I still believe in the divine nature of the Bible. I still am a devout Christian. I have not turned away from the teachings of my childhood. Let me just start by clearing that up.
I’ve made an amazing transformation in my Christianity. Not from non-Christian to Christian, but more from Christian to … CHRISTIAN. I don’t know really how to explain it. When I found myself in a complete tailspin at the knowledge that my son is gay, I needed something to do … somewhere to go. Growing up in the church, of course for me that was to God, both through scripture and through prayer. Yes, that means I tried very very hard to “pray it away,” and to have God “fix” my son. I prayed for a hedge of protection around him, physically and spiritually, while we sorted this “temptation” out. I’d wake up from restless sleep at 2 am and pray with sweat drops like blood for hours, until God stilled my mind back into sleep. I’d pull my car over along a busy highway and sob out wordless prayers with groans from my spirit.
I also turned to the Scripture. I quickly located the six “clobber verses” — Christians, do you know the entire LGBT world knows the six verses in the Bible that refer to homosexuality by that term, because Christians use them to clobber gays with?? — and wept in despair yet again. I searched for the creation of Adam and Eve … I looked at what Jesus said about marital relationships … I found no loopholes in what I had always been taught. And yes, I was looking for a loophole. I prayed for God to help me somehow. How, how, how?? I had no idea where to go from here nor where to look, what to do.
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find …” But I HAD asked and I HAD sought and … nothing. I had overturned every rock and still had no solutions. And I was going crazy. Literally. I gained weight, my blood pressure sky-rocketed, my blood sugar went berserk. I had to let it go. I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to truly let it go and give it over to God. I had already done that through prayers, but this was different. I had to truly leave my son’s soul completely in God’s hands. Harder than it sounds.
That’s when God lead me to the story of the fishermen.
In John 21, Peter and a few other of Jesus’ disciples had spent a frustrating night of unsuccessful fishing. After hours of pulling up their empty nets, over and over again, a man on the shore that they didn’t recognize as Jesus, told them to throw their net on the other side of the boat. For some reason, they listened to this stranger, and when they pulled up the net this time, it was so full they couldn’t haul it into the boat.
I had been fishing on the wrong side of the boat.
I had had a few books suggested to me that I had been hesitant to start, as they were written by LGBT Christians, a term at the time that I thought was an oxymoron. But I was determined to fish in a new spot, so, loaded up with prayers of discernment of truth versus lies, I tossed my net into unknown waters. I read the books. I studied the social cultural and sexual practices of ancient Greece and Rome. When we used to read actually paper Bibles, every chapter had an intro page of who wrote the book, to whom, where and what was going on. I took this to a different level. I also read how the Bible was compiled to begin with, and how the NIV that I read was interpreted, and when, and by whom, as well as what was going on in the world at that time. I read the world history of same-gender sex (homosexuality wasn’t actually a word until the late 1800s). I buried myself in the political, religious and social histories of the LGBT community. I read not just the clobber passages, but the entire books in which the passages were written.
As all of the different pieces floated around in my very-full head, I felt a bit like a pinball machine, with thoughts and ideas bouncing around pinging into each other. But eventually, the confusion began to settle and I had a more clear picture of what the world was like when the Bible was actually penned. I saw how the hierarchy of free man, slave man, every other kind of man and eventually woman, played a part in every story I had every read in the Bible. I saw how the words “natural” and “unnatural” in the common Greek philosophy of Stoicism meant very different things then than they do now. That the scriptural references to homosexuality were all outside of marriage relationships. I realized that when my NIV was being translated in the early 1970s, the gay civil rights movement was making its early strides, and how that likely influenced the harsh word choices of the interpreters. Basically, I saw it all as a big picture, and no longer as individual words.
And my net overflowed.