by: Mark Currey
I pastor a small community in the heart of the Bible-Belt. The following email conversation occurred a couple of weeks ago. Given the conversation and the much deserved push-back from my friend, I read the following to the community I pastor a few Sundays ago…
I got this e-mail from a friend that I work with today. I know the friend that she is talking about. Read this and let
me know what you think. I'd like to give her your e-mail address if you say it is okay. Peace!
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“…do any of you guys know of a gay-friendly church in the central Arkansas area? A friend of mine wants to be baptized and she stepped out on faith, to ask my extremely Pentecostal father-in-law if he would do it, but he’s not comfortable with that. So, I’m trying to find somewhere she might feel valued and included. Would you let me know if you know of someplace that might be a good fit?”
sure... have her contact me.
our "church position" is somewhat nuanced - will explain when i have a little more time but, bottom line, everyone is welcome.
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 Brad Duncan
Please invite the gay crowd to our church. Please invite the LGBT
people. Please do it soon, and with no reservation. Please love the gay crowd and welcome them. Don't make their sexuality an issue at all, or withhold acceptance from them, don't criticize or hold back your friendship. Don't talk to them about sin instead of grace. Just invite them.
Please don't delay or discuss it in committee. Time is running out.
Dear Pastor, do it for us, before our hearts grow cold and hard. Do it so that we can remember the dank stink that grows in our hearts from the seed of hate. Do it before we can't love anymore.
Do it before we start to think that sitting in judgment makes us good, makes us better, makes us receive salvation. Do it before we forget about grace altogether.
As long as we can love to hate a class of people for their lifestyle, we can believe that we are somehow saved by ours. Maybe we think we are saved by our straightness, our lack of accepting the gay crowd? Did we already
forget about the blood of Christ and about grace? Have we already turned stale? Do we think we're actually ON God's side by not inviting them? Or are we against him?
Dear Pastor, the gay crowd is not going to corrupt our children, or convince us to be promiscuous or unfaithful. The gay crowd is not going to make us love sin or the devil. The gay crowd is not going to make us love God
less. The gay crowd will not diminish our worship, or reduce ourappreciation for the Bible. The gay crowd is not contagious or repellent.