Homosexuality and the Body of Christ

“The religious discussion of homosexuality often degenerates into a conversation about “them” — punctuated with fantasies of baths and bars, and studded with stories of promiscuity and perversion. These extravagances distract us from a simple truth, profound in its implications: we are the body of Christ and part of our body is gay and lesbian. Who are the homosexual members of the body of Christ? They are not “them”; they are “us.” They are our siblings and our children, our friends and our fellow-parishioners. They are persons like us, striving to live generous lives of maturing faith. They are the ministers among us — priests, religious, lay — who, knowing themselves to be lesbian and gay, struggle to serve with integrity in a church that proclaims publicly that their innermost inclinations are shameful and base.”

James and Evelyn Whitehead


13 thoughts on “Homosexuality and the Body of Christ

    • Thank you Blue Flower for dropping a bombshell of a question hehe. The issue on homosexuality and the Bible certainly entails a lot of “branches issues” i’m afraid beyond my competence to address. Ones’ denominational wing is important to consider because liberal Christian communities and fundamentalist evangelicals really differ in quoting and interpreting the Bible either to lambast homosexuality or to read certain Biblical passages within their literary or sociopolitical contexts. I don’t assume readers who drop by this blog are all Catholics so that the distinction alone between Catholics and Christian non-Catholics is worth a consideration in the way each regards the Bible as Moral Authority. In the case of Catholics, Scripture, Tradition, and Reason are the main pillars so that the reading for example of the quotable text forbidding homosexuality from Roman 1:27 could also be read from the light of credible scholarship (Reason) rather than literally. In short – it’s a long discussion beyond what i can offer. But in the case of some scholarship summaries of certain passages pointing to the immorality/permissibility of homosexuality, i refer you to one Catholic theologian whose credential i greatly trust – Daniel Helminiak, himself a gay priest for the sake of disclosure:

      It is not easy to summarize briefly the body of research on homosexuality in the Bible. But these are the interpretations that some scholars are proposing:

      * The story of Sodom in Genesis 19 is about offense against the sacred duty of hospitality. That is how Ezekiel 16:48-49 and Wisdom 9:13-14 interpret this text. The attempted male rape only heightens the atrocity of this offense.
      * Leviticus 18:22 does forbid male-male sex as an “abomination.” But the word simply means an impurity or a religious taboo — like eating pork. As in the case of Catholics who used to be forbidden under pain of mortal sin to eat meat on Friday, the offense was not in the act itself but in the betrayal of one’s religion. The ancient Jews were to avoid practices common among the unclean Gentiles.
      * Romans 1:27 mentions men having relations with men. But the terms used to describe them are “dishonorable” and “shameless.” These refer deliberately to social disapproval, not to ethical condemnation. Moreover, according to Paul’s usage, different from the prevalent Stoic philosophy of the day, para physin (“unnatural”) would best be translated “atypical” or “beyond the ordinary.” So it bears no reference to natural law. And it can imply no ethical condemnation because in Romans 11:24 God is said to act para physin. Paul sees gay sex as an impurity (see Rm. 1:24), just like uncircumcision or eating forbidden foods. He mentions it to make the main point of his letter, that purity requirements of the Jewish Law are not relevant in Christ Jesus. See L. William Countryman, Dirt, Greed, and Sex.
      * 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10 list arsenokoitai among those who will be excluded from the Reign of God. This obscure term has been translated “homosexuals” but its exact meaning is debated. It certainly does not include women but only some kind of male sexual offenders. If it does refer to men having sex with men — which is dubious — it must be interpreted in light of the abuse and licentiousness commonly associated with male-male sex in the Roman Empire. See Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality.
      * Finally, Genesis 1-3 shows Adam and Eve created for mutual companionship and procreation. These accounts use the most standard of human relationships to teach a religious lesson. The point is the love and wisdom of God, who made all things good and wills us no evil. Nothing suggests the biblical authors intended a lesson on sexual orientation.

  1. This is a good highlight of our “essence” as human beings Igsoon. the behavioral and sexual preference have nothing to do with the universality of being children of God, thus each must be respected in that right no matter how difficult it is or irksome it is in the standards of society. However, while it is difficult for them to thrive in this culture, it is equally difficult for all of us to treat them the way they want us to. And so, much to our want to understand the homosexuals, we should also understand people who are discriminating them in a way. But i still pray for each and everyone of us to have that “christian eyes” to see deeper and altruistically regard people equally the way Martin Buber signifies in his “I Thou.”

    • Igsoon – thank you for this call for compassion for everyone. Truly – it is simply the nature of true compassion not to exclude anyone including the “Zaccheus” in our midst. Human reality is likewise multivariant to peg one group of people into a box we call social standard. And as regards to the “boxing” of homosexuals, institutions like the Church could also be part of the discriminating effort, times diluting the multivariant nature of human behavior. Cultural machismo is another. I guess there’s still room for repentance as a public policy hehe…

  2. very timely indeed itong post mo df…a week ago while walking though the streets of rome 2 female friends asked me of my opinion regarding the matter..but instead of answering them…i threw back the same question on them….
    …their’s is of compassionate understanding and respect for the person…..
    …my viewpoint; I WOULD TRAVERSE THE PATH OF JESUS…welcoming and accepting each single person he met on the street of life…showing understanding and compassion, most especially for those who are ostracized and are living along the peripheries of the road of life……

    • Lovely comment Blu!Indeed, social standards which include political and religious ones are prone to discriminate and label “rebellious” those who do not necessarily submit to it or fit with. But Jesus showed the way, enlightening, opening up the constricting, suffocating ways of worldly standards…

      Less to do with your comment, take ko na rin to as an opportunity to highlight para sa lahat that the Church, especially the Roman Catholic Church, in its moral stance by the way lays out only what is right or wrong, not WHO IS A SINNER AND WHO IS NOT, categories that are easily mixed up in rhetoric and criticism…

  3. I believe the Bible makes it clear that Homosexuality is a sin. Although, sin is sin. And Paul shows us that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Homosexuality’s punishment is the same as any other: death. But because of Christ’s sacrifice he atoned for our sins so we could be seen as righteous in the eyes of God. Paul also tells us that this is NOT a license to sin. It is very clear that repentance is part of faith. Repentance has to do with change, a transformation. Maybe this change will not be of fleshly desires—for Paul makes it clear that we will never be sinless in these bodies—but definitely part of being reborn in the spirt, and wanting the things of God, wanting to reflect Christ. If we TRUELY love him, and believe him to be the son of God, is it possible that we would not want to deny ourselves and crucify our flesh daily? Jesus died for, and loves everyone; therefore, we are called to love everyone too. I have seen plenty “homosexuals” that participate in and are even pastors of church. However, a lot no longer are homosexual, and the ones who still are attracted to the opposite sex do not act on their sexual desires, but deny, crucify those fleshly desires—now that shows a heart surrendered to God! Homosexuals should be welcomed in church, but should be expected to, as brothers and sisters in Christ, be disciple (as we ALL need to be), and learn and be held accountable for the things that are taught from the Bible (including: lying, homosexuality, adultery, selfishness, etc.). We are called to love; love is selflessness; selflessness requires us to give up the sin that we dwell in. Without the practice of love, how can we love others, love God?

    • Hi dale, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on homosexuality here. Certainly, there are big concepts within your comment that merit closer attention if we are to arrive at some understandable field of exchange of opinions: HOMOSEXUALITY, SIN and the Pauline understanding of it, PUNISHMENT, DEATH, MINISTRY, ATONEMENT, REPENTANCE, TRANSFORMATION. There are points that i strongly disagree. For example, classifying homosexuality as a sin alongside adultery. I thought this goes beyond the bound of moral reasoning to categorize a sexual impulse common in human beings like a cousin sin of pedophilia. What’s up with a sexual urge if not a spark of the Divine Urge to relate! Again – i also strongly disagree with how you take a punitive perspective on DEATH AS PUNISHMENT. We are all death-bound, period, and death is but an illusion because the truth is there’s only one Reality – God. Resurrection has proven how unreal Death is!

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