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Navigating Scripture

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This section is designed to give you some ideas about how to read and interpret Holy Scriptures, if your religion has them. Each section starts with a question you may wish to think and reflect upon. This page is very general, because we’re talking about people with a wide range of beliefs.

You might find that even within your own faith, beliefs about scripture vary a lot. Some people hold that Holy texts are completely right and there cannot even be one mistake, because they’re directly from God. Others might say that they’re inspired by God, but interpreted and written down by imperfect humans, so the scriptures themselves aren’t always perfect. Some scriptures are translated from ancient languages, and the words we use in translation might not always carry the original meaning. Scriptures often originate in cultures and times very different from our own, so the things they talk about or consider important could be different to that which we consider important now.

Holy scriptures are open to interpretation and can work in harmony. You shouldn’t have to choose bits of it yourself.

(Teacher, Loreto College)

There will be a lot of ways of thinking about and interpreting scripture within your own traditions. For example, many Muslims when trying to find a correct interpretation of the Qur’an will look at how the Prophet Muhammad interpreted it, what his earliest followers said about it, and perhaps look at Arabic meanings of words or what saints have said. Do you believe that parts of your scripture have more authority than other parts? Some Christians believe that the words of Jesus carry more importance than other parts of the Bible, so they try to interpret the rest of the Bible through things Jesus said.

Some people spend their entire lives learning about their scriptures and thinking about what it means. There is always more to learn about our religious texts. It might be learning a new language like Ancient Hebrew, reading books by scholars in your tradition, or talking to people in your tradition that you respect. Learning more about a text can change what you think about it. It might also give you more confidence in what you believe.

There is nothing that says you cannot be religious and LGBT+. Being LGBT+ is part of who you are. If you are in the right religion, it will not tell you to be ashamed of your sexuality or gender. Mine does not. It may take a bit of digging, a bit more research to find out your religion's true opinion on being LGBT+, but that doesn't mean you cannot keep your faith as a part of your identity, just as being LGBT+ is a part of your identity.

(Transmasculine, Christian, age 18)

This is a difficult one to answer, because it depends on how much importance you give to different parts of scripture. If your text criticises what we might think of as sex between men only once, but mentions poverty 500 times, what does that mean?

It’s mostly other people’s personal views, not religion saying that being LGBT+ is wrong.

(Young person of faith, Loreto College)
Your beliefs are special and personal to you. You don’t have to agree with everything you read. Take what you get and adapt it to today’s age and your life.

(Young person of faith, Loreto College)
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah gets referred to a lot; people say it’s condemning sex between two men, but actually it was about lack of hospitality and incidences of rape. It’s not about being gay.

(Lesbian, Christian, age 35)

To find out more about how particular texts reference LGBT+ people and how they can be interpreted, contact or check out the information on the websites of these LGBT+ faith groups.


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