About These Podcasts
These podcasts are queer positive and an LGBTQIA+ affirming analysis of the Christian Bible and its Gospel message.
We defang the seven infamous “clobber verses” and also review some of the Bible’s many verses affirming sexual and gender minorities.
When I started this podcast, I was focused on counteracting the anti-gay messages that were causing some queer Christians to consider suicide.
And most of the first 11 episodes focus on the affirming, queer-POSITIVE nature of Jesus inclusive Gospel message. And to disproving the oft-repeated, but UNTRUE mantra, “the Bible condemns all homosexuality.”
Then I started getting questions from young Christians about sexual ethics and premarital sex. So, I expanded the scope of these podcasts (starting in episode 12) to cover a broader, sex-positive view of the Bible and Christianity, and included some modern research.
It is just heartbreaking to watch the church's conservative sexual ethic—that exists nowhere in the gospels—drive millions of young people from the church.
This is a research-driven podcast, attempting to use the best available scholarship.
I was born in 1954, am straight and have a wife of 30+ years and two daughters.
The following is covered in episode 10 for those who would prefer to listen to this story:
My Own Journey: Raised Catholic
In the 1970s while I was at college, my mother—a devout liberal Catholic—shared with me the Catholic Theological Society of America’s Interim Study of Human Sexuality. Published as a book it was written by five American Catholic theologians. It was never officially approved but it is a treasure trove of pre-internet research on human sexuality.
I knew from this report that some Catholic theologians did not agree with the oft-repeated mantra: The Bible condemns homosexuality.
Had a Family, Changed Churches and Joined BSF
Fast forward to the early 2000s. I had left the Catholic Church and was attending an evangelical “mega church.” I was also a discussion leader in a large, conservative, international Bible study. I went to one of their regional leadership conferences and was stunned, shocked at the homophobic vitriol that I heard.
So, I went on the web looking to see if there was any scholarship that backed up the liberal Catholic claim that the Bible did not condemn homosexuality. I found a number of well written articles that laid out this case and I wrote a two-page letter to my Bible study’s leadership arguing that the biblical case against homosexuality was very murky. And given the shaky and disputed nature of the claim, “the Bible condemns all homosexuality” we should stop teaching this. It was certainly not central to Christian doctrine or salvation.
Then, when I retired, I looked at this issue again. We were having conversations with our own adult children about our reservations about some of the things (particularly around sexual purity) that they had heard growing up in an evangelical “mega church” and also attending and working at various Christian summer camps.
I spent the better portion of a year developing a three-part Affirming curriculum for high school students and young adults on the Bible and homosexuality.
Church: Beneficial for Straight Kids
I was partially motivated by the research that showed that regularly attending worship services benefits children: improving grades; reducing drug use; etc.…
One 2018 Harvard study reported that young people:
"… who attended weekly religious services, or practiced daily prayer, or meditation, … reported greater life satisfaction, and positivity in their twenties. And were less likely to, subsequently, have depressive symptoms, smoke, use illicit drugs, or have a sexually transmitted infection, than people raised, with less regular, spiritual habits."
Virtually every measure of well-being for children seemed to be improved by attending worship services.
Church: Queer Kids Committing Suicide
Tragically, there was one exception: LGBTQIA+ children attending non-affirming churches—churches that believed homosexual acts were condemned by the Bible and were intrinsically sinful—these queer children and young adults were more likely to consider self-harm and commit suicide. The more devout the child, the more likely they were to consider self-harm.
The fate of LGBTQIA+ children and young adults is so troubling. When I read the stories of young gay Christians on Twitter and elsewhere it is heartbreaking.
As we started to come out of the pandemic it felt like a good time to try my hand at turning my research into podcasts. I decided to use conservative Bible study techniques, going through the relevant Bible scriptures line-by-line.
In these podcasts I show how very shaky and very muddled the biblical case against homosexuality is. The verses, today called the “clobber verses,” do not condemn consensual same-sex relationships. Rather they condemn abusive sexual practices illegal today.
As I was doing research for these podcasts, another surprise was the LGBTQIA+ affirming Bible passages. In some places the Bible celebrates and honors sexual minorities, promising them a unique and elevated place in God's kingdom.
If these podcasts can give one LGBTQIA+ child hope, or prevent one suicide, they will have been worth the effort.
More about me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eltonsherwin/
Problems with Purity: see episode 11 and
Benefits of church attendance for young adults:
The association of religiosity and suicide in queer youth:
Stories from YoungLife:
Elton’s original high school curriculum: The Bible and Homosexuality
Part 1: Sodom and Gomorrah and the Old Testament “Clobber Verses”
Part 2: The 7 Scriptures Blessing Sexual Minorities
Part 3: New Testament Clobber Verses