I hope this brief review encourages you to read Karen Keen’s valuable insights for how we must treat same-sex relationships regardless if you a Bible person or not. I am convinced you will not find a more distinct, readable, non-judgmental, insightful book on same-sex relationships and the Bible. Keen doesn’t simply offer her interpretation of debatable biblical passages; her insights take the discussion to another level. Scholars who respect Scriptures don’t agree so interpretations only of difficult passages don’t move us forward.
Science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex. Sexual choices aren’t always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. Keen points us to resources for such considerations in Chapter 7. Why would a loving God condemn gays if they can no more choose who they love than straights can? Please read this book and consider if the biblical writers had in mind loving monogamous same-sex relationships. If you believe same-sex relationships are condemned in the Bible, such relationships seem clearly motivated by lust not love. If this is even a remote interpretative possibility, we mustn’t dogmatically say the Bible and thus God condemns loving, same-sex relationships.
No one can accuse Keen of not having a high view of the Bible. Many God-folks only condemn same-sex relationships because of the Bible. Intuitively, that may not be their moral inclination but they do so out of supposed devotion to God and the Bible. If Keen’s below insights are a possibility after reading her book, we must seriously consider that the Bible doesn’t condemn faithful, same-sex relationships:
Chapter 3 challenges us to seriously consider if biblical passages typically used to clobber same-sex relationships condemn same-sex relationships because of unrestrained lust rather than faithful love. We must consider if biblical writers had in mind certain procreation expectations and gender norms that no longer exist today. Many passages are assumed to condemn same-sex relationship because of the creation account and the differentiation of the sexes, but it is also possible the context of many passages emphasize the importance of faithfulness not gender.
Chapter 4 and 5 offer convincing arguments that “God’s law is made for humankind, not humankind for God’s law (Mk. 2:27)” [p.65]. Laws are not written just as rules to keep blindly but to guide us in loving others. Keen provides examples where even Old Testament writers updated previous laws given by God to make relevant to their circumstances. In Chapter 5 we see where Jesus puts love in action over law. Jesus didn’t necessarily dismiss the Sabbath (Lk. 4:16), but Jesus did teach more important than keeping the Sabbath is helping someone in need. If our actions don’t convey loving gays, we aren’t keeping God’s law.
Chapter 6 challenges readers it is not enough to consider if the Bible doesn’t condemn same-sex faithful relationships, but whether it doesn’t condemn same-sex marriages as well. Who are we to deny the hope and joys of marriage if God doesn’t? The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament doesn’t encourage celibate life as some holy grail. It is hard to deny most of us wish to enjoy the pleasure of marital sex and have a hard time being faithful otherwise. If celibacy and singlehood isn’t a command for opposite-sex relationships, why do we think God condemns same-sex marriages if the Bible doesn’t condemn or consider same-sex, faithful relationships?
I will end with Karen Keen’s hope and mine: “I firmly believe it is possible to imagine a new response to the gay community – and do so with faithfulness to God’s Word.” (114)
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