1.) Our tendency to ignore other Scriptural mandates lends itself to hypocrisy.
So if the Bible does condemn homosexuality as a sin then what about all the other sins we conveniently overlook and accept? What about the call to Christian peacemaking and nonviolence (Mt. 5:44, Lu. 6:37, Mt. 5:39)? What about the warning against anger and divisions (Gal. 5: 19-21)? Warnings against greed and wealth (Proverbs 13:11)? What about the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11)? What about taking care of the poor (Ja. 2:15-16)?
The fact is that if Scriptural references are our only point for engaging in the discussion on homosexuality, we’re giving every dissenter who knows how to use a Bible concordance unlimited ammunition to throw back in our own faces.
Furthermore, because of our Protestant denial of tradition as a co-partner in Scriptural authority, the Protestant Christian attempting to cite Scripture in a discussion on this topic cannot logically rely on extra-biblical tradition or insight for authoritative support. Because:
2.) Our denial of tradition gives us little ground to on which to stand.
By following in the footsteps of the Reformers and adhering to the proclamation of Sola Scriptura (meaning that Scripture alone is our authority), mainstream Protestants have abandoned tradition as an authority particularly when it comes to referencing and exegeting Biblical texts. This is a fundamental foundation of our belief; no one’s singular translation or application of Scripture (i.e. le Pape) can be held above someone else’s.
I’ve heard numerous Protestants in this discussion reference the “traditional” consensus of Biblical translations against homosexuality. But there en lies the snare: trying to base anything on a “traditional” translation of Scripture immediately lends itself to Catholicism. But if we were Catholic we’d accept the traditional understanding of Scripture on numerous other points, such as (just to give one not-so-random example) abstaining from birth control.
But we don’t rely on a Pope or Tradition for our understanding of Scripture. Instead, we base any Scriptural support for/against homosexuality on our own translations and renderings of its meaning. Which leads us to the next problem:
3.) Our modern lens hinders our exegesis.
In the modern model of studying Scripture, we claim there is an actual definitive meaning of each text, which can be found via the dutiful elimination of all subjective bias and influence. Karl Barth is one of the more prominent theologians to point out that this notion is fallible and, in fact, fails to give due justice to Scripture itself. Unfortunately, we turned a deaf ear to such naysayers and have continued to pull meanings from Biblical passages without removing our biases, refusing to acknowledge they even exist.
Thus, if I am a heterosexual male with no attraction to other men, I will inevitably carry a premonition concerning the topic with me to the text. If I am someone who, however, finds myself regularly attracted to the same gender, I will examine the text from a completely different perspective. When I am taught that these premonitions do not exist, then I am in truly in danger of tainting the true meaning of the text with my own prejudices. And, like a man describing a midnight landscape with sunglasses on, the moment someone else comes along with a different shaded lens two viewpoints will clash as both claim to be right.
Thus, when trying to argue the Scriptural basis for homosexuality we cannot do so without destroying someone else’s perspective. But that someone else is just as convinced as we are that they have the right answer. This describes a majority of the divisions among Christians over homosexuality: two people standing side by side with different pairs of glasses bickering over a picture that’s much different than either of them can see.
And this is when we’re in a discussion with fellow Christians. But this discussion obviously engages with people outside of our faith. Thus, when quoting Scripture in these discussions, we suddenly learn that:
4) No one cares.
Don’t misunderstand me: Scripture should be the foundation of our faith. But the Bible is not the foundation of the faith of your neighbor, the basis for your company’s policies or the guiding principle of our country. Attempting to cite it against a gathering wave of judicial precedents, humanistic logic and personal passion is like reading a car manual to an Amish student. When we cite Scripture as our support to someone who does could not give a kick and giggle about its existence, it falls on deaf ears.
Scripture, though amazing and valid for many things, can no longer be the totality of our argument. Again: I am not arguing against Scripture as our authority. If anything I am promoting a more arduous and dedicated study of Scripture such that it seeps into everything we do rather than acting as footnotes to our own ideologies. Because snippets of Scripture can no longer be the fruition of our argument; we must start to view it as the soil from which our viewpoints grow.
We are all guilty of utilizing flawed logic as the foundation for our use of Scripture in cultural discussions. We must seek for Scripture to become the foundation, the basis, from which sound reasoning and logic flows. The Bible must be our anchor but it cannot also be the flag under which we sail. Like roots to a garden flower, Scripture ought to act as the sustenance for honest and humble logic, though it may not always be seen.
Any other attempts to engage in this conversation will no longer suffice. Scripture, while vitally important, must settle into the background of the pictures our arguments paint. And the ultimate goal of our arguments shouldn’t be convincing someone that our viewpoint is correct, but rather acting as a testimony to the beauty of our common Creator.
With a lot of grace, a dose of humility and a wise utilization of Scriptures as our foundation, our discussions on this topic may accomplish just that.