Bible Study – Redeeming Love: What the Bible Really Says About Being LGBTQIA+

Beginning July 5, 2023, Rev. Dr. John Sianghio is leading a bible study for our beloved in the Philippines to take a deep dive into the six passages in the Bible often cited to condemn homosexuality.

Many Christians look to these verses to claim the Bible’s rejection of LGBTQIA+ identity is obvious and indisputable. In this study, we will explore together the ways that the language, historical context, and moral considerations surrounding these verses open avenues for reconciling them with Christ’s Gospel message of redeeming love and the movement toward full LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Church.

This study is free and open for all.

Time:7 pm Philippines / 6 am US Central Time
Location:via Zoom
Register:via Online Form
Session 1: Faith Working Itself Out Through Love: Why We Do The Work of Reconciliation

Passage: Galatians 5

Why are we here? What motivates us to come to this study, and what does it mean to do the work of reconciliation on multiple levels: reconciling our doctrine to our God-given experiences, reconciling the words of the scripture to the spirit-led longings of our hearts, and, of course, the reconciliation of the Church to our LGBTQIA+ siblings? Are these reconciliations possible? Are they consistent with the life God calls us to live? What does the Lord require of us? We begin our study with the admonition of Paul in Galatians that what counts, that obedience to truth and faithfulness to the Word comes when “Faith works itself out through love.”
July 5, 2023
Session 2: Upon these two hang all the law and the prophets: reading scripture through the lens of love
Passage: Luke 10:25-37
“What does the Bible say about _____________?” is always a complicated question. The meanings and import of the Biblical text are not always direct and clear, instead inviting interpretation by imperfect readers; a process that scholars term “hermeneutics.” This session will explore biblical interpretation/hermeneutics, focusing on the example Jesus himself gives us in this passage in Luke. Christ asks the religious experts in this passage, “πῶς ἀναγινώσκεις,” “how do you discern/interpret” the great commandments and then goes on to speak the famous parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of how to read the scripture through a lens of more widely inclusive love.
July 12, 2023
Session 3: Let Justice Roll Down: Sin as Societal Oppression
Passages: Genesis 19, Proverbs 6:16-19, 
In this session, we look to dispel the dangerous myth of God’s harsh punishment on Sodom as a matter of homosexual practices, and the continuing stated belief of many Christian leaders that social ills and tragedies are God’s judgment on homosexuality or a society’s tolerant attitude toward homosexuality. Instead, a close study of the passage shows that God’s wrath is directed against societal oppression and the use of sexuality, both homosexual and heterosexual, toward abuse and improper relationships of domination.
July 19, 2023
Session 4: Do not defile yourselves: The concept of Purity and Ritual vs Moral
Passages: Leviticus 18 and 20, Acts 10:9-16, Amos 5:21-24
In this session, we examine the Levitical law and historically critical context of Hebrew ritual purity, national identity, and conceptions of moral sin. We will also discuss the ways that the Christian community, from the ancient past to the present, has acknowledged, applied, and modified this ancient Hebrew code in light of the New Testament and the evolutions of cultural context and understanding. How might greater attention to the way these scriptures were understood and lived out in Christian communities inform our ethical understanding of how to approach our LGBTQIA+ siblings with love?
August 2, 2023
Session 5: Natural sexual relations: Cultural context in the interpretation of nature
Passages: Romans 1:18-31
This session interrogates Paul’s understanding of natural vs unnatural relations and how they inform his statements regarding homosexual relationships. We look at the credentials and cultural conceptions informing Paul’s judgment, specifically his self-stated Jewishness as “Hebrew of Hebrews” and “Pharisee unto the Law.” Using the anthropological perspective of renowned scholar Mary Douglas on the levitical law (building directly on Session 4) which would have informed Paul’s perspective as a religiously zealous Jew, we will explore how even the category of what is “natural” and its seeming obviousness, is nevertheless constructed by cultural norms and perceptions-even in the Biblical text’s descriptions and accounts of nature and its appeal to “naturalness” to justify standards of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, including LGBTQIA+ relationships.
August 9, 2023
Session 6: Honoring God with our Bodies: Is Sexual Immorality about Exploitation or Orientation?
Passages: I Corinthians 6:7-18, I Timothy 1:3-9
These passages have plagued Biblical translators for decades, with much disagreement between modern scholars and published English versions. Specifically, translators debate how to render the unique Pauline concept of “ἀρσενοκοίταις,” a word not found in any other ancient author, but whose root construction literally means “men who lay with men.” Though some Christians understand Paul to be condemning any act of homosexual romance, many scholars note that the historical and topical context of these passages
August 16, 2023
Session 7: The greatest of these is love: What abides as we conclude our study?
Passage: I Corinthians 13
As with any study of the Word of God, we are reminded both of the necessity of humility and the primacy of love. In this session, we will review and reflect with one another in fellowship. As with any study we do well to be reminded that however learned or deeply we have engaged the Word, that we nevertheless know in part, prophecy in part, and we see all things as through a glass darkly. The Apostle reminds us that knowledge will pass away, but that whatever else comes from our time together, we have engaged each other and should engage all of God’s creation with abiding love.
August 23, 2023

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