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 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.
I'm still trying to sort out what happened in North Carolina yesterday. My head is spinning like a ballerina doing a fouette.
Hey look! I just lost 61% percent of my North Carolina readers. That simile was just a bit too “gay” for them. Oh, look I lost more because I used the word “simile” and they didn't want to have to “Google” it.
Did you hear that?! I sure did! It was a some of the North Carolinians who voted against Amendment One cheering me on. Hear it? “Yes!” “Ha! That's right.” “Bunch of backwoods, ignorant hicks!” “Preach it brother.”
And they think they have the moral high ground, really?
Hey look! It happened again! I just lost a bunch of North Carolinian holier-than-thou types. Meh. Who cares? It was getting stuffy in here anyway. Am I right? Who needs North Carolinians anyway?! Let's boycott the whole state! Yes!
I mean, sure, we'll all miss our Pepsi and Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Not to mention Krispy Kreme (Okay, we may have to have a doughnut exemption). And, sure, it will hit at the pockets of many of the very people who not only voted against
the amendment, but rallied against it, handed out fliers, staffed phone banks, and even worked outside voting facilities encouraging folks to vote against it. And, okay sure, some of them are also the gay couples upon which this senseless and mean-spirited amendment steps.
But we are doing it for their on good! Right? Um, I mean, “Right!” Sure we are. Just like the folks who voted for the law did it for their own good. Saving them from the fires of Hell. Right?
Hey look! I just lost a bunch of readers who were hoping to feel good about their “righteous anger.”
Wait! Come back. No really. I was just pretending to be "righteously mean"... I mean, ummm, "righteously angry" - to make a point! See? Just being silly!
Oh well. So, I guess it's just us now. Too bad really. Don't get me wrong, I like you. A lot. It's just that there's so much we could have talked about with all of them.
For example, we could have talked about how using God's name for your own purposes turns out to be against one of the 10 Commandments that they so badly wish to hang in the courts of justice. Yep. “Using God's name in vain” actually means using God's name to support something God doesn't support.
Guess what? Excluding people? Preventing the full recognition of love? God doesn't support that. So, when you use God's name to constitutionalize discrimination, you are using God's name in vain. Which means, after passing Amendment One for purportedly religious reasons, hanging the 10 Commandments in the courts of justice in North Carolina is now either the height of hypocrisy or irony. I'm not sure which. Maybe both.