I have long believed that homosexuality is a sin as discussed in biblical teachings, and that barring rare instances of people with the physical characteristics of both sexes homosexuality should not be practiced. The two arguments that challenged my views were reinterpretations of biblical texts that I had thought were conclusively against homosexuality, and an appeal to the evolving message of god which can take the form of experience and communal consciousness. I am not sure that these arguments have convinced me that I am wrong, but they at very least have made me look at things differently.
One of the most striking arguments I read for this assignment was the two different interpretations of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah presented in the Johns article. In this biblical section it is clear that God hold the actions of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah to be morally reprehensible – the language is explicit and the punishment very, very clear. But I had never previously considered exactly what aspect of the passage was morally reprehensible – to me it had always been about homosexuality and nothing else. But there are, upon reading the Johns article, a wide variety of ways to interpret this text. Here the sexual relationship is not a loving and committed one, but an incredibly violent one, and I hope that if the group was coming to gang-rape a woman the reaction of god and the bible would be just as negative. What is somewhat troubling about this passage is that Lot, who is
held in this to be moral, being saved by God, offered his own daughters for the gang-rape, but this seems to be upheld by the biblical text. This has demonstrated to me that all biblical texts can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways,
Lot not only offers his own daughters, virgins who had never had sex, up to the gang to be abused in the place of angels, but also had a drunken incestuous relationship with those two daughters. Yet he is the person that God chooses to save from Sodom. This just showed to me that what is held up as morally acceptable in the bible may not be how we in a society today view morality – anyone in any church would condemn someone offering their children up for gang-rape, or having sex with their own daughters, regardless of the circumstances, even though the bible tacitly condones this behaviour throughout its text. The Johnson article extends this communal conscience to a more fully developed and robust argument. One of his central points is that the bible, though an important resource, cannot be adhered to dogmatically at every point throughout – if one did so they would, as he said, “stone physicists and adulterers,” as the bible (Johnson). His argument that today’s arguments about homosexuality have some similarity to the arguments about the abolishment of slavery during the 19th century and before. Slavery, as Johnson says, is something that is held as okay throughout the text – many people who are supposed to be morally good and supported by God hold slaves, and no one, not even Jesus, specifically condemns the practice. But throughout the history of the world, people began to see the horrors of slavery, the damage it does to individual people, and have decided that it is something that needs to be banned, that cannot be a part of Christian life. If this process can happen, where a communal conscience develops to decide that something