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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.

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.

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"):
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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  marking time, let me introduce you to someone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Mannie, HeyMikey

    I think you'll like her.

    https://scribalishess.wordpress.com/...

    She's an inspiration to Son2 (got him to step out of Christian Apologetics by showing that what the Bible really means isn't the usually-relied-on bigotry so prevalent in fundagelicalism).

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 03:36:44 PM PDT

  •  I've done about four diaries on (4+ / 0-)

    Homosexuality and the Bible. Check them out.

  •  Here's the one I did (5+ / 0-)

    For a Jewish perspective.  This was adopted by Conservative Judaism in 2006.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 03:51:41 PM PDT

  •  Another worthwhile analysis (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, librarisingnsf, OHdog, HeyMikey

    From a retired Baptist minister - A Letter to Louise.

    Louise has been a dear friend for fifty years. The last time my wife, Anna Marie, and I visited her she shocked us with a statement, repeated in the first sentence of this Letter, about her brother's being gay. At that time I knew almost nothing about gay people or homosexuality. I did have some suppositions - quite negative - and had never thought I needed to study the subject. But her words made me want to know as much as I could learn about it.

    When I began reading I soon realized things about myself I now deplore: I was ignorant of the many facts about homosexuality (and harbored some myths about it) although the matter had been very important to mainline denominations for several decades. Without facts I had pre-judged it; I was prejudiced. Carelessly, I had read into the Bible what I presumed it ought to say instead of reading out of it what it does say. My idea of not needing to study the subject was pure anti-intellectualism. I am now most grateful that God led me to study.

    I have read over fifty books by eminent psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, ethicists and theologians on both sides of this issue. This letter to Louise reflects what I now have come to believe is the truth about homosexuality, what the Bible says and what God wants us to think and do about it

    He goes into great detail; citing scripture as well as scholars, psychologists, historians, etc. I find it remarkable that over a decade ago, when the letter was written, he was coming out in favor of same sex marriage. On that, there is this interesting tid-bit:
    Here is an interesting note from church history:
    John Boswell ... has discovered that, whereas the church did not declare heterosexual marriage to be a sacrament until 1215 CE, one of the Vatican Library's earliest Greek liturgical documents is a marriage ceremony for two persons of the same sex. The document dates to the fourth century, if not earlier. In other words, nine centuries before heterosexual marriage was declared a sacrament, the church liturgically celebrated same-sex covenants.60

    Louise, it is time for society to recognize that when two gay men or two lesbian women have committed themselves to each other as fully as any heterosexual couple has, it is gross discrimination for society to deny them the same rights and privileges given to a heterosexual couple in marriage.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 04:44:58 PM PDT

  •  A time to embrace (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey

    Another good book on the subject is A Time to Embrace by William Stacy Johnson.  I already knew that I supported LGBT rights but Johnson gave me a broader theological underpinning for my views.  

  •  A point of semantics... (0+ / 0-)

    Forgive me if this is too politically correct, but...

    "Tolerance" is what a superior gives an inferior. Equals give each other respect. I urge respect, not tolerance, for people of alternative sexualities.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 11:44:00 AM PDT

    •  thank you - point taken. This was a poor title. (0+ / 0-)
      •  don't sweat it! (0+ / 0-)

        If that's the worst thing wrong with a diary, then it's a doggone good diary.

        And I thought yours was a doggone good diary.

        Of course I could be biased, since I'm a member of the PCUSA.
        Anyhow, good work!

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 01:44:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the verses in your sig line... (0+ / 0-)

          ...are big reasons why I'm a Democrat, too.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 01:44:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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