New Paper Posted!

A quick update today to let you know I’ve posted my latest paper. In our New Testament class, we were assigned a 20-page paper dealing with an introductory critical issue involving one of the books of the New Testament. I picked Paul’s purposes for writing Romans, mostly as a way to do some exegesis of Romans 1, which is kind of a clobber chapter for those who condemn homosexuality. (The treatment of sex in the Bible is something of an interest of mine and may turn into a thesis or a dissertation down the road. You might recall that my Old Testament exegesis paper was on Leviticus 18.)

Well, the paper was returned this week (got an “A”!), and as is my custom, I’m posting it here. So what’s it about?

Continue reading New Paper Posted!

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Repairing the Image of the ‘Anti-Homosexual’ Church

Let’s do a “by the numbers”:

  • 31,102 – Number of verses in the Protestant Christian Bible
  • 6 – Number of verses that explicitly condemn homosexual behavior (Lev 18:22, 20:13; Rom 1:26-27 ; 1 Cor 6:9 ; and 1 Tim 1:10).
  • 1,934 – Number of verses in the Gospels directly quoting Christ
  • 0 – Number of verses in which Christ condemns homosexual behavior.

For those of you good at math, you’ve already noticed that roughly 0 percent of Jesus’ recorded time was spent worrying about homosexuality. For the Bible as a whole, the percentage is barely larger – six verses out of more than 30,000 works out to .02 percent. So it’s something of a problem, in my view, when Barna’s much-ballyhooed 2007 surveyof young people (ages 16-29 – and I’m still in the group! Woo-hoo!) found more non-churchgoers applies the label “anti-homosexual” to the church than any other label. The breakdown, if I’m interpreting Barna’s results correctly, goes like this:

  1. Anti-homosexual – 91 percent
  2. Judgmental – 87 percent
  3. Hypocritical – 85 percent
  4. Same basic ideas as other religions – 82 percent
  5. Old-fashioned – 78 percent
  6. Good values and principles – 76 percent
  7. Too involved in politics – 75 percent
  8. Friendly – 71 percent

So that list is full of all sorts of problems, but many of them seem to stem from the very top – the church has turned something that takes up .02 percent of the Bible’s space (and none of Jesus’ time) into something identified as our overriding characteristic by 91 percent of those we’re trying to reach. Whoops. Justin Lee used this alarming survey result to make the case for “Transforming the Conversation,” as he puts it, between Christians and the LGBTQ community. I certainly agree the conversation needs to be transformed. Further, the church’s image needs to be transformed. Because regardless of whether you think active homosexuality as we define it today – a loving committed relationship between two people of the same sex – is wrong, I hope we can surely all agree it’s not good for the church to be identified primarily as anti-gay. The biggest problem is that there is so much positive for the church to grab hold of. The Bible spends much, much more time  talking about helping the poor (a quick Bible Gateway search finds 188 verses talking about them, 30 times more verses than discuss same-sex intercourse). We should be known as the pro-poor church, or the pro-marginalized church, or the pro-compassion church. But it’s hard to be known as pro-marginalized and pro-compassion when we spend an inordinate amount of time condemning the marginalized who overwhelmingly make up the LGBTQ community. So how do we turn this tanker around? Continue reading Repairing the Image of the ‘Anti-Homosexual’ Church