposite sex? Or what about people attracted to the same sex but remain celibate because they don’t believe the Bible allows them to act on their desires? Do you think of them when you use the term “gay?”
Or what about people who pursue a relationship with someone of the same sex but not because they are sexually attracted to them? For instance, when Maddie was 9 years old, her dad chained her to a toilet in the basement for three months, giving her scraps of food to keep her alive. After he released her, he raped her repeatedly for the next four years. Now, Maddie chooses only to pursue relationships with other women. “I’m not attracted to girls, but no man will ever touch me ever again,” says Maddie (see Marin, Love Is an Orientation, 41).
Is Maddie a lesbian? Does she have a “gay agenda?”
And that’s another often-misused term: agenda. As if everyone who is attracted to the same sex is on a soapbox trumpeting an agenda. Are some gay people pushing an agenda? Sure. But we heterosexuals, who still hold to a traditional view of Scripture (that it prohibits same-sex
intercourse), would do well to dig deep and understand the complicated and often painful reasons for that agenda. (And, it should go without saying, that many LGBT people don’t have an agenda.)
As I’ve read and listened to stories about people growing up with same-sex attraction and being abused and hated and unloved by the church, I cannot help but think that we’ve missed something. We’ve missed our divine mission of mediating the love of Christ to a broken world. Much of the “gay agenda” that does exist is a backlash to hateful oppression by Christians.
Other aspects of the LGBT community are misunderstood by conservative Christians. Too many to list, actually. One is that every person who ends up gay got that way because of certain societal influences. Their dad was absent. Their mom was domineering. Their sisters dressed them up in pink as a child. Or, of course, they must have been sexually abused.
Although societal influences often play a role, most experts believe—and most LGBT Christians would affirm—that both biological and societal influences play a role in one’s sexual orientation. Think about it: Many heterosexual people had an absentee dad, a domineering mom, creative sisters who donned them with dresses, and who were sexually abused yet are not attracted to the same sex.
Justin Lee, for instance, is a gay Christian and the leader of The Gay Christian Network. In his book Torn, he says that his upbringing defies the stereotype. His dad was affectionate and spent tons of time with him. His mom was not domineering. He wasn’t abused. His sisters didn’t make him wear panties as a kid. In fact, he grew up in a conservative, Southern Baptist, Bible believing, healthy Christian environment and to this day he remains committed to the inerrant text of Scripture, believing in its authority, celebrating the Lordship of Jesus over all areas of life, and has spent hundreds of hours praying that God would make him attracted to girls. But he’s not. Justin is gay. He never chose to be this way and he remains committed to following Jesus while being attracted to dudes.
So what does all this have to do with Leviticus 18?
Leviticus 18:22, along with Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 (the three main passages about homosexuality), have been used to slap, kick, abuse, curse, and stab many—if not most—gay people today. It’s a text dripping with blood. It’s a text associated with hate, not love; abuse, not embrace; ignorance, not understanding. I still believe that these texts need to be studied and believed (in that order). They are God’s words not mine. But they need to be studied with a sober awareness of how they
have been wielded to slaughter people made in the image of God who grew up with SSA (same sex attraction).
A Christian friend of mine, who has struggled with SSA, encouraged me to be sensitive to the long, dark, blood-stained history of these texts before I venture to exegete them—hence, this blog. After all, we are not just studying a text, but trying to love real people with real pain. People like Maddie.
With that in mind, in the next post I’m going to try to interpret Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 by responding to the 5 arguments I gave in my last post. I apologize ahead of time if these next blogs come off as wooden, cold, or academic. If anything, they should be read alongside this blog to capture the full heart of what I’m striving for.