We All Pick and Choose What to Follow Literally, Including the Verses on Homosexuality in the Bible
The crux of Hamilton’s argument is that we all pick and choose which verses to follow literally and which to interpret more metaphorically or in light of other, seemingly contradictory verses. He compares this to Paul considering whether the early church should observe the laws about circumcision or eating Kosher food. “Where did he get the authority to do this?” Hamilton asks, when Jesus clearly said he wasn’t taking one jot or iota from the law? In a sense, we see Paul setting aside the Torah in an attempt to follow the heart of what Jesus taught.
Hamilton then gives a long list of the things from the Old Testament the United Methodists (and most other “orthodox” Christians) generally agree should be set aside in our modern-day practice of Christianity. For instance:
That the world was not created in 4004 B.C.
Children should not be put to death for being disobedient.
We don’t believe people should be circumcised or follow the Kosher laws.
We don’t believe most of the holiness code applies to us today.
We don’t believe God affirms genocide, despite calling for it almost three dozen times.
We recoil at the thought of killing children, yet there were thousands killed at God’s command, according to the Scriptures.
We don’t believe in burning prostitutes alive.
We don’t believe that women must pray with their heads covered or remain silent in the church.
We understand what Jesus was getting at and we take him seriously when he says be careful about storing up stuff on earth, but we still think it’s wise and prudent to have a savings account and a pension account.
Despite 270 references that seem to allow for slavery and at points to affirm it, we believe God opposes humans owning one another.
This is true of conservatives and progressives in the church, Hamilton points out.
Bringing his message back to the topic of homosexuality, Hamilton asks: “The six or seven verses in the Bible that say something about some form of same-gender something (and we can’t even be sure on some of those), are those passages more like the things we all agree are timeless: Love God with all your heart; Love your neighbor as yourself; Do justice; Love kindness; Walk humbly with your God; Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you…or are they more like the passages we just have said we no longer think apply to us today?”
The bottom line is Hamilton does not believe a “correct” view on sexual orientation should make its way into a definition of orthodoxy. “I think there’s room for us to disagree and be one church.”
Only time will tell if the UMC will be able to keep it together.
You can watch Hamilton’s full message below: