Homosexual behavior is a sin. Now it’s too bad that many people will read that sentence, stop, then say to themselves “here we go again,” “same old, same old from the pastor contingent” and move on. On the other hand, I shouldn’t even have to say it: the church has done a pretty vocal job of hammering that point home. However, I’m saying it just so that there’s no misunderstandings. Especially since I came to this conclusion after looking for loopholes.

For one thing, there’s one thing that often gets overlooked in this discussion. The Bible talks about homosexual behavior. It does not deal with orientation. For that matter, there aren’t but a handful of verses that discuss homosexual behavior. Compare that with 3000+ verses on poverty and our responsibilities to the poor. Um, where do you think our priorities should lie?

The verses that discuss homosexuality aren’t all so black and white either. I’m not going to exegete every passage that mentions homosexuality, all I want to establish is that what people think they know, they might not know. There are the Old Testament passages, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 plus Deuteronomy 23:17-18. Some people consider these verses part of the purity code, the kosher rules of Orthodox Jews, not the moral code (the Big Ten) which are binding for all people and all times.

Moving to the New Testament, it’s not like homosexuals weren’t around in Jesus’ day. There’s something telling about the fact that the subject didn’t come up for him, but the topic of religious people who live to point out the sin in other people’s lives without dealing with the sin in their own did (Matthew 23). Though he was silent on the gay issue, he did speak out on remarriage of divorced people except in specific situations. I’m not trying to crap on divorced people, I mean, really, if I think that gay people have a face, divorcees have a face, body, and too many digits.

Now, some people say that the sin translated as homosexual in I Timothy 1:9-10 refers to the specific sin of pederasty (a practice accepted in ancient Greece where an older teacher would take on a pupil and abuse their position of authority to seduce/coerce the boy into a sexual relationship). I won’t bore you with dissecting the ambiguous meaning/translation of the Greek word “arsenokoitai” in I Corinthians 6:9. All I’m saying is that there’s wriggle room to some of the passages that specifically condemn homosexuality.

HOMOSEXUALITY: THE SUPER SIN

This leaves me with the “big gun”, Romans 1:26-27. There’s no getting around Paul’s condemnation of homosexual eroticism. The larger point is that, all told, we’re talking about a handful of verses. Yet we’ve made it into some sort of “super sin”. Actually, we have a habit, and long tradition, of doing that with any/all sexual sins. One would almost guess that’s because they strike so close to where we live. I could actually lump all the verses about sexual sins together and still balance those against the 3000+ verses on poverty and still be left wondering which of these topics should get the most air time on Sunday mornings and move moral political debates. What I’m saying is that when the Bible speaks loudly on something, speak loudly; where it doesn’t, don’t.

And if you want to talk issues of proportion and striking close to home, consider the verses on homosexuality versus the pages of verses on sins of the tongue (slander, gossip, lying, etc.). Which do you think plagues, defines, and characterizes a church: rampant homosexuality or gossiping?

I don’t play the sin game. It’s not my job to sit around and judge people’s sin. In a church of 300 people, that’s a full-time job. I’m called to love God and my neighbor. If they ask why/how, I’ll tell and share. Invite them to join. If they don’t, I keep loving them. I don’t think playing the sin game is the point of Christianity. However, if you’re going to play it, then let’s really play it. Let’s point out from our pulpits that homophobia is also a sin. Think of the mean, untrue rhetoric homosexuals have had to endure from Christians, a group that is supposed to be defined by their love. And then they’re supposed to by the hollow words that “all gays are welcome”. Some sermons amount to little more than hate talk from the pulpit, designed to stir up fear against being sucked into their lifestyle. Such “sermons” are used to justify anti-gay rhetoric and give tacit permission to commit violence against homosexuals. Now explain to me how you hate their sin but love them. I’m not even gay and I say keep that “love” to yourself. In fact, go “love” yourself.

Christians have been accused of railing against sin because we think that we’re better than everyone else. An easy position to get to since if you’re in the business of judging, you’ve set yourself up as moral arbiter. My point is exactly the opposite: we’re all in the same boat. If you look at the Romans 1 passage, look at some of the sins listed alongside it: greed, envy, deceit, malice, gossip, slanderers, disobedient to their parents. I’d daresay that list includes every last one of us. Does this “super sin” warrant me casting my children from the house and disowning them? Does it warrant me barring you from the church?