by Rev. Zinn
In 1973, William R. Jones wrote the book, Is God a White Racist?, to question whether, in the experiences of black persons, one could decide that God harbors malicious intent towards a whole community of people. In lieu of the past few weeks of discussions regarding the place of communities of GLBTQ persons within the larger society, it might be safe to ask whether the “God” that many Christians worship on Sunday mornings is no more than a thuggish goon who delights in seeing whole groups of historically oppressed persons attacked by those who lift the Christian banner the highest.
Whether it is the video
of the pastor in North Carolina who has come up with what some might call a final solution to the problem of GLBTQ’s in the United States or the other North Carolina pastor who “joked
” (apparently forgetting that jokes are supposed to be funny and not horrifying) that if one’s son began to “drop the limp wrist” one should “crack that wrist” or the now downright passé Westboro Baptist Church offering their single note message that “God Hates Fags” it is not tough to determine that the God that they worship must be a total bigot in the manner in which She has decided to be in relationship with persons of differing sexual and gender identities.
But let’s be honest, most of us would have no problem declaring these incidents of hate towards GLBTQ’s hate. Or crazy. That’s not the problem. The problem comes from those of us who will remain silent and by our silence imply agreement. In a nation in which to be Christian increasingly means to believe that those of differing sexualities should be treated like subhuman species, to not declare an alternative view of God’s love and concern only serves to mean that there is no other way of being Christian.
by Rev. Mark Sandlin
Yes sir, we grow 'em on trees in these parts. Yet another NC minister
has gone all “king of crazy town” when it comes to talking about homosexuality and the Bible. The idea that two people of the same sex could actually be in love seems to be some powerful mojo when it comes to NC ministers. It is like it sends them into a testosterone induced fervor that completely blinds them to the greatest hits of the Bible like, “thou shall not kill,” and “love thy neighbor.”
Oddly, there was a time when the same
kind of fervor blinded the same
kind of preachers here in the South and, because of it, a lot of people who were different from them ended up hanging from trees. Maybe it's not so odd. Maybe it's completely to be expected.
Yep, in certain Southern churches, gay is the new black. Realistically, it's not just Southern churches, but with North Carolina's recent passage of Amendment One and the viral YouTube video of the knock-the-gay-out-of-your-kid pastor
, it wouldn't be surprising to find a few arborists diligently searching the hillsides of the gorgeous North Carolina foothills for the mythical Tree of Homophobia (which, ironically, I hear has leaves the colors of the rainbow). Just looking at the news over the last several months, while it would seem that all states have ministers that preach exclusion (and even violence) toward our LGBT brothers and sisters, North Carolina does simply seem to be better at it. “We're #1! We're #1! We're #1!”
So, the latest in the parade of “a-minister-REALLY-said-THAT?” circus here in N.C. is Pastor Charles L. Worley (please note my restraint in guessing what the “L” is for... clearly not “love” - okay, my near restraint
). He believes, one assumes biblically, that “lesbians and queers” should be locked up inside an electrified fence until they die out. As I understand his argument, up until this point LGBT folk have been reproducing and creating little baby homosexuals and if all the “lesbians” are inside one fence and all the “queers” are inside another, well, they could no longer reproduce and hence - no more homosexual babies.
Part 1: Leviticus
by Josh Gould
There’s an ancient quote that says, “any interpretation of scripture which leads to hatred or disdain of other people, is illegitimate.” Some of you might recognize this quote from The Charter of Compassion that was launched a few years ago by Karen Armstrong. Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes who lived during the second century first uttered it and made it famous. St. Augustine also came to the same conclusion, but said it in different words.
So what does this have to do with homosexuality? Well, it doesn’t take much effort to see how evangelical Christians oppress and discriminate against someone who identifies as homosexual. These Christians claim that marriage is between one man and one woman and that anything else would destroy the sanctity of marriage, as God established in the Bible. They go out of their way to stand up against issues like same-sex marriage to the point where they pass amendments to ban such an idea. The media especially enjoys plastering their networks with video and pictures of people holding up signs that say, “God hates fags” and “God says fags should die.” Where do they get these ideas from and how can they be so bold as to speak on God’s behalf?
These ideas and interpretations about what God speaks through the Bible come from a place of hatred and, according to Rabbi Meir, this makes them illegitimate. But what exactly are they interpreting? Within the pages of the Bible, there are six verses that are commonly used across the board by Christians opposed to homosexuality: three in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament. Let’s take a look at the one that is arguably the strongest, most used verse in the Old Testament. We’ll find this verse in chapter 18 in the Book of Leviticus. It might be helpful to follow along in your own Bible, so feel free to turn there and skim down to verse 22. It reads, “do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, it is detestable” (TNIV). Before we begin breaking down the verse, a little context on Leviticus might be helpful.
The Book of Leviticus is found within a collection of books that make up what is called “Torah.” Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible and God’s law for the Hebrew people. Within it are two creation accounts, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, a little bit of history and various laws and rules for the people to abide by, the latter accounting for the majority of the Torah. Leviticus is specifically a law book and there are five major movements within the book. It starts off with laws for sacrifice, then moves to the institution of priesthood, followed by laws for cleanliness, holiness (called the Holiness Code) and it concludes with the redemption of offered gifts. These movements are discussed in great detail, chapter by chapter as you move through the book. Chapter 18 falls within the Holiness Code section and deals with sexual prohibitions.
by Jack McDevitt
I want to go on record that I support a straight person’s right to equality.... but do they really have to kiss and hold hands and be all over each other night after night for millions to watch on a reality show?
Now I want all of you straights out there to know I support and love you but please keep it in PRIVATE okay? Showing affection in public really makes uptight miserable love-less prudes feel really UNCOMFORTABLE! Also, when you straights make an un-necessary show of your affections for all to see, there may be people who are normal but are struggling with having feelings for the opposite sex… and really do not understand yet that it is just as okay to be attracted to the opposite sex as it is to be like everyone else. My point is that these people may find that your hand holding or “sucking face” in public stirs up feelings they are not prepared to deal with.
Another aspect of open heterosexuality that I feel I must address with my friends who happen to be straight, is just in the form of a suggestion. While I and many open minded people I know, think that “straight is great” and that you should be free to be yourself, there is sometimes a tendency of a small minority of straights to act in extremes.
Everyone who is reading this knows the hyper-masculine firemen and policemen who find is necessary to march in parades and act all non-emotional and militaristic and focused, when everyone around them is having a party! Not only does this look ridiculous, but it holds up traffic and business all just to say “hey I’m straight”... ok big deal and whoopty-doo.
by Rev. Zinn
While there is a part of me that remains hopeful for a better future, a growing part of my soul gnaws at me to relinquish that belief. Relinquish it in favor of a more cynical, perhaps more Calvinist, view of the world in which humankind exists more or less in cycles of brokenness that leave us constantly unable to hear or see the movement of the Spirit in our midst.
This ongoing battle between hope and cynicism rages as I consider the place in which the PC(USA), my denomination, finds itself when seeking to be in relationship with our brothers and sisters in the GLBTQ communities. The struggle, and let’s not mistake it for anything else, exists between one side who sees God’s love as all encompassing and God’s creation as a beautiful cloth weaved with the diversity of many threads, and the other side seeking to preserve the hegemonic nature of the Christian faith which demands fealty to the single standard of being that has gained acceptance over the past hundred years or so. Because ultimately, it is not a question of preserving the holy tradition of marriage, even a cursory study of the history of the institution would reveal a complex and patriarchal story that rests at the base of the union between a
man and a woman. Nor is it a question of preserving some sort of sexual purity within the clergy.
At least in recent times, since the passing of G-6.0108b(1997), the church has never tried to out heterosexual clergy who have strayed from the bonds of holy matrimony or chastity in singleness. The only thing that is left for those who oppose inclusion, either in ordination standards or in covenantal relationships, is fear and hatred of the other. This was made clear to me at a recent meeting of my own congregation.
by Trevor Miller
So, I hear you’ve gone ahead and passed Amendment 1, putting a ban on gay marriage right into your state constitution. Well done, your decision will be remembered by future historians centuries from now. Of course, it will be remembered in much the same way as today’s historians remember your 1875 constitutional amendment to ban interracial marriages, but hey, you’re getting in the history books, and that’s what matters, right? I mean really, what would history be without the bad guys doing their thing to stir the pot? You wouldn’t have – oh hell, let’s just get it out of the way and move past the low hanging fruit – you wouldn’t have WWII without Hitler, and without WWII, you wouldn’t have most of the 20th century’s history, or at least the history you remember from the movies you’ve seen. You wouldn’t have had the Cold War without the Commies, you wouldn’t have had the Fall of Rome without the Huns, and you wouldn’t have had Gandalf without Sauron. All the best stuff from history comes as a direct result of people banding together and struggling against the bad guys of their age, marching to the drumbeat of history toward the future, against the forces that would bring oppression and hatred to the world. I mean, it’s no invasion of Poland or sacking of Rome, but Amendment 1 is a pretty good crack at the whole oppression and hatred thing, I have to hand it to you.
s. Oh, and the way you wrapped it up in your holiest robes of protecting religious freedom? That was your master stroke; I have to hand it to you. Nothing stirs up fear of the unknown and foreign like a solid appeal to “tradition” under attack, and the pompous self-righteousness you managed to get behind this amendment was one for the books, I have no doubt. Decades from now, people will be talking about just how much scripture had to be twisted or ignored in order to come up with a “biblical” definition of marriage. Never mind that St. Paul advised against getting married at all unless you simply couldn’t resist the temptations of your flesh, and may have himself been a “friend of Dorcas”, if you get my meaning. Never mind that Jesus himself never married, that all of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament were polygamous, that a fair few of the brides in that Old Testament were slaves or taken as prizes from conquered territories, or that pretty much all of them were viewed merely as chattel, not as equal partners in a state-sanctioned union which invested property rights and tax benefits. No, all of that is beside the point, and we should be looking at the First Couple, Adam and Eve (not, as they say, “Adam and Steve”); they of Genesis, he of the earth and she of his rib, given to him as his helpmate in life. And after he had lain with her, and she had born him two sons, one of whom killed the other, the younger son took for himself a wife who was totally not his sister, or maybe she was, but that’s ok, because who else was he going to marry, right? (OK, now the marrying your cousin but not your gay cousin thing starts to make a little more sense.) But forget about Cain; Adam and Eve, that right there is our model for marriage, one man, one woman, and that’s it. Of course, had there been more than one woman or man on the planet when that marriage took place, who’s to say what might have happened, but that’s beside the point, and quit bringing up bothersome questions.
by Joel Rieves
My conservative brothers and sisters have been rather vociferous lately over what the Bible has to say about sexuality. To be honest, most of it has been quoted out of context. Cherry-picked,
if you will.
I’m sure you’ve heard that term before, it was all the rage back in early to mid-aughts to describe how the Bush Administration parsed intelligence leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. If you’re still not sure what it means, let’s clear that up now. There are several definitions for the term, but the one that best fits what we’re discussing today comes from Dictionary.com
: to choose or take the best or most profitable of (a number of things), especially for one’s own benefit or gain
. Using this device, we’ve been told that the heterosexuality is the only acceptable “lifestyle” and that cohabitation in any form other than Christian marriage is verboten. I could spend days picking these arguments apart, but others have done a much better job
than I ever could. Besides, I want to engage in a little cherry picking of my own.
If some folks can pull verses out the Bible and use them marginalize others and deny people their natural rights
, then why can’t I do the same to defend those rights and welcome those people back into our fellowship? See what you think:
The cover of Newsweek Magazine claimed the President got gay. So, I put on my gumshoes and started slapping the asphalt. It was time to get to the bottom of this seemingly disorienting change in orientation.
The deeper I dug the curiouser the case became. My fact finding skills were stretched to their limits, but in the end my superior ability to cobble together unrelated facts prevailed!
I have some bad news folks, al-Qaeda or some other notoriously insidious and nasty group has managed to spike the drinking fountains in the churches throughout the U.S. with some form of a hallucinogenic. You've got to give them this – it is a brilliant plan. Brilliant.
I mean, churches are the perfect place – just perfect – for working folks into a frenzy over something that is so obviously not true and then getting them to lead a crusade based on that very wrong idea.
What makes me think churches are the perfect place for such a crusade? Well, the Crusades for one.
What proof do I have that hallucinogenics are infecting my fellow church goers? Admittedly, it is early on in this nefarious infiltration via filtrated water, but think about it: who would be more likely to ingest higher quantities of water fountain water from churches than ministers? Right? Right. (Be watchful my friends).
If my airtight logic proves true, we will find evidence of some ministers talking crazy talk as a direct result of the mind altering hallucinogenics. (I know this is frightening, but you must stay with me on this).
With my ironclad theory in place, I received the following email from an informant who, based on my brilliant insight, has been actively avoiding the chilled refreshment of church water fountains:
“Important information. Stop. The 'sickness' is spreading. Stop. Must try to make it stop. Stop. Please find the inclosed correspondence from a minister of a small church to my sister. Stop. Actually, don't stop, read it. Stop.”
Yes, being that the communication was email and not telegraph, I too suspected that my informant had not been as diligent in avoiding water fountains as she had led me to believe.
(The following is the ACTUAL forward I received from a reader whose sister did receive it from a minister at a small church).
by Rev. Mark Sandlin
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Subject: WE HAVE A GAY PRESIDENT
I Will Pursue Justice. The recent church history in America includes a lot of good men doing nothing. Men who are wired, called and empowered to be men of action, yet who choose to be soft, insensitive, and passive-men who fail to remember that " to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). Don't you think it is time that the Church should raise her voice in righteous anger- even call peoples names to describe their blind indifference to Gods definition of Marriage that it should be between one man and one woman. If we don't challenge ungodliness and indecency in our culture, in government, in the entertainment media, and especially in the church then we're trying to be nicer than Jesus. Some fellow believers may be offended and think that this position may be to radical or too controversial but I can't just sit back and do nothing. I am calling for the church to arise and take a stand against our Presidents recent decision to support "Gay Marriage". Don't be swayed by prevailing political agendas, that tolerate sinful permissiveness and selfish desires that refuse to confront evil. We are called to love the world ( the people for whom Christ died ) in the way He loves it, and to hate the world ( its sin and rebellion against Him ) in the way He hates it. " whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4). Please forward this to all who are trying to please God and not men.
by Caitlin Kitchener
The proverbial block. Perhaps I haven't put my neck on it enough, after all, I don't very much fancy a decapitation.
So I just scuttle away and every now and again I'll pass the ol' proverbial block and watch it gather dust.
Yet there it is, as plain as your proverbial nose, the hesitation, the flinch of the mind, "Do I say it? Shall I tell them?" No, I just go past the ol' proverbial block and carry on my way.
I walk past the gallows, and see the traitors hanging there. I think to myself, "That could be me." But I just walk on past trying to ignore the ol' proverbial block.
I see the tarred body of a pirate, hanging in a rickety iron cage, blowing on the moor. "That'll never be me", yet there's a ghost behind me shaking with doubt. So I amble along, with the shadow of the ol' proverbial block looming ever larger.
The smell of burning hits my flaring nostrils. My eyes are hit with specks of ash as there is a line of witches. I walk past the executioner and he booms, "Aren't you one of them?" I sweat more than say, "No."
by Fr. Eric Funston
I'm an Episcopalian, an Anglican. That means that, following the lead of our seminal theologian Richard Hooker (1554-1600), I look at religious questions from three perspectives using three sources of authority: Holy Scripture, tradition, and reason. On the question of whether the committed, loving relationships of couples of the same sex should be blessed by the church and recognized by the state, the scriptural perspective is usually the only one the opponents of "same-sex marriage" address. They have been answered adequately on many occasions by others much more able to debate scripture than I am. Based on their analyses, I am satisfied that the Bible does not condemn homosexual relationships. It condemns perversion of human relationships, but that is quite a different thing. There is nothing perverted about two people (whatever their sexes may be) committing themselves to a life-long, mutually supportive, loving, and committed union.
In this essay, I shall examine marriage and the sacrament of matrimony from the standpoint of tradition, starting with two observations about marriage in the Christian church. The first is from an historian and Episcopal theologian, the Rev. Dr. Earl H. Brill:
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"Marriage is a universal human institution. It exists in every society, in every age. Can we, then, speak in any meaningful sense of Christian marriage? If by that term is meant something unique and exclusive, something significantly different from marriage as other human communities conceive it, than the answer must be No. But the answer is Yes if we mean merely that the Christian community maintains a particular view of marriage, even though it may be shared by many outside the Christian fold. Christians look at marriage from the perspective of certain presumptions about what marriage ought to be.
"We have to concede that our view of marriage is historically conditioned. It has changed with time, mostly for the better, we believe." (The Christian Moral Vision, Seabury Press, New York: 1979, p. 97; italics in original)
The second is from a Roman Catholic scholar, Dr. Joseph Martos, former director of the Russell Institute of Religion and Ministry at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky:
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"Relatively early in the history of Christianity, marriage was regarded as a sacrament in the broad sense, but it was only in the 12th Century that it came to be regarded as a sacrament in the same sense as baptism and the other official sacraments. In fact, before the 11th Century there was no such thing as a Christian wedding ceremony and throughout the Middle Ages there was no single church ritual for solemnizing marriages between Christians. It was only after the Council of Trent, because of the need to eliminate abuses in the practice of private marriages, that a standard Catholic wedding rite came into existence." (Doors to the Sacred, Doubleday, New York: 1982, p. 399)