Liberale theologen over homoseksualiteit en kerk

A. Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson

Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson is een Amerikaanse nieuwtestamenticus en hoogleraar. Hij schreef een verhelderend artikel over het onderwerp homoseksualiteit en de Kerk. Hieronder een citaat uit het artikel:

I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says? … I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.

Vertaald: “Ik heb weinig geduld met pogingen om de Schrift iets te laten zeggen anders dan dat zij zegt, met een beroep op taalkundige en culturele subtiliteiten. Exegetisch gezien is de situatie duidelijk: we weten wat de tekst zegt. Maar wat gaan we doen met wat de tekst zegt? … Ik vind het belangrijk om helder te zeggen dat we in feite de duidelijke geboden van de Schrift verwerpen, en in plaats daarvan beroepen op een andere autoriteit wanneer we verklaren dat seksuele relaties tussen personen van hetzelfde geslacht heilig en goed kunnen zijn. We beroepen ons expliciet op onze grote ervaring en de ervaring van duizenden anderen, die ons vertellen dat het claimen van onze seksuele oriëntatie in feite niets anders is dan accepteren hoe God ons geschapen heeft“.

Dr. Johnson is voorstander van het accepteren van homoseksuele relaties in de kerk. In het artikel lezen we wat hem tot dit standpunt heeft bewogen:

Many of us who stand for the full recognition of gay and lesbian persons within the Christian communion find ourselves in a position similar to that of the early abolitionists—and of the early advocates for women’s full and equal roles in church and society. We are fully aware of the weight of scriptural evidence pointing away from our position, yet place our trust in the power of the living God to reveal as powerfully through personal experience and testimony as through written texts. To justify this trust, we invoke the basic Pauline principle that the Spirit gives life but the letter kills (2 Corinthians 3:6). And if the letter of Scripture cannot find room for the activity of the living God in the transformation of human lives, then trust and obedience must be paid to the living God rather than to the words of Scripture.

For me this is no theoretical or academic position, but rather a passionate conviction. It is one many of us have come to through personal struggle, and for some, real suffering. In my case, I trusted that God was at work in the life of one of my four daughters, who struggled against bigotry to claim her sexual identity as a lesbian. I trusted God was at work in the life she shares with her partner—a long-lasting and fruitful marriage dedicated to the care of others, and one that has borne fruit in a wonderful little girl who is among my and my wife’s dear grandchildren. I also trusted the many stories of students and friends whose life witnessed to a deep faith in God but whose bodies moved sexually in ways different from the way my own did. And finally I began to appreciate the ways in which my own former attitudes and language had helped to create a world where family, friends, and students were treated cruelly.

Dr. Johnson heeft 4 dochters waarvan één lesbisch. Zij is ook getrouwd met een vrouw en ze dragen samen zorg voor een kind. Zij, en anderen (studenten en vrienden) “wiens lichamen seksueel anders bewogen dan het zijne” hebben hem uiteindelijk van standpunt doen veranderen.

Merk ook op hoe dr. Johnson vertrouwen en gehoorzaamheid aan de levende God tegenover de woorden van de Schrift zet! Opmerkelijk dat hij zich voor dit standpunt dan wel weer op een Bijbeltekst beroept (2 Kor. 3:6).

B. Dr. W. R.G. Loader

In the current discussions about homosexuality, some issues should be clear from the start. One is that the Bible roundly condemns homosexuality and homosexual activity. Of this there is not a shadow of doubt. Its writers deplored homosexual acts as a deliberate perversion of human nature, a flouting of God’s intention in creation. Genesis 19:4-11 reports the horrific story of male rape and later generations saw the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as God’s judgement on such activity (Jude 7). Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 clearly prohibit homosexual acts and Paul highlights them as manifestations of perversion (Romans 1:26-27). Christians in New Testament times shared with Jews a strong abhorrence both for homosexual acts among adults and for the widespread practice in the Greco-Roman world of sexually exploiting young boys.

On the basis of these facts about the Bible and the Church’s commitment to the witness of the scriptures one might wonder why the issue of homosexuality should ever be raised. Together with the fact that many heterosexual people feel repulsed by acts which run so contrary to their own nature, it is not hard to understand that many people see the debate as a non event or as something which should be a non event. Is it not doubly perverse to propose that we bless acts which deliberately pervert God’s created order?

The trouble is that there have been a number of mature and respected people, including many deeply committed Christians, who have been telling us that they are homosexual and that the last thing on their minds has been to pervert God’s will. By this they mean that their natural sexual orientation is towards people of the same sex and not to those of the opposite sex and that they have been this way for as long as they can remember. Some of them have undertaken extensive measures to try to reverse their orientation but without avail. Many have lived through deep guilt and shame as well as prejudice and sometimes violence against their person in the process. They are people of great integrity who abhor all forms of perversion and exploitation. Most have come to the conclusion, often after years of struggle and often discrimination that they need to accept themselves as they they are. This has been happening at a time when scientific research has also been acknowledging the reality that such different sexual orientation does exist in the human species and is seeking to identify the way it may be traced in a person’s physical and psychological make up.

When we turn back to the Bible we must ask the question: were the writers of the Bible aware of such people? The answer is fairly clearly: no. The Bible was attacking deliberate perversion and therefore its writers understood the phenomenon of homosexuality as a manifestation of sin. That was the basis for the strong statements of condemnation. This makes it difficult simply to take over their statements and apply them to everyone who has a homosexual orientation. The potential is there to do a terrible injustice to those people who find themselves genuinely homosexual. It would represent an inappropriate use of scripture because these were not the people which the scripture had in mind.

Dr. Loader erkent dat de Bijbel ronduit homoseksuele praktijken veroordeeld. Ook hij wordt geconfronteerd met homoseksuelen die toegewijde Christenen zouden zijn. Zou de Bijbel op de hoogte zijn van zulke mensen. Naar zijn mening niet. De Bijbel zou alleen perversiteiten bespreken en daarom homoseksualiteit als zonde zien. De Bijbelse uitspraken over homoseksualiteit zouden dan ook niet op iedereen die een zgn. homoseksuele oriëntatie zou hebben mogen worden toegepast. Dat zou een ongepast gebruik van de Bijbel zijn omdat de Bijbel niet hen voor ogen zou hebben gehad.

C. Dr. Dan O’ Via

I believe that Hays is correct in holding that arsenokoitēs refers to a man who engages in same-sex intercourse (Hays 1997, 97). The term is a compound of the words for “male” (arsēn) and “bed” (koitē) and thus could naturally be taken to mean a man who goes to bed with other men. True the meaning of a compound word does not necessarily add up to the sum of its parts (Martin 119). But in this case I believe the evidence suggests that it does. In the Greek version of the two Leviticus passages that condemn male homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13) a man is not to lie with a male as with a woman each text contains both the words arsēn and koitē. First Cor 6:9-10 simply classifies homosexuality as a moral sin that finally keeps one out of the kingdom of God.” [Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 13]

D. Dr. Richard B. Hays

Though only a few biblical texts speak of homoerotic activity, all that do mention it express unqualified disapproval. Thus, on this issue , there is no synthetic problem for New Testament ethics . In this respect , the issue of homosexuality differs significantly from matters such as slavery or the subordination of women, concerning which the Bible contains internal tensions and counterposed witnesses. The biblical witness against homosexual practices is univocal.

Romans 1 presents, as we have seen, a portrayal of humankind in rebellion against God and consequently plunged into depravity and confusion. In the course of that portrayal, homosexual activities are— explicitly and without qualification— identified as symptomatic of that tragically confused rebellion. To take the New Testament as authoritative in the mode in which it speaks is to accept this portrayal as “revealed reality,” an authoritative disclosure of the truth about the human condition. Understood in this way, the text requires a normative evaluation of homosexual practice as a distortion of God’s order for creation. 

If Romans 1— the key text— is to inform normative judgments about homosexuality, it must function as a diagnostic tool, laying bare the truth about humankind’s dishonorable “exchange” of the natural for the unnatural. According to Paul, homosexual relations, however they may be interpreted (or rationalized: see Rom. 1: 32) by fallen and confused creatures, represent a tragic distortion of the created order. If we accept the authority of the New Testament on this subject, we will be taught to perceive homosexuality accordingly.” [Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament. (Harper Collins, 1996), p. ]

4. Dr. Bernadette Brooten

Dr. Brooten is een lesbische Nieuw-Testamentica en schreef een standaardwerk over lesbische relaties in de oudheid.

I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God.” [Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. (University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 244].