On being a gay Christian

A few days ago, the Ask Papabear column featured a letter from an individual with some very good questions, but I didn’t feel he got the best answer he could have. So the following is my attempt to add to the initial answer and correct a few errors in Papabear’s response.

 

Wolfthorne,

I saw your email to Papabear, and you ask some really good questions. I understand the tension between what the scriptures say about this topic, and what your body says and also what our culture today says.

But sadly, Papabear did not provide the best advice and I’d like to offer an alternative answer that better answers your questions.

If you don’t mind, you say you are an apostate. Why is it you have walked away from the faith? Is it because you do not like what you believe it says about your orientation, or is it some other reason? Have you been able to objectively falsify it, or do you believe it to say things about you that you do not like? I realize this is a very personal question, but it’s an important one to know the answer to.

To be clear, I am answering your question from the perspective of a “walking talking duck” Christian. Like your mother, I am very committed to the faith and fervently believe it to be true, and proclaim it as such. I do not keep my faith to myself but am very public about it. You’d also consider me a very theologically conservative type.

And I will tell you the Bible does not say you have to give up “being gay” in order to be a Christian. It simply is not there. What is there, and this is where a few too many people are turned away, is that it does set certain standards of behavior and considers all sexual activity outside the marriage covenant to be wrong. When you strip away all the details, that is what you have left. By all means make of that what you will.

The Bible does not say whether or not “being gay” is a choice. That’s irrelevant from the perspective of Scripture. It has nothing positive or negative to say about being emotionally or romantically attracted to people of the same sex as you. (I would dare to say the authors weren’t quite aware that was a thing.) It does not say this attraction is a choice or something you are born with. What it does say is that you are not to have sex with anyone who is not your marriage partner. And I trust you’ll agree that whether or not you engage in sexual intercourse is a choice you make.

As someone in a similar situation to you, I recognize there is more to life than sex (something I agree with Papabear on) and pursuing sex is not something I want to do. I recommend you pursue a deep, intimate friendship with someone whom you trust, and leave sex out of the equation altogether.

There’s something Papabear touched on but got wrong about that. He’s right that way back when, adelphopoiesis was a thing. But it was not, as he claims and as Boswell claims, an endorsement of a gay relationship with sex expected. Boswell has been rather thoroughly refuted when it comes to this (1). Adelphopoiesis was a formal recognition of kinship, and it had nothing to do with sex. For that matter, quite often the two parties were already married–to women–and might even have had children. For a scriptural example of two men who would have been united in this way, had the ritual been around at the time, look to David and Jonathan. They were very dear friends, they viewed each other as brothers, but they were not lovers.

Papabear also doesn’t seem to know how we got the Bible. It was not edited by committee, and no groups of humans sat down and decided what books were in and what books were out. Development of the canon was a process that did indeed take centuries, but it was a matter of tradition and consensus. For the New Testament it was like this. There were certain books that everyone agreed on right away (the four gospels), some books that were less certain (Hebrews, 2 Peter, Revelation), some books that not everyone agreed was scripture (Shepherd of Hermas), and some books that everyone except the fringe groups who wrote them recognized as fake (all the various gnostic gospels and books). The Old Testament followed a similar path. Over the centuries you had the books everyone recognized (the Torah) and the other books which some accepted and some didn’t. In both instances, after consensus was reached, they held councils acknowledging that they’d reached this consensus. There was no formal decree of what belonged and what didn’t.

There is some disagreement today on what books belong in the Old Testament, and the rejection of apocryphal books is something the Protestant churches get wrong, but it is incorrect to say there are multiple versions of the Bible. By and large, everyone is using the same source documents to translate the Bible from. (It wasn’t a game of telephone or translations of translations. We have accumulated enough manuscripts by now to trace the history of any changes that took place, and we know what the original documents said with a very high degree of certainty.)

In conclusion, Papabear does have some good points, but what he says is incomplete, especially from a Christian perspective, which is your background. You do need to tread carefully, but there is a wholesome, fulfilling answer to your question to be found in friendship. I think you will find all you are seeking in a relationship there.

  1. Why Boswell is wrong. http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?print=1&did=1294-viscuso

Edit: Fixed the link at the top so you can actually see it exists.