Last night over thirty women representing nine different churches gathered at our salon to discuss homosexuality. I’ve never studied so hard to prepare for a discussion as I did for this one. Every generation has one, at least one, issue that divides, breaks and wounds Christians and the Church. John Wycliffe, who fought for the bible to be translated into common language, was burned at the stake for ideals, people died and the Church split over Martin Luther’s thinking of sola Scripture and priesthood of believers. In the early 20th century we had the fights over evolution then in the 1960’s-70’s over the role of women in mainline denominations. When I attended seminary in the 1990’s there was the divisive issue of speaking in tongues. Todays hot issue is homosexuality. And if history has anything to teach us we know it’s going to be ugly- people are going to get hurt. That’s why I studied so hard…prayed so hard. I wanted Jesus to help us learn to have conversations about these kinds of issues without killing each other in the process. I think he’s for that.
So we gathered. In a winery. And we talked. No blood was shed. Jesus was beaming!
Most of those the women who attended seemed to have come because it was a personal issue. They had a friend, relative, a neighbor who was a homosexual. One women shared that she had come out of the homosexual lifestyle. You know it took courage for her to say that to this group.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is our tone changes about what we believe when it’s personal. We aren’t as dogmatic, declarative when it’s embodied, meaning we know someone or that someone is us!
We looked at how anti and pro gay theologians defend their positions from the Scriptures. We talked about which arguments were weaker and which were stronger. We found some anti gay arguments weak, perhaps not even viable, while many of us considered the Genesis 2 to be a strong argument against homosexuality. We talked about how the pro gay writings enlightened us to the differences between ancient near eastern homosexuality verses homosexuality today. Some women stated in light of their research and experience they couldn’t declare homosexuality was a sin. Others definitely said it was. When asked if a Christian homosexual could serve in their church, many blurted out, “Why yes.” They didn’t have many restrictions. A few said, “No” because sin can’t be ignored. Which lead us to what about those who serve who habitually sin but it’s a sin that can’t be seen? These women are good thinkers.
I was surprised at these women, they wanted change. They wanted the Church to be more loving, accepting. Regardless of their Scriptural stance they felt we Christians have failed to love like Jesus loves. What I took away was, regardless of whether or not it’s a sin, love trumps, love MUST trump.
We’re going to talk about this issue a bit more. But for now let me leave you with a clip from a conversation I had with Dr. Philip Payne. He argues Paul was talking about homosexuality when he spoke of head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11. Fascinating.