I recently saw a self-described Christian on television asked if she condemned homosexuals. “Well,” she replied, “the Bible is quite clear that homosexuality is immoral.” She obviously felt that the Bible left a Christian no choice on the matter of homosexuality. She was not asked about slavery but I am sure that she also felt there was no question that a Christian would be against slavery. This is curious because although slavery is often mentioned in the Bible (much more often than homosexuality) it is never condemned or considered immoral. In fact, in Paul’s letters Christian slaves are admonished to obey their masters.
I have been reading the book “Bury the Chains” by Adam Hochschild which recounts the anti-slavery movement in Britain and the long campaign to abolish first the slave trade and then slavery in the British Empire. During this political struggle there was no obvious Christian position on slavery – there were Christians on both sides. Those who argued against slavery talked about a Christian understanding of the equality and dignity of all people irregardless of what the Bible had to say about slavery. After 40 years support for their side increased enough to win the political struggle and slavery was abolished. Now the vast majority of Christians take it for granted that a Christian will oppose slavery.
There is now a similar political struggle about homosexual rights. Once again there are Christians on both sides and once again those arguing for homosexual rights talk about the Christian understanding of the equality and dignity of all people irregardless of what the Bible says about homosexuality.
In 40 years will Christians regard the Bible passages condemning homosexuality the way they now interpret Bible passages about slavery, lending money at interest and people with mental illness being possessed by demons?