Why a New Blog?

With the recent hullabaloo over a PSA by Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (view it here New J-FLAG PSA), that angered local clerics (view post here Clerics Angered) and it’s rejection from local television stations; there has been increased conversation on the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issue.

Many of the articles that have reached our local newspapers call down fire and brimstone, and blast homosexuality on grounds of Christian morality. So far articles on the opposing side have not surfaced.

Recently an ex-lesbian pastor was on our local television station (Television Jamaica (TVJ)), there was also an article on her in the Jamaican Gleaner (read it here Rev Michelle Smith). I did a response article which has been submitted to the same newspaper and can be read here I am Happy for Rev Smith.

In thinking about all of these events, I realised that there is no specific Jamaican blog or website (that I know of) that deals with Christianity and homosexuality in a positive light; meaning that a person can be GLBT or Q and be a Christian. For this reason I developed this new blog. The postings on this blog will be on Christianity and how you can be a Christian and GLBT or Q. A lot of the posts will come from other sources and I’ll try and find sermons to post as well. I promise to try to not rant on this blog =) if you want to read my rantings and articles I submit to the newspapers you can visit here, read the posts and bookmark it (Rantings of a Lesbian Christian ).

God Made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!

Often times when the religious debate over homosexuality and Christianity rage, one of the first points we hear is that God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. Is this really accurate?

The article below was written by Pastor Romell D. Weekly from the Gay Christian Fellowship. (The entire article can also be read here: http://gaychristianfellowship.com/articles.php?aid=1029)

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Among the few stories in the Bible most people are familiar with, Christian and otherwise, the Creation narrative ranks highly. What makes this narrative so unique is that it is the introduction to everything—the accounting of God’s first actions when stepping outside of the infinite expanse of eternity, inaugurating time and beginning the great saga of mankind.

Recorded in Genesis, which simply means “beginning”, the narrative has become one of the battlegrounds for examinations of God’s intentions for human sexuality. It certainly makes sense that this would be the case, for one might have the best chance of understanding the purpose of a thing by examining its initial stages, before left and right turns over time may have taken it off of its intended course.

So, the point of this examination is not to denounce the Traditionalist tendency to reference Creation as the holy grail of anti-gay theology. To the contrary, I actually believe the Creation narrative is relevant to discussions about human sexuality, but only to the extent that Scripture affirms its relevancy. We can’t force it to apply in ways the text does not justify, so we must be careful not to stain the story with our own worldviews. Let’s apply logic and critical thought to this narrative and see what we can objectively glean from its witness.

For our reading, we’ll examine the relevant parts of the narrative, bypassing the segments dealing with the creation of the cosmos, of plant life, etc. We’ll look specifically at the “short version” recorded toward the end of Chapter 1, and will then look at the more detailed account recorded in Chapter 2.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  [27]  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  [28]  God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  [29]  Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;  [30]  and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so.  [31]  God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Genesis 1:26-31 (NASB)

“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  [8]  The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed… [15] Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  [16]  The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  [17]  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’  [18]  Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’  [19]  Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  [20]  The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  [21]  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.  [22]  The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  [23]  The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’  [24]  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  [25]  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Genesis 2:7-8, 15-25 (NASB)

In this passage, we find the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the first marital union. The assumption is that we can examine these circumstances and determine God’s intentions for mankind as it relates to marriage. What we’ll soon discover, however, is that this narrative is not nearly as prescriptive (expressing guidelines or rules) as Traditionalists would have us believe. Indeed, what we learn from the narrative is precious little when it comes to God’s intentions for human sexuality. The majority of the text simply describes the circumstances surrounding the first marriage, with no judgment being expressed or implied about the diversity of marital forms that would follow (even in Scripture itself).

The primary error Traditionalists make when examining this passage is to assume that every point is universally applicable. While this may be the case, assuming anything about anything should never be involved in examinations of Scripture. Therefore, the first thing we’ll do is enumerate the points from the text. We’ll then consider each point in light of the greater biblical witness—as well as a bit of logic and common sense—to see whether it has immediate or universal application.

First, let’s examine the more common points taken from the passage.

  1. (1:28) God commands His human creation to be fruitful and multiply (have many children and numerically expand the human race) to the point of filling the earth.
  2. (2:18) God says that it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so He decides to make him a suitable helper (companion).
  3. (2:21-22) Fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs, Eve is ultimately created to fill Adam’s need for companionship.
  4. (2:21-22) God made one woman for Adam.
  5. (2:23-24) Adam pronounces Eve bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, ultimately serving as type of validation of God’s new creation. It is then stated that man will leave his parents and be joined to his wife, and the two will become as one.

Traditionalists generally take each of these points to be commands that are universally applicable to mankind. Depending on how legalistic they are, they may go as far as demeaning those who do not uphold these points (e.g. those who do not have children, as point #1 states). But, our task is to determine whether these points are simply the historical record, or whether they are actually commands that all mankind must submit to.

1) (1:28) God commands His human creation to be fruitful and multiply (have many children and numerically expand the human race) to the point of filling the earth.

Does the command to “be fruitful and multiply” mean that those who do not have children are disobeying God? One person says yes on the basis that the command applies to all mankind, while someone else just as easily says no because the command was only given to Adam and Eve. Neither interpretation can be proved or disproved by Genesis 1-2; so the first thing we have to acknowledge is that this passage is simply not sufficient to answer this question with any degree of certainty.

But, what does Scripture tell us elsewhere? Actually, it doesn’t emphatically state anywhere whether or not people must have children. That said, we do have plenty of examples of people who did not have children, and there’s no record that a single one of them was ever chastised for it. These examples include people like the hero Samson, the prophet Samuel, the prophet Elijah, the prophet Elisha, John the Baptist, the apostle John, and the apostle Paul.

Now, the fact that there’s no record of God chastising these individuals for not having children doesn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t chastised. It’s possible that they could have been and it just wasn’t recorded in Scripture. It’s not as though they didn’t commit other sins that weren’t explicitly recorded for us. However, we know that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and yet He didn’t have children either.

This proves without a doubt that God’s command was never intended to apply to all mankind, for it obviously didn’t apply to the Son of Man, Jesus. At most, it only applied during a time in which humanity could have been considered an endangered species (consider that God desired that they “fill the earth”). This interpretation concludes that once the human population became stable, this command became obsolete. The only other possible interpretation is that the command applied to Adam and Eve solely. Either way, there’s no biblical grounds for considering it a universal command intended to last indefinitely.

Consequently, it’s a misapplication of Scripture to judge gay people for not being able to naturally reproduce, seeing as they will not “be fruitful and multiply” through marital sex. Humans are under no obligation to have children, so gay people aren’t violating any rule or principle by being among the number of people who do not procreate naturally in marriage.

Of course, some people ridiculously plead, “If nobody has children, the human race will eventually die off.” First of all, no longer considering “be fruitful and multiply” a universal command in no way means that we’re commanded to not have children. Second, gay couples not having children will not supernaturally prevent heterosex couples from doing so. Third, 90%+ of the human population identifies as heterosexual, meaning that more than enough people are still capable of being fruitful and multiplying. So, this alarmist claim, borne of irrational desperation, is not based on sound reasoning. It in no way proves God’s intentions for human sexuality.

But, this isn’t simply a question with implications for gay people. If God’s command is universal, what does it say for married heterosex couples who choose not to have children? Are they living outside of God’s will unless and until they procreate? Why aren’t we hearing sermons condemning such people, considering that they’re perfectly capable of procreating (even their orientation doesn’t preclude it), yet they choose not to. To me, this would be a more blatant violation than a gay person not procreating, seeing as heterosexuals wouldn’t have this added stumbling block, making their violation that much more inexcusable. Still, preachers aren’t hollering about these “sinners”, and it’s precisely because they realize how unfounded this argument is; yet, they choose to ignore logic and sound hermeneutics when it comes to gay people. For shame!

2) (2:18) God says that it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so He decides to make him a suitable helper (companion).

Does God’s determination that it was not good for Adam to be alone equate to it not being good foranyone (or at least, any man) to be alone? In other words, are all humans expected and required to get married? We can use the same logic to answer this question that we used to answer the previous one. There are numerous examples of God-blessed people who were never married, including all of the people mentioned in point #1. Jesus Himself was never married, and we can draw from that fact the conclusion that God’s determination apparently applied to Adam only.

Having said that, there’s actually a second way of interpreting God’s determination—not that Adam necessarily needed a spouse, but that he simply needed other human companionship. This would mean that the determination obviously no longer applies, since there is no longer one human inhabiting the earth.

This is an interesting interpretation, but it doesn’t really fit the context of the narrative. Given the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” it’s clear that God created Eve with the forethought of their procreation. This not only partly explains why He created a woman (as Adam couldn’t have procreated with another man), but it also indicates the type of companionship God intended to provide in Eve. Adam didn’t just need a buddy. He needed a life-partner—a spouse, and he needed one that was suitable for him.

3) (2:21-22) Fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs, Eve is ultimately created to fill Adam’s need for companionship.

Does the fact that Eve was fashioned out of one of Adam’s ribs indicate that man is incomplete without woman, seeing as she symbolically represents a necessary part of the whole? This question is derived from a theory called Complementarity, which states, among other things, that man is incomplete without woman, and that only in marriage and sex are they brought back together into a whole being, into “one flesh”.

This aspect of Complementarity certainly sounds logical on the surface, but it doesn’t stand up well to even a modicum of scrutiny. It indicts every single man as being incomplete and, by extension, of living beneath God’s standard of wholeness. It makes singlehood a theologically undesirable state, despite Scripture’s explicit testimony to the contrary (1Corinthians 7:1, 7, 32-35).

So, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the only one who could possibly be considered incomplete without a woman is Adam himself. Otherwise, we’d have to consider Jesus incomplete. We’d also have to advise all believers to get married so that they can walk in wholeness; yet such a recommendation would directly contradict the 1Co. 7 passage referenced above.

4) (2:21-22) God made one woman for Adam.

Traditionalists view the fact that God made one companion for Adam as a requirement of monogamous marriage only. They also view the fact that God made a woman for Adam (an opposite-sex partner) as a requirement of heterosex coupling. From this, they derive the simple formula that you’ve probably heard before—that marriage must be between one man and one woman, precisely like the Adam-Eve model.

There are a few reasons why this legalistic approach to marriage is not only wrong, but is contradicted by Scripture itself. First of all, if we are required to mimic the initial state, it would require that all humans get married (as we discussed above), seeing as the first man and first woman did not remain single.

In addition, such an approach to the text would require monogamy as the only God-ordained marital union. Most Traditionalists (and even some progressives) would quickly chime in, “Of course!” But Scripture disagrees with this so-called requirement. Some of the most anointed and blessed people in all of Scripture were polygamists—not only having multiple wives, but even multiple extramarital partners (called concubines). Included among them are the patriarch Jacob/Israel (after whom the entire race of God’s chosen people is named), the warrior-poet King David, and his son, Solomon, who was blessed by God with wisdom surpassing all people.

Now, before drawing any conclusions from this fact, we must be careful. As with our previous points, we don’t want to assume that just because something applied to people God used, it means that that particular thing is morally benign. Jacob was a trickster/deceiver. David committed murder. Solomon dabbled in idolatry. All of the people God used were broken goods, just as we are today; so we shouldn’t assume that because they were polygamists, that somehow means that God approved of polygamy.

But, as with our previous points, when God gets involved in something, we can say with absolute certainty that it must be okay, e.g. Jesus (God in the flesh) remaining single. Now, don’t get miffed by the notion that God had many wives, because that’s not what I’m claiming. He did, however, go much further than simply permitting polygamy against His better judgment, as Traditionalists claim when confronted with the evidence of polygamists in the Bible that God blessed. He actually establishedpolygamous unions, taking Him from being a passive, disheartened observer to being an active participant in the polygamous paradigm.

Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.  [8]  ‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!

2 Samuel 12:7-8 NASB

[emphasis mine]

Notice in verse 8 that God says to David that He gave him Saul’s wives (plural). Now, the context of this phrase clearly indicates that from God’s perspective, this was a blessing. He’s pointing out to David how He has blessed him, before going on in verse 9 (not quoted) and asking David how he could bring himself to do such an evil thing as having Uriah killed. So then, polygamy is not simply man’s violation of God’s will, which He permitted but didn’t like. He actually gave multiple wives to David, and anyone who has even an inkling of what it means for God to be holy knows that it’s impossible for God to do something against His own will.

This proves without a doubt that the “one” in the Traditionalist’s “one man, one woman” formula is unbiblical. Now, if the numeric requirement isn’t biblical, we certainly can’t assume that the heterosex requirement is, especially considering what we’ll discover when examining point 5…

5) (2:23-24) Adam pronounces Eve bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, ultimately serving as type of validation of God’s new creation. It is then stated that man will leave his parents and be joined to his wife, and the two will become as one.

Does Adam’s pronouncement of Eve as a part of him, as well as the subsequent statement that a man would leave his parents and be joined to his wife, indicate that a woman is the only suitable companion for a man? Can two people of the same sex become one flesh, despite the fact that only woman was taken from man, not another man?

Let’s look at this logically. We’ve already determined that the whole “rib and wholeness” thing applied only to Adam, not to all men. As a consequence, it’s not consistent to conclude that because woman was taken from man, she is the only possible companion for him. Remember, womankind was not taken from mankind. To the contrary, one woman (Eve) was taken from one man (Adam). While it does provide an image of marriage, manifest in the “one flesh” principle, it doesn’t provide some sort of spiritual requirement that two partners be of opposite sexes.

Think about it like this… It’s not as though Adam literally took back his rib when he married Eve, or when they had sex. It was a symbolic representation of the two coming together, forming a new family unit (the man leaves his mother and father…). If the notion of a so-called missing rib doesn’t require all men to get married, it also cannot require all men to marry women if they choose to get married.

“One flesh”, then, has nothing to do with the sex of the people involved, and everything to do with the need that God was fulfilling in Eve—a suitable life-partner. There’s absolutely nothing provided in Eve’s companionship that cannot be provided by a same-sex partner, with the sole exception of procreation, which we’ve already determined isn’t a requirement anyway.

So, we’ve determined that the traditional points taken from the Creation narrative, all of which are interpreted in a prescriptive fashion when it comes to the subject of homosexuality, actually do not prescribe or require what Traditionalists claim. However, there are less common points we can derive from the text, points that shed a new light on the subject of human sexuality and marriage.

  1. (1:27) Both male and female were created in the image of God.
  2. (2:18) God’s decision to create a second human being was borne of Adam’s need for companionship, not procreation.
  3. (2:18-23) Adam determined what made for a suitable companion, not God.

Let’s examine these points in detail.

A) (1:27) Both male and female were created in the image of God.

The fact that male and female were created in God’s image means that they were whole in their created state, not simply in their married state. It’s not as though Eve was created as Adam’s wife. He had to accept her first (notice that God presented her to Adam just as He did all the animals of creation). They were brought together in covenant by Adam’s pronouncement. This means that even before they were married, they were still whole because they were created in God’s image, and God certainly isn’t broken or lacking.

This actually points back to the erroneous theory of Complementarity. Adherents of this theory assert that the union of male and female fully expresses the image of God; however, not only does this imply that Jesus, an unmarried man, did not fully express the image of God (in direct contradiction to2Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15), but it also implies that all believers must get married if they aspire to the image of God state, as all believers should (2Corinthians 3:18).

B) (2:18) God’s decision to create a second human being was borne of Adam’s need for companionship, not procreation.

Sometimes, I think Traditionalists read Gen. 2:18 as though it said, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to not be able to reproduce; I will make him someone who can help him procreate.'” Procreation is not a requirement for marriage; hence, the inability of same-sex couples to procreate naturally does not delegitimize same-sex unions.

C) (2:18-23) Adam determined what made for a suitable companion, not God.

I’m amazed at how much this point gets overlooked. It happens so often because when people recount the story of Eve’s creation, they usually move immediately from God saying that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (v. 18) to God creating Eve (vs. 21-22). They completely forget about the intermediate verses of 19-20, in which God brings before Adam all the animals He’d created. Even for the few who don’t forget this section, they assume that the only reason God did this was so that Adam could name the animals. But, this is only half the story.

It makes no sense for God to identify a serious problem with Adam, only to engage in the extremely lengthy process of naming every species of animal. What does make sense is that in verse 20, it explicitly states that among all the animals of creation, a suitable companion was not found for Adam. This indicates that finding Adam a companion was still in the mind of God during this intermediary step.

The question we have to ask is why an omniscient (all-knowing) God would need to individually sort through every animal in order to find Adam a companion. Why would He have to find one at all, seeing as He already knew that Eve was that companion? The only answer is that just as Adam was tasked with naming all of the animals God presented before him, he was also tasked with determining which of those animals was a suitable companion. But because he didn’t find one, God went back to the proverbial drawing board and created Eve.

What’s interesting is that even after creating Eve, God still didn’t make this decision for Adam. Just as He’d brought all of the animals before Adam, verse 22 says that He also presented Eve before him. It was Adam, not God, who then declared Eve a fitting companion, saying, “This is now bone of my bones…” He accepted Eve, and I am convinced that if he hadn’t, God would have created something/someone else. The text clearly bears this out.

Some people are hesitant to acknowledge that Adam determined suitability. For one thing, they fear that they’re taking something away from God’s providence. They also fear the implication that if Adam would have determined that a horse or a rabbit were a suitable companion, God would have paired them. As a result, they reject the notion that Adam determined suitability out of hand. But, it’s very poor practice to interpret Scripture from a place of fear. We should interpret it based upon its own witness, and follow the evidence wherever it leads.

As to the implication itself, the fear is actually unfounded. Bestiality (humans having sex with animals) is condemned in Scripture in contexts free and clear from culturally-subjective applicational limitations, making those condemnations universal. So then, we can expect that such a union would not have been approved by God. The same can’t be said of a same-sex union, however, because no biblical condemnation of homosex sex exists free and clear from applicational limits based on culture (specifically, idolatry and sexual exploitation). Therefore, any belief that Adam couldn’t have chosen another male would be based solely on conjecture, not Scripture.

As it should be clear at this point, the Creation narrative does not establish universal rules for all mankind. To the contrary, it simply describes the historical account. Reading commands into the narrative is simply not a sound hermeneutical approach. That said, there is, actually, one principle conveyed in the narrative that is universal. This isn’t determined by reading such a principle into the text, but because it is attested to elsewhere in Scripture as a binding requirement (or better yet, as an expectation from God).

“Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’  [4]  And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,  [5]  and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?  [6]  ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.'”

Matthew 19:3-6

In this passage, Jesus responds to an inquiry about divorce. He references the Creation narrative in answering this question. What’s tragic is that many people, in an attempt to force their theological worldview on the text, take His reference to “male and female” as some sort of validation of the male-female marital paradigm. However, this had nothing to do with Jesus’ statement. He was simply describing the first marriage in order to make a point about divorce. Notice that the fact that God created them “male and female” doesn’t imply to these same people that God requires all people to get married!

But, there is, in fact, a reason that Jesus referenced the Creation narrative. His point was that from the beginning, marriage was intended to be a lifelong union. Although divorce was provided by Moses as an accommodation for human weaknesses, it was, by no means, an ideal option.

So then, the only universal principle we can take from the Creation narrative is that divorce is not God’s will. There are definitely circumstances in which it’s permitted, but it’s not the ideal. But then again, neither are some of the circumstances that can lead to divorce in the first place, like adultery, physical or emotional abuse, or abandonment.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that this sole universal principle derived from the Creation narrative in no way precludes same-sex marriage. Consequently, there is absolutely nothing in the account that precludes same-sex marriage, or even implies that it’s a marital form that’s outside of God’s original intent. To the contrary, it does indicate that we determine suitability, rather than God; and it makes sense, considering that we’re the ones who will have to spend the rest of our lives with this person.