Category Archives: The Bible and Homosexuality

THE CHURCH IS A BULLY!

OK, I don’t want to get into church bashing, because many churches do wonderful things, and, gratefully, some are growing in their acceptance of gays and lesbians, just as they are. However, the messages sent by many churches which directly say or which make gays and lesbians feel fundamentally flawed, if not evil add to or are themselves directly responsible for bullying that goes on, which sometimes ends in death. Can you imagine the pressure a gay child or adolescent must feel if they are constantly absorbing messages from their churches and their families that they are flawed, deviant, an abomination? At the minimum, life is an uphill battle for them.

What about the other side of that equation? Such messages only provide fuel and fan the flames of righteousness within those who do unimaginable verbal and physical harm to gay and lesbian people. How justified their actions must feel in the light of God’s condemnation!

That’s one of the reasons I began these writings. . . To add my voice to sane religious and spiritual voices who speak the truth of God‘s love, and who know it in their hearts. No matter what anyone else says, I know in my heart. All else that I have done in my life would pale in comparison to saving just one person’s life or spirit because they found here a voice which spoke to them of Divine love, instead of Divine retribution. A place where instead of feeling like trash, they can feel whole, loved and spoken into being – just as they are by God.

So what’s the good news?

Despite loud voices which bellow messages of abomination I recently read an article which surveyed young Evangelicals/Fundamentalists. The NUMBER ONE complaint or point of disagreement they had with their churches was their church’s negative stance on homosexuality. The NUMBER ONE point of disagreement! Can you imagine? That’s great news! Somehow, despite loud voices, young evangelicals are simply not buying it! Thank God!

But let’s not be so naïve as to think that people are not suffering. This year again, we heard of young gay people being bullied to the point of taking their own lives or being killed. And so, I write.

If you are one such person who has been swallowing the poison of religious messages, I pray that you are lead here or to the growing number of churches and religious voices who embrace you in love.

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Saving Lives

“God chose those whom the world considers absurd to shame the wise. . . . God chose the world’s lowborn and despised . . .” See 1Corinthians 1: 26-31

 

I have this soft spot in my heart for the underdog. And I have to say that I have an especially soft spot in my heart for the gay underdog. I’m sure it’s because of my own experience of growing up gay and subconsciously drinking in messages that I was fundamentally flawed. The day I realized in my heart that I was not flawed, but wonderfully made, it gave birth to a passionate desire to lift up those who feel themselves to be flawed or less than. This desire has not subsided all these years. Nothing gives me more happiness than to sit with one who has drunk in these messages and to help them, with my own story, realize that they are wonderfully made! In this age of increasing religious anti-gay rhetoric, it’s all the more important that there be present other “religious/spiritual” voices that speak a different message.

Some years ago, while giving a weekend retreat/conference, a man approached me and asked if he could talk with me. With tears in his eyes and his body shaking because he was so nervous, he told me of his same sex attraction and the utter despair he felt because his church was telling him that he was damned. We talked a long time and through sharing my story, that man’s face was literally transformed. Fear and self loathing gave way to surprised joy at the thought of being wonderfully made. As we parted he thanked me profusely. I looked at him and simply said “you’re welcome.” He looked at me and said that I had no idea how significant this was. He went on to say that he had often sat in his backyard with a gun in his hand, contemplating suicide. A friend had encouraged him recently to come to this retreat (which incidentally was a 12 Step retreat and had nothing to do with being gay) and for some reason he came. He now knew why. With tears in his eyes again, but tears of joy, he looked at me and said: “You see, you just saved my life!”

The gift that I have been given, I want to give. I SO want to be a life saver! If you are one who, for whatever reason, despairs of God’s love, I pray that through these words and in this Blog you will find a word that gives you hope and lifts you up.


“The Bible Says . . .!”

Matthew 12: 1-8

So Jesus get’s his row with the fundamentalists here.

Hey you, the “Bible” says you’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath, and your disciples are plucking grains of wheat to eat!!  Stop it!  Don’t you know what the “Bible” says??  And you call yourself “religious,” let alone a teacher??  You have GOT to be kidding!

How often we as gay people here that!  How often others hear it as well. . . . The Bible says, the Bible says, on and on!  Jesus was faced with the same criticism from upstanding, religious people.  But he did not let that deter him from the truth that he knew within, nor from speaking that truth and acting on it.  At times it’s like he purposely does things to push the envelope, to create a reaction, to shake people up and make them think about their preconceived, narrow notions of God and religion.  It is not about this or that law, or this or that saying of the Bible.  It is about mercy, compassion, forgiveness.

Jesus continually turns religious presumption on its head.  And his followers should not be afraid to do the same.  We should not be afraid to question, to shake people up and to make them think about their preconceived notions. We have to be prepared to pay the price however.  I have regularly received condemning and sometimes scathing comments from people about this blog and things that I say.  I purposely delete them, for I do not want this to be a place of argument, but a place of hope and peace, particularly for those who may be struggling.  Jesus ultimately paid the price with his life; . . . and it wasn’t the criminal, the drug addict, the liberal zealot or evil government that killed him. He was killed by good, upstanding, righteous religious folks.  But the truth never dies with the death of the prophet and the message lives on:  “It is mercy I desire, not all your sacrifices, religious practices and rituals.”


The Biblical Divide

Continuing yesterday’s reflection . . .

If you are struggling with being gay and reconciling your relationship with God and what the Bible says, again, I strongly recommend a viewing of the Documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.”

It speaks to what I call the Biblical Divide. There are two different ways that people interpret the Bible: Literally OR using Historical/Critical Interpretation. Those who interpret the Bible literally take it at face value. The Bible says this, and that’s it! They do not take into consideration the context, culture, customs and literary genre of a particular passage. I don’t understand how this is done as the Bible contradicts itself in places. It clearly supports slavery, calls us not to kill in the 10 commandments and then commands that people be killed if they don’t follow various religious prescriptions. Such literal interpretation can lead to all sorts of aberrations and inaccurate interpretations. The Historical/Critical method takes into account the intent of the author, the time in which the author lived, the culture and customs of the time and certainly the literary genre of the particular book. All of us automatically know the difference between a historical account and a metaphor. However, if we didn’t know the difference between the two, we would take both at face value. Another book I highly recommend as a fairly easy introduction to Historical/Critical Biblical Interpretation is And God Said What? An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms by Margaret Nutting Ralph (published by Paulist Press). It is EXTREMELY important that we take into account the literary genre the Biblical author was using – let alone the historical and cultural context in which the book was written. This yields a much more accurate interpretation of the Divine message!

I would like to quote Dr. Ralph’s introduction here to illustrate the importance of knowing the literary genre of any Biblical text in order to obtain a more accurate interpretation:

“Anyone who reads a newspaper is familiar with the idea of various kinds of writing, various literary forms or genres. . . . In a newspaper we read a variety of kinds of writing – we read straight news reporting, editorials, comics and advise columns to name a few. There are not little explanations of the kinds of writing with each column because the reader is supposed to be able to recognize the differences. The form, or genre, tells the reader something about the intent of the writer. If the reader misunderstands the genre, the reader may think that the author has said something which the author hasn’t said at all (emphasis mine). For instance, Erma Bombeck, an American humorist who poked fun at herself as a housewife, claimed that dryers ate socks. Everyone who uses a dryer knows what she meant. If a person from another culture were unacquainted with a dryer and did not know the literary form in which Erma Bombeck wrote, he or she might misss the intent of the writer and misunderstand entirely” (p.2).

This is just ONE thing that needs to be taken into account when one is attempting an accurate interpretation of a Biblical text. Even just reading a particular passage in context is helpful. For example the oft quoted Leviticus text (Leviticus 20:13) used to condemn homosexuality as an abomination is set within a list of things called an abomination including the eating of shell fish (Leviticus 11: 9-12).

An interesting illustration is given regarding Biblical Literalists (aka Fundamentalists) in the DVD “For the Bible Tells Me So.” One of the central teachings of Jesus is that if we are to be his followers we are to sell all that we have, give it to the poor and then come follow him. It then goes on to list the annual income of some prominent Fundamentalist Preachers. It doesn’t seem like they’re taking this central tenant of Jesus literally!