To the editor:
Whatever we believe about the Bible's authority, we must admit it is a cultural artifact reflecting specific situations of time and place. This cultural understanding can guide conversations about same-sex couples. To be sure, the Bible condemns some same-sex interactions, but those condemnations address particular circumstances.
In truth, the Bible nowhere attends to loving same-sex relationships. It does specifically address sexual violence, prostitution, and sexual idolatry-all things both straight and gay people agree are abominable. Sexual orientation, however, is a culturally informed notion. It simply was not a biblical reality, and forcing it into the Bible is unfaithful to the witness of Scripture.
Debate in recent years concerning same-sex couples has created a hailstorm of rhetoric that forgets the conversation is about real people. We can easily forget we are talking about the people God calls us to love.
We cannot know definitely whether the Bible condemns loving same-sex relationships because it simply does not confront them. The Bible does, however, call us to stand up for those society ridicules, sidelines, and oppresses, and to call to account those who do not live up to that Christian calling of justice for all.
We all fall short of God's expectations, but God promises us forgiveness apart from any of our own goodness solely because of Jesus Christ, in whom God's grace was revealed on the cross. We are already judged because of what Christ has done for us. For that, we have no reason or right to judge our neighbor-whatever we believe is their sin. We have every reason to err on the side of grace toward one another, living and trusting that God's grace is sufficient for all people, even if they are different from us.
Daniel W. Spigelmyer Jr.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America