|The Bible and Homosexuality|
In this classic statement, EC founder Dr. Blair states simply and clearly,
“There are no homosexuals in the Bible."
Ruth and Naomi were no lesbians. David and Jonathan weren't gay. Neither were Jesus and John, the men of Sodom, cult prostitutes, slave boys and their masters, nor call boys and their customers. ...as Calvin Theological Seminary Old Testament scholar Marten H. Woudstra says: "there is nothing in the Old Testament that corresponds to homosexuality as we understand it today" and as SMU New Testament scholar Victor Paul Furnish says: "There is no 'text on homosexual orientation in the Bible." Says Robin Scroggs of Union Seminary: "Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today's debate. They should no longer be used ... not because the Bible is not authoritative, but simply because it does not address the issues involved. ... No single New Testament author considers [homosexuality] important enough to write his own sentence about it." (excerpt from The Bible is an Empty Closet by Dr. Ralph Blair).
We, as LGBT Christians, are often attacked by our non-LGBT members of Christ's family, with the Bible being used as their weapon in an attempt to separate us from the love of Christ. The Bible was not intended to be used as a weapon, nor as a tool to separate us from Christ; rather, its sole purpose is to gather all to Christ and His unconditional love.
All of us as members of Christ's family are called to learn the scriptures for ourselves and hold them in our heart , and doing so will enable us to reach out to everyone in all communities and demonstrate that Christ's love and grace is for all of us.
Therefore, the information we are providing below is an annotated bibliography with links for the self-learner. and arranged by topic. We've also included book reviews and an FAQ section to briefly summarize some Biblical topics.
Please click on the links below to begin your own journey of learning and owning scripture for yourself.
Bible, Theology & Ethics:
The Bible is an Empty Closet, Dr. Ralph Blair. In this classic statement, EC founder Dr. Blair states simply and clearly, "There are no homosexuals in the Bible."
CHALLENGING CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: How a conservative reading of the biblical references to homosexuality fails to support their traditional interpretation!
Like the Wideness of the Sea, Lewis B. Smedes. Writing in the journal of the Reformed Church in America, an evangelical ethicist asks:
Exploring the Morality of Homosexuality, Lewis B. Smedes.
What the Bibles Says -- and Doesn't Say -- about Homosexuality (.pdf), Mel White.
'But the Bible says ...'? A Catholic reading of Romans 1, James Alison (January 2004).
Dirt, Greed & Sex, L. William Countryman, 1998 (excerpt). Subtitled "Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and their Implications for Today,"
The Bible and Homosexuality: the Herzog-Brauch Debate. Two respected academics -- Dr. Manfred Brauch and Dr. William Herzog -- examine the biblical references to homosexuality and discuss how their understandings of the texts are influenced by their differing concepts of biblical authority and interpretation.
"Doing a New Thing": A Bishop Changes His Mind, Jack Truell. Retired United Methodist Bishop Jack Truell reflects on scripture, tradition, reason and experience. "God is revealing new truth in many areas of life. One which is increasingly clear is that He is speaking to us in the issue of homosexuality. I am aware that many people are uncomfortable even mentioning this matter and wish it would just go away. I am aware of that, because I have felt exactly the same way."
Homosexuality and the Bible: A Case Study in the Use of the Bible for Ethics, , Loren L. Johns. Examines the biblical arguments regarding homosexuality and their contentious debate within the Mennonite tradition.
Hermeneutics and Romans 1, Thomas D. Hanks. What are the commonly accepted guidelines for biblical interpretation, and specifically, how do they apply to controversial modern questions about human sexuality? Instead of limiting the investigation to only the biblical author’s intention ("exegesis," what the text meant to the original author and readers), the author raises the more complex question of how modern readers should respond to the text in the light of their scientific understanding and different historical context ("hermeneutics"), using Romans 1 as a test case.
Homosexuality and the Bible, Walter Wink. What guidance does the Bible offer the church as it considers the morality of homosexuality? Dr. Walter Wink states that the current debate raises in an especially acute way the question of how Scripture informs our lives. Christian morality is, he says, "a way of expressing the integrity of our relationship with God. It is the attempt to discover a manner of living that is consistent with who God created us to be.
The Church and the Homosexual: An Historical Perspective, John Boswell. The author describes the development of the Christian "tradition" against homosexuality. "I would like to dispose briefly of the notion that the Bible had something to do with Christian attitudes toward gay people … [but] so many people have a feeling that the Bible is somehow involved that its teachings on the subject matter must be addressed in detail."
The Bible Condemned Usurers, Too, John Corvino. The author suggests that the church’s reinterpretation of Bible verses against usury (rather than slavery or divorce) is the best analogy for its re-examination of biblical passages in the homosexuality debate, a model that "preserves not only the inerrancy of the Bible but also the authenticity of experience."
Faith & Queer Theology (in traditional Chinese), , Tong Kwang Lighthouse Presbyterian Church, Taiwan.
Let The Reader Understand: A Statement of Interpretive Principles, Episcopal Diocese of New York. The task: "to outline as clearly as possible the means by which many of us, in our particular part of the Anglican Tradition, understand, interpret, and apply the Holy Scriptures. The Principles of Interpretation that follow provide an outline of a method for, and the limits to, our understanding of God’s Word Written."
Dialogue: Church and Small Group Study Resources.
Studies on Homosexuality and the Church (ELCIC), Erwin Buck, 2001 (.pdf). A comprehensive group study guide covering biblical, historical, scientific, pastoral and theological concerns related to homosexuality and the church, organized in five sessions. (The Rev. Dr. Erwin Buck is Professor of New Testament at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon.) An appendix includes a lengthy bibliography and a "Guide for Caring Conversations," an ELCIC model for listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian people and their families. Extensive training material is also available for Bringing Caring Conversations to Our Congregations, an in-service workshop for clergy and lay leaders.
Journey Together Faithfully. Study guides, essays, and resources for discussion on issues related to sexuality from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (2001).
Bridges Across the Divide. The de-militarized zone in the culture wars over homosexuality. Bridges-Across the Divide is a cyberspace initiative providing models and resources for building respectful relationships among those who disagree about moral issues surrounding homosexuality, bisexuality and gender variance.
Talking Together as Christians about Homosexuality. Bibliography of primarily Lutheran parish resources (.pdf). "We have asked for discerning conversation within the church about sexuality and called for an end to discrimination, assault, and harassment of homosexual persons. But questions related to leadership issues of ordination as well as blessings for same-sex unions remain. How will we as Christians continue to grapple with these complicated issues of human sexuality? How can we be faithful, compassionate, and gracious as we wrestle with the place of homosexual persons in the community of faith? This collection of resources includes materials that reflect the church’s ongoing conversation."
Tony & Peggy Campolo: Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? This Baptist evangelist and his wife disagree on the issue of same-sex relationships. Their popular seminar about their opposing views demonstrates "that it is possible for two people to differ intensely over a crucial issue and not get a divorce
Resources for Reconciliation, bibliography from the Episcopal Bishop’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Blessing Same-Sex Unions
Recognizing God’s Blessings, Daphne Burt. A Lutheran pastor reflects on her experience of blessing same-sex unions and offers a rationale for naming the committed, faithful, long-term relationships of same-gender couples as holy.
A Conservative Case for Recognition of Gay Relationships in the Church, R. Stephen Warner. "Although some church people support the so-called gay agenda as one part of a broader radical project, there are good reasons for conservatives to support the inclusion of homosexual persons in all aspects of the rights and rites of the church. I will focus on two: upholding fidelity to persons and recognizing devotion to the church."
Couples' Ministry Resource Guide, DignityUSA (Catholic). A resource booklet supporting Dignity’s National Couples Registry. Offers a sample program of preparation for a holy union, examples of rites, and resources for developing a ministry of pastoral care and support for same-sex couples.
The Psychology of Gay Marriage, Paul Varnell. "As marriage comes closer to being a real option for gays and lesbians, it is important to think through how it may affect our relationships and useful to keep in mind some cautionary considerations."
Unveiled, Andrew Sullivan. "Conservatives say that marriage must be a male-female bargain to work, so same-sex marriage is doomed to fail. They're wrong. It's marriage itself that binds couples together."
Permanent, Faithful, Stable, Jeffrey John. One of the most powerful arguments for the acceptance and blessing of same-sex relationships by the Church. Canon John argues that a partnership based on the same commitment as heterosexual marriage is no less sacramental, no less a way of holiness, and no less worthy of the Church's blessing. He calls the Church to offer same-sex couples a positive theological understanding of their relationship as well as practical acceptance and support.
People with a History: John Boswell. This resource guide includes reviews and bibliographic information on the scholarship of one of the most influential and controversial historians of the church and homosexuality. It references Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (1980) – in which Boswell challenged the traditional view that Christianity has always and everywhere denounced homosexuals – and Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (1994), a study of the medieval rites which Boswell argues were used as public liturgies to celebrate erotic relationships between people of the same sex.
The Bible and Homosexual Practice, Robert A.J. Gagnon. Reviewed by Dr. Ralph Blair. One Canadian theologian considers Gagnon's book required reading for anyone wanting to engage the current debate. Dr. Blair disagrees: "A book should not be judged by its cover, its jacket's many blurbs, or its superabundance of words and footnotes by which it thinks it will be heard… The more Gagnon goes on and on, the more he misinterprets, misrepresents, misconstrues, and misapplies. Yet for all his verbiage, he offers little more than what's been said before and what's been refuted by biblical scholars, historians and scientists."
Love in the Ancient Mediterranean, Wayne R. Dynes. Bernadette J. Brooten's Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism brings to light a wealth of surprising information about attitudes toward lesbianism and the role of women generally in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. Reviewer Dynes argues that contrary to Brooten the supposedly anti-homosexual verses in Paul's Letter to the Romans 1:26-27 do not refer to lesbians at all. Dynes bases his reading on the meaning of similar passages in earlier Biblical and contemporaneous religious literature.
Take Back the Word: a queer reading of the Bible, Robert E. Goss & Mona West. From the introduction: "This anthology attempts to provide examples of a Queer biblical hermeneutic that engages the entire Bible and its message, not just selected texts and characters. It is a strategy that ‘outs’ the Queer community by articulating the community's lived experience in and beyond the closet as well as its particular concerns when encountering and appropriating the biblical text."
Welcoming But Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality, Stanley J. Grenz. Reviewed by Dr. Ralph Blair. "Grenz’s own summation effectively counters his seeming certitude: 'We seem no closer to a definitive conclusion as to what homosexuality actually is.' Why then, is he so sure that all homosexual behavior is sinful?"
Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: a historical perspective, Martii Nissinen. Reviewed by Dr. Ralph Blair. "Published by a major Lutheran press, [Nissinen's book] is comprehensive and succinct in surveying the primary texts on homoeroticism from the world in which the Bible was written."
Religious Groups' Policies on Homosexuality. Dozens of essays describing the current policies, beliefs and practices of various faith groups about homosexuality, maintained by the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance.
Why Lutherans Can’t Talk About Sexuality, Thomas D. Pearson. "If neither a textual ethics, nor a morality grounded in love, nor natural law theory, can supply a basis for our conversation about sexuality in the ELCA, what other resources do we have available to us? There is not much, I’m afraid. But discuss sexuality we will, and must."
Catholicism, Homosexuality and Dignity, Daniel A. Helminiak (1996). Responses to frequently asked questions about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and Catholic. The author summaries official Catholic teaching on homosexuality, then offers hope: "[C]ompared to people in other Christian denominations, Catholics are the most accepting of homosexuality. Besides, many Catholic priests, religious, and lay ministers are sensitive to the needs of homosexual people, and good-willed American bishops are quietly doing what they can to provide ministry to lesbian and gay Catholics."
Islamic Doctrine on Gays, Paul Varnell. "Historically, Islamic culture (or better, cultures) seem to present two different faces toward homosexuality: a deeply hostile, punitive aspect rooted in religious texts and edicts, and a more benign aspect ranging from bemused tolerance to open approval and celebration in literature. The fundamentalist strain is on the upswing at the moment, but it has not always been so."
Homosexuality and Sexual Orientation:
Answers to Your Questions about Homosexuality and Sexual Orientation. Basic information in Q&A format from the American Psychological Association.
Accepting What Cannot Be Changed, David G. Myers. The author is Professor of Psychology at Hope College (Reformed Church in America) and one of the most widely-read educators in psychology. In this article he tells how the accumulating scientific data challenged this "moral conservative" to examine his assumptions about sexual orientation. See also his Sexual Orientation: a textbook summary.
What we wish we had known: “The Blue Book” (.pdf), Presbyterian Church of Mt. Kisco, New York. "Because of the fear and loneliness around the subject of sexual orientation, our church has produced a helpful and healing resource … to help families and congregations heal broken relationships and affirm the differences that make us human together. It's an extraordinary book about, well, about ordinary people. It is intended for those who know very little about the subject, as well as those whose families and personal lives have been deeply affected by misunderstanding."
Homosexuality and Adolescence, American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, October 1993. Homosexually oriented youths face unique psychosocial challenges, primarily the result of societal stigma, hostility, hatred, and isolation. The gravity of these stresses is underscored by current data that document that gay youths account for up to 30% of all completed adolescent suicides. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or about how to express their sexuality. Caregivers should provide factual, current, nonjudgmental information in a confidential manner. Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation. Includes "Stages of Homosexual Identity Formation."
Negotiating a Religious Identity: the Case of the Gay Evangelical, Scott Thumma. In this article for Sociological Analysis, the author examines the psychosocial process of "integration" by which persons reconstruct an evangelical religious identity to include a formerly incongruent homosexual identity. This accommodated, but still distinctively evangelical, identity enables persons to resolve the dissonance between their Christian beliefs and their homosexual feelings.
Sexual Prejudice: Understanding Homophobia and Heterosexism, Gregory M. Herek. Although opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation is increasing, prejudice against lesbians and gay men remains widespread. The author offers a brief introduction to sexual prejudice, the phenomenon that is often labeled homophobia or heterosexism.
On Being a Gay Christian, Bruce Bawer. The author describes the personal impact of the church's traditional teaching on homosexuality on gay Christians, particularly gay youth. He describes the tension many gay Christians feel, that "while our committed relationships seem for us to reflect God's love more truly than anything else in our lives, the Church as a human institution continues to suggest that the very aspect of us that makes that love possible is profane in the eyes of God." Drawing on his experience as a gay Christian, Bawer concludes, "[T]he only Christian way for the Church to respond to the fact of homosexuality and the identicality of homosexual love and commitment to heterosexual love and commitment is to bless gay unions…"
Evangelical Christian Gays, Paul Varnell. Christian psychologist Dr. Ralph Blair has been working to reconcile gays and lesbians with the evangelical churches that so often reject them for over 25 years. His most popular pamphlet is a folded sheet of paper whose cover says, "What Jesus Christ Said About Homosexuality." On the inside it is totally blank.
Gayness and God, Steven Greenberg. "Rabbi Greenberg shares his own often painful journey to the acknowledgement of his sexuality. He discusses halachic teachings regarding homosexuality, and offers a path to possible new halachic strategies that will permit Orthodox Judaism to respond positively to gay people."
“Safehaven” in Singapore, Andrew Wong. "In recent times with the rise of Christian fundamentalism as a political force and pervasive influence -- even in Singapore -- gay, lesbian and bisexual people have become the focal point of the demonization of the Other. GLB Christians often grow up with a double burden… To be rejected by family, friends and society is one thing but to be rejected by the very ground of your being — God — often becomes unbearable. It is for this reason that Safehaven exists — to bring relief and empowerment to GLB Christians in Singapore."
What Does a Girl Need?, "Lego" (Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship, Hong Kong). "Lego often ponders on what qualities constitute a good Christian -- she does not know. However, she believes God's creation is to let human to live truthfully. She will strive to love herself, others, and to love the world. This will make life abundant and meaningful."
Stepping Out (of Ex-Gay Ministries) in Faith, Randolph Baxter. In this very moving and powerful testimony, Dr. Baxter takes us on his very personal journey from believing that he could only accept one ‘G’ in his life – God or Gay – to his present position as a confident person of renewed and refreshed faith. He tells of his arguments with God, his experiences with ‘ex-gay’ ministries, his internal struggles, his new understanding of the ‘clobber’ passages of scripture leading to the revelation that he could now live the full and complete life that Christ had designed for him; that the two ‘G’ words could coexist after all!