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The Theology Behind the Book, “You Have To Be Gay to Know God”

The Theology Behind the Book, “You Have to Be Gay to Know God”

 

Here’s an argument for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in the Body of Christ, as well as the abolishment of patriarchy and gender inequality.

 

Outline

 

1.)  The Romans 9 Argument: God’s Mercy Saves Individuals and Whole Churches

 

Example from History: The Church and Slavery

 

2.)  Atonement Theory

 

The Importance of Blood

 

The Tree in Eden

 

What Did Their Eyes Open To?

 

The Law Shows People That They Slice and Dice Rules to Serve Their     Own Interests — And Then Call That God’s Work

 

3.)  The Cross as the Mercy Seat

 

Applying This Atonement Theory to Sex and Sexuality

 

The Primacy of Alien Righteousness

 

Responsible Preaching: The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

 

4.)  Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

 

5.)  Romans 1:26 — 27

 

6.)  1 Corinthians 6:9

 

7.)  Galatians 3:28

 

8.)  Closing and Invitation

1.)  The Romans 9 Argument: God’s Mercy Saves Individuals and Whole Churches

 

God’s acceptance of and sentiment towards people is based on his plan for them. It’s independent of real or perceived immorality on their part. It’s therefore independent of sexual orientation.

 

Romans 9:10 — 16 puts this in starker terms. But the passage has also sparked debate about (or against) divine election, the importance of works, and the role of human choice. These are some of the reasons we’ve left it out of the discussion on LGBTI persons. What happens, however, when you insert this community into the passage? Does it remain consistent with its original intended teaching on God’s love? It does:

 

Before straight people and gay people were born or had done anything good or bad — in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls — God had the prerogative to tell [the church], “The first will be last; the elder shall serve the younger.” God has always had the right to veto conventional social and familial orders. Just as it is written: “Jacob (the younger heir) I loved, but Esau (the older heir) I hated.”

 

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

 

This portion of Romans 9 speaks of God having mercy and compassion so we cannot, as some do, assume that it speaks to how God elects some but passes others over for vocational service. In reality, it’s speaking to how God relates to people at any level he chooses.

 

Why, then, do we have theologies in which the gender-identities and sexual orientations of LGBTI persons condition what God would do? Why do we preach on God’s unsurpassable and unconditional and irrevocable love for all — but withdraw and condition this as soon as LGBTI persons are in the picture? What’s the agenda?

 

Example from History: The Church and Slavery

 

People who think God would wholly disapprove of churches that perform gay marriage must tell us how God feels about churches that historically supported slavery and apartheid. What role have such churches played in undoing the historical legacy of institutionalized racism?

 

If those churches haven’t played such a role (or if the role envisaged by the anti-gay theologians is incongruent with the extent of the historical damage), then on what basis do anti-gay theologians write off church denominations today that contemplate gay marriage, but not churches that supported slavery and apartheid? If they condemn both, then who’s left for God to save?

 

Therefore, the church itself exists not because of its theological consistency or “faithfulness to scripture”, but on the grounds of God’s calling and mercy.

 


 

2.)  Atonement Theory

 

The Importance of Blood

 

To understand what Jesus accomplished by dying on the cross, it’s necessary to unpack the biblical origin of death, connecting it to the biological reality of blood. In school, we were taught that the hemes in our blood cells’ haemoglobin protein binds to iron molecules. Those iron molecules bind to oxygen molecules to give us red — the font colour some publishers instinctively chose for Jesus’ words in the bible.

 

We also learned that this oxygen enters our bodies and blood through breath. That’s why we say life is “in the blood”. Scripturally, breath is synonymous with spirit and life. God “breathed into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

 

The Tree in Eden

 

Genesis has a story in which God tells man not to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because if he did, he’d die. Let us assume the Knowledge of Good and Evil was exactly that — the Moral Law. Now, why would God forbid a kind of knowledge we’d think is good? I submit it’s because it lures us into the illusion that the justification for our existence is our consistent observation of morality (our “faithfulness to scripture”) when the justification of our existence is that God loves us unconditionally.

 

Consider what happened after Adam ate this fruit. God asked what had happened. Adam avoided the death sentence by putting himself in the Right and putting God, and the woman God had made, in the Wrong: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” This is what that type of knowledge causes us to do. This attempt at self-preservation at the cost of others is literally putting one’s life ahead of other people’s; we justify ourselves on the basis of “good” and “evil” (making ourselves out to be the good and others, the evil) when we no longer see God’s unconditional love as sufficient justification for our existence. When we don’t believe we’re loved, we force an exchange between ourselves and others, making them out to be the unlovable ones, and ourselves as worthier in comparison. This is projection.

 

In response, God cursed the ground and dust that the first man was made of, saying that no matter what man did, the substance he was made of would never help him prevent the death sentence he’d passed onto others by putting them in the wrong. Human self-righteousness would never have the last word at God’s expense:

 

Let God be true and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be justified in your words, and overcome when you are judged.”

 

 

So, God condemned sin in the flesh. This doomed man’s attempts at self-vindication (at the expense of others) to failure; God sabotaged every human argument that says, “I deserve advancement, and you don’t, on this moral basis” both in Adam and in all who would justify themselves as he had.

 

 

The first man had tried to pass to others the death sentence he should have taken responsibility for incurring. But there were no others: humanity was one organism. When the First Adam treated Eve, flesh of his flesh, as “other than” himself in an attempt to preserve himself, he brought about a “one-flesh” union with death and shame. This is why he covered his body. It’s also why mixing Law and Grace is compared to necromantic adultery against Christ in Romans 7. Christ is the Second Adam and by him, “the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” The structure of condemnation at work in the First Adam is, in a sense, mirrored in the justification that happens in the Second Adam. The results are as different as life and death; one cannot be found in both Christ and Adam. In his Epistle to the Galatians, Apostle Paul said attempting to be under both or to place people in both was witchcraft. 

 

In Adam, the fruit opened people’s eyes to the possibilities offered by the blame- and shame-game. Once we know this game, we try to ensure survival by manipulating its loopholes and using the “nakedness” of others as a cover for our own. This means that in Adam, sin is as at least as powerful as the survival instinct — while undermining it. A contrary principle was at work among Adam’s members: the good he would try to do to justify himself, he couldn’t do, and the evil he didn’t want to do, that he would do instead. 

 

 

What Did Their Eyes Open To?

 

However open our eyes are to the self-serving possibilities presented by the blame-and-shame game, there is one player whose guilt will miraculously be seen, in our eyes, as a speck in comparison to the logs seen in others’ eyes: self, the blind-spot to our open eyes, the one for whom rules are softened and for whom the starting assumptions of our judgments are self-serving and self-empathetic precisely because judgment and self-preservation were united in Adam’s blame-shifting. Adam placed another on the altar of blame in order to save his own skin.

 

The Pharisees’ eyes were “open” to the possibilities and advantages presented by this game, but this blinded them to its impact on their relationship with God. Their definition of sin targeted everyone except themselves and what they did.

 

I submit our self-justifying, self-preserving participation in this “game” is what the bible is talking about when it describes “sin”. We cannot bring ourselves to do something hurtful unless we feel it is justified; driven by the self-preserving, self-advancing instinct, we will slice and dice rules to our own advantage over-and-against others to justify giving them the short end of the stick and ourselves, the better end.

 

The Law Shows People That They Slice and Dice Rules to Serve Their Own Interests — And Then Call That God’s Work

 

In the Old Testament, God handed down the Law of Moses to serve several purposes:

 

·       It exposed the hypocritical self-preserving impulse by giving the human (rendered incapable of vindicating his claim to righteousness by the curse on the dust of his flesh) a set of rules against which to see the “contrary principle” at work: the good man would do, he couldn’t, and the evil, that he would do. Put differently, God orchestrated a situation in which man could witness the spectacular failure of his self-righteousness.  

 

·       It made human selfishness exceedingly selfish by offering the substrate in which moral social-scale hierarchies and dichotomies (in which some were “holy” while others were “righteous”) were formed and defended, though these were also hypocritical.

 

·       Put differently, the Law made sin exceedingly sinful by formalising and dignifying the rules whereby this hypocrisy would feed itself off of sacrificed “others”.

 

·       The Law was an unbearable yoke of bondage because it triggered what I call Spiritual Newton Law III (“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”): deep on the inside of any hypocrite was cognitive dissonance because the commandment, “Thou shalt not do this” stirred up persistent fantasies about doing what had just been forbidden; the flesh had been rendered powerless to vindicate the claims of the self-righteous. Finding themselves back on the altar of being Wrong again and again, they’d put themselves back in the Right by exchanging themselves with the others on whom they’d projected their guilt on again and again. This trapped the self-righteous in the vicious circle of offering cyclical sacrifices but never having their consciences cleansed.

 

·       This vicious cycle could only be satisfied by what it craved from its start: to put God in the Wrong. So, God could only condemn sin in the flesh once and for all by condemning his Son.

 

 

The Law of Moses consists of 613 rules. “If you follow them, God will consider you righteous in his sight,” the religious say. But scripture says, “Whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world made guilty before God. By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by Law is knowledge of sin” and by “knowledge of sin” scripture means our one-flesh union with Adam in whom flesh which was rendered incapable of self-justification.

 

The Law’s picture of this was the animal blood sacrifice system through which sacrificers were supposed to vicariously die with the animal, as though one flesh with it in its suffering; that was how they were to make atonement for their soul. This meant they’d come face-to-face with themselves, red-handed, and know the bloody effects of their self-preservation against others. The dove was sacrificed to indicate that to put himself in the Right, man had to put God’s Holy Spirit in the wrong. The Atonement ritual had a literal scapegoat to drive the point home. None of this actually removed sin; it simply highlighted it while anticipating that which could remove it.

 

For this sacrifice system, too, was co-opted by humans into “the game” instead of showing people how the game was hurting everyone. So powerful was the allure of privilege, of power over others on the basis of moralism and religiosity, that people would slaughter sacrificial animals without recognising the harm they were causing. They’d instead grow proud that they were observing sacrificial ceremonies that “those unwashed sinners and pagans over there” weren’t observing! Because humans were responsible for performing the rituals with their own hands, the self-justification incorporated these works into people’s stories in which if anyone deserved good things, they did, and if anyone deserved bad things, “the other” did. They never saw Jesus in their sacrifices because they never saw Jesus in those people they labelled “sinners”.

 

·       With human flesh incapable of accomplishing all it needed to vindicate this claim to righteousness over-and-against others, people began cherry-picking (with impunity) from the rules, not recognising that they were participating in “the game”. The danger with this is the Law had this clause: “Cursed is he who does not continue in all of the things written in the roll of this Book, to do them” (Deuteronomy 27:26). The Berean Literal Bible renders Galatians 3:10 thusly: “For as many as are of works of the Law are under a curse, for it has been written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue all things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them’.”

 

·       The Law camouflaged and normalised the hypocrisy whereby people camouflaged and normalised their self-righteousness through forming groups who cherry-picked from the Law and then called those who broke different rules from themselves, “sinners”, while calling those on the inside of the group, “saints”. But the more normalised this hypocrisy was, the more obvious it became! The Law simultaneously revealed and concealed. the nakedness of human hypocrisy by putting it out in the open where it failed to note its own nakedness.

 

This has economic implications because if what I wanted all along was not to be your loving neighbour, but to justify a status quo in which I have privilege, and you lack it, then the group I’m ganging up against you (as part of a minority) must be okay with cherry-picking the same parts of the Law that I am. This way of organising society is ancient. “Sin is crouching at the door,” God warned Cain, but it was too late because Cain was too married to the idea that his hand-grown sacrifices were superior to Abel’s God-grown offerings to see how jealous he was that his brother had received the blessing, and he had not. Every Cain kills and Abel, and every hypocrite justifies himself by projecting his sense of not being justified on others, for social, then political, and ultimately, for economic reasons.

 


 

3.)  The Cross as the Mercy Seat

 

To get out of “the game”, one has to do the exact opposite of putting others in the Wrong so that one may be in the Right: one has to die even if one is arguably “Good” (compared to others who are presumably “Evil”). In other words, one has to act as though one’s status as “Good” (whether real or presumed) does not entitle one to putting one’s own existence and life ahead of other people’s lives and existence. One has to un-eat the fruit of Knowing Good and Evil. This means that instead of shifting the death sentence to “the other”, one has to embrace the death sentence.

 

This is accomplished by bleeding; this is why the bible repeatedly says that “atonement” requires bloodshed. It is only through death by bloodshed that the dissolution of “spirit” (breath, oxygen) happens from the “flesh” we’d been trying to preserve at the expense of others. When we surrender the lives we would stand to gain at others’ expense, we prove that the self-righteousness game has no power over us.

 

This presents a problem: death may get people out of “the game” and clear them from the guilt of participating in it, but it as a rehabilitative system it has a 100% failure rate at reintegrating people into society as healthy members thereof — unless God could vindicate the dead person’s claim not to have participated in “the game” by resurrecting that dead person. This escorts us to Jesus, our “Door” to God. 

 

Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of those who cherry-picked from or watered down the Law, or otherwise assimilated it into their social, political and economic agendas. He also preached God’s unconditional, perfect and boundless love for those whom religion had labelled “sinners”. For these reasons, he was handed over by the religious powers for crucifixion. In accepting this, Jesus embraced the curse that came with being hanged on a tree found in Deuteronomy 21:23 where it says, “Cursed is he who hangs on the tree.” Apostle Paul argue in Galatians 3:13 that dying this way is how Jesus ransomed humanity from the clause that read, “Cursed is he who does not continue in all of the things written in the roll of this Book, to do them.” 

 

The religious, godly people of the time conspired to put God’s Son in the Wrong in order to shore up their sense that they were in the Right. Steadfast in his solidarity with “those wicked sinners over there”, and refusing to be numbered amongst “those righteous people over here” who allegedly deserved life, protection, privilege and safety, Jesus yielded. As a result, everything the Law had anticipated was suddenly accomplished:

 

·       The cross was the perfect revelation of human religious hypocrisy: the humans who’d been killing sacrificial animals to cover their sin killed God and exposed their sin.

 

·       By shedding the blood of the God who had been the ultimate target of all hatred on a cross previously said to represent God’s curse, Christ’s crucifixion brought the whole Law to its fulfilment, ending humanity’s ridiculous cherry-picking from its rules.

 

Christ’s shed blood is accessible to others by faith. This means when people believe in Jesus, they stop believing the lie that they’re vindicating their claims to morality. They “die” to their self-righteousness the way Christ died in the flesh, doing psychologically what Jesus did physically; God then credits them with Christ’s righteousness as though they were “one flesh” with him at the cross. But this means it’s impossible to hold on to self-righteousness and Christ-righteousness at the same time. If one has rescinded self-righteousness by receiving Christ-righteousness by faith, one is freed from sin’s power — and that, without having to observe the Law.

 

The cross is a picture of who the Father has been all along; Christ “glorified” him by visibly demonstrating his position as the One against whom all sin had ultimately been directed. The “truth” about God relative to which every man is a liar is that justification can only come from him. And when Christ is raised from the dead, he prevails when he is judged. In other words, Christ is Uriah, whom David had slain to cover up the affair that led to his penning Psalm 54, which Paul then quotes in Romans 3. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge” (with some versions translating this as, “when you are judged”).

 

Romans 2 is mostly Apostle Paul railing against the idea that we accumulate a treasure of blessings in heaven by observing the Law. From Romans 1, he has been quoting, and then refuting, the theology of Jews who wanted Christ to be an exclusively Jewish Messiah, or a Messiah who applauded human efforts. There is nothing more dangerous than making a theology out of what Paul quoted to refute. Holiness is at stake: that God is the only possible source of justification means the crucified Christ is our picture of God’s holiness, given as a gift. Sin is our insistence on preserving our life by putting ourselves in the Right and Others in the Wrong; God’s holiness is the absence and the opposite of sin; it’s his willingness to be put in the Wrong in order to make others Righteous. The sinlessness of God is most wisely revealed in Christ’s willingness to be made into sin. Such was God’s love that he died as the antithesis of everything he is in order to buy us back to what we were always meant to be: his children. When we neglect so great a salvation for a theology in which we “help” God make us righteous, we are in Adam.

 

God raised Jesus from the dead to vindicate that he had never tried to “steal” someone else’s righteousness to shore up his own; he had always trusted God for his identity. So death could not hold him. And because he rose, those who trust in him instead of their own righteousness cannot be subject to death forever, either. This was why Jesus could say, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” 

 

The implication is that as we “die” by faith to our self-righteousness, we become spiritually like the resurrected Christ; we also become more prepared to be put in the Wrong (because we’re no longer defending our claim to self-righteousness) than we are to put Others in the Wrong. So through his one sacrifice, Christ has “forever perfected those who are being made holy”. By being the mercy seat where we transact with God and have our sin atoned for, the body of Jesus becomes the source of a very real holiness imputed to, and, over time, realised, and ultimately, revealed as glory in us.

 

The righteousness that God imputes and decrees becomes the real fruit of the Spirit as we yield to the righteousness of God by faith. “For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; those he called he also justified; those he justified he also glorified.” Christ is our “Mercy Seat” and for this reason it does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. When your body is dead, and in a tomb, and emptied, only the Spirit of Holiness can reach into a place no Jew associated with holiness, and vindicate you by repeating the creative miracle that brought light out of darkness. This is why the fruit of the Spirit is not a work of the flesh.

 

It’s God’s Mercy Seat, God’s throne, God’s gift of righteousness, God’s Godhead, God foreknowing, God predestining, God calling, God justifying, God glorifying. I do not know how divine sovereignty interacts with human choice, but salvation is all of God as God as God as God. No self-justification, no flesh glorifying in his presence, no flesh vindicating itself and undermining God’s right to rule by putting God in its debt. God gives everything he gives on the basis that he is God; none of it will ever be earned.

 

We bring it back to his unconditional love whereby he justifies the created being: put simply, loved people love people. Conversely, judged people judge people. We each do unto others what we believe God does towards us. If we believe God will only love us once he gets something from us (such as the “correct” behaviour) then we will also turn around and treat other people as a means to an end. Again, this is the basis of all sin. If we believe we are a step removed from perfection in God’s eyes, everyone around us will appear a step removed from perfection as well. All judgment is projection, and all projection is imputation. God judges us righteous in Christ; he imputes Christ’s righteousness to us because he’s secure in himself.

 

The root of sin is not believing that God loves us perfectly in Christ. When we’re not settled in that, we believe ourselves standing under God’s judgment. And then we automatically put others there, in our place — turning our suppressed anxiety about being judged a self-fulfilling prophecy. God put Christ in our place because there was no other way to ransom us from our insistence on being our own gods, our own sources of our existences’ justification.

 

If we believe God’s grace is sufficient to perfect us, we will treat others as though we’d be justified in loving them — and sooner or later, they’ll be freed from the pressure of our judgment and prove us right without trying. That’s how the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of righteousness: by pouring the love of God over our hearts until everything we’re about cries out, “Abba, Father!”

 

Applying This Atonement Theory to Sex and Sexuality

 

Lust is the compulsion to use sex to assimilate the personhood of “the other” into a story about our worthiness: in other words, sexual sin, too, is essentially self-righteousness; it’s more power and status in “the game” (whether we’re bragging about our conquests to others, or just shoring up our own egos by seeking confirmation that we’ve still “got it”).

 

 

 

The danger with these observations about the psychology of sexual sin is we’ll turn them into a set of rules on how to enact the “correct” psychological stance. This is dangerous because it’s exchanging a sexual form of self-righteousness for a legalistic form of self-righteousness. It’s the same problem; the legalistic version is simply more insidious than the blatantly sexual version.

 

One example of this exchange of sexual sin for religious sin is how many churches teach John 8’s story of the woman caught in adultery. In line with my hypothesis that sexual sin is a form of self-justification and self-validation outside God’s unmerited grace (because unmerited grace is the only escape route from exchanging sexual sin for legalism), I submit the sin of the woman caught in adultery was that she used sex with the wrong man to play the game normally reserved for just men, namely, using sexual conquest for one-upmanship in the social pecking order. Maybe there was a greater relational- emotive component than there was a sense of achievement in it for her; maybe she felt incomplete and was using the flesh to fix what was a spiritual problem. We don’t know.

 

We do know that the men who wanted to stone her were guilty of this same obsession with self-validation: in their case, they wanted to find her in the Wrong so they could highlight how Right they were. It was notoriously difficult to prove someone had committed adultery: there had to be witnesses, and those had to meet a threshold for proof so high that they’d either would have video-recorded the incident, or they’d have had a vendetta against the accused and had set a trap for him or her, just as the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were setting a trap against Jesus. We know such a trap was being set because Jesus said, “You are looking for a way to kill me.”

 

By risking his life to defend hers (in exposing the hypocrisy of the trap-setters), Jesus substituted the woman’s attempt at justifying her own existence (through a man who wasn’t there to face death alongside her) with the justification of her existence on the basis that he was prepared to suffer death on her behalf — on the basis, indeed, that he would die as a consequence of his response in this instance. This is why he said, “Go and sin no more”. A lot of Christians show their misunderstanding of sin by saying, “God loves the sinner but he hates the sin”; consequently, they misquote Jesus by saying he said, “Go your way but sin no more.”

 

“Go your way and sin no more” is a building-up statement in which the effect follows and builds on the cause; in this case, the cause (Jesus’ self-sacrificial love) effects a psychological state in which the woman is no longer looking for love in the wrong places. She can now move forward and live out the implications of having met someone prepared to die for her. The “and” means her righteousness is wholly contingent on and flows from him, not what she does to feel complete.

 

“Go your way but sin no more” is what you say when you know you haven’t invested any unconditional agape-love into the person’s future by risking your life or reputation for them in the present; you know you are commanding a contradiction, an impossibility. Yet you get to have the reputational benefits of having spoken into that scenario. Those who are open to being impressed by your benevolence will say, “Wow, he let the sinner go free”; those who are open to being impressed by your moralism will say, “Yes, but he condemned the sinner’s sin”; those who are “reasonable” moderates will seek to enjoy the best of both explanations by saying, “He told the sinner to go on his way (benevolence) but to sin no more (moralism).”

 

As a result, God’s perfect grace gets pimped on the slave market of human self-righteousness and religiosity; where God freely justifies, we add tariffs and taxes, terms and conditions. It becomes impossible, then, for anyone to go on their way and sin no more: there’s no longer a free justification for God’s Spirit to leverage in the production of spiritual fruit. We’re back to the works of the flesh.

 

But is the speaker who said, “Go on your way but sin no more” any better than someone who says, “Go your way, hungry as you are, but steal food no more”? Isn’t it better to say, “You have been fed; go your way, full, and steal food no more” to someone who has been fed? The theology of “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” conceals an agenda whereby the speaker gets the benefits of casting attention on the other’s sin without having to invest anything in that person’s righteousness the way Jesus was prepared to lose his life before the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Beware wolves in sheep’s clothing: pastors who cast reputational stones at the LGBTI community.

 

By serving the status quo while sounding benevolent or moralistic or reasonable, they get to collect tithe offerings over the scapegoating of LGBTI persons, who are then accused of causing earthquakes and other manners of judgments to be revealed from heaven against unrighteousness. Odd, that God hasn’t revealed judgments against corruption, sexual abuse and the legacy of racism. This kind of preaching has embittered people of good conscience against the very thought of God, triggering PTSD and memories of being violated and exploited in God’s house: young people tell stories of being humiliated and outed in front of congregations by pastors who sensed they were gay. Is this the gospel?

 

It’s the gospel being pimped out to finance the status quo. It’s patriarchy, as it was when Adam threw Eve under the bus, and when a group of men threatened to stone the woman caught in adultery without accounting for where her partner in crime was.

 

The Primacy of Alien Righteousness

 

The genius of the cross is that as sin entered the world through one man, so, too, does salvation enter through one man. His work of salvation happens in a one-time event outside us. If God instead handed out a DIY method of salvation, humans would all end up competing in just another version of “the I’m-holier-than-thou” game, and would not be saved from it at all.

 

But as one killed the many by having his self-righteousness imputed on them, One died a death that subverts the self-righteousness of the many, so all died to self-righteousness in the death of the One precisely because his intervention happens beyond where we can help it along.

 

Responsible Preaching: The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

 

The best explanation on why contemporary theologians need to read the social nuances in the Genesis story of Sodom and Gomorrah was given by Benjamin L. Corey. Paraphrasing, he tells of how “the angels went into the city to grab Lot and his family, but there was just one problem: their worst fears turned out to be true and the city was full of basically the worst people on the planet:

 

They even formed a mob outside Lot’s house and wanted to haul these strangers out into the street and gang-rape them. Lot tried to talk them out of it, but they reminded him that he was just an immigrant and that they’d do even worse to him if he stood in their way. Now, I shouldn’t have to explain that there’s a difference between being gay, and wanting to beat and gang-rape immigrants in your local town. If I have to, there’s a problem. The irony here is that in fact, this wicked action tells us the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were likely harshly disapproving of being gay — which is precisely why they weaponized it. You see, in these ancient cultures homosexuality was largely despised because the one on the receiving end of the transaction was seen to take on the role of a woman — and if there’s one thing they hated more than gays, it was women. Had Lot seen them as being gay, he would never have offered to let them have sex with his virgin daughters instead. This was rape. It was an anti-immigrant hate crime. None of it has anything to do with sexual orientation.

 

The potential weaponization of homosexuality out of contempt for homosexuals is all the more reason Christians should protect gay people. Instead, Christians pander to the culture they find themselves in by pimping the gospel out to those who already enjoy social, political and economic power.


 

4.)  Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

 

If the Law was given to highlight the extent of man’s hypocrisy, what does that mean for a verse that says, “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is abomination”? Is it possible to read it as paradoxically revealing and concealing the self-justifying self-righteousness the Law as a whole was given in response to?

 

Ever since Adam and Eve realised they were naked and grew ashamed of it, sex has been weaponised by men, by patriarchy, by the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, as an instrument of dominance: “Your desire shall be for the man, and he shall rule over you.” Put differently, “Because you [Eve] have asserted yourself against God’s power, your desires shall sabotage your ambitions for power from within you.” This complements Adam’s punishment that his flesh would never vindicate his claim to self-righteousness. This led to the woman being treated with contempt and being associated with treachery and powerlessness.

 

The prohibition against “lying with a man as with a woman” begins to look like it presupposes these scandalous psychological dynamics. The sentence presupposes the hypocrisy of the listener, so when we revel in the death sentence issued against those who have committed this transgression (“their blood shall be upon their heads”) we’re revelling in our own disease. This leads us to understanding Romans 1.

 


 

5.)  Romans 1:26 — 27

 

In the opening remarks of this Epistle, Apostle Paul seems to be agreeing with the Jewish reader in Rome that preaching the Gospel to the gentiles is foolishness because the gentile has never been exposed to the Law and the Prophets, and so doesn’t have the advantage enjoyed by the Jew in terms of understanding the Messiah’s work. But then he turns the tables, and it appears that he only agreed with this perspective in order to lead the Jew to realising the self-righteousness it contained.

 

In this discussion, Apostle Paul mimics the Jew in condemning one of the things the Greek culture was famous for: Greek love, homosexuality. But the Jew’s judgment of the gentile turns on the notion that Greek men “turned aside from the natural use of the woman”, which shows that homophobia and the notion of the woman’s “natural use” are inseparable. If the woman who desires the man is self-defeating and is to be dominated over, then isn’t her status the same as that of a sexual object? That’s the implication of our analysis of Leviticus.

 

The only way to read Romans 1 in a manner consistent with the themes of, say, Romans 3, or 8, or 9, is to take Hebrews 8:7 — 8 seriously when it says there was a fault found in people, highlighting the need for a New Covenant. We then read this human fault back into Leviticus and the Old Law as a hidden premise about those to whom the Law spoke. If we don’t accept that the prohibition on homosexuality presupposed human self-righteousness expressed through sexuality, then we have to account for why God’s solution was a New Covenant based on perfect grace. The only thing that perfect grace solves is self-righteousness. It appears that God isn’t too worried about the permutations of this self-righteousness.

 

Someone would then ask, “Siya, how do the laws on bestiality and incest suppose human self-righteousness?” I would answer, “You forgot the rules on menstruating women.” We no longer cast women on their periods outside the camp, or censure the men who have sex with them. How did we decide how to slice and dice the rules into moral/ceremonial/civil? At this point, what’s less interesting is whether they’re “right” or “wrong”; it’s that we have an agenda that works when we’re the ones deciding “right” from “wrong”.

 

Some bible versions sanitise what Paul says by softening, “natural use of the woman” to “natural relations with the woman”. But it’s too late: by then, if we’re softening Paul’s words because we take them at face value (when they fall into a genre of speech called rhetoric), we also must take at face value that we, the Gentiles, are “fools”; we must also accept (based on the testimony of gay believers who don’t become straight when they start believing in Jesus) that God hands people over to homosexuality as punishment for disbelief, but doesn’t take them back out of it when they believe that Jesus was punished in their place. This is the Gospel that Apostle Paul calls “the power of God”? Here’s a hypothesis: the aim of these passages isn’t to change gay people into straight people; it’s to change people who rely on their own righteousness into people who rely on God’s righteousness.


 

6.)  1 Corinthians 6:9

 

When reading this passage, it’s important to keep an eye on the word-play around “temple” and the notion of uniting the Temple and “Body of Christ” to that of a harlot. The Corinthians used sex as a ritual to justify themselves before their gods (because they understood something of the “one-flesh union”); this was called fornication after the fornix, or temple arches, found where these other gods’ temple harlots where. Others called it Corinthication.

 

There’s much happening here in terms of context and setting we don’t import into our discussions on sexual ethics; we allow people sold out into colonial agendas to colour the meanings of the words for us.

 

In a port city populated by soldiers and slave-keepers of varying ranks, not all sexual consent was circumstantially uncoerced. There’s a lot to gather from the fact that Apostle Paul does not use the conventional Greek word for homosexual in his list of people who won’t make it into the Kingdom of God. At any rate, the criterion stated in 1 Corinthians for entering the Kingdom of God is being freely justified by God. Therefore, I submit, the sexual behaviour that keeps one out of the Kingdom is sexual behaviour that’s inconsistent with having unconditionally received God’s love. This means, as I explained at a theologians’ retreat, that I don’t have to know the behaviour that the Greek words are speaking of to understand that its antithesis is being freely justified by God’s love: to search beyond that, is to search for the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil.

 

My job isn’t to know what freely justified people don’t do; it’s to be freely justified so I automatically refrain from those things, without incorporating the avoidance of that wrong thing into a story in which I’m holier-than-thou and self-justified.

 


 

7.)  Galatians 3:28

 

In the original text, this passage states that there is no longer slave or free, Greek or Jew, male and female, for all of us are one in Christ Jesus. Why?

 

I submit that everything anticipated in marriage is consummated in the church’s “one-flesh union” with Christ by faith. When the substance appears, the significance of the shadow is no more. The arguments about “God’s design for marriage” overlook that God’s design for marriage was for it to anticipate our free justification by the sacrifice of his body. I entered God’s “design for marriage” when I believed in Christ; everything else I do in life lines up the way it’s meant to only to the extent that I believe God has accomplished the work for me.

 

Others say that God’s “ideal for marriage” is explicitly explained in, for example, Ephesians 5:32. But this passage is still using marriage as a picture of, and in a sense contrasting it to Christ and the Church: “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the Church.”

 

Others say Christ voices his ideal for marriage in Matthew 19. Two problems arise with this example: the first is that this passage is Jesus giving a response to a question about divorce. In his answer, he contrasts what Moses’ Law was meant to fix (due to the hardness of men’s hearts) with what God ordained, using the latter to justify the former. It’s difficult to tell the extent to which what God ordained is being used to highlight mankind’s selectiveness on Moses’ Law, especially in view of Galatians 3:28’s “there is no longer male and female”. What supports my argument is how Jesus points out that “not everyone can take this teaching”: in this group of those illegible for marriage are those he calls “born eunuchs”.

 

Where in our churches are these people that Jesus mentioned? Most churches have a ministry for youth, children, single men and single women; young couples, old couples — every conceivable category of human except this one that Jesus mentioned. Aren’t we repeating the legalistic hypocrisy and marginalisation of the vulnerable (in that instance, women) that Jesus was opposing? The church aimed at obeying the letter of what Jesus said regarding marriage and divorce, but in so aiming we missed both the letter and the spirit of why he said it: to protect people from being thrown aside at the whim of those who enjoy more social power and privilege.

 


 

8.)  Closing and Invitation

 

This essay began on the question of slavery: if we think Galatians 3:28 (“no longer slave or free, Greek or Jew, male and female”) doesn’t abolish exclusive heterosexism (“male and female”), then by what right do we imagine it condemns racism (“Greek or Jew”) or slavery (“slave or free”)?

 

And if it doesn’t condemn slavery and racism, then on what biblical basis do anti-slavery and anti-racism activists base their social justice?

 

Does this essay split every verse and argument that’s used against the LGBTIQ+ community? You Have to Be Gay to Know God does that a little better, as do other works that other writers have produced.

 

Let me know if we can have an event near where you are to discuss this topic further. Please contact me on info@thegayguywhoknewgod.net.