We all have an innate sense of right and wrong, of good and evil. We all have moral law written on our hearts. We don’t all have perfect knowledge of that moral truth and we all fall far short of living up to moral standards, but in general we recognize the universal and transcendent nature of morality.
We know what is sin and what isn’t. We have a deep intuitional realization that murder and rape and theft are wrong. We know that when we hurt another person, whether through words or actions, we’ve done something wrong. We don’t need the Bible to tell us that, we don’t need the church to tell us that — we already know it. This is why the Bible isn’t, and doesn’t need to be, an exhaustive rule book. It’s why the Greatest Commandment resonates so deeply within us — not because it’s something we’ve never heard before, but because it’s something we already knew, whether we realized it or not.
Sin breaks that innate moral law. It lessens who we are as humans. It demeans ourselves and it hurts others. Sin is self-centered and self-serving. It corrodes and destroys relationships, it exudes arrogance and pride and greed and hate. And we know this. We know when we put our own wants and needs above those of others. We know when we hurt other people. We know when we look inward and not outward. We know when we sacrifice love for hate, peace for war and life for death. We know.
And given that understanding of our moral intuition and the nature of sin, it seems abundantly obvious that two adults who find mutually consenting physical and emotional fulfillment in relationship with one another, when that relationship in no way harms anyone, least of all themselves, simply aren’t sinning.
The only opposition to this conclusion must defer to culture prejudice or religious dogma. The Biblical authors seem to have some things to say on the subject, and we should take what they have to say seriously. We should carefully exegete the relevant Biblical texts, rooting our study in the close examination of language and culture and context. But such study shouldn’t subvert moral standards that we already know to be true. Even if a Biblical text explicitly condemns homosexuality, that doesn’t mean it is expressing a universal moral standard that is applicable to all times, places and people.
The Bible implicitly endorses slavery. The Bible explicitly endorses patriarchy. Both positions are wrong — but in those cases the Bible provides us with a message that runs counter to our moral intuitions. It’s not a matter of choosing to follow our sinful hearts or God’s perfect will. For our hearts, opened and listening, do reflect God’s will. We are created in the image of God and are uniquely positioned to function in relationship with him. We need to listen to our hearts, and listen to the love that we know, deep down inside, to be true.