God resides in all loving unions, regardless of the partners’ genders.

The current debate over marriage equality is one that is dicey and can almost be labeled “daunting” on certain days. On the right, there are people who proclaim that homosexuality is an abomination to Christianity, often citing the English version of Leviticus, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

On the left, there are those who make the argument that, though the scriptures are sacred, people should adopt a cultural read, allowing for change, because we are not those who penned the words of Leviticus and other books blaspheming same-sex relationships.

In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains his position on homosexuality. It is important, though, to read carefully. What Paul is referring to is idolatry – worship in place of God, not a loving commitment between two people. Jack Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, names four major problems with the mainstream understanding of Romans 1:

• [we] lose sight of the fact that this passage is primarily about idolatry,

• [we] overlook Paul’s point that we are all sinners,

• [we] miss the cultural subtext, and

• [we] apply Paul’s condemnation of immoral sexual activity to faithful gay and lesbian Christians who are not idolaters, who love God, and who seek to live in thankful obedience to God.

A common misconception that I often hear while discussing this matter is, “God hates gays. It says so in the Bible.” I generally point to the minor prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of you? Do Justice, Love Kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

If we are to “do justice,” what does that entail? It entails a commitment to equality of all people. Which means that people must move beyond divisions and power dynamics that are threatening to the realized utopia painted for us in our vision of grace, from which we divisively fell.

To humbly walk with God, one must commit to kindness. It is a total commitment to understanding oneself as a part of the diverse community. For those of us who have never known inequality, this is a concept that is brushed aside and often misinterpreted as “being nice.” There is a difference, though, between “being nice” and “nicely being.”

Nicely being involves moving beyond a place of tolerance, toward a place of acceptance. It is the difference between playing nice in the sandbox, and generously sharing the red truck with the child sitting right beside you.

One must, also, commit oneself to admitting to sinful behavior and seeking repentance. To state, “homosexuality is sinful” while touting one’s own perfection, is more sinful than viewing oneself as an imperfect part of society.

How many of us are perfect? How many of us have never sinned? How many of us heterosexuals have never had sex? How many of us have never taken an extra cookie or gone through a red light, only to take the Lord’s name in vain? How many of us have hit someone or have not honored our mothers and fathers?

All of those are sinful. All of those we bring to God, and all of these are received, through the grace of God.

Why then is homosexuality more sinful than physical violence or gluttony?

Why are people so consumed by what two people do in their bedroom, or kitchen, or living room, that they cannot celebrate the gift of love God has given them? The gift people are given when they come together in matrimony, making a public declaration that they love one another and yearn to spend the rest of their lives together?

If we are to ask, “What does the lord require?” and we answer, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God,” does it not perpetuate sinfulness purely because of whom God created someone to love?

This topic is important to me because I have witnessed the tears and the pain in my brothers’ and sisters’ eyes because of injustice. I witnessed first-hand the deep passion and love that two women have for one another. And I have witnessed the pain in a man’s face after someone tried to “pray the gay” out of him.

I have also witnessed the reconciliation of a family, after the journey to acceptance has been made.

I choose to believe that in those situations, people find God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, where the love resides – whether it is love between two women, two men, or a man and a woman.

Jordan G. Shaw, a seminarian of the United Methodist Church, lives in Wales.


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