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Same Bible: Different Conclusions

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Same Bible, Different Verdict On Gay Marriage

While liberal Christians argue the Bible should be interpreted as society changes, conservatives argue for a more literal reading, leading to differences in belief about God and homosexuality.
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While liberal Christians argue the Bible should be interpreted as society changes, conservatives argue for a more literal reading, leading to differences in belief about God and homosexuality.

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May 11, 2012

When President Obama announced he now supports same-sex marriage, he cited his Christian faith.

"The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know — treat others the way you would want to be treated," he said in his interview with ABC News.

Many other people cited their religion to disagree, raising the question: How can people read the same Bible and come to opposite conclusions about same-sex relationships?

Homosexuality: In Biblical Terms

It's true, says Carmen Fowler LaBerge: You can be a Christian and support same-sex marriage, but, she says, "nobody can say gay marriage is biblical. That's just foolishness."

LaBerge resigned her post as minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) after the denomination voted last year to ordain noncelibate gay clergy. She says the Bible is clear.

"From the Old Testament and throughout the New Testament, the only sexual relationships that are affirmed in scripture are those in the context of marriage between one man and one woman," she says.

Actually, the Old Testament does condone polygamy. Still, LaBerge says, from Leviticus to Paul's writings in Romans and First Corinthians, homosexual acts are called vile and detestable, and legalizing same-sex relationships does not change the sin.

Not so fast, says Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif. She takes her cues from Jesus.

"Jesus never said a single word about anything even remotely connected to homosexuality," she says.

Jesus does say the most important commandments are "Love God" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Given that, Russell believes if Jesus were here today, he would celebrate committed, same-sex relationships.

The Bible Vs. Culture

Russell says you take the Bible literally at your folly.

"When you read the Bible, you can find justification for almost anything," she says, "including slavery, the subjection of women and an argument that the sun actually revolves around the earth."

Russell and other liberal Christians argue the Bible is the living word of God, and much like the U.S. Constitution, needs to be interpreted as society changes.

But LaBerge says the issue is which has more sway: the Bible or culture?

"There's a stream of faith that would recognize that the Bible continues to have authority, and that we are obligated to submit ourselves, our wills and our desires to it," she says, "and there's a stream of faith that would say that human experience actually trumps — or is an authority over — the Bible at this point."

Reaction In Black Churches

Homosexual behavior is a fault line splitting Christian denominations in two — Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics — there's even a wide gulf between young and old Evangelicals. But nowhere is this question more fraught than in African-American churches, says Tony Evans. He pastors the 9,000-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. One reason, he says, is cultural.

"The breakdown of the family is the single greatest challenge that we face today," he says.

Evans and others say the black family is in crisis — a majority of babies, for example, are born to single mothers — and that's why black ministers are often the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage. Asked about the argument that this is a civil rights issue, Evans bristles.

"The issue of race is not an issue of choice. It's an issue of birth," he says.

Does that mean that homosexuality is a choice?

"The Bible is clear on that one too. And that is, sexual relationships are to be between men and women within the context of marriage," Evans says. "That's not only related to the issue of homosexuality, but adultery, or fornication or bestiality. All of that is proscribed in the Bible."

Envisioning God's Kingdom

Graylan Hagler, the pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., says "of course it's a civil rights issue."

Hagler notes that there are plenty of blacks who are gay, and they, too, should have access to the God-given institution of marriage. To him, legitimizing marriage for committed gay couples is precisely what the Bible envisioned.

"I just think of the words from Galatians where it says, 'There is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, slave nor free," he says. "And what is happening there is that they're pointing to what the kingdom of God looks like ... it's open to everybody and everybody has equal status."

Of course, conservatives say that the best blueprint for God's kingdom on earth does not spring from what you read between the lines of the Bible, but what you read in black and white.

by on May. 11, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Replies (171-172):
by on May. 14, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The problem is assuming you I know Gods heart when it comes to whom you think you should 'speak louder' at.

Quoting Abaco:

Yes she did !  Isn't  she awesome ?! 

Quoting cbk_mom3:

Well, you did a great job with that one! You always do, you don't ramble! :-)

Quoting jcribb16:

Aww..  thank you cbk.  I wuvs you, too!  I mainly ramble and know what I'm trying to say - it doesn't always come out the way I want it to.  :)

Quoting cbk_mom3:

jcribb, I luvs you! You are so awesome!

Quoting jcribb16:

other thing I would like to point out is that the woman who had affairs
with many men, and many other men were going to stone her, but Jesus
said "He who is without sin cast the first stone."  No one was without
sin so no one could throw the stone.  Then Jesus did not condemn the
woman, but forgave her when she acknowledged Him, and He told her to go
and sin no more.  He doesn't approve of adultery, as this woman was
doing, but He didn't say He forgave her and that she could carry on -
He forgave her and also made it clear she was not to do that any more.

all human, and we all sin, but when we know something is sin and do it
anyway, that is challenging God to bring His penalties upon us.  He
makes it clear in the Bible (His Word) of what He approves and doesn't
approve, but, sadly, some will find and twist the meanings around and
use other verses out of context, to try and make it "okay" to do wrong
things within certain social issues. 

Bible itself, tells us we can use His Word as correction, rebuke,
reproof, study, etc. - yet as soon as several do in fact use His Word in
that respect, then all of a sudden, those several are haters,
condemning the "rights" of people who are doing what they want to do and
should have the "right" to do, when actually God's Word says otherwise,

has free will and free choice, that is true.  Most people are going to
do what they want to do regardless of who says what.  That's fine - it's
their choice to do so.  It is also their understanding that if their
choice is wrong, in God's eyes, there will be penalties somewhere along
the line and/or at Judgment.  That includes all of us.

thing believers in God think about is how we are asked to share Him
with others.  We're to look out for the sick and needy.  We're to help
others grow in His Word, including knowing right from wrong.  It would
be horrific to know one day in Heaven that there were several people I
should have said something to about this, about showing what God says of
social issues and trying to help someone see something is wrong (just
as someone would do with me about something I was engaging in wrongfully), and instead stayed silent or
didn't help. I could be one of the believers who kept someone from
knowing Jesus, knowing of His love and his dislike of certain things - I
don't think I could take hearing God or the person I let down, say to
me "Why didn't you speak out about this?" or "Why didn't you speak out
more so I would listen?"  That would be awful.

Quoting blondekosmic15:


Quoting rccmom:

I can speak for no one but myself. No, I did not say that, though I do believe Sodom and Gomorrah was a historical event. No, God does not change His mind, but at the same time, we no longer follow the OT laws. Which sexual sins? Jesus did not speak about homosexuality. He also cautioned those who were so caught up in the law that they could no longer see God or understand Him.

Many biblical scholars, the Saints, the laity are deeply concerned about the current age. Devout Chistians and Pastors have warned sin is much worst today then the time of Noah. Jesus definitely spoke about homosexuality thru his Apostles esp St Paul. Some of you like to discredit Paul and his words of condemnation concerning homosexuality, promiscuity, adultery, fornication etc. Mindfully, Jesus raised Paul up when he struck him blind in the desert for 3 dayz leading Peter and the Apostles to him. Paul, formerly known as Saul murdered 100's Christians, leaving them fearful and hesitant, esp. following his conversion when he began to preach the Gospel in the neighboring towns and villages. St Paul is the Apostle God chose to bring the message of repentance for sexual sins. God elevated Paul as 1 of the greatest Apostles of all time thru out the Centuries.

You did not address the part in the NT that speaks about women needing to cover their heads when praying. Another person in this thread seemed to indicate that that injunction was simply cultural. I do believe it is important for historical and cultural references be taken into account for while God is unchangeable, man is very changeable in what he is capable of understanding.

I addressed traditional practices which are subject to change but are not morally equivalent to sins against the virtue of purity.  When you accept homosexuality, the devil has aleady deceived the person. A weakened spirit is more vulnerable to further deception by God's enemy.

The main question I have though is why it is so important for you to be seen as right, and why you sit in such hard judgement of those that disagree with you? Also, you seem to be fairly hung up on sexual sins, so I have another question. Jesus said that divorce was never originally God's plan, but that he allowed it because of the hardness of the hearts of the people. I would propose that divorce is a worse sin than someone who remains faithful to someone in a homosexual relationship. However, the NT also tells us that whoever has committed one sin is guilty of all. In light of that, I don't understand why you seem to parcel out some sins as worse than others. We are ALL sinners, and just because my interpretation does not jive with your interpretation of the Bible, it is wrong of you to insinuate that I am not a Christian. I don't know that you have done that yet with me, but to do that to someone is wrong.

I am not hung up on any particular sin. The topic of this post is gay marriage and homosexuality...right!? You and a few others are bent on comparing traditional practices to immoral behavior. You fail to see the seriousness of the times we are living in + you offer excuses and trivialize the sins which caused Jesus much suffering during his passion and death. He endured the bloody scouraging @ the pillar for the sins of the flesh which includes homosexuality and sodomy. Divorce is a tragedy esp when children are involved but you continue to compare homosexual partnerships with traditional marriage as if they are morally equivalent in the eyes of God. The Scriptures paint a very different picture. Natural sexual relations in a marriage between a man and a woman and anal sex in a homosexual union is repugnant in comparison. God is the source of all love. He will never bless a homosexual relationship with the intimacy and love a tradional marriage embraces.

Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors to confuse those who refuse to open their hearts to his grace. Yes, all sin offends God but all sin is not equal. Stealing a piece of gum from a convenient store is not comparable to murder or child molestation for ex. Man's judicial system recognizes the difference, the seriousness of particular offenses and punishes accordingly. God's wisdom far surpasses human understanding, he is just and fair.

We are all sinners. I have acknowledged my sinfulness and need of God's grace many times. There is a monumental difference between a person who prays for strength, humbles their life to God and one who continually commits sin absent of any regard for God and his Commandments. I never said you are not a Christian. I am concerned about your opinion as a Christian that homosexuality is not sinful when God's laws and the Scriptures claim otherwise. Sadly many see evil as good and good as evil. Jesus reminds us to be aware of the deception and the 'itching ears'!

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by on May. 14, 2012 at 10:42 PM
You did a great job with this one Della. You never ramble ;)

Quoting Della529:

 Requires a repeat, especially this part:

it does not matter in the scheme of my personal responsibility to God and belief what someone else does in their personal responsibility to God and belief.

I refuse to believe that denying loving individuals from committing to each other has a part of a loving God's plan.

Free will.  People wish to talk about "divine providence", yet they seem to forget those two words.

Quoting Momniscient:


This is why I am usually staunchly pro choice. Because it does not matter in the scheme of my personal responsibility to God and belief what someone else does in their personal responsibility to God and belief.

I refuse to believe that denying loving individuals from committing to each other has a part of a loving God's plan.

Quoting Della529:

 I'm always amazed at the different interpretations of scripture,  But when I think about how many different bibles and christian denominations there are and all the history, I'm not surprised.


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