“Rainbow in the Word: LGBTQ Christians’ Biblical Memoirs” edited by Ellin Sterne Jimmerson— A New Era in the Bible Interpretation

Jimmerson, Ellin Sterne, editor. “Rainbow in the Word: LGBTQ Christians’ Biblical Memoirs”, Wipf and Stock, 2017.

A New Era in Bible Interpretation

Amos Lassen

LGBTQ Christians are now beginning a new era in biblical interpretation. They share rare insights into particular Bible stories and characters and reveal a gay-friendly Bible and a gay-friendly God who cherishes and needs them just as they are. They look to the Bible for spirituality and if they can be, they might be those who can rescue biblical interpretation from those who too often are not only hurtful but also boring.

When there is dialogue and debate about the place of LGBTQ persons in Christian churches, we too often hear the voices of straight, white, usually male, scholars and theologians are heard. In “Rainbow in the Word”, we are introduced to the beautiful voices of LGBTQ persons themselves who against all odds, have kept their faith and are able to speak for themselves. There are the voices that must be heard since these are the people spoken about.

What I love about being Jewish and the Jewish tradition of bible study is the right to argue and discuss the text. Since we do not really know who wrote the holy books, they must be open for discussion and interpretation. We also forget that every translation is a commentary.

I believe this to also be true for Christians. I do not think that we are expected to take the bible as it comes to us and there are interpretations out there that are transcendent. In “Rainbow in the Word” we see this clearly.

Our sexual identity is not a liability to be defended; it is an essential part of the Church’s understanding of Scripture and of God. The voices of LGBT Christians free the Church itself from the constraints of its own homophobic ideas and brings new ideas and insights long-held homophobia and exposes it to the biblical insights of some of the most marginalized voices in the world today. From what we know of the Christian Bible, God has always taken care of the uninvited, the unwelcome, the excluded and the unloved. This is certainly not true for fundamentalist Christians and others who try to deny us the right to be close to God. LGBT Christians bring a sense of redemptive purpose to the bible and we see that in the essays, poems, and memories included here.

“Rainbow in the World” questions assumptions about how gay people approach the texts that have many times been used as a weapon against them. The approaches cross the genre and are deeply personal that lets us see the wounds that the community carries. Life stories can change theology and we see how in this book.

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