Friday, May 28, 2010

The Bible Does Not Tell Me So

By Rev. Richard A. Moyer, Pastor, Community United Church, for the Erie Gay News:

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a man who described himself as a Christian evangelist. He wrote that he had seen our church advertised on the internet as a congregation that is open and affirming. It seemed to bother him a great deal that we would welcome LGBT persons into the life, ministry and fellowship of our church. He stated that he had a background in Biblical studies. He asked why I do not preach Jesus’ teaching against homosexuality to my congregation.

I was amazed that a person who claims to have a background in Biblical studies would imply that Jesus preached against homosexuality. Most everyone who is reading this article already knows that he did not. Jesus is never recorded in the gospels as mentioning homosexuality. On that subject, Jesus is completely silent. It’s always interesting to me that the very subject that has created so much hurt and turmoil in the Christian church does not seem to be a subject Jesus had much concern about at all.

I decided not to reply to this evangelist’s e-mail since he obviously did not seem to know what he was talking about. If he had challenged me to respond to the teaching of Paul on his references to homosexuality or to the references about homosexuality in the Hebrew Scriptures, I would have e-mailed him back.

The Apostle Paul does make reference to what some Bibles scholars have translated as references to homosexuality in three of his Epistles. The references are found in I Corinthians, I Timothy and Romans. However, it is the understanding of most Biblical scholars that the word homosexual does not appear in the New Testament at all.

Any Bible scholar or theologian who is legitimate is going to agree that Paul’s reference to sexuality in I Corinthians has uncertain meaning. While The New International Version of the New Testament does insert the word “homosexual”, the New Revised Standard Version translates it as Paul’s objection to male prostitution. Even in the original Revised Standard Version there is a footnote that the English translation of the word is uncertain.

The reference in I Timothy is a little ambiguous. This is not a reference to homosexuality but to pedophilia where sexual abuse of children by an adult (both homosexual and heterosexual) is condemned.

I am convinced that neither of the above references are about homosexuality per se.

The one New Testament reference that has had more interest for me is the Romans passage. Here Paul does speak out against what he calls “unnatural” sexual relationships. However, for the person who is homosexual in orientation it is natural to be attracted to a person of the same sex. It is more likely that Paul is here speaking about persons who are heterosexual but acting as homosexuals – against their own sexual orientation.

It goes without saying that people who quote Scripture need to be very careful. The Bible, of course, was not written in English. And, it is always an extraordinary effort to translate any document from one language to another. When it comes to the Bible, translation takes great skill, especially when we consider that the Bible was not written in our lifetime. Biblical times, customs, concerns and lifestyles must be taken into consideration if we are going to interpret the Bible with integrity for our generation.

I chose not to respond to the evangelist who sent the e-mail; not out of disrespect or disgust. I just have a feeling that he has already made up his mind and does not want to be confused by the facts.

The Community United Church is an open and affirming congregation and is is a member of United Church of Christ and Church of the Brethren denomination. . It is located at 1011 W 38th St. in Erie. Services are Sunday at 11am. (814) 864-4429. The pastor is Richard A. Moyer and his assistant is Dr. Richard McCarty. Website is

1 comment:

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