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)
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.
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.