Being Christian and Gay – Part 3: My Relationship with Scripture

Posted: September 19, 2017 in Being Christian and Gay
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thA0JVK7IDThere are existential questions about my existence—who am I? Where did I come from? What does it mean to be me? These kinds of questions my mom raised in my mind when, for some reason, lost to me now, she urged me, as a twelve-year-old boy, to “Just be yourself, David.” I wondered then what that meant and such questions continue to unfold as life inexorably moves forward. The answers are not simple.

Humankind as created by God is wonderfully made, complex, exciting, and always unfolding like the emerging petals of a flower, each revelation points to greater depth and beauty. That upon which all else is founded is the belief that I am a human creature made by God.

In exploring my personal history, and particularly in keeping with the thread that binds these blog posts together, I cannot find a time when I decided I would be gay or, decided I would not be straight. There were no environmental influences or nurturing missteps that led me to be gay. The creature God made, the one Mom and Dad named Larry David Wigger, happened to be gay. That does not describe me, define me, nor limit me. It is only one of many descriptors that gives insight into part of who I am as one of God’s children.

I was created out of relationship for relationship. God’s original creation of humankind was out of relationship. The creation story in Hebrew Scripture tells us “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…’” (Genesis 1:26). (Could that be a trinitarian statement?) It was out of a loving relationship between my mom and dad that I came into the world. It is for relationship that I was created. Again, the creation story: “God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner’” (Genesis 2:18). It was intended that humankind find companionship. I was created out of relationship for relationship.

The stories of Scripture could not have included stories about same-sex relationships because the writers were not myopically focused on sex and, therefore, did not prioritize the depth of love and commitment two people of the same sex can have for each other. Gay sex was a non-issue except when it impinged on the respect and safety of another person.

Furthermore, most of antiquity’s commentary on sexual behavior between two people of the same sex was about behavior that damaged one or both of the partners such as rape or pederasty, or it was practiced as a form of idolatrous worship. I cannot find myself, a gay man, in any of those stories. I do not have any inclination toward nor desire for rape, I abhor any violent, abusive sexual action toward children, and I do not engage in gay sex as a form of worshiping idols.

The few stories of same-sex sexual behavior in Scripture are dehumanizing, irreverent, and painful. There is the Old Testament story about inhospitality and gang rape, and the one about exclusion (to be accepted you must refrain from…). There are stories about idol worship in the New Testament, and about pederasty. No where can I find a story about love and commitment, about genuine care and grace in a relationship. It’s not that there were no loving same-sex relationships; we have historical accounts of homosexual relationships from the biblical era. It’s that Scriptural passages were about the destructive use of sex in relationships. The issues were about humility, pain, dehumanization, and irreverence, all sexual behavior abhorrent also for heterosexuals. We will look at these biblical accounts in the next post.

Walking with biblical characters through their narratives reveal amazing stories. There are stories of suspicion, intrigue, strife, and pain, as well as stories of faith, grace, love, and forgiveness. There are stories about same-sex friendship that some scholars have even proffered the possibility that there was more than friendship e.g. David and Jonathan (David speaking about Jonathan upon his death said: “greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”), Jesus and John, (John is referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” four times in one Gospel and reported to be reclining next to Jesus), and Ruth and Naomi (Ruth’s pledge to never leave Naomi, a pledge from one woman to another woman often used in heterosexual wedding ceremonies today). I am not subscribing to the argument that these were gay relationships as some scholars tend to do. What is important is not what may or may not have been the physical side of these relationships, but the affection, respect, and faithfulness that knit them together come fair weather or foul.

There are more stories about relationships in the overarching biblical narrative that are characterized as relationships that are caring, loving and committed.

In my devotional time I am walking with biblical characters, experiencing God as they did, and discovering life’s wonders in my own walk with Jesus. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Austin Miles penned these words in the refrain of his poem “In the Garden” and set the poem to music forming a familiar hymn:

And He walks with me

And He talks with me

And He tells me I am His own

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known

The inspiration from and spiritual connection with Scripture is a light to my path. But more than that, Jesus and I walk together and have the grandest time. With him at my side, I explore the world in which he’s placed me and he guides me toward answers to the existential questions. I worship him, not the Bible.

In this series on Being Christian and Being Gay, we have looked at the “Context for this Conversation,” “How We Read the Bible,” and this post, “My Relationship with Scripture.” In the next post I’ll offer a very brief, succinct statement on each of the passages people often point to that they believe provide indisputable admonitions against homosexuality.

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