Sexual Immorality, 2019

In Sunday’s LGBT Bible podcast, Brian Murphy and Fr Shannon Kearns take a look at Colossians 3:1-11. While this section isn’t one of the primary “clobber passages” around sexual orientation, the mention of “sexual immorality” does tend to get thrown around a lot.

In addition, Colossians 3:11 is one of those verses, like Galatians 3:28, that lists (and transcends) a bunch of identity binaries. I look at Galatians 3:28 specifically in chapter 22 of OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook to Transgender Liberation. The list in Colossians goes like this:

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Colossians 3:11 NIV

Fr Shay points out the hypocrisy of emphasizing “sexual immorality” while ignoring the entire rest of the list which includes lust, greed, and moral corruption, noting that basically that list convicts all of us. Yet, people like to harp on the “sexual immorality” portion.

Brian points out that “sexual immorality” doesn’t necessarily mean “homosexuality,” unless that’s the pre-existing lens (or obsession) that you bring to the text. This is similar to the way folk read a two-and-only-two-genders ideology back into other ancient texts. It’s an addition to the text to interpret it that narrowly.

Brian and Shay also talk about Paul’s hang-ups around sex. Brian finally says:

I think Paul very clearly wanted no one to have sex at all, so that’s just something we have to own, and name, and deal with.

It’s an interesting point in light of how Jesus comments about eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 have been reinterpreted to endorse celibacy.

I love how Brian and Shay consistently call us back to biblical justice–and the hypocrisy of so many contemporary readings. Here’s Brian again:

What does this look like to actually ask people of faith who can not stand for rape culture, for sexual assault, for embezzlement, for objectifying people, for hoarding wealth? That is what this passage could inspire us to do, and instead, it’s just like, “Don’t masturbate and don’t be gay.” What a terrible corruption of this text.

This episode is less than 9 minutes and worth a quick listen. There’s also a transcript, if you’re not into the audio aspect of ut.

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on August 6, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.

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