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The Bible on Gender, Race and Sexuality

Question & Answer


Q: By Christina

Why do some progressive Christians seem to ignore what the Bible says on gender, race and sexuality?

A: By Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D.

Thank you for that question, Christina from New York.

I will declare for myself as a progressive theologian: I believe God is still speaking. Why would God stop revealing herself to us? She wants to be seen, known and loved (the Gospel according to Alice Walker in The Color Purple.) When the canon was closed on scripture, a committee decided on what would be in the Bible and what would not. Yes, they were inspired, those committee folk. Yes, Holy Spirit was hovering close by helping them to hear each other, but, more importantly, to hear God. And they were also human; maybe they put in the Bible what already resided in them. A bible birthed by human hands will inevitably fall short of the Glory of God.

So, I try to bring my full self to my love of God. I listen with heart, soul and mind. I study the historical context of the writing and listen for what was being said or seen in that time. I prayerfully ask, what do these sacred ancient texts say to me now? How are the words script for my life? I cross reference words—what do they mean elsewhere? I don’t ignore the Bible, I love it. But each of us needs to be a critical reader, and a great listener, diving into texts with emotional intelligence. What does this text say to me or about me and my friends? To me? How can I live better?

Most importantly, I ask, what’s love got to do with this text? This theology? I interrogate the Bible through the lens of love. Jesus made that hermeneutic abundantly clear. What’s love got to do with it? Everything!

~ Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D.


Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D. is the Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. She is a nationally acclaimed activist, author, public theologian, and organizer of an anti-racist multicultural movement of love and justice. She has been featured in The Washington PostWall Street JournalThe New York Times, and on The Today Show, CBS, and MSNBC. She write The Power of Stories: A Guide for Leading Multiracial and Multicultural Communities, and also wrote a book with her husband John called The Pentecost Paradigm: Ten Strategies for Becoming a Multiracial Congregation

Review & Commentary