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Sunday, February 26, 2017

LGBTQ and the Bible: Teaching Our Children What Love Is

I can't lie, I'm a flaming liberal when it comes to LGBTQ rights.  To me, marriage is a basic legal right that people who love each other should have.  The notion that there is a "right" or "wrong" person to love is completely foreign to me.  I believe that ANYONE should be able to love and marry whomever they want.  It's a legal right that is stemmed from love.  Love: a concept that is seen throughout religious doctrine and is a universal theme in most religions. Love, the persevering truth that the Christian faith is based in. The first bible verse I learned (which is also the license plate on my parent's car) was 1st Corinthians 13:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

This vision of what Love is shaped my views tremendously.  It is the basis for how I judge relationships.  I use this verse as a definition, or sorts, for what love is.


Here's the thing, I'm not a biblical scholar and I'm not in any way a Christian know-it-all, but I do think that many people use the bible to condemn things that they don't understand and to justify their own prejudices.  In the past, the bible has been used to justify slavery (this is an interesting exploration of this topic).  The bible was also used by Hitler to justify the Holocaust. Countless religious fanatics have fallen prey to twisting and mutating scripture to justify terrible acts and condemn entire groups of people.

Here's the thing about the bible that we need to remember: it has been written, re-written, translated, re-translated, altered and re-altered throughout history to make it "fit" into certain societal norms and political thoughts.  Don't get me wrong here, I LIKE THE BIBLE.  I believe in much that the bible offers.  I am a baptized Christian (in fact I've been baptized 3 times, as a young child in the Methodist Church, as an older child into the Presbyterian Church, and again upon my own desire after finding Christ as a teen into the Baptist Church), but I've faced my own condemnation by the church and it has significantly shaped my religious views (a story for another post perhaps). I have experienced first hand how a group of religious people can come together to judge, jury, and condemn something that they don't understand.  Practices and judgement that are used to exclude people leads to Exclusivist Christianity, and it's a dangerous thing.

I don't believe that the bible should be taken literally in all aspects of our lives.  I believe that it is a tool for learning how to live.  A tool for learning how to see the world and all it's peoples as a whole unit. A tool for globalization.  The experiences shared in the bible are the same as any other stories that have been passed down through generations; biblical stories are meant to teach a lesson or show a way of thinking.  They are not meant to be taken as 100% factual, although many of them are based in fact.  Science has proven this time and time again and we as Christians need to embrace this chance to allow our theology to grow and learn.


So, how does this relate to LGBTQ rights?  Well it's simple.  The bible teaches us to love one another. To respect one another.  To accept one another for our own gifts, talents, and beliefs.  It teaches inclusion through love.  Jesus loved the world, one world. God doesn't exclude people from his love. How can we be mirrors of God's love if we don't show that love to everyone?  This is the love that 1st Corinthians 13 shows us.  It protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and never fails.  This is the foundation of Christianity.  A love that never goes away.

Its interesting that even our national pledge says "one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  This concept of being ONE un-dividable people that allows liberty and justice for ALL was critical to our nation's conception.  The connection between god's love, unity, and equal liberty is what defines us as Americans.

As I sit here reflecting on this Sunday morning, I'm considering how I can show my children what LOVE IS, not only in a religious context (although I will allow my children to follow their own religious paths, whatever that may be, and I personally strive to not force any one religious doctrine on them), but in a real-world context as well.  Certainly, I can make a conscious effort to expose my children to LGBTQ people and families.  And I can encourage them in their own "love journeys" when the time comes.  But, through all my internet research (which you all know I rely on tremendously) I cannot find any better way to teach my children about love than to teach them the way my parents taught me and my sisters: if it fits into 1st Corinthians 13, then it is love. It's not exclusionary, it's not based on biology, gender, or sex.  It just IS.


 As a parent, I try to teach through example.  My husband and I strive to show our children what love is by being real in our relationship.  We love each other and we show it in many ways.  But we also try to show our children what love is in a more tangible way.  If you could fit love into a "box" what would the box look like?  We believe that love looks like 1st Corinthians 13.  And when my daughter talks about someone she likes I tell her to put their name into these verses to make sure they "fit" the definition of love. No matter what shape that love takes, it is love.

How do you teach your child about love?  Please share your RESPECTFUL thoughts and opinions below.  

4 comments:

  1. I just saw an episode of 20/20 where they investigated conversion therapy for LGBT teenagers. It really is horrible. And I was thinking that the answer comes from the clergy who can teach parents better biblical ways to love their LGBT children. When parents are taught to fear, they can't be there for their children in the best way possible.

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    1. You make a very good point. I think the most important thing is to LOVE, especially for children, in an unconditional way. There shouldn't be a "different" way to love a child. I think the best thing parents can do is accept their child's individuality, no matter what way that individuality manifests. We would all be much happier and more fulfilled with we could just love one another.

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  2. If you think about it, so many rules in the bible were set forth because they made sense 2000 years ago. In the case of homosexuality, it made sense to condemn it because people needed to procreate. We needed to fill the world in general, and Christians can even take this a step farther to say that we need to fill the world with Christians! But today, the opposite is true. We not only have a population vs. resources problem, but we also have so many orphans who need parents. So... it does make sense that God would be causing more people to be born gay and guiding humanity to accept homosexuality. If we can agree that certain biblical teachings do not make sense anymore because today's world is so different, why can't we put homosexuality in that category? I don't pretend to know what God is thinking or even if God is real the way our little human minds think about him... but it makes sense to me.

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    1. I am a full fledged believer that the bible (and religions in general) need to grow and evolve to fulfill societal needs. Religious doctrine need to be flexible enough to reflect the beliefs of changing congregation needs. Religions have come and gone because of their inability to evolve. It just makes sense that Christian thought can grow and change with the changing times. Thanks for your perspective Allison!

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