I recently had some correspondence with a fellow on a Bible forum where I participate as the resident heathen. It started with him asking a question on the forum, “Is it possible to be Christian and support same-sex marriage?”
There were many answers, most of them saying, “no,” many of them including some other interesting comments that might be worth addressing in later blog posts. Amidst all of the comments that it is not possible, I answered that it is possible. A few minutes later, I received a private message from the person who asked. Here it is (slightly edited for clarity):
My family has been split in half due to same-sex marriage. Most of my family are Christians that have isolated contact from me for supporting same-sex couples. What I’m experiencing in my life right now is making me question the teachings of the Bible. Most Christians cherry-pick Bible verses that don’t condone same-sex marriage. I am very confused because I am in the process of becoming a pastor. But I am not sure if being a pastor is what I want to do in life, anymore.
I am slightly tired of asking Christians and them telling me to read the Bible. When I obviously know that answer.
I replied to him as follows (again, slightly edited for clarity).
It’s nice to meet you.
It does appear to me that there are passages in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, that are explicitly against homosexual acts.
But as to the question of whether that means you cannot support same-sex couples, it becomes more complex. Some Christians who support same-sex couples say it’s not their place to judge; it’s only God’s place. Some of them note that Jesus commanded followers to love your neighbors as you love yourself and love others as Jesus loves you — and that his love extends even to sinners. Other Christians who support same-sex marriage reject parts of the Bible that are against homosexual acts, for a variety of reasons — some think there are mistranslations, or that parts of the Bible are forgeries, or illegitimate, or the like. Some don’t have answers, but they trust in their hearts that God is loving, and believe that God would not be so petty.
There are 40,000 different sects of Christianity, and they disagree with each other over every single point of theology. You can find Christians who are for or against any position.
As a nonbeliever, it seems that there are no sound reasons for anti-homosexual views, once you reject the religious ones. I would guess that the anonymous, ancient people who made up the books of the Bible were against homosexuality for reasons that shouldn’t matter to you. Because it was a way for Jews to differentiate their culture from the Greeks, Romans, and other surrounding cultures. Because a small population seeking to grow needed to get everyone to procreate as much as possible. Because some people instinctively hate others who are different from themselves. And so on.
It’s one of the saddest and most contemptible aspects of religion that it is so divisive. Look at your situation. Religion is dividing your family over one minor aspect of the Bible, about behaviors that don’t impact anybody else.
Personally, I think it is good to support people loving each other and committing to each other, and to support people’s freedom to do whatever they please that doesn’t harm others. I applaud you for taking the stand you are taking, when your family is making it so difficult for you.
If you are having a crisis of faith, I think it is reasonable to ask yourself whether it seems believable that your God would really behave like this.
However, I must warn you against simply rejecting belief in your religion because you don’t like that your religion is anti-gay. The reason I warn you not to do this is because doing this would be appealing to consequences. We should not believe or disbelieve things because of what we want to be true, but rather we should hold our knowledge because of what appears to be true, whether it is the way we want it to be, or not. Believing or disbelieving things because of what you want, without regard for the reality of the matters, is wishful thinking, not rationality. It’s not epistemologically sound.