This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series LGBTQ and the church

After a review of the scriptures that have traditionally been used to describe and condemn homosexual acts, it’s deemed important to consider Jesus’ awkward silence on the issue. It is not unimportant to note that Jesus did not speak out on this issue. Jesus is the head of the Church and the individual disciples’ headmaster. (Lead teacher) Therefore, a credible perspective of Jesus must put forward before we can take a position on any issue from the church’s side.

There are many who interpret Jesus’ silence on this issue as acceptance and even a blessing of LGBTQ people. There is a mistaken exegesis of the biblical texts, to argue that silence on an issue is equal to a positive attitude towards the (same) issue. In the same way as it is faulty exegesis to argue from the opposite position.

John D. Caputo* argues that, if Jesus’ view was separated from the prevailing Jewish attitude on the issue, it would have stood with the Gospel and believes in the same breath that, Jesus’ views were in line with Moses’ and the view later expressed by Paul and other New Testament Bible writers.

Further, John D. Caputo argues that, if Jesus knew what we know today, if Jesus were able to participate in our contemporary debate on this issue, were divided by the prevailing Jewish attitude on the issue, it would have stood with the Gospel and believed in the same breath that Jesus’ views were in line with Moses and the view later expressed by Paul and other New Testament Bible writers.

However, Caputo’s argument that, if Jesus knew what we know today, if Jesus was able to take part in today’s debate on this issue Jesus would probably been on the side of the outcast and marginalized. (Caputo, 2007:108 f). Because, even if Jesus did not voice an opinion on the issue of men who have sex with men, Jesus’ commitment to the weak and the outcast is clear. Again and again Jesus sides with those who are not allowed to participate in and who are excluded from the religious community.

Even in our Swedish, tolerant society LGBTQ people are still ‘outcasts’. In spite of the media’s onslaught, and the mindset that it’s PC (politically correct) to be pro GLBT, Sweden still remains a hetero normal society. Moreover, one can argue that tolerance, even if it is a step in the right direction, is not equality or particularly loving.

Consider the following statement:

“It’s fine with me that you are gay, I’ve actually got several friends who are gay, and I think it is ok. Although I would never dream of being one myself, but I have no problem with you being gay “

This is the language of tolerance (ed. Not acceptance or inclusivity). It is clear that those who tolerate consider themselves to be better or at least more correct (righteous) than the one that is tolerated or who tolerates sufferance conditions. The person who tolerates seems to have adopted the idea that he or she has the right to decide what is ok or not. If we seek to be more like Jesus, we must be more than tolerant: we must be inclusive and loving.

It is likely that the man who commanded the disciples to love one another (John 15:17) would question the contemporary church for its exclusivity and demeaning attitude towards LGBTQ people, at the same time as the church willingly fails to pay attention to obvious and frequent sins such as greed, lust, pettiness, gluttony, idolatry, envy, slander, pride, etc.

Perhaps it is precisely here that one must take into account some well-known interpretation of biblical principles. With only a half dozen verses that even refer to the key issue, and with only a few of them, on closer examination, can be said to relate to same sex sexuality, and with none of the verses speaking of committed loving relationships. This is set against the hundreds of verses that tell us not to hate, not to condemn and not to oppress.

Perhaps it is here we must let the central scriptures explain peripheral or difficult to interpret scripture. Perhaps, Jesus words “love one another), or Paul’s words,” because there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female “be allowed to control the debate, perhaps we need to let the virtue theory (Childress et al. 1967: 648) to control (dictate) in this matter and therefore consider if love is indeed not the greatest virtue, and therefore consider whether the commandment of love outweighs the handful of verses that we normally refer to in conjunction with this issue.

* John D. Caputo is the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus at Syracuse University and the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Villanova University and the founder of weak theology

Lt. Patrik Olterman

Malmo, Sweden

Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

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