BILL MOYERS: As I read about the conflict in your church, what I find is that both sides treat the Bible as their source, but they come to totally opposite conclusions as to what the Bible says. What do you make of that? As a scientist and a believer.
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Our ways of reading Scripture shape the conclusions we come to. And often what we go looking for shapes the conclusions about what we read. I’ll give you a– you know, a loaded example. The story of David and Jonathan.
You know, Canonically, the traditional way of reading that has been about the friendship between two men. It says in the Scripture that David loved Jonathan with a love surpassing women. Many gay and lesbian people in our church today say, “This is a text – that says something constructive about the love between people of the same gender.” Yet our tradition has rarely been able to look at it with those eyes. I think that’s a fertile ground for some serious Biblical scholarship and some encounter from people who come to different conclusions.
BILL MOYERS: If biology, as I understand it does, tells us that homosexuality is– is a genetic given. And religion says homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, can those two perceptions ever be reconciled?
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: How do we come to a conclusion that it’s a sin in the eyes of God?
BILL MOYERS: Well, you’re the-
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: What texts do we read that-
BILL MOYERS: But you know, all of your adversaries say that it is.
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, I would have them go back to the very sources they find so black and white about that, and ask what’s the context of this passage? What was it written to address? What was going on underneath it that this appears to speak to? And I think we find when we do some very serious scholarship, that in almost every case, it’s speaking about a cultural context that looks nothing like the one in which we’re wrestling with homosexuality today.
BILL MOYERS: So how do you read– Jonathan and David, that story?
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think it’s got some– challenging things to say to us who have said for hundreds of years, thousands of years that it’s inappropriate for two men to love each other in that way.
BILL MOYERS: Is this a moral issue to you?
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It’s a moral issue in the sense that part of the job of a church is to help all Christians grow up into the full stature of Christ. It’s to help all of us to lead holy lives The question is what does that holy life look like?
BILL MOYERS: Well, many conservative, traditional Christians say that the homosexual life is not a holy life.
BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: They would say that it’s only holy if it’s celibate. And I think we’ve got more examples out of Scripture even to offer in challenge to that.