This post has been a long time in the making. For many months now, I’ve felt that God has been asking me to write about issues of sexuality—homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender issues. This is such a controversial topic, especially in the Christian world right now, and because of that I have shied away from sharing my views. I hate seeing the division that these issues are causing among believers, and I really would rather everyone just be quiet about it. I don’t want to add fuel to the fire! But the more I sit around and stay quiet, the more I feel that one side of the divide is overly represented, while the other is treated as nonexistent. So it’s time that I say something, and here it is; I am a rainbow fish.
For those of you who don’t know, the “Jesus fish” is a symbol that Christians sometimes use to identify themselves as followers of Jesus. You can see the fish on bumper stickers, etc. And of course, the rainbow has become a symbol of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi, trans) community. So a rainbow fish would be a Christian who supports the LGBT community—and that’s me. The rainbow fish is a rare species, it seems, but we’re out there.
I want to be clear about something. I believe in the Bible, that it is the inspired word of God and our ultimate source of truth and hope. Because I believe in the Bible, I believe in Jesus Christ; I believe Jesus is the Son of God who was sent to earth to live as an example and bring us hope, who died to bring us freedom from our sins and our overall separation from God, and who rose again to defeat the enemy once and for all. I believe that, like he said, he is the only true way to Heaven and eternal life. I believe in one true God who has three facets of personality—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Yes, I believe all of those things with confident assurance, because I have seen for myself that they are the only thing that makes sense. I also believe that sexual orientations other than heterosexual are not sinful, and if you stick around, I will tell you why.
As I said, I believe in the Bible as our ultimate source of truth. Although it was written by human beings, its writing was directed by God, and so we can trust that it is perfect and without error in its original form. Yet what we read today is not the original form of the Bible. It has been translated over thousands of years from languages that are no longer used into the languages that we use today. It’s inevitable that in the process of translation, the original messages can lose certain things and take on other things, especially as they pass through cultural lenses. We are fortunate to have a huge number of Bible translations available today—reading in multiple translations can help us get closer to what the original text intended to say. Not only that, but I’m sure God was well aware of the issues that language barriers would cause when it comes to passing the Bible down through generations of humanity. That’s probably why he had it written in such a way that the overall themes and most vital messages of the Bible are woven consistently and clearly throughout the entire text—although some details may be off here and there, for the most part the Bible corroborates itself very well.
In the area of sexuality, I am inclined to question whether the original messages in the Bible have been properly translated. There are reasonable alternative interpretations for all of the verses in the Bible which seem to condemn homosexual behavior as a sin. I won’t go into the details, because I’m not a Bible scholar and it would take up a lot of space here, but I will provide a link to a source I have found helpful at the end of this post. My point is that it is possible that the way most Christians view homosexuality (and other alternative sexual orientations) may be based on Biblical references that don’t mean what they think they do.
This seems likely to me for one main reason; consistency. As far as I understand it, every commandment that God gives in the Bible comes down to him wanting what is best for his people. He knows that the best thing for us is to be in a relationship with him, and that we would live our best possible lives if everyone treated each other with love. In Mark 12:28-34, Jesus taught that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love others. Romans 13:8-10 goes further, saying this: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (NIV).
The Bible is full of many guidelines for what to do and what not to do in life. But the underlying theme, as pointed out in these passages, is that we should love God and love others. When it comes to sexual orientation, I can see no way in which a consensual, monogamous, committed relationship between two adults of the same sex is in violation of God’s law. Sexuality is a gift from God, and enjoying it is not unloving toward him, in the proper context. (By proper context, I mean sex that is used to love and not hurt others—either physically, or emotionally.) Homosexual relationships also don’t hurt other people, except those people who choose to be “hurt” by it.
There are a few other reasons that I don’t share the typical “conservative” views on homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender issues. One is that I understand that sexual orientation is not a choice. I never chose to be attracted to my husband, let alone men in general—I simply was. Although physical attraction is just one part of what brings people together into romantic relationships, it is often the first step. I think God probably designed it that way for a reason. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be told that I must enter into a romantic relationship with a person I had absolutely no physical attraction to. Yes, love is a choice and love is what lasts in the end, and it is so much more important than attraction—but sexuality and attraction are still important. God gave us these gifts so that we could tie ourselves emotionally and physically to another person in a very special way. For a person who is attracted to another person of the same sex, and then told that it is wrong to pursue a relationship with that person, sexuality becomes a burden rather than a gift. I simply don’t see how God would want that.
Another reason that I see things a bit differently is that I can easily picture just how involved the enemy is in this war on sexuality. What better tool could the enemy use to divide people? All he has to do is convince the majority of Christians that the LGBT community is living in sin, and he’s got himself a convenient way to repel from God a huge population of individuals. I can only imagine how it would feel to be told that one of the most basic parts of who you are is not acceptable to God, and that you are therefore unwelcome in a church community unless you somehow change that part of yourself. It would be easy to stay far, far away from any part of that world, don’t you think? And as a result, there are billions of people who will never know God, because his representatives in this world have pushed them away.
Transgender individuals are even less understood, it seems. I often hear Christians say things along the lines of “You don’t get to choose your gender, God does!” Well, that’s actually kind of the point. Transgender people feel that they were born a certain gender, but that their sexual organs don’t match that gender. In their view, they aren’t choosing their gender at all. It would probably be easier and preferable if they could simply choose to be the gender that their bodies tell them they are. We don’t argue with the fact that some people are born with physical and mental defects—which I believe are attacks from the enemy, rather than anything that God wants for us—so why can’t we accept that some people may be born with defects in their sexual organs? Obviously, there are cases in which babies are born with both male and female genitalia. Christians don’t seem to have a problem when the parents of those babies choose which gender to assign their children. So why is it such a leap for transgender individuals to do what they can to correct what they deeply feel is a physical defect in their bodies? Personally, I have never felt that I was not female. Would that have been any different if I had been born with male parts? I simply cannot say, because I don’t know. And that’s the point—I don’t know how it would feel to be certain that I am a female without the reassurance of my female body. I cannot and will not tell other people that what they feel is not valid, or that it’s as easy as a choice. I didn’t choose my gender, so why would anybody else?
Probably the worst argument that I’ve heard Christians use against homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people is a comparison between these alternative sexual orientations and pedophilia. It practically makes my blood boil. “If homosexuality isn’t a choice and should be accepted, why not also accept pedophiles as having their own sexual orientation?” they ask. And really, how flipping insulting is that. Pedophiles may or may not feel attracted to children by nature, I cannot say—but there is a huge glaring difference between them and people whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual. Pedophiles have victims! Children are not able to consent to nor fully understand sexual relationships. Perhaps that is why pedophiles are inclined to victimize them; it’s a sickness, and anybody who feels that way should receive psychological and spiritual help to overcome it. Homosexual relationships have no victims, when they are between two consenting adults in a monogamous and committed relationship. It’s the same as with any other sexual relationship. (Casual sex has victims whether or not it’s between a man and a woman, or two people of the same sex.)
But putting all of my thoughts and feelings aside, I think it’s very important for me to make one final point, which is that I could be wrong about all of this. I’m a human and my human logic and thinking is far below God’s way of thinking. I could be missing something. And if I am wrong, and the truth is that God’s best for all people is to either be in a heterosexual relationship or no sexual relationship at all, then I will surely find that out when I get to Heaven. But even in that case, I do not believe for one second that the typical Christian approach to interacting with the LGBT community is what God wants. Right or wrong, we are pushing people away from God. We are condemning them and telling them that they cannot follow Jesus unless they change something that they don’t believe they can change.
I would love to see a Christian community where sexuality is an issue that is left between each individual and God. Like any other sin (if it is a sin), it should be up to God to lead his children onto the right path, and up to us to simply encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to live their best for him. If we could start accepting homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender individuals into our churches without the stipulation that they change themselves, how many people could we reach for Christ?
I would also love to see a Christian community that doesn’t assume that all of its members are anti-gay. I understand the assumption, because most Christians believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality and thus that all Christians should be on the same page. But there is an alternative interpretation, and I hope that someday more people know about it. The rainbow fish are out there, and I think that’s important for both conservative Christians and the LGBT community to know.
Lastly, I would love to see more separation of politics and religion. Yes, our laws need to be based on moral principles, and as Christians our moral principles come from the Bible. But our laws also need to be logical. Laws should be put in place to protect people from harm, not as a futile attempt to force non-Christians into adopting our worldview. When we fight the legalization of abortion, we are protecting people from harm—babies are the victims in that case. (Yet we can and should also remember that pregnant rape victims are victims too, and all women with unwanted or unplanned pregnancies need our compassion and support as well). Any issue that we vote for should be considered in terms of how it hurts or protects others, because as Christians, we are called to love others.
But the reality is that when Christians fight against legalizing gay marriage, we aren’t protecting anybody. We aren’t winning people for Jesus, but we certainly are building walls between gay people and Jesus. And for what purpose? If we want to protect the sanctity of marriage, why don’t we worry about our own marriages? The divorce rate among Christians is not something we can be proud of, and we have plenty of other issues to work on as well. Infidelity, abuse, sexual dysfunction, and anything short of loving one another the way that God intended for a husband and wife to love—these are the things that we need to focus on changing if we want our marriages to be examples for our children. You see, Christian marriage and secular marriage don’t have to be the same thing—in fact, they’re not, whether we’re talking about gay marriage or any marriage between two non-Christians. Our marriages are our business, and if we want to strengthen the institute of Holy Matrimony then let’s do that. Gay marriage isn’t a threat to the family any more than divorce is (in fact, I feel quite strongly that divorce is a much bigger threat, but then again I don’t see gay marriage as a threat at all), and yet we don’t see people trying to make divorce illegal. Let’s be logical, people, and think about why we’re doing what we’re doing in the political arena. We must protect people, not damage and ostracize them.
So that’s it. That is my very long explanation of how I, as a Christian, feel about homosexuality and other sexual orientations. Whether I am right or wrong is not as important as my calling to love other people and point them to Jesus. I hope that Christians as a unified church can come together in love and reach the LGBT community, because they need Jesus just as much as anybody else—and vice versa.
Resource for information about alternative interpretations of the Bible’s message on homosexuality: