Sex in the City

Sodom

Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD. (Genesis 13:13)

Why was God so dang primeval back then? His attitude toward the emerging GLBT community was positively godawful. You’d think that, being God, he’d have had a little more sensitive about sexual orientations and alternative lifestyles. But nooo. Our boy was all fire and brimstone. Our boy got himself into a bug huff and roasted the suckers (sorry about that). Thanks to divine homophobia, the local GLBT fellowship met a flaming end. As far as God was concerned, the citizens of Sodom and nearby Gomorrah tested Homos In View positive so he simply inoculated the whole damned Lot. It’s an awkward moment in Biblical history for folks who prefer their chosen deity a bit more enlightened.

You’d think that the boys of the New Testament would have had a more progressive attitude about sexual orientation and preference. You would hope that they would have picked up some cues from Jesus who defied the religious prudes of his day by hanging out with marginalized people of all kinds. Unfortunately, the New Testament writers are a rainbow coalition of the sexually rigid.

The Apostle Paul is the worst of the bunch and poses the biggest problem for believers who wish to liberate Christianity from its archaic sexual outlook. Paul is an unabashed homophobe for whom same-sex relationships are categorically “unnatural” and that those who engage in homosexual acts are perverted (Romans 1:26-27). He doesn’t stop here. Paul goes so far as to include gays and lesbians with the “wicked” and to actually exclude them from salvation, pronouncing that neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). This kind of barbaric dogmatism is pretty hard to condone. This is the 21st century after all. If Paul had been in business today he would have been deported to Mississippi.

So what are sophisticated Christians to do with such blatantly unacceptable material? Some have tried to reinterpret or recontextualize the more blatant homophobic passages in the Bible in order to render them less offensive or even ignorable. This hasn’t worked out all that well since the most offensive passages are rather unambiguous. Others admit that the Bible does indeed include some distasteful passages, but they hold that a good religion evolves. Christianity, if it is to remain vital, they say, must change to keep in step with the times—and there is no room in a civilized society for a religion that discriminates.

The good news is that the Bible is becoming less central to Christian faith and practice. These days not many actually know or care what the Bible says about anything, let alone about same-sex relationships. This is encouraging for those who find the Scriptures irrelevant or stultifying. If trends continue, the church may one day jettison the Bible altogether and finally welcome everybody without regard to sexual preference, marital status, moral inclination, or doctrinal conviction. That old-time religion may be on its way out.

An enlightened Christian can only hope. . . . Right?

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