In the wake of the conservative Anglicans’ GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, the Anglican Church of Kenya has now demanded that gays and lesbians stop attending their churches unless they repent and renounce their sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz’ Other Sheep East Africa ministry continues its brave work to support GLBT Christians overseas. This week, they are offering a “Christianity and Homosexuality” seminar in Nairobi that will address “how biblical scholarship today demonstrates that the received views of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah,’ the Romans 1 ‘against nature,’ and other texts, have been seriously misunderstood, and in turn, unjustly misappropriated against sexual minorities.” Trained as a Baptist minister, Parelli takes seriously the authority of Scripture and has the skills to interpret these controversial Bible verses in their historical context and original language.
Can’t get to Nairobi? Read his extensive seminar notes here (opens as MS Word doc). Key points include: References to “sodomites” in the King James Version are mistranslations of a word for the male and female priest-prostitutes of Canaanite fertility cults. The issue was not their sexual orientation (a concept unknown to pre-modern writers) but the fact that they used their sexuality for idol worship. The story of Sodom itself is concerned with male gang rape as an act of inter-tribal hostility, which has no bearing on the morality of consensual same-sex partnerships, any more than the instances of heterosexual rape in the Bible undermine the ideal of male-female marriage. Similarly, the obscure words Paul uses to allude to same-gender sex acts in the Epistles, to the extent that they can be accurately translated, are concerned with the disordered and abusive quality of the relationship (pederasty, self-indulgent promiscuity, idol worship again).
Whether or not these are the only ways to interpret these verses, Steve and the long list of scholars he cites in his bibliography have made a reasonable case that Bible-believing Christians can support gay rights. Their position is also more in line with New Testament values of charity and inclusiveness, and supported by the evidence of GLBT clergy and lay people who manifest the gifts of the Spirit. Let us disagree if we must, but let us hear no more of the abusive fiction that opponents of homosexuality are the only “orthodox” Christians.
Donations to Other Sheep East Africa can be made here. They particularly need laptop computers for Rev. John Makokha (UMC) and Rev. Michael Kimindu (Anglican Priest/ MCC Minister), who have been persecuted in their churches because of their sexual orientation.