Category Archives: Affirmation
Finding support in scripture for same-sex relationships.
My talk, Jonathan Loved David, has been discussed over on Stafford Carson’s blog. Some of the commenters are concerned about whether or not David and Jonathan actually had sex, or perhaps I should say that some of the commenters are concerned about whether or not I think they had sex. The simple fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter, and it’s none of our business anyway.
Sex is almost always an immensely private part of a relationship, but for most people it isn’t a defining part of a relationship. Two people can form a couple – a romantic couple, a married couple, etc. – with or without a sexual component to their relationship. If you want proof that David and Jonathan had sex before you acknowledge them as a couple then you should ask yourself if you want proof that David and Michal had sex before you acknowledge them as a couple as well. If not, why not?
All too often, people (both Christian and non-Christian) speak about opposite-sex relationships in terms of love, affection, and commitment, but they speak about same-sex relationships in terms of sex. In another blog post, Stafford talks about the importance of conversation and discussion between gay people and orthodox Christians. I agree that is important, and for that dialog to happen orthodox Christians have got to start acknowledging that, aside from the genders of the people involved, same-sex relationships are the same as opposite-sex relationships. The basic emotions that Stafford feels when he looks at his wife Patricia are the same basic emotions that I feel when I look at my husband Michael.
A few people have suggested to me that I gave my Faith and Pride talk, Jonathan Loved David, to be offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. I gave that talk because it was what I sincerely believe, and I thought other people would be interested in what I had to say. Faith and Pride isn’t about being argumentative or offensive, it is about putting forward an alternative point of view. It is about saying that you can be gay and Christian.
There are some Christians who find that offensive. Equally well, there are some Christians who find it offensive to say that you can’t be gay and Christian. However, just because one group has beliefs that are offensive to another group, it doesn’t mean that the first group should be afraid to say what it believes.
This isn’t just confined to issues surrounding gay people and Christianity. Roman Catholics believe that the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. The Westminster Confession of Faith has this to say about the Pope.
There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God. Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV, section VI
There can be no doubt that that statement is offensive to Catholics. Does that mean that churches that adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, shouldn’t be allowed to express their beliefs? Or maybe Catholics shouldn’t be allowed to express their beliefs because they are offensive to Free Presbyterians?
This even goes beyond issues that only concern Christians. The majority of Jews and Muslims do not believe that Jesus was the son of God, which is a position that is offensive to the majority of Christians. Does that mean that Jews and Muslims should not be able to express their beliefs, lest a Christian is offended? Or maybe it is Christians who should remain silent, for fear of offending people from other faiths. Taking it a step further, many atheists find any expression of a belief in god offensive, and many people of faith find an expression of atheism offensive. Should one group be silenced to avoid offending another?
In Northern Ireland, we understand what it is like to live in a society without religious tolerance. We know how damaging that can be. In Northern Ireland we are learning what it is like to live in a society with religious tolerance, and we are seeing how wonderful that is. Religious tolerance means you can freely believe whatever you want, but that means you must also allow other people to believe what they want. Putting it another way, you have the right to stand up and say what you believe, but you do not have the right to stop someone else standing up and saying what they believe, no matter how much it offends you.
Faith and Pride’s inaugural event kicks off on July 24th with Andrew McFarland setting out to demonstrate that the language used in the Bible to describe the relationship between David and Jonathan is the same as the language used to describe the relationship between husband and wife.
Speaking before the event, Andrew said:
The evidence is compelling. David and Jonathan spoke about each other as if they were spouses, and aspects of their relationship only make sense if you see them as a couple.
The whole context of their relationship – they even had a formal covenant between them because of their love – suggest that they were more than just friends.
Members of the public are very welcome to come to the event which is being held in All Souls’ Church, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast, at 7pm. The second talk of the evening will be by Paula Rita Tabakin who will explore homosexuality from a Jewish reform perspective using texts and traditions.
I grew up in a Christadelphian family, and in due course I was baptized and became a Christadelphian myself. I was about 17 at the time. A few years later, when I was in my early 20s, I realized I was gay. At the time I held “traditional” views about what the Bible said about same-sex relationships: I thought them to be totally wrong. Like a good Christadelphian I “searched the scriptures daily”, with the ill-formed idea that I might be able to convince other gay Christians that God wanted — required — them to be celibate.
One day, and I think I must have been in my mid 20s at this point, I realized that things were more nuanced that I had originally believed. I came to believe that the Bible wasn’t as condemnatory as I had first thought, and I eventually reached the opinion I now have: the Bible does not condemn same-sex relationships, and you can be Christian and gay.
In 2005 I left the Christadelphians, for reasons not directly connected to my sexual orientation. Eventually, about a year ago, I joined All Souls’ Church in Belfast, a church that welcomes everyone “irrespective of race, colour, creed, gender or sexual orientation”. I worship there every Sunday, with my husband Michael at my side.
Throughout this journey, there are two very important things that haven’t changed.
- My faith has remained strong. I haven’t had to reject God or Jesus, even though my beliefs about what they want have changed.
- I still treat the Bible with the same reverence now as I did when I was 17, even though my understanding of the Bible has matured and become deeper.
You can be Christian and gay without turning your back on God, or ignoring parts of the Bible.