Newsgroups: soc.motss
From: (Tom Barrett)
Subject: Anti-Gay Reading of Bible is Flawed
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 18:30:17 GMT

I thought that people might be interested in hearing what one
Williamson County preacher has to say on the fundamentalist's stance
that Apple's fair and equal benefits to all of their employees who are
in committed long-term relationships is morally wrong.

Public Forum
Anit-gay reading of Bible is flawed

By Joe Phelps
Special to the American-Statesman

As a pastor of a Williamson County church, I believe it is crucial
that Christians and others know of another reading of the Scripture
held by Bible-believing, God-honoring people that does not condemn
homosexuals.  Contrary to its critics, this interpretation has
theological integrity and is guided by the Holy Spirit.

The issue in Williamson County, of course, is over Apple Computer
Inc., which some are treating as if it were a modern version of the
proverbial apple offered to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.  The county is
saying through their commissioners they are more interested in being
faithful to God than in selling out, even for such a coveted prize as
jobs, jobs, jobs.

This would be a right and courageous stance -- if the Bible was clear
in condemning homosexuals and in commanding us to discriminate against
them.  But, the Bible isn't clear on the subject, unless one uses a
method of interpretation rejected by most students of the Bible.  
This method is called proof-texting.

Proof-texting uses a passage to make a point without regard to its
context within the passage, the circumstances at the time of the
writing, or the author's main point.  This method runs the grave
danager of missing or warping the larger point of the passage and of
the Bible.

Proof-texting has been used vehemently in the past to defend slavery,
child abuse, and siliencing women in church.  On these topics most
agree that proof-texting is an inappropriate method of interpretation,
and inconsistent with the spirit of the God of scripture.  Yet
this is precisely the method employed on key verses used to condemn

These verses require a more objective, trustworthy examination.
Important biblical scholars (who love God, who want to be faithful to
the Bible that they have dedicated their lives to learning, and who
seek to make a godly contribution to the church and the world) find
little support in these verses for blanket comdemnation on
homosexuals.  These Christian scholars ought to be read openly and

Herein lies the problem.  Because many of us Christians are
heterosexual, it is hard to be open-minded.  We don't understand
homosexuality any more than we understand why some Africans slash the
faces of their young to scar them with tribal marks.  It is completely
foreign to us.

In addition, people we trust have told many of us for years that the
Bible says unequivocally that homosexuality is wrong.  This message
has sunk deep into our psyches and has become our bias.  It feels
unfaithful to consider examining the evidence for ourselves.

Throw in the assumption that homosexuals have consciously chosen a
lifestyle that we are told is sinful, and it is understandable why
many have made up their minds even before they do their Bible study.

It is revealing that many who publically oppose homosexuality will
privately acknowledge discomfort with their position.  It doesn't feel
right to them, especially if they know a homosexual personally.  But
they feel Biblically concerned.

Critics will say this is the Devil tempting us to be politically
correct in a world of relativism.

My suspicion is that our ambiguity about condemning homosexuals is the
tug of God's Spirit.  This Spirit challenges us to question our stance
and to trust that God is able to guide all who are willing to be led
into new, albeit unfamiliar territory.  Is this not the way of Jesus,
who brought together Jews and Samaritans, male and female, slave and

Could this same Jesus bring together His divided disciples to dialogue
in an open, respectful forum on this subject that not only impacts our
economy but also our understanding of Christianity?

(Phelps is a pastor of Church of the Savior, and American Baptist
Church in Cedar Park).
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