“When my daughter came home from school one day saying that a classmate had two mommies, my response was, ‘Two mommies? How lucky is she?!’ What does it actually say in the bible that will cause some people to be upset by my line of thinking?”
That’s the question actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who practices Kabbalah, asked in her latest GOOP newsletter (an online publication that aims to “nourish the inner aspect”).
Her question was originally motivated by the story that broke last year about an Arkansas school board member, Clint McCance, who posted remarks urging gay youth to commit suicide in response to Spirit Day – a campaign to encourage support for gay youth. McCance later said he was sorry for his “ignorant comments” and he resigned from the school board.
That led Paltrow to say this in her newsletter, “A few months ago, in the heat of the tragic teen suicides that came about from intolerance of homosexuality, I saw a man on television who was apologizing for wishing death on gays from his facebook page. This member of an Arkansas school board was contrite for the violence in his words, but maintained that his values pertaining to homosexuality would remain, as he felt homosexuality was condemned in the bible. This concept, while foreign to me, is interesting, as it used to justify so much judgment and separation in our society.”
She found varying church leader perspectives and published them in her newsletter in response to her question about what the Bible says about homosexuality.
“God reveals Godself in time, through process and dialogue, not in unchanging monolithic statements,” responded Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, writer and retreat leader. “This does not make the bible less sacred; it makes it more sacred, for it grounds God’s divine presence in the lived reality of our human experience.”
She concluded her remarks by saying, “I am compelled by my Christianity to refrain from any behaviors or judgments which arrogantly demean the dignity of another human being, or cause him or her to lose hope.”
Father Vincent C. Schwahn, whose bio in the newsletter describes him as an “openly gay” ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, takes a similar view – appealing to a change in “our understanding of the Human Person.”
“As to Homosexuality,” he says, “there is also a shift in thinking amongst many Christians in the world, based not so much on what the Bible teaches, for remember that the bible condones, and does not condemn, Human Slavery. It also says that Women are to be seen and not heard in Church ... and we know that that no longer holds true ...”
He concludes, in part, by saying, “I am proud to say that I belong to a Church that is fully accepting of Gays, Lesbians, Transgender, and Bisexual persons because we believe that God loves all people, no matter what their walk of life is. Of course, there are those who condemn homosexuals and say that they are immoral. There also still exists racism, bigotry, class-ism and hate of those different from themselves. Does this make them right?”
In an attempt to “include as many perspectives as possible on this issue,” GOOP also included an excerpt from Dr. John Stott’s book, Issues Facing Christians Today. Stott is rector emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place in London.
“The negative prohibitions of homosexual practices in Scripture make sense only in the light of its positive teaching in Genesis 1 and 2 about human sexuality and heterosexual marriage,” Stott said. “Yet without the wholesome positive teaching of the Bible on sex and marriage, our perspective on the homosexual question is bound to be skewed.”
He concluded with a remark about how Jesus endorsed the definition of marriage as described in Genesis 2:23-24, “‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
“It is of the utmost importance to note that Jesus himself later endorsed this Old Testament definition of marriage,” Stott said. “In doing so, he both introduced it with words from Genesis 1:27 (that the Creator ‘made them male and female’) and concluded it with his own comment (‘so they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate’, Matthew 19:6) Here, then, are three truths which Jesus affirmed: (1) heterosexual gender is a divine creation; (2) heterosexual marriage is a divine institution; and (3) heterosexual fidelity is the divine intention. A homosexual liaison is a breach of all three of these divine purposes.”