Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Relationships

Genesis was not written to directly answer our modern questions about subjects like evolutionary biology and human sexuality, and yet the creation narrative (Gen 1-2) speaks indirectly to both. Just as most, but not all, animals fit into the classifications of “land,” “sea,” or “air,” most, not all, humans fit into the categories of “male” or “female.” By extension, marriage between heterosexual couples should not be seen as an exclusive model based on our reading of creation.

Those first people were also instructed to “fill the earth” (Gen 1:28), but nowhere else in the biblical texts are we told that procreation is a requirement of all people. In the New Testament, we read that some even have the gift of singleness and choose to remain celebate (Matt 19:11-12; 1 Cor 7:7). Additionally, if procreating were a mandate for all marriages, then we’d have to conclude that those who cannot procreate for any reason should not get married or remarried. This is simply unbiblical.

In Genesis 19, the telling of how Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed, “homosexuality” is never mentioned in biblical texts as a reason for their destruction (Ezek 16:49). Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are two passages that explicitly prohibit same sex activity under Levitcal Law, but we’re no longer under the old covenant. Many have objected to gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships based on these texts. This isn’t only unnecessary, it’s a poor reading of these passages.

In the New Testament, Paul says that “sexual sins” affect us more than any other kind (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Thes 4:3-4) as part of a strict sexual ethic that Christians have. Biblical marriage covenants include promises like fidelity and help spouses transform more into the likeness of Jesus. A good theology of marriage recognizes that people are made for community and that our sexuality brings us into particular relationships, which, because of sin, need to be governed by public vows which hold couples accountable and enable communities to support unions and arbitrate when vows are broken. 

The meaning of Romans 1 is often questioned as part of this discussion. Theologian Megan DeFranza (PhD, Marquette University) addresses that for us: “New Testament scholars on both sides of the debate agree that the first chapter of Romans was not written to address questions about sexual ethics… As a whole, the passage is meant to describe the depravity of those who have rejected God, not faith gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians seeking to solemnize their relationships with the vows of Christian marriage.”

Paul writes about “sexually immorality” (pornois) in almost every letter he writes, but in only two (1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10) have translators recently used the words in these passages (malakoi, arsenokoitai) as “homosexuals.” This translation does not accurately reflect the use of those terms in Greek literature of the same period, which were more akin to the lack of self-control and sexual exploitation and/or slavery. 

As such, Madison Church does not believe that the Bible indisputably condemns gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships. We affirm the traditional and historical sexual ethics of our faith while acknowledging that they should not have prohibited same sex romantic partnerships. People, regardless of their sexual orientation, can participate in any roles and all activities we have at Madison Church.