My previous post on the petition launched ahead of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in support of the overture (motion) from the Presbytery of Lochcarron & Skye was my most viewed post ever. I didn’t set out to say anything controversial and hoped to appeal to people to be calm, reasonable and gracious.
The question that I ended that post with was one asked by Christians all along the theological spectrum. ‘What would Jesus do?’.
This morning it struck me, and not for the first time, that one of the problems with this discussion is that Jesus said nothing specifically about homosexuality. That leaves us with a bit of a vacuum when trying to answer the question ‘What would Jesus do?‘. It means that we need to try to work out what Jesus might have said from his other teachings. We also need to consider the rest of the Bible where again, little is said directly about homosexual relationships.
There are passages in the Old Testament in Leviticus, we read the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and in the New Testament Paul has some words in Romans.
The problem for many is that these passages are in their view inconclusive. For example, the passage about Sodom and Gomorrah tells of a host offering his daughters to visitors rather than them having sex with another man. Not something we would see as acceptable now. Paul’s words in Romans are the subject of much debate around the translation and context. Is he talking about homosexual relationships or about the practice if ritual sex with young boys at the pagan temples?
I refer to these passages by way of illustrating the difficulty and complexity of the theological discussion. Perhaps we need to move beyond throwing passages at each other and engage in a discussion about what the core of the Gospel is?
One of the biggest steps forward the Church could take is to begin these kinds of discussions is to start at the general rather than the specific. As many will point out in the coming weeks, there are many things supported in the Bible that we have moved away from. If the early church had not decided to admit those who were not Jewish to their membership then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. Those decisions were often painful, often divisive.
So, let’s try to start again.
Let’s try to start from the question ‘How would Jesus behave?‘ because to be honest when I read the scriptures almost everytime I expect Jesus to do one thing He does something completely different. What is consistent is how he does things.