Sure you can. Christians do it all the time.Denying a woman’s ability to preach in church was justified by scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:11-12 – “… I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” But many churches have abandoned that teaching – and some scholars say a woman preached the first Christian sermon, when Mary Magdalene proclaimed that Jesus had risen.Slaveholders in 19th century America justified slavery through a literal reading of the Bible, quoting Titus 2:9-10 – “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything. …” And anti-Semitism was justified by the claims that Jews killed Jesus, such as Matthew 27: 25-26 – “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”
Litfin, from Moody Bible Institute, acknowledged that the Bible once sanctioned slavery, but he said that practice was a “cultural expression” that changed over time. Evangelicals who oppose same-sex marriage by citing the Bible are on more solid ground, he says.“Marriage is a universal and timeless institution that God set up for maximum human flourishing. He set it up in the first book of the Bible with the story of Adam and Eve. It is consistent throughout the whole Bible. … Marriage is in a different category than those cultural things.”Public jousts over the Bible’s stance on homosexuality rarely change people’s minds. What changes is when people get to know gay and lesbian people as friends and hear their story, says Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible.”“If you open up to that other person genuinely, you basically come to a point where you have to sacrifice them to your ideology or crack open your ideology to make a hospitable place for them,” Beal says.
One Christian pastor who is gay says the uproar over the ESPN commentator’s comments can actually be good, because debates help settle moral disputes.“What appears to us as antiquated and prejudicial now was once a disputed issue that required debate,” says the Rev. Richard McCarty, a minister in the United Church of Christ and a religious studies professor at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania.Until the debate over homosexuality is settled – if it ever is – there may be plenty of evangelical Christians who feel as if they are now being forced to stay in the closet.Carter, the evangelical blogger, says he foresees a day when any church that preaches against homosexuality will be marginalized. Just as many churches now accept divorce, they will accept sexual practices once considered sinful.“It’s getting to the point,” he says, “where churches are not going to say that any sexual activity is wrong.”