Wesley Seminary Professor Says Bible Doesn’t Address Homosexuality

on May 28, 2014

Professor Youtha Hardman-Cromwell of the Wesley Theological Seminary, a longtime advocate of LGBTQ causes and frequent General Conference delegate, spoke at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington, Virginia, as part of its “Holy Conversation Series” on May 13, 2014. The Holy Conversation series was held in the church’s sanctuary, and this series was part of Mount Olivet UMC’s period of reflection and discernment on how the church can live out its vision statement as a congregation in “relation to their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters.” Hardman-Cromwell, who teaches Practice of Ministry and Mission at the Wesley Theological Seminary, was invited to explore the Scripture and different ways to read and understand relevant (to homosexuality) scriptural passage. She spoke on the theme: “What the Scripture Says about Homosexuality.” Her answer was that the Bible does not address homosexual practice, which the United Methodist Church calls “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Professor Hardman-Cromwell began her 45 minute presentation with a prayer saying, “Oh God strengthen our understanding of your words, and broaden the horizon of our minds to appreciate different interpretations of your words. In Jesus name we pray.” Then she opined the Bible is “a collection of books and that it has been impacted over the years by rational editorial process that has happened over many centuries.” She referred to the Bible as “writing by humans who believe themselves to be inspired by God.” Primarily the Bible deals with the relationship between God and God’s people.

Hardman-Cromwell’s explained the Bible is “living, and alive, and lively,” and she believes God’s Spirit animates the scriptures and we have taken them form one context to be appropriated in another context. Therefore, the Bible is always being interpreted and transformed as it is transforming us. She quoted the late Harvard University chaplain Peter Gomes in saying that “the questions that the Bible seeks to answer are these: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? What does it mean to be good? What is evil, and how do I deal with it? And how do I deal with death?” to say that those are the questions we ask as we read the scriptures.

The Wesley Seminary professor continued with a Buddhist saying, “Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the men old; seek what they sought” (Matsuo Basho), make a point of the inclusive nature of the Bible. For example, she said “Christianity became the religion of the oppressed American slaves and of their oppressors” and spoke to them in their own way. With more reference to quotes from Peter Gomes, she said we do not trust the Bible in the sense that it is fact, but because in its infinite variety it points to the truth and communicates truth because it comes from the Truth which we call God. She went on to highlight three tendencies of wrongly interpreting the Bible:

–       The first is the tendency of worshiping the Bible, it causes us to ascribe to it what we ought to ascribe to God.

–       Second is the tendency to worship the text of the Scriptures; that is giving greater advocacy to the word of the text then the spirit that is behind the Word.

–       And third, the worship of the culture. That is, forcing the Bible to conform to the norms that are of a prevailing culture.

Speaking about what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, she said the easy answer is “nothing.” That is because, she adds, the term homosexuality is not found in the original Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic scriptures. It’s a phrase coined in 1892. But we tend to apply what we find in scriptures today to homosexuality. The Professor explained that even the word homosexuality does not have a fixed meaning nowadays, so she decided to explore what she termed as “commonly anti-homosexuality references from the Bible” and give her interpretation. She also lifted up some points that don’t always get mentioned as much, according to her.

Professor Hardman-Cromwell’s first biblical reference was Genesis 1 and 2. She indicated that there are 2 different creation stories found in the passage. Her argument is that the purpose of Genesis 1 & 2 is to tell us where we come from. She articulates that despite the vast changes in technologies from then till now, we come from the union of part of a man and a woman. According to Hardman-Cromwell, this is not about relationships in particular; it is about our genealogy, it says nothing about Adam and Eve being married. However, she claims, the passage establishes the core humanity of male and female (that males and females are human).

Professor Hardman-Cromwell also mentioned the biblical passage of Genesis 19. She argued that the grave wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah in the passage is not known, and the word used there which is now translated as sodomy refers to temple prostitution in its original sense; therefore, it does not refer to homosexuality. She claims that story of the men on Sodom and Gomorrah’s confrontation with Lot and actions towards the angels is actually lack of hospitality and the desire to commit homosexual rape, but it does not condemn the act of homosexuality. To support her argument she referred to the case of David and Bathsheba.

She continued to point out several other passages of Scripture and give her interpretations of them in support of her argument, trying to endorse the acceptance homosexuality in the church.

  1. Comment by mamaditto on May 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Methinks that Ms. Youtha must have gotten her credentials from a box of Cracker Jack. She is too hellbent on rationalizing why Scripture does not say what it plainly says.

  2. Comment by DD on May 28, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I’m not amazed that homosexual activists will use sophomoric arguments like “Well, the word ‘homosexual’ doesn’t even occur in the Bible, therefore ….” But I am amazed that a seminary professor would accept such poppycock.

  3. Comment by T_Ford on May 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Sadly, I’m not. For all their education they are a rather small-minded lot.

  4. Comment by justpreach on May 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    as one who took a class under the instruction of Ms. Youtha…i’m sadly not suprised…

  5. Comment by torrentprime on June 2, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    My condolences!

  6. Comment by Stogumber on May 29, 2014 at 7:26 am

    The LGBT community insists that homosexuality is and has been “natural” and widespread since male and female animals exist.
    But if it’s natural and widespread, we must expect that the Bible speaks about homosexuals, in one way or other.
    If it is just a temporary aberration from the 19th century on, the Bible could well ignore it.

    They can’t have it both ways …

  7. Comment by faithmcdonnell on May 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Also, if homosexuality were “natural” how does it follow that all of the BTQ and 40+ other gender decisions are also natural?

  8. Comment by ichabod on June 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Ok, let’s pretend the Bible says nothing about homosexuality (which it does). Nature itself exposes homosexuality as a perversion!

  9. Comment by John S. on June 2, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Sin is also widespread and natural. Does that mean it is to be embraced and promoted? Being widespread and natural is hardly a compelling arguement.

  10. Comment by MarcoPolo on May 29, 2014 at 9:23 am

    We can be glad that there are such individuals like Professor Youtha Hardman-Cromwell.
    The ancient texts are there to inspire, not to dictate.

  11. Comment by Marty on May 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    In other words, if we don’t like what they say, ignore them.

    I believe that’s called “cherry picking.”

  12. Comment by mamaditto on May 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    @Marcopolo – Jesus said “You are my friends if you do what I COMMAND.”(Jn 15:14) So, Scripture does dictate as well as inspire. Holy Writ teaches us to separate good from evil, right from wrong, moral from immoral, holy from profane, sinfulness from righteousness. (cf. Heb 5:14) The Bible is our manual for virtuous living and cannot be supplanted by vacuous notions which are randomly pulled out of thin air.

  13. Comment by fredx2 on June 1, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    yes, we should be glad there are academics who work this way: “The text I am supposed to interpret says “X”. But I don’t want it to say that. How can I get around the clear statement of “X”?
    Question: If the texts were meant to inspire, then they can inspire anything can’t they, depending on who is getting inspired.?

  14. Comment by MarcoPolo on June 2, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I should have stated that the Bible only matters to those that believe it.
    The early inhabitants of say, North America, didn’t have the Bible, and they weren’t any worse for it.
    So my apologies for upsetting anyone on this post that can’t see it any other way.
    Human nature has been in existence longer than the Christian Bible, so I think it’s safe to say, a moral life can be lived without it. Seriously, the “Golden Rule” can cover it all!

  15. Comment by Ruthie on June 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Marco, your second sentence is a bit awkward. It would read better as follows:
    “For example, the early inhabitants of NA didn’t have the Bible, and they weren’t the worse for it.”
    In your fourth sentence, you should not put a comma after the word “say.” That is called a “comma splice,” and is an egregious error in grammar. Insert the word “that” for the misplaced comma.
    Your thinking will improve after you improve your writing.

  16. Comment by MarcoPolo on June 2, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you Ruthie.
    I stand corrected.
    And I should have used the word [who] in the first sentence…”the Bible only matters to those WHO believe it.”

    I always appreciate anyone who observes proper written language, but that is not to say that the message should be lost on those of us who can’t get past the dialect or slang.
    Either way, the Bible still doesn’t mean anything to those who don’t need it!

    Shall we discuss how people have become lost just because of the King James version?
    Talk about archaic?!

  17. Comment by Ruthie on June 2, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    There’s nothing the matter with the word “those” in your first sentence.
    The King James Version may not be the best translation from the original Greek or Hebraic, but it stands as the crowning achievement of the English language in all its splendor.

  18. Comment by MarcoPolo on June 3, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Just as we are wrangling over (our) words and their meaning, the Bible is rife with the same confusion.
    You missed my point, and it might have had to do with my misuse of grammar, but that only supports my argument, that the Bible isn’t infallible.

  19. Comment by Palamas on June 5, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    If you think the only purpose of the Bible is to enable the living of a moral life, you need to re-read it. You’ve missed the point.

  20. Comment by Quartermaster on July 11, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    It does not matter if someone believes it or not. It matters anyway. IN it are the warnings God has given to world of sin and judgment. All will stand before Christ as judge.

    While morality is important in scripture, particularly the morality God demands, it is incidental to the Christian life and one who seeks how God wants them live, they will find in the pages of His word. Those that ignore it will still be condemned for rebellion.

  21. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Your point is valid, Quartermaster.
    But you’re assuming EVERYBODY in the world is Christian.
    The many other religions, and their parishioners believe and trust in their God to deal with the same issues of Charity, Morality, Honesty, Compassion, et al…

    Yes, Jesus represents the new covenant (and much more!) to many people, but remember, there are Billions of other people out there, other than Christian!

  22. Comment by Quartermaster on July 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I am aware that not everyone is Christian. However, that they are not is irrelevant. God is God over everyone and just because they reject, or even never hear, they will be judged by Him nonetheless and teh standard in scripture is what they will be held to, after they are shown they did not avail themselves of God’s provision for sin.

  23. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 12, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Again, you’ve assumed that EVERYONE will face “judgement” at their passing from this life.
    There is no empirical evidence to prove that there is ANYTHING after this life…. (sigh).
    And that’s fine, unless you’re looking for some reward?
    And your Holy book of scripture doesn’t necessarily match with others’ texts.

    I agree that God, is God, regardless of which religious strain one worships (save, the Atheists).
    but it would be prideful to expect everyone to buy into one religious faith exclusively.


  24. Comment by Quartermaster on July 12, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    So you don’t think there is “empirical evidence” of anything after this life. Who cares. This is a Christian site, and you want to argue something that is at the core of that religion doesn’t exist? You’re a silly unserious person, to put it mildly.

    The core of the sorry religion known as Scientism is a beliefe solely in empirical evidence. If you can’t sense it with your five senses, or measure it in some way, it doesn’t exist, There is a problem with that, and if you knew something about science, you would already know it. That you would challenge supernaturalism as well, makes one wonder why you would want to waste your time here.

    In the end, your silly beliefs won’t matter. You will stand judgment before Christ and you will be shown just how silly your unbelief is. Everyone one will stand before Christ as judge. That is the heart of the Christian message. That you, or anyone else, rejects that is irrelevant.

  25. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 12, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I wasn’t intending to upset you.
    I am a Pantheist, and I find it amusing that so much effort is put forth by Christians to convince non-believers that EVERYONE will be judged by JESUS.
    I believe Jesus was a good man, and a Prophet. But not the one who replaces God, but maybe a strong Lieutenant to the Big Guy!
    By your statement, even Muslims and Jews will be judged by Jesus. Now THAT’S contradictory to those respective faiths, and somewhat arrogant as well.


  26. Comment by Quartermaster on July 12, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    You didn’t upset me. My skin is a lot thicker than you may know. I’ve argued with hardened rebels who refuse to accept that Christ will be their judge, not just people like yourself.

    I don’t expend much energy on getting people to believe that Christ will be there judge. Christ said all judgment had been given to Him and that settles the issue. You reject God’s word, then you suffer the consequences. It’s just that simple.

    I reject your “N” word. The God that lives in me is the God of the ages. The god that lives in you is the god you created in your own mind. Yours does not exist so their is nothing in you to greet the God in me.

  27. Comment by MarcoPolo on July 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    What is in our hearts, is most important. Our minds will betray us, and will cause greater harm if not open.
    I wasn’t aware that anyone would find a gentle salutation such as: Namaste’ to be a profanity?
    But humans are what entertain the Gods, so I guess our playtime together should probably end.
    May you continue in good health, my friend.

  28. Comment by Jan on May 29, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Romans 1:24-32 is very clear on how God views homosexuality and how He will judge those who practice homosexuality and how He will also judge those who approve of this sin and other sins. They will all be partakers of the second death (condemnation to hell)..

  29. Comment by frjohnmorris on May 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    One of the problems with this method of Biblical exegesis is that it ignores completely the way the Bible has been interpreted through the centuries. There is no doubt that for 2,000 years the vast majority of Christians, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant have found a clear condemnation of homosexual behavior as sinful in the Holy Scriptures. I cannot believe that all Christians have been wrong until contemporary times, that people like Ms. Youtha are the first to understand the Bible or that she has a better understanding of the Scriptures than a luminary like St. John Chrysostom and the other Fathers of the Church. The canons of St. Basil the Great approved by the Council in Trullo, which was ratified by the 7th Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II in 787, require that a person who has committed an homosexual act must be excommunicated for 15 years.

    Fr. John W. Morris.

  30. Comment by mamaditto on May 30, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you, Father. Other Church Fathers such as Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine have also argued against homosexual sex in favor of celibacy or monogamous marriage to one of the opposite gender.

  31. Comment by frjohnmorris on May 30, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    One of the problems that I have with the method that people like Ms. Youtha use to study the Bible, which is frequently called the Historical Critical Method, is that is it is not historical because it ignores how others in the past have interpreted the Biblical text. A real historian always looks first at how other historians have interpreted the event he or she is studying. Because they dismiss Holy Tradition, Protestants like Ms. Youtha reject the wisdom of those who have gone before them. As a result they are constantly redefining what the Bible teaches and what it means to be a Christian to fit into their own prejudices. In this case Ms. Youtha twists the Biblical text to fit her politically correct beliefs.She would have us believe that all Christians have been wrong until the birth of the gay liberation movement. I suggest that she and those like her learn some humility and recognize that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church in the past to correctly understand the Biblical text.

    Fr. John W. Morris Ph.D. in history.

  32. Comment by Cory on May 30, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Her third point of how we wrongly interpret scripture is exactly what she is doing “And third, the worship of the culture. That is, forcing the Bible to conform to the norms that are of a prevailing culture.” What is the prevailing culture, but to accept all sexuality as normal? It has to be scary to be a liberal theologian. If they are always re-interpreting the meaning of scripture, there is no solid foundation on which to stand.

  33. Comment by mamaditto on May 30, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    @Cory – Rather than “scary” I find this to be cultic. The first thing cult leaders do is insist that the Bible has been wrongly understood, the true gospel lost over the centuries. Then, they introduce their own innovations. (Jehovah’s Witnesses serve as the most obvious example of Scripture-twisting in our day.) The purpose is to create dependency on an elite class for matters of doctrine.

  34. Comment by Cory on May 30, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I absolutely agree. I simply meant that the liberal has no solid place to stand. Building their lives on shifting sand, unstable in all they do. It is a scary place to be, ever having to redefine morality. They truly do it so that they don’t have to be accountable for their actions and therefore can justify anything to meet their own ends and their own desires. It is a doctrine of self.

  35. Comment by Horatio Hornblower on May 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    LOL Paid puppet stooge of the homofascists. What about the word racism or feminism or diversity or seminary professor. I don’t think you can find the bottom to the depth of these willing idiots.

  36. Comment by mamaditto on May 30, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    How about heretic and phony?
    Her religion is not Christianity.

  37. Comment by Horatio Hornblower on May 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    LOL Paid puppet stooge of the homofascists. What about the word racism or feminism or diversity or seminary professor. I don’t think you can find the bottom to the depth of these willing idiots.

  38. Comment by Phil Snyder on May 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    She is absolutely right! The Bible is silent on homosexuality (an orientation). It is also silent on the use of firearms to murder people, stealing automobiles, and it is silent on discrimination based on skin color.

    However, Holy Scripture is VERY clear about homosexual sex – and condemns it roundly everywhere it is mentioned.

    Her “exegesis” (drawing out of the text) is clearly “isogesis” (reading into the text).

    Who am I? Scripture tells me that my heart is far from God and cannot be trusted as to who I am. To learn who I am, I need to ask God who He made me to be, not who I think I am.

    Why am I here? I am here to come to know God better and to have my life and my heart changed from rebellion and sin to a life that lives and breathes by the Grace of God.

  39. Comment by Penny on May 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    She shouldn’t even be speaking. She’s what we Christians would call a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  40. Comment by Penny on May 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Jesus is called the Word. What does she thinks that means? You cannot interpret the Bible after your own thoughts. Such heresy.

  41. Comment by Michael73501 on May 31, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Given this person’s level of mental acuity, I would have to say she attened a theological cemetery…

  42. Comment by Marty on May 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I was thinking more a “theo-illogical seminary.”

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