I fancy myself a Theologian. Modern day academics have done their best to co-opt the word to only mean folks with Doctor in front of their names. But the reality is that’s not the case.
Theology is the study of religion, plain and simple. … The first half of theology is theo-, which means god in Greek. The suffix -logy means “the study of,” so theology literally means “the study of god,” but we usually expand it to mean the study of religion more broadly.
I’ve been an inquisitive person my entire life. I’m less concerned with the existence of something, but intrigued with why it exists. On facebook I’m known for fact checking meme’s and posts, you know that fake news stuff. I simply enjoy researching facts and understanding the truth in everything.
Biblical studies are no different. I don’t read the Bible, I study it. I like knowing what a verse means and why. This brings me to the ongoing discussion in many religions and especially a number of protestant denominations such as the United Methodist Church (UMC) on homosexuality.
Progressives (liberals) in the UMC have argued that Leviticus 20:13 which says “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” was written for another people in another time and does not pertain to today. That’s a patently false claim on its own merits in their justification that sexual intercourse between two men is not a sin.
But let’s look more closely at what we’re really talking about. The word homosexuality mean very literally members of the same sex being sexually attracted to each other. No where in the definition does it say the same two people are actually having sex, just that they are attracted to one another sexually.
I just finished reading a dissertation by Vincent Ndikhokele Ndzondelelo Mtshiselwa titled Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 in Discussion With the Methodist Church of Southern Africa on Homosexuality. As with any dissertation it’s a bit long, extremely detailed and contains many references. There were a number of takeaways from his dissertation for me and they pretty much align with my own understanding of the issues at hand.
So is homosexuality a sin. Again I turn to the definition of homosexuality which is not different from the definition of homosexual. “The quality or characteristic of being sexually attracted solely to people of one’s own sex.” Again no mention of the actual act of man lying with man as with a woman. I’m a pretty literal person, I don’t spend allot time justifying things so they fit neatly in one box. I draw no inferences. It’s either says it, or it doesn’t.
The scriptures in the Bible are generally backed up by other scriptures so getting a pretty clear (literal) understanding of what the say and mean is not all that difficult for me. So is homosexuality a sin – I say not. I base this on the literal definitions of the words involved and the scripture that backs them up. I am unable to find any scripture that says being attracted to someone of the same sex is a sin. What I do find is scripture that says sexual intercourse between two men is a sin. These are two different things. One is attraction and the other is an actual sexual act.
The UMC Book of Discipline says “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” This is significant wording because the word practice means “the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.” The word practice means one is engaged in doing something rather than just the theory of being something. So in the case of practicing homosexuals, we clearly have people who are actively doing.
So what does all of this mean. Simply put, being Homosexual is very different from practicing homosexuality. Leviticus 20:13 makes the practice a sin, while being homosexual is not defined by the Bible. I think the UMC did their best to make this point as well. I had a UMC pastor call me once to let me know that a lesbian couple in his church had informed him they were not “practicing” homosexuals. I was perplexed by this statement at the time and asked him what that actually meant. He was very matter of fact in stating they are not having sexual relations.
This is a very complex issue and it requires a great deal of research. The issues affecting the UMC are more directly tied to the act of homosexuality rather than simply being homosexual. The UMC not only wants to ordain gay clergy, but same sex married clergy and perform same sex weddings in the church. In the literal sense I can draw a clear distinction between being and acting. I’ll save digging into what being married means, but marriages are consecrated, an act.
We can love everyone including people of the same sex without having sex with everyone.
Lastly we have to understand the sin aspect of all of this. Leviticus makes it clear the act of many lying with man as with a woman is a sin, but it’s worth noting we are all sinners in one way or another. Matthew 22:39 tells us to love thy neighbor as theyself. I think that’s pretty clear, love everyone.
If your child gets arrested for stealing from a store, you most certainly will still love them. But if you’re a Christian you will likely hate the sin they have committed. I don’t see why we can’t apply that same logic to this issue as well.