Our church had a presentation on same sex marriage a few weeks ago - I was pleasantly surprised that the general tone was in favor of same sex marriage, not opposed as I expected it to be. During the discussion, one person recommended Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers. Mr. Rogers is Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
In this revised and expanded best seller, Rogers argues for equal rights in both the church and society for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people. He describes how he moved away from opposition to support, charts the church's history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups, argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture, debunks stereotypes about gays and lesbians, and explores texts used most frequently against homosexuals and gay ordination.I found the book to be very good - easy to read, clear and to the point. Among other things, it offers an interpretation of many of the biblical texts generally used to discriminate against LGBT people, and by using some generally accepted rules of biblical interpretation shows why they do not support discrimination against LGBT, or even identifiy homosexuality as "sin". One item that really caught my attention is about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (from which, of course, comes the term "sodomy"):
In this newly revised edition, he maps the recent progress of major U.S. denominations toward full equality for LGBT persons, adds a new chapter that examines how Scripture is best interpreted by Jesus' redemptive life and ministry, and updates his own efforts and experiences.
The best available scholarship shows that these texts have nothing to do with homosexuality as such. ... the sins of the city are variously described as greed, injustice, inhospitality, excess wealth, indifference to the poor and general wickedness.So if you are a Christian and want to avoid the judgement of Sodom, would you be better off as an LGBT person, or a Republican?
There are many more eye-openers in the book, including how to interpret scripture generally, how to interpret the texts usually cited to justify discrimination, the history of the church in civil rights and women's rights. The overall theme is that proper interpretation of the Bible requires a Christ-centered view of the whole Bible rather than using proof-texts out of context, and that when read this way, the Bible clearly requires acceptance of, and love for, all people. The church has (mostly) reached that point (after years of error) with blacks, women, divorced people and mixed marriages - and needs to get there with LGBT people as well.