Written in 2003 for my Persuasive Theory and Writing course…
“[Homosexuals are] brute beasts…part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be celebration in heaven.” These are fairly strong words coming from Fundamentalist Christian Jerry Falwell. In a nation that is promoting tolerance, our faith cries that we are to flee from sin. While the Bible condemns the sin of homosexuality, we see Christ offering salvation to everyone. How are we, as Christians, to approach homosexuals?
The issue of “Christian homosexuality” is a delicate one. As always, there are extremists on both sides, with the majority of people somewhere in the middle. The Conservative Christian extremists can often be found attacking the very vocal Gay Rights groups on the basis of Biblical scripture. Perhaps one of the the best examples of this is the site godhatesfags.com, designed by the Westboro Baptist Church. Labeling those who participate in the gay lifestyle as “sodomites,” they claim that Christ wanted nothing to do with sinners of this type and that all gays are condemned to hell.
“The sodomites only hope is to have the unambiguous truth preached to them, and prehaps God will soften their hearts and grant them repentance to depart from their sin and name the name of Christ. Not very likely, though, since God has given them up.”
In a link from this site, you can read articles written about gays and lesbians who have died. These Christians used language that would make many non-Christians blush under the heading “Perpetual Gospel Memorial for Diane Whipple,” and close with a banner reading “Diane Whipple has been in hell for 785 days.” They refer to her as a “filthy dyke,” and continue on to insult her family and friends. In the background is the sound of a woman screaming in agony, which they claim is Diane’s “message to the world from hell.”
The term “sodomites” is taken in reference to the homosexual behavior of several men in the city of Sodom, as told in Genesis 19. According to these Scriptures, two angels visit a man named Lot whose residence is in the city of Sodom. During the night, men from “every quarter” of Sodom come and harass Lot to give them these two men from God so that they can sex with them. Lot refuses and as the men of Sodom attempt to break into the house, God strikes them blind. Ultimately, God commands Lot and his family to leave the city, and it is destroyed because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
The Christian view also quotes verses from Romans 1 which condemn the sin of a gay lifestyle.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exhanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman, and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the penalty of their sins. (Romans 1:26, 27 NASB)
This verse describes the “unnaturalness” of the gay lifestyle. God did not create men to have sex with men, or women to have sex with women. As stated by the Frontline Christian organization, “The ‘natural use’ would be the use of sex between a male and a female who are married. Intimate affections between two of the same gender are (in the aforementioned verse) called unnatural…Homosexuality displays clearly how utterly perverse man’s desires are.” Homosexuality is also listed as an action contrary to the Gospel in 1 Timothy 1, and 1 Corinthians 6.
The gay community’s response to this has been varied. Some have just written Christianity off as a prejudiced system/religion. Others have worked alongside Christian organizations such as the Unitarian Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Episcopal Church USA to gain acceptance for the gay community in those congregations. More and more churches are recognizing gay marriages and ordaining gay clergy.
The gay community also has Biblical basis for their belief that a gay lifestyle is not a sin. Crying that the Bible has been mistranslated, they firmly believe that their lifestyle is as natural as heterosexuality and imply that anyone who says differently is exercising prejudice. Or they use the logic that God has created them to be gay so He cannot proclaim it to be a sin without negating his claim of deity.
Many gay Christians claim there are three blatant examples of gay relationships in the Bible. Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 1:16-17, 2:10-11), Daniel and Ashpenaz (Daniel 1:9), and finally David and Jonathan (various passages in 1 and 2 Samuel).
The relationship of Naomi and Ruth has very little support – the only basis for claim of a lesbian relationship is on one word, “cleave.” This word is the same word that is used in Genesis 2:24 when describing how a man shall leave his father and mother and “cleave” to his wife.
The relationship between Daniel and Ashpenaz can be hinted at as gay in nature, but only if you employ a specific Bible translation. The verse in question, Daniel 1:9, states, “Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.” The translation of the word chesed v’rachamim can be translated as either “mercy/compassion” or “physical relations.” Obviously, the gay community chooses to interpret it as the latter, while the Conservative chooses the former. Once again, this is just a matter of translation and not a very strongly supported assumption.
Finally, David and Jonathan are viewed as a gay couple. The verses often used in defense of this theory are 1 Samuel 18:3-4, 20-41, and 2 Samuel 1:26. In the first verses we see Jonathan strip himself naked in front of David in order to show how strongly David was “knit into his soul.” In the second verse, we see David and Jonathan kissing as they are parting ways. Finally, in 2 Samuel 1:26, we hear David singing a dirge for the deaths of Saul and Jonathan – in which he claims Jonathan’s love was more wonderful than a woman’s. Taken out of historical context, all three of these passages would seem to indicate a very intense sexual relationship between David and Jonathan. But considering the customs of the day, they only prove David and Jonathan had a strong friendship. In times of intense emotion, men often would remove and/or exchange garments. It was not uncommon for men to greet and part from each other with a kiss on the cheek – which is still a societal norm in many middle eastern countries. It is similar to a handshake. And considering the amount of sexual experience David had, the fulfilling friendship of Jonathan was something very dear to him. The friendship of Jonathan was not fleeting. It held more meaning because most relationships between men and women of the times were not meaningful at all. They were rarely allowed to interact. Instead of a brief sexual encounter, Jonathan was David’s best friend – whom he shared his life with in a completely nonsexual manner. Again, once put into historical context, this argument becomes shaky.
As Christians, we are to live a life imitating the actions and heart of Christ. Christ did not condone any sin, and this includes the sin of homosexuality. Yet Christ did not walk around condemning those who were engaged in sin, but helped them to escape it through a loving relationship with Him. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. (John 3:17 NASB). Jesus interacted with the sinner, this included hypocrites, prostitutes and others. We are told by the Apostle Paul not to judge others. Therefore you are withoug excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things (Romans 2:1 NASB). Homosexuality is a sin, yes, but we are all sinners; and none of us can be found perfect in the eyes of God without Christ. Therefore, we have no right to judge those around us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 NASB). Contrary to the beliefs of Westboro Baptist Church, Christ’s blood can cover any sin, or else we would all be helpless. In the verses following those which condemn homosexuality as a sin in 1 Corinthians 6, we hear the beautiful news of salvation through Christ. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11). We are to love gays and lesbians just as Christ loved us. God does love those engaged in a gay or lesbian lifestyle, although their sin hurts Him just as much as our lying, deceit, pride, coarse language, and judgment of His other children. We are to follow His example and share the amazing Gospel of Christ with them. We are not to condemn or to condone, but show compassion and concern.
Dew, Diane. “Homosexuality.” 1996. Diane S. Dew. 20 March 2003. .Phelps, Fred Sr. “Memorials.” 20 March 2003. Westboro Baptist Church. 20 Mar 2003. .
“What the Bible Says About Homosexuality.” May 1995. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 20 Mar 2003. .`