So yesterday I upset a friend. I didn't mean to but I did. So since then I've been thinking a lot and trying to clarify my thoughts - always a tricky job when it involves my brain.
There's been a lot of discussion - and pain - around the question of homosexuality and the church. I have friends on both sides of the argument: those who say homosexuality is definitely a sin and those who are equally firmly convinced it's not. I have been reluctant to give my views on the subject because I didn't want to upset either side but that's not being honest.
So I upset my friend by saying I honestly didn't know if homosexuality was a sin to God. My head says yes but my heart says no. I read passages that seem to say quite clearly that it is but then I think of Jesus (who didn't say anything about it) and his attitude of inclusivity, and then I read articles about how the church is failing to disciple or teach its young people properly (and losing them in the process), and then I read other articles about love and I end up even more confused than I started.
So I thought I'd better try again to look at some passages myself.
My first thought was that not only does Jesus not say anything about homosexuality neither do the ten commandments (although there is a bit in Leviticus, which appears to be things God thought of after the first ten biggies, and which includes some quite severe laws and drastic punishments many of which would be laughed out of church today).
What the ten commandments do is give us a guide to living. If we do the the things God says we shouldn't do they will cause hurt or pain to us or someone else - so that seems quite reasonable to me. Likewise Jesus in his manifesto (the sermon on the mount) gives us good advice for living: do good and it'll do you good.
What Jesus really doesn't like is hypocrisy: people saying one thing and doing another, especially those leading the church who should know better. The ones who care more about the rules than about the people in their care. He prefers the company of honest sinners. Yes, he tells them to go and sin no more but he's there in the dirt and the mud with them, helping them, helping us.
It's because we can't keep the law that Jesus came. We are no longer under law.
So back to the subject. Some writers in the New Testament also express themselves strongly on the the topic. Often quoted are these words of Paul:
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. etc (Romans 1:26-27)
But if you look at verse 25 the people Paul is talking about are those who had:
exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator ...
The gay Christians I know know the truth about God and worship and serve him, so they are not the people Paul is talking about nor the unrighteous mentioned in a similar verse in Timothy's letter.
A lot of pro-gay people will put the cultural argument that the times Paul was writing in and about were times of sexual craziness where prostitution and abuse was accepted and even welcomed in temples, where people were used and abused and love had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And I'm sure that's true too. (Paul also said women shouldn't speak in church and frowned upon long hair on men.)
So my head is coming down more on the not a sin side. (When I say homosexuality I am talking about loving committed relationships between two people who happen to be of the same sex.)
If it is a sin then it's between God and the individual. It's nothing to do with me as long as I don't see one individual using or abusing an another. My job is to encourage people to meet God, get to know him, accept his love. Anything more than that is down to God. And quite honestly I'm pretty glad about that. I have more than enough of my own sins to worry about.
P.S. As you can see I'm my usual wishy washy self on this, but that's okay, because there are loads of things I don't understand in the bible. But I know Jesus and he's pretty cool about that and with me so I'm not going to worry.
P.P.S. I also read an article by a man who considers what he'd do if one of his children came out as gay. He said he would love them not despite their sexuality and not because of it but just because he loves them. I hope the same is true of me and my gay friends.