Not sure why I am entering this discussion as I know I am inviting who knows what into my blog-life. I am not bored, I am not looking for a fight, I am not looking to hold some kind of banner, I don’t really know why.
Maybe . . . it is because I challenged people this Sunday to step up in the face of danger even when we know someone else will [podcast]. I guess, if I can’t live it, who am I to challenge folks to?
Maybe . . . it is because a good blog-friend and pastoral colleague is smack dab in the middle of a 250+ comment firestorm around his recent interactions around homosexuality and the church. [Gay Conversation Post]. While we are on different sides of the fence on this one, I appreciate his willingness to engage with deep faith, pastoral care and human civility.
Maybe . . . it is because I am a victim of cultural shifts: right, wrong, conscious, unconscious, enlightened, relativist, whatever. [The Decline of Intolerance of Gays Post]. But aren’t we all?
Maybe . . . it is because there are too many people – friends, congregants, family and colleagues, not to mention those I do not even know – whom I love, respect and value so it feels wrong to judge their sexual-orientation as sinful.
I have posted on this before about where I stand personally and pastorally [MBCC Conversations Post]- like I can separate the two – but I wanted to further add expand some of what I think on this particular conversation.
A few disclaimers:
- I realize that I have the privilege of not being the target of the sexual orientation “Debate.” My relative vested interested is purely relational and is some ways intellectual. I see this not as a reason NOT to engage, but an obligation and responsibility NOT to remain silent.
- I know that I am in many ways adding to the diverted energies of the church and at some point, we may just need to get over one another, go our separate ways and hope beyond hope that God uses even diametrically opposed sides of many “issues” to do some good things.
- This is huge and I must believe that most people come to some place of understanding with great faith and integrity and I hope to simply add to the discourse in some small way.
- I could be wrong and I am OK with sitting in the midst of not always knowing, though my first disclaimer allows me to do this.
Some of what goes on my Bruce’s head:
The fundamental dilemma . . . is where one places homosexuality itself. At the core of the debate is where or not one considered homosexuality a sin or a natural God-created trait. I obviously hold the latter way of thinking. Much like race – and this is a huge debate in the brown community – I see sexual orientation as the same created gift as gender and race. I think as long as it is still seen as a SIN, the “love the sinner, hate the sin” is simply a friendly gesture to maintain some facade of civility. Yes, you are not screaming for outright violence, but there is still a message of division that is shared. On the other hand, if one does NOT think homosexuality is a sin, then one engages differently and focuses on what I would consider more shared human areas of brokenness: poverty, oppression, violence, etc.
The Bible is clear as mud . . . on this and a great many aspects of our faith. I feel that many folks – on both sides – pick and choose what to take as “literal Word of God” and what to approach with “Interpretive license.” Even being the postmodern that I am, I do not think you can have it both ways, or at least do so with any much certainty and integrity. I think there is too much danger for us to then use the Bible as weapon and proof-texter even more than we already do. While much more difficult to do the interpretive work around scripture, I think it yields a greater understanding of God when we answer the questions, “Why does God’s word say this?” and “What does this mean for us today?” rather that live with a false certainly of “God’s Word says THIS” so “THIS is the right and only way.” This approach is not a shallow way to explain away things we do not like, but a faithful way to engage with and discover the TRUTH of God as it is communicated to us through the wonderful complexity of the Bible . . . TNIV of course.
Politics and Religion do mix . . . and I have never been able to really understand how we – PC(USA) Statemetns on Sexual Orientation – can stand in solidarity around civil rights, but then in our own house, deny ordination to the very same people. Again, maybe modern of me, but how can we affirm a group of people at the same level as race, gender, age in a civil setting but then deny this same group the ecclesiastical rights of that very same group? But yet we do . . .
And on Marriage . . . somewhat related to my approach to scripture, lets make no mistake that marriage “between a man and woman” in the current debate is not about Biblical or historical interpretation, but about a modern day institution that has somehow become the penultimate virtue and goal of the Christian faith. Not that I am advocating Biblical marriage models such as polygamy, adultery, concubine-holding, etc. I am simply advocating a more honest approach to this modern-day, legislated, legalistic institution of marriage. Unless you are Catholic, marriage is NOT a sacrament, clergy perform services on behalf of the state and the church should be more focused on developing and nurturing a couple’s spiritual commitment than putting so much energy to deny a couple’s legal status.
So there you have it. Some thoughts for now. I hope that this helps in the conversation. If you want to talk more, lets grab coffee! Also, while there are many many books out there by folks much smarter than I, the one I am suggesting at these days is: Jack Roger’s, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church