When we read and study the Bible, we interact with what’s written, and we interpret from our own experiences. A book of over 30,000 verses – written thousands of years ago, by a variety of writers, over a period of hundreds of years – contains ideas quite different from ours.
Engaging sacred texts really is a heart, mind and soul endeavor. Most of us were taught to believe specific things, to view life from a particular vantage point, and to hold firm to certain ideas.
What do we know about the Bible and human sexuality?
We know that our knowledge of human sexuality is more advanced than that of the scribes and writers of the biblical texts. Our lives make most sense when we are guided by and understand anatomy, biology, gender diversity, significance of relationships, as well as our faith.
From these sacred writings…
- We gain insight into the complexity of loving relationships and their variety.
- We become enlightened about the centrality of relationship with God and with each other.
- We enhance our appreciation for treating each person with respect and relating to one another on the basis of mutual sharing.
What should we gather from the texts about same-sex relationships?
The familiar texts that many people claim address same-sex intimate relationships are actually ambiguous to scholars, and to us. These texts are about interactions and relationships that are abusive, unequal in power, exploitive, and/or ritually-suspect.
However, scriptures provide many examples of persons of the same-gender in fulfilling, loving, supportive, respectful friendships. A few examples:
- The care shown by Jesus for the disciple John
- A shared home and supportive love of Mary and Martha
- Deep devotion for Naomi by Ruth (a daughter-in-law of another culture)
- Profound care, love and commitment between Jonathan and David
By giving these examples, are we saying that these couples were gay? No, the Scriptures give us no way to know what their sexual orientation was. We can say that the relationships illustrate what love and commitment look like in any relationship.
So what does the Bible really say?
Some view messages of judgment and condemnation as the strongest ones in the Bible. Do those messages disturb your heart and fail to reflect what you have experienced?
Allow the Bible to inspire you! Embrace it as a guide full of the journeys of people in relationship with God. Consider committing time to deeply explore what you perceive to be the central message of sacred scripture. Sometimes these characters and writers got it right. At other points they were off base, and yet they continued to enjoy the unconditional love of God.