How to engage the Bible
There are more than 31,000 verses in the Bible. At most, six or seven are used to justify excluding LGBTQ Christians and their families from the church. Engaging scripture is a key element of any Open and Affirming journey: congregations can do this in a way that opens hearts and minds. For a healthy ONA conversation, we recommend:
- Begin with the premise that the Bible is the source of basic values that guide our relationships, including respect for others as God’s children and as our family in the Body of Christ. Virtues of hospitality, compassion and justice are the basis for any exploration of your congregation’s welcome for LGBTQ seekers and their families.
- The seven passages commonly used to condemn same-sex relationships should not be the focus of your consideration of Scripture. Of the 31,000 verses in the Bible, the texts in dispute represent about 0.02 percent. At some point, a pastor will need to preach or lead Bible study on the disputed texts, but a healthy ONA process should not begin with these passages or allow them to frame the discussion.
- A useful exercise is to ask participants in a Bible study or parish meeting to write down on a post-it note the one verse or story from the Bible that has had the greatest impact on their lives: especially in times of crisis, anxiety, grief, loss or illness. Usually, these are texts about God’s love, care, healing, compassion. This exercise helps a congregation focus on the Biblical values members of your church have in common.
Hearts Unbound: Engaging Biblical Texts of God’s Radical Love
“Hearts Unbound” helps your congregation to explore ten inspiring stories of radical love and welcome from scripture. Using a simple model of reader’s theater, each session looks in-depth at the story, its historical context, and insights to be learned.
Idea Card from Many Voices
In situations where a respectful conversation on the deeper meaning of the Bible is not possible, this 6×9 postcard suggests a way of responding in love to those who quote scripture as proof texts against our capacity to love and be loved. Order copies from Many Voices.
Homosexuality and the Bible by Walter Wink
While dated, this short book is still an excellent introduction to the topic. It is available for sale in the ONA store at UCC Resources.
Many of these suggestions are from evangelical sources and reflect a high regard for the authority of Scripture. They may be helpful in reaching some of the more conservative members of your congregation.
- Torn (book) by Justin Lee
- God and the Gay Christian (book) by Matthew Vines
- The Bible and Homosexuality (YouTube) by Matthew Vines
- The Clobber Passages (website) by Evangelicals Concerned
- TransAction (curriculum for churches)
- Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality (book) by Jack Rogers
- What the Bible Really Says about Gay Christians May Surprise You by Bill Lyons
- The Bible and Homosexuality by Walter Wink
- Bible and the Transgender Experience by Linda Tatro