In any discussion of homosexuality we need to set what the Bible says in context. Those statements come from contexts about covenant behaviors and sexuality in general, and the also come in the context of understanding what it means to be a “cracked Eikon” (sin) and just which biblical passages we choose to bring to the table.
According to the Bible, sin is both a human condition and human behavior against the known will of God. As I explain in Embracing Grace, humans are special — they are Eikons of God who, by act, become cracked Eikons. The work of God through the gospel is to restore cracked Eikons. And it is precisely here that an important element comes into play in any discussion: the “crackedness” of Eikons is hyper-relational. The fundamental nature and impact of sin are that human relationships are distorted in four directions: with God, with self, with others, and with the world. Sin itself is hyper-relational distortion.
The implication of this is that we are all messed up to one degree or another: we are cracked Eikons. This means our relationships with God, self, others, and the world are not what they are supposed to be. And the gospel is the work of God to get those relationships back in sync: thus both sin and gospel are hyper-relational. Any biblical discussion of homosexuality must engage with humans as cracked in hyper-relationality.
A fourth context for our discussion pertains to the Bible. We have always been taught to go to clear scriptures before we go to unclear ones. But we have also been taught to see the forest so we know where to place the trees. Sometimes folks, many of them well-intentioned but some of them not, do nothing but pull out the biblical passages that discuss homosexuality and then tally them up and render a verdict. Sometimes they are taken out of context; sometimes other issues are imposed on them; sometimes modern conditions and categories influence the discussion too much.
My appeal is to begin with these four biblical themes — covenant, sexuality, sin and gospel — and to keep them in mind at all time.
And when it comes to Bible, we have to ask “where do we begin?” and “which ideas do we bring to the table?” Here are my suggestions:
1. Explicit biblical passages: OT and NT.
2. Creation and Eikon/Image of God
3. The Love of God for all cracked Eikons
4. Jesus’ practice of open table fellowship, and the fact that Jesus did not explicitly speak about homosexuality.
5. Pauline theology of Spirit and grace
Next post: Context 5: What is homosexuality? (Here is where other issues, like culture, come to the table.)