A friend of mine has a parishioner who is struggling with the notion of how queer inclusivity reconciles with biblical teachings. The verses particularly in question are 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.
This is one of the seven-or-so Bible quotes that gets frequently trotted out in order to condemn gay folks on the cheap. It’s particularly convenient for the nay-gay-sayers because, like Lev. 18:22, it seems so uncomplicated: here is a list of people who are sinners, condemned, officially blocked by God (and/or Paul) from getting into heaven. Clearly, this thinking goes, whatever Paul meant when he included the words “sodomites” and “male prostitutes” on this list, is the same as our understanding of the queer folks in our midst today.
So when my friend asked me my thoughts on it, I first cracked open my exegetical resources, then read the passage in its broader context. I read about how these verses — especially in view of Paul generally and 1 Corinthians particularly — are about behaviors which demonstrate greed and excess, and which result in breach and division within the community. Reading in this light, it does not seem at all convincing that Paul’s inclusion of the words “sodomites” and “male prostitutes” amounts to God’s categorical rejection of all people in same sex relationships.
But then a couple days later, I woke up thinking about this text, and for some reason, thought immediately of a second verse:
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
To me, these words from Jesus are a fundamental aspect of Christian posture and priority. When it comes to judging the evils of others, I need to be sure that I’m know what I’m looking at. When I endeavor to say “God sez…” I need to make damned sure that I know what I’m talking about. Maybe I should devote more time and energy into my own spiritual well-being, before attacking that of someone else. And at the end of it all, I think it behooves Christians to construct arguments about who’s in and who’s out with more than just a small handful of references that work best when stripped from their original context.
First the log…then the speck.