By Tom Holmes
I'm presently working on a story about what Forest Park churches teach about homosexuality. What struck me again is how important the question of authority is when talking about God and more specifically about what God wants.
All of the pastors I interviewed--seven in all--were sensitive folks who had no desire to judge anyone, but six of the seven came down at the place of calling homosexual behavior a sin. The reason in every case was that they believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, and because the Bible has nothing good to say about same-gender sexual activity and a lot of good to say about heterosexuality, they are stuck, you might say, with the necessity of saying the GLBT lifestyle is sinful.
The one pastor who says that homosexuality is simply a part of the diversity in God's creation doesn't see the Bible as inerrant and is therefore able to look at our experience and science has having some authority in this matter along with the Bible.
Personally, I've never met anyone who claims that every word in the Bible is literally true. Everyone understands Jesus' parables as stories he made up to make a point. Most would say that the words in Psalm 22--My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?--are an expression of emotion rather than a truth about God's nature.
So, it's a question of degree really. How much do we trust ourselves to spin or interpret what we read in the Bible?