For several days I've been thinking about the decision, reported in this Kansas City Star story, by a local rescue mission not to allow legally married same-sex couples to stay in the shelter together as couples.
The folks who run City Union Mission have helped homeless and otherwise needy people for most of 100 years. Kansas City has been blessed to have this ministry to fill in gaps not met by other private and public agencies. And let's be clear that a privately funded, faith-based group is perfectly free to set its own rules and hold to its own theology.
But the decision to forbid same-sex couples from having shelter there is based on a reading of the Bible that no longer stands the test of careful exegetical investigation -- and, in fact, never did. Those who read the Bible to say that homosexuality and homosexual acts are always and everywhere sinful are misreading and misusing scripture. For my essay on the subject, look under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.
Yes, I know that many, many Christians for a long time have held this anti-gay view and based their prejudice on a cherry-picking, literalistic reading of the Bible. But serious Bible scholars have been moving away from that build-walls approach for years now. Most people who rely on the Bible to defend their views about homosexuality and sin do not -- unlike some previous generations -- believe the Bible justifies slavery or believe it justifies misogynous attitudes. And yet they cling to an interpretation that allows bigotry against the LGBTQ community.
I am confident that given enough time that attitude will change, as it already has changed for many people and faith communities, including mine. In the meantime, however, City Union Mission will post its "Unwelcome" sign to certain people on the basis of their sexual orientation and legal marital status. Thank goodness other providers of shelter for the homeless in the city are not following suit.
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Does your Bible need an upgrade? This New Yorker piece of lovely satire has all the fixes you need -- and then some. It takes you from version 1.0 to version 6.12. What a trip from one to the other.