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Deconstructed Faith,  Faith & Culture,  Love Wins,  Relationships

How I became affirming – thoughts on the Bible and Homosexuality

For years, I have been asked what my beliefs are regarding homosexuality and the LGBTQ community. I haven’t been open about this subject publically for many reasons. But mainly because I was unsure how to communicate my convictions in a way that could be heard.

 

Most of my life I was surrounded by what I believed the image of a family should look like: a dad, a mom and kids. This was the picture – this was the dream. Like many, I grew up with the hope of having a family like that of my own one day. But, also like so many, I got that family – but I also got a divorce.

 

It’s interesting how much your idea of “family” begins to shift once you find yourself on the outside of lines you once were so comfortable in. Especially when the Bible seems so “clear” about what a good family should be like…

 

Good families don’t include divorce.

Good families don’t include single parents.

Good families don’t include homosexuals.

Good families don’t include two people who weren’t both professing Christians.

 

Although much on this list was not directly said aloud, it was certainly implied. I knew where the lines of good and bad, holy and sinful, wrong and right were. And, like any good Christian girl, I didn’t want to be outside of those lines.

 

But, then there’s this tricky thing called the Spirit. Although I had my neatly ordered box of who belonged where and what label went with what, the Spirit continued to push me beyond those lines. Calling me into a wilderness of questions that blew the ceiling right off of my box.

 

Because, it’s easy to believe good homes don’t include divorce, until you are divorced. It’s easy to believe good families can’t be run by a single parent, until you are that single parent. It’s easy to believe homosexuals can’t marry and create a family, until your friend does. It’s easy to believe a house without two professing Christians can be good, until it’s your neighbors (who you simply adore).

 

Yes, the Spirit continues to challenge lines. Over and over again. Generation after generation, we continue to face a conflict between Spirit and what seems to be concrete doctrine.

 

So, in a nutshell, this is what I believe:

 

I can be affirming and hold love for my LGBTQ friends while holding onto scripture and my love for Jesus at the same time. I do not believe they are in conflict with one another.

 

But, I want to share how I arrived here. (And please understand, this was not an overnight shift. This came through years of studying, researching and loads of prayer).

 

Homosexuality was not a word until 1946:

 

There are certain verses that include the word “homosexuality”. However, the word “homosexuality” wasn’t used in any translation of the Bible until 1946. (When I first learned that, I was like whhaaatt?)

 

That was the first time that the two Greek words *arsenokoitai and *malakos were combined to one word and translated as “homosexual”. During the 1930’s and 1940’s many people still didn’t understand what same-sex-attraction even meant. (For further reading on the history of the translation, check out this article here)

 

Homosexuality in the Old Testament:

 

The most famous story held up in Biblical debate regarding homosexuality is the account of Sodom in Genesis. The context of this story is significant. No matter how you read it, it is apparent the people of the city were out for violence and rape. That was the situation.

In the words of Rev. Justin Cannon, “To use this story to condemn all homosexual behavior is unfounded and truly stretching this story outside of its historical framework, but that is exactly what has happened…however, it is remarkable to see how the story of Sodom, filled with rape and violence, has taken such a central role surrounding the topic of homosexuality and more precisely in the development of the word ‘sodomite’ as what it means today.” (For further reading from Justin Cannon, click here).

This story was not about “gay” men who were in love with one another. It was about sexual violence to gain power and control.

 

Homosexuality in the New Testament:

 

So, if the word “homosexuality” was not even used until 1946, what on earth was Paul talking about?? Now, it is true that when Paul wrote in the New Testament, he was witnessing same-sex sexual acts. But, again, context is crucial. During this time period, Roman male soldiers were known for raping young male boys. It was a hideous practice. And one that should have been openly condemned. When Paul was discussing “homosexuality” during this passage, he was addressing the sexual abuse of young boys by Roman soldiers. Not loving, homosexual relationships.

 

Also, in other verses such as 1 Timothy 1:8-10, it is important to refer to where the word “sodomite” originated from (see above).

 

Let’s talk about creation…

 

I have heard it said many times that if God wanted homosexuals to be part of creation, then he would have made humans like that in the beginning. To uphold this argument, one must believe that if it wasn’t inside original creation, then it can’t be of God.

 

But, there are many things not included in the creation story pertaining to family that we embrace today. Such as children born with disabilities like down-syndrome. Just ask any family raising one of these precious children, and they will tell you that these children are a GIFT from God. But, according to this argument, would we have to say they are not of God?

 

And, what about interracial marriage? Is that not of God because Adam and Eve were of the same race? What about adoption? That was not part of the creation story. Does that mean it isn’t God’s plan for families to be built with adoption? (eh, Jesus was actually adopted…)

 

To say that God didn’t make homosexuals the way they are is to ignore science, biology and the story of any LGBTQ person. They will all tell you that they “came” this way. Did God make a mistake?

 

NO.

 

I believe we are ALL made in God’s image: meaning I believe we all are created with a desire to love others. Whether that love is extended to the same gender, opposite gender, black people, white people or purple people – if what they are doing is done in love, then I have to believe that is of God.

 

Look at the fruit:

 

These days, my theology is pretty simple. If something brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control, then I believe it is of the Spirit. That is called “good fruit”. But if something bears death, pain, agony, hatred and harm then I cannot believe it is of God.

 

Jesus came to bring life – not death. If something is life-giving, I believe the Spirit is in it.

 

What is the fruit of telling someone they are “wrong” to be gay, or are “sinful” to love someone of their same gender? It’s EVIDENT: suicide, self-harm, self-hatred, loneliness, depression and anxiety. For me, that is where I draw a clear line. The fruit can’t be any more obvious than that. The fruit is terrible.

 

But, you sit down with a gay couple who is selflessly loving eachother, their children and their community and you will be hard pressed to find anything but GOOD fruit.

 

It boils down to this…

 

We are not discussing something that brings harm to anyone. We are not discussing rape, sexual abuse or self-harm. We are discussing two people who want to love eachother.

 

We are discussing a homosexual relationship, where two people desire to love one another faithfully. One where they long to build a life together and not be alone. One where they hope to have children, raise a family and grow old together. One where they can make eachother better humans and serve the world around them well. The question is whether you choose to support that love or wish to destroy it.

 

And then there’s Jesus…

 

The guy who was the son of God and who the Bible says was the “word” of God. Well, the word of God didn’t say anything on this subject. The one guy who knew what would happen after his death and all the lives coming after him – given the weight of society’s upcoming issues such as racism, women’s rights and homosexuality, one would think that he would have addressed these issues and spared us the ugly history of wars and fighting.

 

But, he didn’t.

 

Jesus, the word of God, said nothing.

 

However, I do find it interesting that what he did continue to preach which was “woe” to the religious. Especially to those who thought they knew who was “holy” and who wasn’t. He did say to love your neighbor as yourself. (Which means all of the rights you want for yourself, you should extend to your neighbor).

 

Jesus stood with the oppressed and marginalized in society. And he continued to include those that the church rejected. And continued to challenge the idea of who was truly holy and who wasn’t.

 

So, as for me?

 

Apart from a shaky biblical argument (at best), what pushed me over the line was the lack of good fruit. I can’t stand for anything that brings death to one’s soul. I stand for what brings life.

 

Again, I realize that I find myself outside the church majority, but I’m okay with that. (Truthfully I’ve been on the outside pretty much my whole life and I’m quite comfortable here) My convictions are what they are. I love and embrace my LGBTQ sisters and brothers and am honored to affirm and stand beside them.

 

But, I understand that for many this is a difficult topic. It may make you uncomfortable and uneasy to read the words I’ve written. And, that is OKAY. Let me just encourage you – no matter your beliefs – to be-friend someone in the LGBTQ community. Make room for discomfort. Open your heart and your doors to someone different than you.

 

In closing, dearly beloveds, no matter who you are or who you love, you are beautifully and wonderfully made. God doesn’t make mistakes.

For, a further in-depth look at all of the passages in scripture regarding this topic, listen to my latest podcast episode here

 

Anna

 

PS: To listen in on a conversation with one of my favorite LGBT pastor friends, click here!

 

PPS: For parents struggling with a child who has come out, please check out the resources at the Harbor website.

 

PPSS: Remember that this is a safe place. If you post a condemning or harmful comment about those in the LGBTQ community, it will be kindly deleted 🙂

 

 

 

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.

16 Comments

  • Susan

    Bravo ! It must have taken so much courage and time to put your thoughts down here. People can be religious, that is, take a legalistic approach to a discussion like this, but it forces love and compassion to be removed from the conversation. We are all sinners, yep, and I have a wonderful friend that said once to me ” love the sinner, not the sin.” Righteousness is a tricky thing. Chemists, Endocrinologists…loads of people in the medical community could point to data on dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine (to share just a few) and how they effect attraction.

  • Frank

    Anna, You state in your article, “The guy who was the son of God and who the Bible says was the “word” of God. Well, the word of God didn’t say anything on this subject.” I believe that Jesus did say something about how a marriage is to work. Matthew 19:4-6 says, “And He (Jesus) answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'” Does it seem to you that Jesus is addressing how marriage is to work? What am I missing?

    Frank

    • Anna Dimmel

      Hi Frank! I appreciate your question. In my opinion, Jesus was addressing the culture at the time. In which, male and female marriage was the only kind of marriage. For him to address same sex marriage would be like him discussing cell phones, the internet or antibiotics. None of those would have been understood by the culture in that day.
      However, it is interesting to note that the word “cling” as used in this passage, is only used one other time in Scripture. In story of Ruth and Naomi, it says Ruth “clung” to Naomi. This is the same word that Jesus used when describing a husband clinging to his wife.

      • Josh Jetto

        Anna, I think it is very important to clarify that the Hebrew word used Genesis 2:24 to speak of a man being ‘joined to’ or ‘clinging to’ his wife appears a lot more than just in Ruth 1:14. The word is DaBaQ (דבק). According to a quick search on my BibleWorks software, it actually occurs 60 times in its various conjugations in the Old Testament. It occurs so many times that in the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Holladay), the example in Ruth is not even mentioned. I’m not sure where you were getting your information, but what you shared in your reply to Frank misrepresented Scripture.
        I also checked to see how the Septuagint (2nd Century BC translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek language) translated Ruth 1:14 to see if the Greek word used there matched the Greek word Jesus used in Matthew 19:5. Jesus’ words closely match the Greek quotation of Genesis 2:24, but the Greek word used in Ruth 1:14 is the word that is most often translated into English as ‘follow.’

  • Josh Jetto

    Anna, the passage in Romans 1 which you say refers to Roman soldiers raping boys does not fit the language being used in this passage. First, Paul lists as condemnable behavior (Romans 1:32) both female homosexual practice and male homosexual practice (Romans 1:26-27). Additionally in 1:27, with respect to men desiring other men, he uses the pronoun “allylous,” which is the reciprocal pronoun, meaning that the desire between the men was mutual and consensual. Additionally, if Paul were speaking of men raping boys, he would not use the same word for men to describe both partners in the verse, but he does (ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν (Rom. 1:27 BGT)). Paul gives the reason for their acceptance of these desires within themselves and the outworking of those desires in homosexual behavior in Romans 1:21-25, namely a refusal to worship and submit to God as He has revealed Himself to be and instead making gods to which they were more comfortable submitting – images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. In 1:24-25, Paul writes of God’s response to their worship of false things instead of the One True God, “Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, amen” (ESV).
    Anna, you are badly mistaken in your interpretation of this passage and are leading other people into error by it. You say you love Scripture and love Jesus, but loving Scripture means submitting to what it says even if that is uncomfortable or unpopular, and loving Jesus means submitting to His teaching (John 8:31ff), which has come to us through the Apostolic, Holy Spirit inspired writing in the New Testament (John 14:25-26). Loving Jesus also means submitting to His teaching in the Old Testament, which instructs us in the way we should go and points us to come to Jesus to have life (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Loving people and approving of what they do are not the same things. In fact, approving of people’s behavior that God deems sinful is hateful and not loving; it keeps them in destructive bondage to their sin. Proverbs 27:6 it says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” It is true that many in the evangelical Christian world have not befriended those in the LGBTQ community (and have lobbed unfriendly truth grenades into people’s lives; I’m not okay with that either), but it is also true that many have befriended people in the LGBTQ community. Those stories usually don’t make mainstream headlines. I don’t know if you have read Rosaria Butterfield’s book The Gospel Comes with a House Key, but I highly recommend it for many reasons, but in the context of this conversation because she addresses love for neighbor (including the LGBTQ community) through Christian hospitality from her personal perspective as a former lesbian.

    • Anna Dimmel

      Hi Josh! The passage in Romans does bring a lot of discussion on this topic. Here are some additional thoughts: In the passage that reads, “The men likewise gave up natural relations with women…”, it says they gave up “natural relations” with women. This would imply that they were heterosexuals by nature. The phrase translated as “gave up” is the Greek word aphente (afenteV) meaning to leave behind, forsake, neglect, or divorce. Therefore, they divorced themselves from their own nature, and were consumed with lust for one another. Women did likewise. Paul is talking about heterosexual individuals engaging in homosexual sex, which is contrary to their nature.

      This is a situation of lust, falsehood and idolatry. In this account, there are a number of men and a number of women, both plurals. This is describing an orgy…everyone filled with lust and “dishonorable passions” having sex with whoever they wanted. If you dig a bit into the context and history, it would show that the pagan practice of “sacred sexual orgies” was common. Baal was the Canaanite deity that was worshipped with sexual orgies on Mount Peor in Moab, with which Paul would have been familiar.

      We may fundamentally disagree on what is considered “sin” on this topic. I do not believe homosexuality to be a sin. However, as I see in scripture, I do believe that sexual abuse, rape, sexual adultery and idolatry is sinful and harmful.

  • Stephanie Lyons

    In response to KENSIESTORY, I would have responded similarly a few years ago. Then my 21 year old son told me he was a she. My foundation was rocked because I didn’t believe there was such a thing as a gay Christian. Romans 1 was the basis for my belief. Knowing my child, and knowing all the thought and wrestling she had struggled through without any support from family, I knew that I had to work this through with God ASAP. I did all the “right” Christian things in raising this kid. This scenario didn’t fit in my box. Blue Babies Pink by B.T. Harmon opened the door for me, then resources such as Torn by Justin Lee, God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, and Kathy Baldock’s website helped me to see more clearly. Then I joined a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. I found thousands of moms just like me, along with heartbreaking stories of entire families marginalized by their church families. I became an outspoken advocate for my LGBTQ kid on social media, warning my church friends because I believe the church is causing damage (largely unintentional, due to a lack of education). As a leader in my large evangelical church, I recognized that I could be a resource to help educate, but unfortunately, the church leadership didn’t agree, and I ended being another marginalized person. I don’t have any regrets though. It’s more important to me to support and love my child just as she is so she can live authentically, free from shame and condemnation. I’m not capable of sitting quietly in the corner when young lives are on the line. God doesn’t make mistakes. That’s my story.

  • Nancy Sanders

    Thank you, Anna. As a Christian and a grandmother of a transgender grandchild, I have struggled with this issue. My granddaughter struggled with her identity (born male) at a very young age but didn’t tell her parents until she was 16. I believe with all my heart that God does not make mistakes and that we are created in His image. I do not believe that being gay or transgender is a choice, no matter what the church or other people say. Who would choose to be bullied, hated, ostracized by their family or friends, or be driven to suicide because of what the world or their church tells them they should be? We are all sinners. THE most important thing that Jesus taught us was to love Him and love one another. I love my granddaughter with all my heart and my love for her is no different than my love for my other grandchildren. I applaud her for being true to herself and for teaching our family about love, tolerance and acceptance.

    • Bex

      I am so grateful to continually come across humans who love other humans. Humans who are willing to question the rules and boxes they’ve been given or taught and willing to change their mind on things that are important to other humans; it is truly humbling to change ones mind about something when many deem that new perspective to be wrong.
      The fruit is very important. We must be willing to address the impact of our words and actions no matter our intent behind them, when the impact is harm done to others then we must change our actions and words to bring healing and life.

      No one wants to choose to be ostracized or oppressed. I will always stand by those who are being put on the outside and by those who are choosing to stand with them. Welcome to the outsider family, we love radically out here.

  • Bob Mueller

    All of this discussion about what the Bible says is irrelevant to the larger issue, which is the basic human right to marry who you want to marry – the right to have an intimate relationship with another human being.

    As long as that relationship isn’t harming either person, and they’re in the relationship of their own free will, why do you care who they sleep with? “But they’re committing a sin!” I hear you say. Maybe. But so what? We can’t stop people from sinning. More importantly, we cannot use the force and might of the civil government to enforce religious laws, at least not in the US. Why is this supposed sin the hill so many Christians choose to die on? Why do we elevate this sin above almost all others?

    Christians are welcome to set their own rules for membership in their respective denominations (although I’m not clear on when Jesus said we should split into denominations, but that’s another discussion). I think those that exclude members of the LGBT community are wrong, but they think I’m wrong, so .

    But nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to use the force of the civil government to enact God’s laws. Jesus seems clear that there are two different kingdoms and two different sets of authority. He never went to Herod or Caesar to ask them to write His commands and decrees into Roman law.

    If he didn’t, why should we?

    • tonycutty

      Desiringgod is a terrible website full of condemnation, pain and dreadful doctrines that slur the character of God. It’s written by dour, grey, colourless Christians who are a large part of the reason why unbelievers won’t go near a church nowadays, because they are full of people like those who write on desiringgod.com.

      And furthermore, you use the word ‘dangerous’. You speak to people who have been through hell and back and infer, through that fear-based word, that there is yet more to fear.

      But don’t you know that the most common phrase in the Bible is ‘Don’t be afraid’? And that perfect love casts out fear? Fear has no place in the believer’s life, because the perfect love of Jesus has cast it out. And, that overall commandment, repeated more often than any other commandment: Do. Not. Be. Afraid. Never mind ‘Ah,but…’ responses. There is no conditionality to this, nor is there a valid response other than ‘Ok, I will not fear, and neither should anyone else’. Because God is Good, and in Him there is NO darkness. Not one bit. Fear has no place in anyone’s life, much less a believer’s. If, as a believer, you still live in fear, then you are living in deep darkness.

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