Holy Love: Creation

Creation is the second vantage point for seeing the hermeneutic of holy love. We live in a God-made world (Genesis 1:1).  It is reasonable to assume that there would be congruence between who God is and what God has made.  Indeed there is, “Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).  And what is that glory, that handiwork?  Among other things, it is diversity.

In the Godhead there is diversity.  We call it the Holy Trinity, a nonbinary relational reality, which ontologically establishes “the law of three”—the law of diversity. [1]  Furthermore,  within the Godhead there is a diversity of names (e.g. Elohim, El Shaddai, El Roi) further communicating diversity.  God is nonbinary in both nature and activity.

So too is the creation.  I point out in the book that the pairings (e.g. heavens/earth) in the first creation story are not doublets.  They are spectrum words.  The same is true for the male/female pairing.  It is unfortunate that we see and affirm the nonbinary nature of creation in the other pairings but do not do the same with humanity.  The Bible is not a science book, but it is a reality book, and one of the first realities in Scripture is the nonbinary nature of the creation.

I have come to see that one of the major failures of a conservative theology of human sexuality is its unwillingness to recognize the nonbinary nature of humanity. That unwillingness , however, is a linchpin in their nonaffirming theology of LGBTQ+ people, so I understand their reluctance to give up a notion of binary creation.  If male/female is a “two” then sexuality diversity is a sin (departure) from the original creation—either as a deliberate choice (rebellion) against human nature, or some deformation (aberation) of human nature—both options arising from the fall in Genesis 3. [2]

But this is not the revelation of Scripture, which portrays a nonbinary cosmos—a portrayal confirmed today by the natural and behavioral sciences.  Here is a second failure of a conservative theology of human sexuality—namely, an unwillingness to incorporate the findings of science into their theology.  In the Wesleyan tradition we would call this a failure to interface Scripture and reason. [3] This failure is skewing the view of many Christians about LGBTQ+ people, and providing an ideological justification for their exclusion and/or limitation in the Church–a  form of doing harm specifically forbidden in the General Rules of the Wesleyan tradition.

I include in the book some resources from the behavioral and natural sciences to show the nonbinary nature of human sexuality, a finding that ascribes sacred worth to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.  But since I wrote the book, I continue to find ongoing scientific affirmation.  I mention two in this post.

The first is an article in Science magazine, a professional publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general science membership society.  The article, “Giant Study  Links DNA Variants to Same-Sex Behavior,” by Michael Price (October 20, 2018) chronicles four genetic variations which are the focus of interest among geneticists as they continue refining a more than thirty-year scientific exploration of human sexuality.  The most recent findings, while still in the early stages, are encouraging because they fit into the trajectory of evidence that confirms the nonbinary nature of humanity and the resulting diversity in human sexuality.

The second affirmation is a massive synthesis report (akin to the one above) entitled, “Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa.”  It was conducted by The Academy of Science in South Africa at the request of the government as a means for providing a basis for just legislation concerning LGBTQ+ people. The 93-page report (subsequently endorsed by the Uganda National Academy of Science) was published in May 2015. [4]. Drawing on studies from the fields of genetics, epigenetics, brain morphology, and endocrinology the scientists conclude, “ There is no longer any doubt about the existence of a substantial biological basis to sexual orientation… just as there are many ways to be heterosexual, there are many homosexualities.” [5]

These relatively early findings have opened the door to the realization of diversity in human sexuality.  There is no “gay gene”—the formation of sexual diversity is not that simple.  But it is the result of complex DNA variation.  Another indication of what the Bible tells us elsewhere, that we are sacredly and variously made (Psalm 139:14).

What we see is that the Bible and science tell the same story about human sexuality, and it is the story of diversity. God-made, not sin-produced.  Nonbinary, not binary. Part of  the grand revelation of divine order, not intrinsic disorder.  A sign of original goodness, not original sin. 

 Without hesitation, I exhort theologians not to put forward a theology of human sexuality that fails to incorporate (by accident or intent) the findings of contemporary science. This requires a commitment to lifelong learning and attentiveness to truth outside of the Bible. When we do this, we will find creation as another manifestation of the hermeneutic of God’s holy love for all.  All means all.

So…..

(1) Are you willing to study the biblical revelation of a nonbinary creation?

(2) Are you willing to incorporate the findings of science into your beliefs about human sexuality?


[1] For more on this, read Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, ‘The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three ‘ (Shambala, 2013).

[2] As I point out in the book, the choice/aberration allegations compromise a core conservative resistance to diversity in human sexuality, both based on a binary view of creation.  The deliberate-choice (rebellion) allegation runs throughout conservative theology, ancient and modern.  The aberration (intrinsic disordering) allegation is a more-recent one, but one adopted by conservative evangelicals who recognize genetic variation but interpret it as a sign of the fall.  One of the most pronounced expressions of the binary view is the Nashville Statement, made public by the Coalition for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on August 29, 2017.  Most of the Articles in the Statement enforce binary (male/female) heteronormativity as intrinsic to the creation, thus requiring a rejection of nonbinary diversity through some view of  deformation by the fall.  This is an unfortunate imposition on Scripture, not one that arises from the text itself.  I will say more about this when I write a future post about the Romans 1 passage.

[3] I believe much of this is due to the fact that many simply do not know what the sciences are discovering.  But there are some who do know, yet choose to ignore the findings, falsely calling them “junk science” and thus perpetuating a bogus and obscurantist theology of binary humanity that erroneously normalizes male/female heterosexuality.

[4] You can easily  download a pdf copy of this report by googling the title.  I urge you to do so.

[5] From the study, p. 32.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
This entry was posted in Holy Love. Bookmark the permalink.