The Big Ole Pit (Homophobia and the Church)

I remember it clearly almost three years ago I interviewed Minister Tuan Ngai concerning homophobia and the Church on our radio show "A Closer Look".

Let me do this first, picture this a weekly gospel talk radio show which addresses HIV/AIDS in the Black Community. Add to the show a location of the Midwest, Bible Belt country and very Baptist and Pentecostal and yest don't forget traditional gospel broadcast radio.

Now with that in mind add one minister interviewing another minister but this minister is gay and out and blasts the traditional church for their homophobia. Man all I wanted to do was get another view on homophobia and I did not realize the pit that I was digging.

During the show the station manager was pacing nervously, the program director censored our guest a couple of times and the calls would not stop. Of course the callers were blasting brother Tuan but he held his own.

I tried my hardest to stand on the side line and just be a mediator however the callers would not have it that way. For even bringing a show like that on the air I was accused of being a closeted gay by one of the callers who made sure I knew who he was. In fact when this Pastor called the show; remember we were live, the program manager left the studio with me talking to this Pastor with no way to hang up.

Oh he qouted the Bible and on and on, to get him off the air I told him we could talk after the show; what a mistake. After the show he explained that mothers make their sons gay when they baby them and then he stated that AIDS was a punishment from God directly pointed toward those gays!!

What!!!!

I was truly disturbed by what was happening and yes I was very nervous about the consequences of taking a stand against homophobia in the Black Church. The biggest fear was what would happen to those connected to me; my family, church family, my Pastor and other mentors.

So I tried my best to tackle other issues but God kept bringing me back to homophobia. The more I tried to run the more God kept bringing me back.

So the rope was placed in my hand, the rope to pull out those who have been lost in the big ole pit of homophobia and of course we tackle other issues on the show and of course my main focus as a minister is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring others closer to Him.

So many of us have wandered far from Christ because of the damage done by those who claim to represent Him. And yes this is seen so clearly when it comes to homosexuality. And you know it is about time we say Enough is Enough!!

Let God be the Judge and let us become our Brothers and Sisters Keeper not the Judge!!!

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Comment by Tarik Al-Hadi Hodge on February 14, 2010 at 1:29pm
Min. Palmer,

It is good to see that you are dealing with an issue such as this in the Church! I believe that it is very important for the Church to discuss all matters concering the human family. Can you please define for me the term: Homophobia? and the term sexual orientation?


Thank you,

Pastor Hodge
Comment by Deweyne J Robinson, Sr. on June 27, 2009 at 12:35pm
I'd like to speak to this issue in 4 parts.

Part One - Hypocrisy:

If Christians were honest, they would admit that they do not abide by all the commandments of scripture themselves. I don't mean we try and fail. I mean we deliberately choose to ignore scriptures that are not convenient for our lifestyle. As I pointed out in my post yesterday, the amount of scripture that is ignored, scorned, and abused by modern Christians is appalling.

I think we should afford our homosexual brothers and sisters the same luxury. Perhaps we should offer them space at our bonfire to burn their little handful of scriptures as we burn the bible chapter and verse.

We should all agree that none of us are able or willing to follow all the teachings of scripture. Let the one who is obeying God's word ask for explanations from others.

In my book, that settles the argument, and there is no reason to go further. However, if you are determined to hold homosexuals to a higher standard, demanding detailed explanations of why they do not obey minor parts of the bible while all of Christendom tramples on the very heart of scripture, move on to part two:

Part Two - The Bible and homosexuality:

(I’m indebted to my new friend B. in Dallas for these thoughts)
The bible never addresses the subject of homosexuality. The idea of sexual identity was not a part of human thought until very recently. The bible addresses some specific homosexual acts in very specific contexts.

The idea of two people in a loving, committed homosexual relationship was not understood in the ancient Hebrew world and is not a subject in the bible.

Very credible biblical scholars treat the passages in question as specific commands against specific acts, and not as a wholesale prohibition on a homosexual orientation.

For many people, understanding this obvious limitation of the bible is all that is needed. The bible does not address the broad subject of sexual orientation because it was written before that was an issue. Any specific condemnation of homosexual acts must be seen as just that – a specific condemnation of an act in a specific context.

However, if that sounds too wishy-washy to you, if it sounds too slippery and subjective, let me now speak to all 6 of the passages in the bible that are thought by some people to address the issue of homosexuality.

Part Three – Exegesis

There are exactly 6 scriptures that are thought to address homosexuality. I’ll either quote the passage or provide a link so that you can read it.

The story of the destruction of Sodom – Genesis 19:1-29. If you read this story, you’ll quickly see that the men of the city of Sodom wanted to commit a brutal, homosexual rape (is there any other kind?). We simply cannot condemn a sexual orientation because of a rape. There is a heterosexual rape described in the next passage we will examine together. Shall we condemn heterosexuality because of this rape?

Any reasonable person will understand that this passage has nothing to say about loving, consensual homosexual relationships.

Judges 19:1-30 is a sad story of human evil of the type that are often recounted in scripture. It is basically a retelling of the Sodom story in a different context. This time, however, the men actually did rape a woman. This passage speaks to the need for God's love in a brutal world. It has no bearing on the question of homosexual orientation for the same reason that the Sodom story is not applicable. Both of these stories condemn ignorance and sexual brutality, but not homosexuality.

Texts 3 and 4 are both in Leviticus and make up a part of the Old Testament Levitical code.

Leviticus 18:22 – “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

The code of rules and behaviors in Leviticus does not apply to Christians. No Christian group I know demands full compliance with this ancient code of behavior. If we did we would have to keep kosher laws. We don’t even demand compliance with the sexual rules in Leviticus. If we did, we would allow polygamy, which is lawful in Leviticus. Unless you are prepared to obey all the rules in Leviticus, you cannot blame the homosexual for not feeling bound to obey them. To point to these two verses and demand selective compliance is ludicrous.

The Old Testament really has nothing specific to say to Christians about homosexuality. We turn now to the New Testament.

Jesus had nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality. His absence of comment does not support or condemn homosexuality. As I’ve noted, the idea of sexual orientation was not a part of human thinking. It’s not surprising that Jesus never addressed what was not an issue.

Paul discusses specific homosexual acts twice. These passages are the only two times homosexual behavior is mentioned in the New Testament.

I Corinthians 6:9 – “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders”

Male prostitutes and homosexual offenders. Can someone explain to me why we would condemn an entire orientation because of the prohibition of these specific acts?

The Greek words Paul used in this passage include the word for a young, effeminate male prostitute and the word for the older man who paid to have sex with him.

We can acknowledge that the bible condemns prostitution and a system where a younger man makes his living committing sex acts for money with older men. But we cannot condemn homosexuality in general because homosexual prostitution was condemned.

Paul condemns many heterosexual acts in his writings, even in this very verse, yet we do not condemn heterosexuality.

Romans 1:18-29 is the single most important passage dealing with homosexual acts. It is the one most often quoted and it is clearly the closest thing we find to condemnation. Verse 27 is the most specific verse.

I simply ask you to read this entire passage with an open mind. Paul says that those who reject God will be “given over to a shameful lusts”. They will engage in many acts that are not pleasing to God. Men will “burn with lust for one another” (verse 27)

I have seen sexuality perverted and used for evil in many contexts. The faithful and monogamous homosexuals that I know do not burn with lust for other men. They express their sexuality with each other, just as married heterosexuals do.

I don’t know exactly what Paul meant by this passage. I know he was describing people who chose not to worship God and then "burned with lust for other men." I don't know exactly what he meant, but I know this DOES NOT describe the homosexual Christians I know, who love God with great passion and are quietly committed to each other.

Part Four – Conclusion

Those are the 6 passages in the bible that are thought to address the subject of homosexuality. The Old Testament passages amount to nothing and the two New Testament passages are ambiguous at best and highly open to interpretation.

I do not think the bible teaches that every expression of homosexual love is sinful. The scriptural witness on this subject is shaky at best.

Even if you do not buy my claim that we have no right to demand specific explanation of scriptures from homosexuals since we don’t provide similar explanations for the hundreds of passages we blatantly ignore…

Even if you do not agree that the Bible never really addresses the subject of homosexuality as a sexual orientation…

Even if you reject my biblical analysis and decide that the bible is condemning of homosexuals…

Would you at least agree that the passages are ambiguous and open to many interpretations? Would you at least agree that others may responsibly interpret them and not agree with you?

If you could at least acknowledge that scripture is far from clear on this subject, then perhaps you would be willing to err on the side of compassion. Perhaps you would be willing to open your churches to our homosexual brothers and sisters, trusting them to read the bible just as you do, with love and hoping for Grace from God.
Comment by Minister Gerald Palmer on December 12, 2008 at 9:44am
Yeah it is quiet. If I was blasting our gay brothers it would be plenty of comments. Thank you for coming by.

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