The debate over how to regard same-gender sexual relationships is raging in the church, with shock waves rippling through society. Christians on all sides of the controversy often invoke Scripture. This situation raises questions: How can people of equally passionate faith disagree so strenuously on this subject? Is it possible to find a way forward without the church being torn asunder?
Peace, if it is to prevail, surely depends on people understanding their own and others' positions. The chief aim of this study, therefore, is to explore how the Bible is used to support different beliefs about the (un)acceptability for Christians of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) identity and same-gender sexual practice. The closely related debates over same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT people will be discussed in passing, but are not the study's primary focus.
This two-part study will begin by asking why so many people regard this debate as of paramount importance, and then move on to consider the pertinent biblical passages. Session 1 will consider passages that explicitly mention same-gender sexual practice. Session 2 will address two other sets of passages: for the prohibitionists, texts interpreted to mean that God's will for marriage is that one man and one woman join in a lifelong bond; and for the affirmers, texts interpreted to mean that God does not want humans to live alone, and that God regularly embraces outcasts and sets prisoners free. In session 2 we will also consider how each party handles nonbiblical evidence from science, tradition, and contemporary experience, and conclude by reflecting on constructive responses to disagreement among Christian brothers and sisters.