Does the Bible condemn homosexuality? Not according to a The Bible and “Homosexuality,” a new guide book from South Africa’s Inclusive and Affirming Ministries. The book, with a foreword from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, aims to help Christians understand the Bible in a more LGBTIQ-affirming way.
By Kikonyogo Kivumbi
“We do not have all the answers to all the questions surrounding right or wrong,” says Tutu, the retired Archbishop of Cape Town. “While there is considerable literature on “homosexuality” and the Bible, there is a lack of material that expresses the biblical exegesis and hermeneutics of LGBTIQ+ Christians themselves in an easily accessible and readable way.”
Tutu says that the guidebook helps fill that gap by providing interpretations of the Bible that affirm LGBTIQ Christian lives.
“These matters will not go away, and we must respond to them prayerfully and with loving hearts,” Tutu notes.
Tutu says there are devout members in all congregations who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ+) who belong to the Body of Christ and want to be supported and affirmed in their relationships.
“This poses a genuine challenge to traditional understandings and assumptions about the Scriptures’ true meaning and message” he writes. “Thus, we are all required to return afresh to the question: how does God intend us to approach and interpret the Bible.”
“Hostile and rejecting attitudes towards [LGBTIQ+] can have no place in our congregations, let alone in the community. Such prejudice is akin to racism, and we need to struggle against this with the same dedication and enthusiasm we fought against the injustices of apartheid. In this way, we will witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be a means of healing and reconciliation.”
About the guide book
The 2021 second edition of the Inclusive and Affirming Ministries toolkit helps Christians understand the Bible in a contextualized manner. Its publishers hope that it can be used to push back amid populist social debate on the continent that supports persecution and violence against queer people based on Biblical Christian values.
The toolkit equips individuals or groups with a basic understanding of biblical interpretation to combat religious fundamentalism. The Bible study method integrates IAM’s theory of change and insights gained from Contextual Bible Study and Intercultural Bible reading, with the specific focus to engage with issues of gender and sexuality. These resources aim to equip readers who are LGBTIQ+ people to know that their sexuality and gender diversity is not an “abomination,” and to help family and friends become aware that the Bible does not condemn LGBTIQ+ people, and that therefore any form of violence sanctioned by religious beliefs is inhumane.
The guidebook emphasises that a thorough reading of the bible requires an understanding that the text must be interpreted in multiple contexts: the context of the world it was written in, the context of the story as a work of literature, and in the context of the world in which it is read today.
The guidebook includes exercises that help readers understand the basics of how to speak about LGBTIQ people and issues.
Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association. Contact him at [email protected].