Father Gushee is a former Dean of Christ Church (Episcopal) Cathedral, Hartford.
On Religion: Homosexuality stance will be proven wrong

By Steve Gushee
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, November 19, 2004 - Many good Christians are convinced that homosexuality is an abomination condemned by God. They may have played a significant role in the reelection of President Bush.

Still, history and theology will one day prove them mistaken as it has so often their spiritual cousins.

These faithful people are not intentionally mean-spirited, unenlightened religious fanatics as others often portray them. They believe the Bible condemns homosexuality and, for them, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

They are akin to generations of similar Christians who found in the Bible strong arguments to support slavery, scorn Jews, demean women and, for good measure, condemn liquor. Their theological conviction against drinking formed the moral foundation for Prohibition in the 1930s.

None of those believers were intentionally obstructionist. On the contrary, they took their stand on the solid rock of faith grounded in what they genuinely believed was biblical truth.

Conveniently, their firm biblical conviction supported their preferences, enabled them to condemn those who were different and maintain the status quo. It is quite extraordinary how often having absolute clarity of biblical truth does that.

Too often, we use the Bible that screams out for change, redemption and new life to buttress the old, consecrate the familiar and resist any possibility of transformation.

The Rev. Peter Gomes, preacher to Harvard University, aptly describes such people as those "who use the Bible as a moral fig leaf to cover their naked prejudice."

In each of the examples cited, the tide of history, theology and human experience has reversed those fervently held beliefs. Prohibition was overturned. Blacks, Jews and women, though still on the march to full acceptance, are no longer marginalized on biblical grounds.

It takes time. The Southern Baptist Convention created in 1845 as a Christian denomination in support of slavery finally apologized in the 1990s for its biblical misjudgment and theological error.

The current condemnation of homosexuality, less passionate today than in the past, will one day be the latest prejudice to be freed from biblical bondage.

Until then, those who embrace that Bible-based misunderstanding of both humanity's diversity and God's Word will continue to influence elections, legislation and culture.

The Evil One is most dangerous when masquerading as faithful and righteous.

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