The Church and Homosexuality
 After attending a study group using the ELCA study guide
Journey Together Faithfully: The Church and Homosexuality at Advent
Lutheran in Arlington, TX, I felt as Dennis Bielfeldt (2003) did
when he wrote:
"While I believe Journey
Together does fairly describe the different voices and positions
within the ELCA on this controversial issue, I find it neither
particularly helps readers arrive at justifiable views, nor
effectively aids the institution of the ELCA in coming to a
responsible and defensible position."
 I certainly had a viewpoint on all the topics addressed in
Journey, and this contribution is an attempt to express part of
that viewpoint as a defensible position. I have assumed that
statements by Jesus in the Gospels outweigh rules and judgments
found elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments and that those rules
and judgments must be evaluated in light of Jesus' moral principles
as applied to 21st century western culture.
 Jesus' moral principles are simple, the application difficult:
"love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31;
Luke 10:27); "always treat others as you would like them to treat
you" (Matthew 7:12); and "forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke
 Jesus was an iconoclast as he applied these principles of love
and forgiveness, and broke biblical rules and laws when they
violated his principles. He rejected the law of revenge in
Leviticus 24:19-22 (Matthew 5:38-42). He rejected the death penalty
for adultery in Leviticus 20: 10-11 and in Deuteronomy 22:22 (John
8:3-11). He condoned violations of the commandment to remember the
Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8).
 The application of Jesus' ethic to sex and coupling, whether
hetero- or homosexual, can never produce universal rules, but there
are some generalizations that can be made with a few assumptions
about how most humans want to be treated. For example, most people
want others to:
tell them the truth;
help in an emergency.
 Homosexual sex doesn't violate Jesus' principles of
unconditional love and forgiveness any more than heterosexual sex
does. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals deceive and manipulate
each other, both have committed long term relationships, and both
engage in prostitution, fornication and adultery. Using Jesus'
ethic, heterosexual sex is moral when it involves unconditional
love, when it is free from deceit and manipulation and when any
resulting children are loved and cared for. Using that ethic,
homosexual sex is also moral under the same circumstances. There is
no reason to believe that homosexuals as a class are any more
deceitful and manipulative than heterosexuals are. Deceit,
manipulation and self interest are part of everyone's nature.
 Because Jesus always judged cultural and biblical rules and
laws using his principles of love and forgiveness, and rejected
biblical rules that violated those principles, his followers are
obligated to do the same. Those who say homosexual behavior is
morally wrong in principle and should not be tolerated in
the church must justify that judgment in terms of the principles of
love and forgiveness. We cannot rely on St. Paul to do that for us
in the 21st century.
 For example, St Paul had no language to comprehend the
possibility of a genetic basis of homosexuality. Most Christians
today reject St. Paul's moral standards concerning the behavior of
women and what they should wear primarily because those standards
violate Jesus' principles applied to women in the 21st century.
Most modern Christians conclude that slavery always violates Jesus
moral principles and do not agree with St. Paul's live-and-let-live
tolerance of it. St. Paul's condemnation of homosexual behavior
must be examined in light of Jesus' principles as they apply in our
culture, and not just blindly followed.
 Even more compelling is that most Christians today accept
divorce and remarriage in spite of Jesus' explicit judgment that it
is adultery (Mt 19: 3-9). Presumably, Christians forgive and accept
it because allowing a second or third chance is the loving thing to
do. If heterosexual Christians can forgive and accept adultery
among their remarried brothers and sisters, it smells like
hypocrisy to deny sexual companionship and even marriage to their
gay brothers and sisters. If heterosexual Christians can manage to
get around Jesus' judgments, they certainly ought to be able to get
around St Paul's.
 No matter what our sexual orientation, none are free from the
often unconscious deceit and manipulation wired into our nature.
While Jesus' ethic demands that humans reject our natural
compulsion and love our neighbors unconditionally, it also
recognizes that all humans are deceitful, manipulative and
egotistical, and that we must forgive our neighbor's deceit and
manipulation if we expect our own to be forgiven. Gays need to
forgive and be forgiven, not because they are gay, but because they
are so much like straights: neither loves their neighbor
unconditionally, and both practice sexual deceit and
Bielfeldt, Dennis. 2003. Journeying Together and
Faithfully?: Journal of Lutheran Ethics, 3, no. 12 (Dec).