I wrote this in response to a great essay by a pastor I respect. He went through a hard time figuring out what he thought about gays and Christianity; as I thought about what he wrote (see here) I responded with these words:
The only sin I read about in Scriptures that is unforgivable is one: the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit of God, and I think it applies to the idea that the work of God cannot effect salvation. The only person in Scripture that I read about who could not be saved was one: a rich man who could not follow Jesus because his possessions possessed him.
Gay men and women are not the unloved and unwanted by God; we are doing them, our fellow brothers and sisters, a terrible injustice by marking them as unwanted.
All the talk about “loving the sinner and hating the sin” is so much balderdash. You cannot say you love someone when you know nothing about them except that you despise them.
I cannot find in Scripture any support for the idea that sinners are somehow only a target for church membership, but not for understanding or love or acceptance. I cannot find the support for the idea that there is a special class of sinners whom we not only cannot accept in our churches, but also must despise in our society by denying them their humanity and their human rights.
The gay men and women I know are not turned away from God because of God not loving them or wanting them. They are turned away by God’s people who tell them this, over and over again: “You are unloved. You are unwanted. You are unclean.”
At the very core of their existence gay men and women are gay. Not sexual deviants. Not lustful sinners. Just that they love someone of the same sex and not the opposite sex.
This is not something like “committing” a crime or an act, something where you can simply stop doing something. This is a core thing about them. Unchangeable. When we tell our brothers and sisters that they cannot be saved unless they stop being who they are–a condition we frankly do not place upon any other group in all humanity or history–we are speaking not God’s truth but our own fears and convictions. We have been trained to think of gay men and women as apart from humanity. They are not apart, and they are not on the margin. They are simply normal human beings.
It took the Christian church an awful long time to reach a consensus on the immorality of slavery, even though Scriptures do not support the idea that slavery is forbidden in law or custom. We had to grow up in our thinking about who was human. We are still struggling as a community to elevate women to their equal footing with men in the church–we still exclude them from certain functions because we think Biblical honesty requires us to copy first-century cultural practices into twenty-first-century life.
We are only started (unfortunately) with examining the place of Scripture as to its impact upon our choices, taking strictures about food and drink and sex applicable to the Bronze Age and making them apply to the Germanium Age.
I get it that we think an interpretation from certain people can become the only interpretation. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. There are good, solid Biblical scholars who think passages against homosexuals apply to certain practices of cultic behavior rather than normal behavior between adults. There are good teachers who speak about the evils of prostituted sex but who teach that compelled sex doesn’t deny the place of proper sex.
We might be wrong in how we think about and treat gay men and women. Rather than simply bang the drum of our rage louder and louder at the idea that gays and lesbians want to be seen, maybe we can think and talk and discuss what Scripture means to us, today.
There are far more scriptures about loving our neighbor and doing tangible good for them than there are scriptures instructing us to shame and exclude gays and lesbians.