Thursday, December 29, 2011


A much-cited text in the New Testament has frequently been misinterpreted in a pernicious way. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus is reported as saying: "You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect." The passage is sometimes interpreted as demanding a kind of moral perfection that is impossible for humans to achieve. Gays and lesbians are particularly susceptible to being caught up in the pursuit of an unobtainable perfection as a way of compensating for their difference.

But the Greek word used in the original text, teleios, does not imply moral perfection. The term, as used by Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, derives from biology and describes an organism that has come to its full potential; for example, an oak tree that has reached maturity is the teleios of an acorn.

What we are being told then, is that we must become what God intended us to be. We must become self-realized, as God is. Paul uses the same word when he exhorts us to come to the same fullness of mature humanity which was to be found in Jesus. The healthy implication of this text for gay people is that God wants them to become precisely what they are: healthy, mature lesbian women and gay men.
-John J. McNeill, Taking a Chance on God

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