Over the years, many Christians, including me, have written on how the Bible in no way condemns LGBT people, despite many others’ views to the contrary. Indeed, when people read the Bible they frequently see what they want to see; that seeing, that paradigm, is largely circumscribed by their prejudices and mind-sets.
For example, if a person views God as a harsh father figure who is looking to punish a person for merely thinking “bad thoughts,” that person will read the Bible in a way consistent with that mind-set. On the other hand, if a person views God through the eyes of love, and sees God as a Personage Who manifests grace (unmerited favor) and love and calls us to do the same, despite our living in a corrupt and unfair world, he/she will read the Bible in a completely different way.
Pam sent me the following article entitled, “So What if Animals Have Gay Sex? They Also Practice Polygamy, Pedophilia, and Incest,” and asked me to comment on it. I’m delighted to do so!
Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, responded to a paper written by John Thorp, professor of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. Thorp’s paper was entitled “Making the Case: The Blessing of Same Sex Unions in the Anglican Church of Canada,” and in it Thorp solidly affirmed the fact that such blessings should occur in the Anglican Church of Canada. Gagnon’s response, “Case Not Made: A Response to Prof. John Thorp’s ‘Making the Case,'” condemns same-sex love in a number of ways, each way showing how his preconceived prejudices “inform” his reading of the Bible, and how his “logic” is similarly informed by those prejudices in his attempt to justify his condemnation of expressions of same-sex love.
Gagnon refers to same-sex love as “narcissism of being erotically aroused by the distinctive features of one’s own sex,” as if we are to take for granted that that arousal is in some way immoral or unnatural, and he then seeks to hammer home the “unnatural” aspects of expressions of same-sex love by listing other behaviors of animals such as incest, polygamy (which, he may have forgotten, was certainly practiced in Old Testament times, if the man could afford it), and pedophilia. These other behaviors being linked with same-sex love is nothing new to those who have been dealing with haters like Gagnon for any length of time.
[More below the fold.]His linking same-sex love with behaviors that are onerous to most of us shows his complete ignorance of the subject; if one is ignorant concerning a given subject, he/she should have the humility to either study the subject more thoroughly before commenting on it, or at least have the decency to keep quiet about something he/she knows nothing about.
In any case, he refers to homosexuality as an immoral desire, yet doesn’t provide any justification for that assertion, save for his own prejudices and for his interpretation of certain selected passages from the Bible. His blind hatred is seen in his saying, “I never used my dear departed dog ‘Cocoa’ and her instinctive sexual habits as a basis for determining what is ‘natural’ behavior. You can find animals of various species where some part of the population at least practices incest, pedophilia, extreme polyamory, and cross-species sex, along with same-sex activity.”
Likening same-sex love with the behavior of his late, departed, dog, is not at all unlike comparing the Jews of Nazi Germany to rats, as was routinely done; comparing Afro-Americans before the Civil Rights movement to “porch monkeys” and “mud people” which, by the way, is still done today by many neo-Nazi groups. I don’t see Gagnon’s analogy to be any different than was and is their’s.
When Thorp used as one of his reasons that same-sex love should be affirmed because not all heterosexual couples were capable of having children, Gagnon stated, “There is a big difference between having equipment failure (infertility among heterosexual couples) and not having the equipment at all (the inherent incapacity for procreation in homosexual bonds).”
Who says? Beyond the fact that a hysterectomy or castration leaves the woman and man without “having the equipment,” how and why does the distinction Gagnon makes valid either logically or empirically? In either case, biologically having children is impossible, and I doubt that God is all that concerned with that kind of subtle distinction made by Gagnon, given such horrors in the world as war, hunger, disease, and poverty. But Gagnon, obviously, like many of his ilk in most of the organized Church, doesn’t see God in that way or, perhaps, in any way.
Gagnon makes the same error that many Christian fundamentalists make, in that they equate the Bible with God! They worship the Bible, thereby committing the sin of idolatry, one of the sins listed in the Ten Commandments. (It’s interesting in this connection that homosexuality is not listed in the Ten Commandments; is not written about by the prophets; Jesus never commented on it. If homosexuality were in any way a sin, don’t you think that it would have been mentioned in at least one of these contexts?)
The author of this article states, “Gagnon points out passages in St. Paul and throughout scripture that specifically condemn mutually consenting homosexual relations as shameful and impure.” I know those “clobber passages” quite well and they definitely do not condemn homosexuality! I have dealt with them in a variety of places, but the most concise one is in my brief article, “Some Talking Points on Christianity and Homosexuality”. Another article you might be interested in in this connection is entitled, “Why Every Church Must Be Open And Affirming”.
In his article, Gagnon states, “The universal witness of Scripture to a male-female prerequisite for valid sexual unions?the flip side of which is the witness of Scripture against every form of
homosexual practice?is no little ‘detail.’ It is a core value among Scripture?s sexual
This assertion is patently untrue, as can be seen in the love relationship between King David and Jonathan where, even given the most cursory of readings, King David could be seen as being at least a Bisexual. (1Sam. 20:30-31; 41-42; 2Sam. 1:26; 9:1) This assertion by Gagnon represents his own mind-set, and not the witness of Scripture.
In his article, Gagnon then states, “God?s creation of two primary sexes is the foundation for prohibiting additional persons beyond two in a sexual bond, whether concurrently (polygyny) or serially (repeat divorce/remarriage). The union of the two sexes into one makes a third party both unnecessary and undesirable.”
Let him tell that to the approximately 50% of married couples who have undergone divorce in the U.S. It’s the kind of faulty logic Gagnon uses that has many religious and other homophobes making the bizarre statement that same-sex marriage will threaten heterosexual marriage. Gagnon’s assumptions are based on his prejudices, and not the witness of Scripture or of God who tells us to love others and not in any way condemn them (what Jesus calls, along with loving God, the greatest Commandment), or of life in contemporary societies that presume to call themselves “civilized.”
Gagnon then states, “Every text in Scripture that treats the issue of homosexual practice treats it as a high offense abhorrent to God.” He then goes on to cite some incidents including the Sin of Sodom. He’s flat out wrong here on a number of levels!
Just to take one of his examples, one would have to assume that all the men of Sodom were Gay when, clearly, that could not be the case. According to the Bible, the Sin of Sodom was “inhospitality” and “not taking care of the poor.” In addition, if the two angels who visited Lot?s house had been women, it is unlikely that those professing Christians who discriminate against Gay
people would be condemning heterosexuality!
It also might interest the Gagnons out there that nowhere in the Bible, when the Sin of Sodom is mentioned, is homosexuality ever mentioned as its sin! Moreover, by his equating attempted gang rape with same-sex love he again shows his ignorance of what he is presuming to teach others; only those gullible enough to believe him, such as those who support the “ex-gay” industry, will take him and his ilk seriously.
He then goes into what he assumes are prohibitions against homosexuality from the laws of Leviticus, from which Christians are freed! He commits the offense the Apostle Paul highlighted when he wrote to the church in Galatia that we are “not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.”(Galatians 2:16) “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3) Gagnon makes the mistake of many contemporary Galatians in fundamentalist circles that he places his faith in his own works; judges others’ (a sin) standing with God by their sexual orientations (unless they’re heterosexual or celibate) and behaviors, and neglects the most important Commandment of God: to love others and not judge them.
There are many other points that Gagnon makes in his article that can be refuted, but that would take a lengthy article in itself. Suffice it to say that Christians are not bound by the Old Testament laws; we are not to blindly translate cultural practices of a tribal society or of an ancient society, without using our discernment in knowing, to use Peter J. Gomes’ assertion (in his excellent book that I strongly recommend you read, The Good Book: Reading The Bible With Mind And Heart) that biblical principle must always trump biblical practice. And that biblical and Godly principle is “love!”
It’s people like Gagnon, who strain at the gnat of the false gospel of genital placement and swallow the camel of ignoring the only Gospel to be found in Christianity, the Gospel of grace, who have done far more to turn intelligent, sensitive, decent people away from even considering Christianity as a viable way by which to navigate one’s life. They are not teaching anyone about Christianity, but are teaching their own prejudices, their own precepts, and seeking to impose them on the Bible, on the rest of us, and on God!
I want to conclude with a wonderful statement made by Rev. Troy Perry, Founder and 37 year Moderator of the UFMCC, who said that Jesus came to take away our sins; not our sexuality! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Gagnons of the world, and all too many professing Christians, came to understand this basic fact of the Christian life?
[Cross posted on my blog, A Christian Voice For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Rights.]