In some ways, the modern faith community wrestling with the issue of the acceptability of homosexuality is continuing this conversation about the nature of God. On the one hand, there are people who fervently believe that nothing less than the survival of the faith community is at stake. In this tradition, failure to maintain the standards of conduct long recognized as normative would compromise the church's unique identity as a holy people.
On the other hand, there are those who are equally convinced that the authenticity of the church is in question, if it is unchanging and exclusivistic. Again, nothing less that the survival of faith is at stake. In this tradition, the church is unfaithful if it turns its back on those who are marginalized in various ways by society.
Thus, the two sides of the debate on homosexuality may legitimately claim to belong to competing traditions with profound scriptural roots. So we must not "demonize" one another. It is not that one side cares about the Bible and the other does not. It is not that one side believes in the authority of the Bible, the other side does not. It is not that one side cares for people, while the other side does not. The issue is how we read the Bible and we understand it to function in our struggle to make theological and ethical decision.
The issue is not merely an "exegetical one." That is, it is not just about figuring out what the text really meant. This issue is, properly, a hermeneutical issue. It has to do with how we understand truth. And it is a theological issue. It has to do with how we understand the nature of God. Still, because the Bible is seen as the constitutive document of the Church, I want to begin our series by looking at the scriptural passages that may or may not be pertinent to the issue.