Friday, July 11, 2008

Me, The Bible, and the Question of Sexuality: The Really Short Version

I sometimes find myself in rather an interesting position. I am young, very politically liberal, queer identified woman. I am also very much a Christian, and rather theologically conservative especially for a Quaker. I do a lot of talking with and traveling among other Christian denominations. I am also a dedicated scholar of the Bible. Often therefore I am called to talk about my feeling about the Bible and homosexuality. This is the very short version of the answer I usually give Christians who ask:

First off I am a queer woman. Secondly I am very, very much a Christian. I love the church, I love God and I really, really love the Bible. I love reading it for personal strength and understand of God and also studying it academically.
The first think I notice when I approach the subject of homosexuality and the Bible is it’s really not talked a lot about, given the enter length of the Bible. Secondly at least one of the passages usually pointed to as speaking about homosexuality I believe actually doesn’t. It’s been read that way by the church but taken out of theological context I really don’t see how that’s what it’s talking about. There are some parts of the Bible that are however unequivocally condemning homosexuality. I have no answer for this, no more then I have an answer for the parts of the Bible, about war, murder, blood sacrifice and genocide or God’s rather. I don’t believe any of these things are part of God’s Plan but they are in the Bible.
There is something I do know about the Bible though, and that is that its talks about love a lot. All the time in fact, over and over again, Old Testament and New. The Bible talks about love almost constantly, about love for ourselves, for each other and for God. That I know to be Truth, God’s Truth given to us through the Bible. Love, real love, is wonderful, and beautiful. It heals us, builds us up, helps us to be stronger and better then we thought we could be, it sustains us, and lets us do the work that God meant us to do. That love is God and the Spirit with us every day. That love, I believe, doesn’t worry about sexuality. When love is healthy, consensual and nurturing to us, others and God, it doesn’t matter what gender our partner is. Love is a gift from God and I don’t question the gifts God gives me.
Sin is when we turn away form God and Truth and act in ways that are harmful, unloving and ungracious towards others and ourselves. Anyone can act without grace, no matter what their sexuality. In turn though love that healthy and brings us closer to God is not confined by one sexuality, one kind of experience. I believe that is o.k., with me, and with God.

12 comments:

maurine said...

Thank you, Anna, for this vital message. So few people understand the Bible as a source of inspiration and not merely as a rule book. Open it up and let your mind engage in its wisdom. That is your truth, and I affirm it.

Maurine

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna!

I admire your courage in fighting stereotypes. I agree with you that the Bible is about love, though this is balanced with a centered (disciplined) life that brings fruits. Two questions: Is there any particular significance to the term queer, as opposed to gay or lesbian? Also, you said you are Christian who loves the church, God and the Bible. Perhaps to you it goes without saying, but do you also love Jesus, which to me is the core of a Christ-centered life?

Anna said...

Hi,
Thank you everyone for your comments.
First off regarding the questions asked: yes for me it goes without saying that to be Christian is to have an intimate connection with the Christ within us.
as for the term queer. Yes for me there is a difference between calling myself queer and calling myself a lesbian. For me calling myself a lesbian would be assuming that all my partners identified female. I have dated members of the transgendered community before and don't feel comfortable assuming things about my lovers gender identity without their permission. I find queer to be a much more comfortable term for me.

Daniel said...

If you'll excuse the forthrightness, do you see the Bible as an authority in of itself?

Anna said...

I'm not sure I know what exactly you mean.
I don't read the Bible literally most of the time, and although I study it as a scholar, which I find the be a great spiritual act, I don't simply take it as words on a page. Instead as I read I try to open my heart to the Spirit and let God speak to me through the words.
As a Quaker I believe the most important part of my faith is my direct relationship with God and the continuing Revelation, and the building on the Kingdom on earth. God can and does speak directly to my heart, and that to me is the highest authority and most profound aspect of my faith.
The Bible is important to me both as it allows me to open my heart to Grace much as prayer does. Also because it allows me insights into others experiences of God, and Truths about God's Plan, which can be moving and meaningful for me.
It also gives me common ground with other Christians, a common spiritual language which helps us to communicate about what is dear to us.
This post was originally written for another board of Emergent Christians who where discussing there take on homosexuality and the Bible. As I wrote it, it occurred to me this was a question I have been asked about a lot, and that it might be interesting to share my response with Friends.

Peace and Joy,
Anna.

Daniel said...

I understand, thankyou. I just wanted to make sure I was reading the original article right.

Anonymous said...

I find myself in the same position as you though I am queer and male. I am also conservative in my outlook and drawn to the plain quakers though I feel that there is no room for me in their meetings. i have a very old background - my ancestors were converted by Fox at Dolgellau. Some of my family even went with Penn but returned when he failed to give us a Welsh-speaking Quaker area so he is not too popular with us! I enjoy scripture and theology very much and find that its contradictions and difficulties only make me love it more and realise why I am a Quaker.

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