The following is from a rather long YouTube comment I made to a woman who believes it is the Christian’s job to warn others about going to hell, which I disagree with. I know it’s a tad long, but I’m a writer and this is an issue which I’m incredibly passionate about not only as a homosexual, but as someone who was raised Christian in a loving household with my dad being a Baptist pastor. I want to build bridges and close the gap between us because there’s so much unnecessary fear and hatred coming from both sides. Here’s my take.
Morality does not come from the Bible, it comes from parents and a society who teach it to their children, and before the Bible, it came from cavemen and later humans interacting with each other and making decisions based on what wouldn’t kill them, i.e. challenging a wild animal in combat without a spear, they learned, was probably not a good idea. And if you learn what’s right and wrong in that sense, it doesn’t take you long to make decisions on everything else. If you take into account that God put us on this earth, in these bodies, to experience something special for the advancement of our souls, don’t you think He would let us discover everything for ourselves in terms of what will work and what doesn’t? Jesus Himself always invited people to “come and see”, and that sort of witness was far more powerful than any quotes he made about the Old Testament. I should note that it’s done a world of good for our church attendance as well.
I was raised in a Christian household, my dad is a Baptist pastor who has no problem accepting homosexuals and bases all of his sermons around having faith, practicing compassionate love towards everyone, being a witness to people through your actions, what works in modern times, and the Gospels. He has never made a sermon about the dangers of hell or God’s judgment to my knowledge (and I’ve sat through many years of his sermons).
The reason anyone grows intolerant of religion is because you’re using it to judge them, as opposed to letting them make that judgment for themselves. Religion is not meant to be used to judge others. If you practice it, you will decide what’s right for your own life in keeping with the scriptures. But to apply that same philosophy to people who may not share your beliefs will sound insulting and ridiculous to them. If you want to witness to people, then show it through your actions, not your words. In my mind when you make judgments on others, it takes away their fundamental right to experience life as God intends. We are meant to work through certain things in our time on Earth. BUT don’t misunderstand…if it’s causing anyone harm, then obviously step in. But that’s also why we have rules and morality as a society. The Bible itself is not a rulebook for life, it was never intended to be. What you take out of it and how you live and experience the life God gave you is what the Word is really all about. Learning for yourself while keeping faith.
If it was just a straight rulebook, we would also be subscribing to Old Testament law and stoning each other to death, but we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about homosexuality.
My view and my dad’s view is that you’re more or less born that way, and that factors throughout life can influence its expression, similar to genes or certain things which can happen in the womb. There has been research that putting stress on the mother, various chemicals to which she may have been exposed, or hormones her body released during stressful times can and will affect the fetus’s brain development later in life. This can be explained as a trigger for homosexuality. In some instances, maybe it takes more than that, like a major life crisis for example. Also in the Bible, there are a lot of things we’ve done away with that have no place in our current society. In other words, we understand the concept of the Word as being something which is ALIVE, and thus constantly changing, but which is no less moral than it was in the beginning. Looking for morality in the Bible today is largely based on several key concepts:
– What time/society are we living in?
– Does it cause harm to oneself?
– Does it cause harm to others?
– Does it keep with the core teachings of Jesus?
– What are the intentions of the heart?
You cannot judge a person who later on in life develops some sort of disease because of a gene expression that was suddenly triggered, for example, because we do not know the cause. Similarly, you cannot say the same of gay people, because you do not know how it was that they came to be gay.
But unlike things like alcoholism, adultery, etc. which all cause serious damage to families and society, we know that homosexuality does not cause harm to society based on those 5 above points. Should you wish to cite the Bible on this, it is important to remember that Sodom & Gomorrah was about sexual assault—which if you’re a feminist, you should understand as being a major problem whether it’s done to males or females, and also the fact that in Biblical times, homosexual relationships as we know them today did not even exist, and if homosexuality itself was spoken of (as in Paul’s writings in Romans), it would be in the context of Roman officials who kept slave boys and engaged in pedophilia. Which—keeping in the context of the verses in Romans—would make perfect sense, because he rails off about “thieves, murderers, adulterers”, etc.
But homosexuality as we know it today is a complete 180 degree turn from how it was spoken of in the Bible, and it’s important to remember that. One still decides what is in keeping with morality in that lifestyle, though.
For example, I identify as gay and have for the past 10 years, but I don’t personally engage in a lot of things that people in the gay community do, i.e. promiscuity, doing drugs, drinking yourself to death, anal sex, etc….but you know what’s interesting? All of these are actions which can be done by people in the heterosexual community too, meaning that homosexuality itself is a harm to no one, since all acts are between consenting adults and the vast majority don’t push their views on the rest of society as a lot of right-wing Christians have.
As for “going to hell”, who are we to make such a judgment (if indeed that’s what you believe in…I don’t believe there’s a hell outright, but my philosophy is a little complicated and involves some crossover between Buddhism and New Age concepts)? We are not called by God to judge, we are called to witness and be an example through our lives. And saying “well I don’t want them to go to hell” is, at its root, nothing more than a justification for your intolerance. We don’t try to cure alcoholism because we don’t want people to go to hell, nor do we tell people to stop being sexually promiscuous because we’re afraid they’ll go to hell, nor do we tell people with anorexia, bulimia, or self-harm issues that “we don’t want you to go to hell”. If that’s the kind of things they’re doing, trust me, in their minds, THEY ARE ALREADY THERE.
The same is not true of homosexuality. Our minds are most in hell when we FEAR being attacked or ostracized by society, always looking over our shoulders in each new environment with each new person we meet. “Will they accept me for who I am? Will I lose my job, my home, or will someone kill me because I’m gay?” Alcoholics, thieves, the sexually promiscuous, etc. don’t ask that sort of question because they know that what they are doing are behaviors, not necessarily a result of who they are as people. That’s why the gay rights movement can be equated with the fight for civil rights in America. Heck, a lot of African Americans still struggle with it! Look at Ferguson, look at the Zimmerman case! “Will they think I’m trying to steal something or kill someone if I walk down this street”, or for women, “is this man walking behind me a stranger or is he going to try to rape me…” You just don’t ask those sorts of things if it’s not something you struggle with in society as a result of who you are.
It seems to me that most Christians who rail against homosexuality cannot make that distinction. They take things out of context, and they ascribe actions to an orientation. I think it’s worth noting here that “homosexuality” and “child molestation” in the 1950’s were also used interchangeably. So people would call homosexuals child molesters.
You get the picture here? And yet that was the BIBLICAL definition! Homosexuals have been branded one of those really deviant things by the rest of society (no surprise, since an overwhelming majority of people in America identify as Christian) when all we want is to be loved and accepted by our families, friends, and have the same rights as everyone else in society. How is that harmful? As homosexuals, we aren’t aiming to hurt anyone, abuse anyone, etc. and if anyone in the gay community does, it’s not because they’re gay, it’s because they have other issues.
I know this was a long post, but I do hope you read it and that it makes you think twice about what you’re really saying when you judge homosexuals because it’s very important for Christians to make these distinctions and consider the Word as a living thing, as well as taking into account the humanity and intentions of people before they judge. It’s just not your place to judge someone else’s life, especially if they’re not causing harm to themselves or anyone else.