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blue bits. red rocks.

lgbt equality

Growing up gay, you are constantly told—implicitly and explicitly—that you are weird, weak, and wrong. This is true even in my generation, which is undoubtedly the most progressive in American history on gay issues. Debates are held on the national level about whether you are fit to be a pro athlete, or a Boy Scout, or a parent. Politicians fight hard for the right of a business owner to turn you away. The word faggot, a word that says you are pathetic and contemptible, is used as an all-purpose insult. We’re getting better, in all these areas. But to be gay is still to be kept apart from the institutions of society in myriad ways. And that, at least for me, is what the same-sex marriage fight is about. Forget the tax benefits and the visitation rights, forget the legal recognition of a committed relationship, forget even the right to publicly acknowledge the love one has for another person. The fight for gay marriage is a fight to be recognized as a normal member of society. A Reader’s Case for Punishing Gay-Marriage Opponents

…he gave material support to a campaign whose central strategy was to dishonestly and maliciously promote the idea that LGBT people living their lives openly and as full citizens constituted nothing less than a clear and present danger to the welfare of children. (See Mark Stern for a depressing reminder of that profoundly odious and illiberal campaign). If he doesn’t share the views advocated in those ads, but merely thought they were a useful means to an end, that doesn’t do him any favors. It’s very easy to be optimistic about LGBT rights in the current environment, and I am indeed optimistic that in the short and medium term, they are going to lose. But in the long run, rollback is not impossible. And from Russia to Uganda to Nigeria, we see this belief—that LGBT rights and freedoms pose a threat to the well-being of children—seems to be, if not a necessary or sufficient ingredient for rollback, certainly a feature that promotes it. As long as the believe Eich was promoting is widespread, the rights of LGBT people, even when achieved, will not be secure. The toxic nature of the message he paid to promote shouldn’t be lost in the shorthand of how we discuss this. Further thoughts on Eich’s resignation

…opposing equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity should no longer be an acceptable position in civilized society, just as opposing equal rights for people according to the color of their skin is no longer an acceptable position. Anyone who opposes gay marriage, or who opposed it in the past and does not repent, doesn’t deserve to sit at the grown-up table any more. Gay marriage is no longer an issue where reasonable people can agree to disagree. Opposing gay marriage is no longer an acceptable position

What if?

Winging It:

No one on that side is recognizing that “What gives you the right to push your morality on others?” is exactly aimed at pushing their morality on others. It seems strange to me that the hateful speech of “You’re just a homophobic hater!” is never recognized by those protesting what they see as hate. No one protesting those who hold that homosexual behavior is a sin is asking whether or not homosexual behavior is a sin or not. That question is irrelevant, apparently.

I would suggest that the question is central … and not trivial. Consider the facts. Historically, the entire history of the Church has been to hold this particular behavior as clearly biblical sin. The only point of deviation is the last 50 years. Scripturally, every biblical reference to homosexual behavior is negative, calling it sin or worse (like “abomination”). No biblical reference paints the behavior in any positive light. Worse, Paul’s reference links it not to mere sin, but part of a string of assurances of exclusion from the kingdom.

Already trampled over much of this ground in my missive in response to sds earlier in the week:

You’re blinded by your own cultural and/or traditional accommodation. You impose upon Scripture standards of your own which are not to be found there, and you accept as binding specific rules that suit you, while completely ignoring or discarding many other Biblical proscriptions and rules that you do not like. In other words, you pick and choose, and your “affirmation of human sexuality” is more a combination of social convention and prejudice, which you support by cherry picking carefully edited portions of Scripture.

Here are a few instances of “biblical teaching” on sexual relationships that most today would deem detestable…

But since my pen is still warm, I’ll tackle some of the other arguments presented that smack of theological arrogance. ;)

First off, though, living in a pluralistic, post-Christian culture, the question of what professing Christians deem as sin simply is not relevant to a growing number of people, including many that even self-tag as “Christian”. Theologically conservative and/or fundamentalist Christians will have to muster some other appeal to reason than the religious argument or tradition.

Historically, the entire history of the Church has been to hold this particular behavior as clearly biblical sin.

Granted, for most of church history, this is true. But there are questions about the early church — some historians believe early Christians sanctioned same sex unions. The early church also took to heart Jesus words about not swearing oaths and a praxis of pacifism. A current that only, at least in America, is now only confined to a few church groups and denominations.

But even if it is tradition, that doesn’t mean it is the correct interpretation. Like the proscription of same sex unions, until the last two centuries, slavery was justified by scripture. And not by a small minority, but most professing Christians. In fact, the Civil War was first and foremost, a battle over biblical interpretation — and once again, I implore you to read The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. The biblical literalists of the day (at least in the United States) stood in support of biblical sanction for slavery. They plucked out verses, just like today, to make their case while the abolitionist cause stressed the overall biblical narrative or the primacy of Jesus commandment to love others. It’s uncanny to me how strikingly similar today’s anti-marriage-equality culture warriors are to those who proclaimed the biblical right to slavery back in the 19C.

Slavery was a big deal, but we can look at other issues — usury (charging of interest, prohibited by the Church for ~1,000 years until the Age of Enlightenment), divorce (until about ~50 years ago), equality for women (again, the early church appears to have been quite different, with women in leadership, then after the Age of Church Councils, it all dissipated and a rigid patriarchy emerged that held sway until relatively recent times, and even not so for many church groups and denominations, including one of the largest, Catholics).

Scripturally, every biblical reference to homosexual behavior is negative, calling it sin or worse (like “abomination”)

You’re making an atrocious assumption that the word ἀρσενοκοῖται (mapped to “homosexuals” in some translations [1 Cor 6:9]) is the equivalence of a modern same sex relationship. It might be. Or it might denote pederasty. The more I study about ancient Greek and Roman culture, it’s hard to extrapolate out mores and place them in a modern context without being hijacked by the unwanted baggage that tags along — namely, the ugliness of misogyny and patriarchy, that permeated the fabric of society. Detractors of marriage equality will point out that Romans knew well concerning homosexual relations, and even more gruesome, cherished such affairs, but never ever enshrined the idea of same sex marriage. But the folly of that assertion is ignoring the giant elephant that’s squashing the gazebo — that in a same sex union, one of the parties would have to don the role of “the woman”. And that was status more unbecoming than to known for engaging in a homosexual tryst. For, the ancients (not all, no doubt, but judging from what was written), a woman was considered an incomplete man.

Paul’s reference links it not to mere sin, but part of a string of assurances of exclusion from the kingdom.

Listed in that enumeration of the “unrighteous” is a host of “shalom disturbance" acts:

…nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

We’re all thieves, greed-mongers, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Every day. If not in deed, on a particular day, or for a stretch of hours, certainly it occupies our thought patterns.

And the blood of Jesus cleanses us. :)

Adventures in Missing Jesus, Volume XXV

sds:

“The defense for Fundamentalists’ obsession with homosexuality is the Bible, which they claim to read literally. If this was true, they might notice the words “poor” and “poverty” appear 446 times and that “wealth” is mentioned in 1,273 verses, rarely positively. Only five or six passages discuss homosexuality, though nearly every American can recite them, hearing each one quoted so often. If Fundamentalists fought LGBTQ equality as a hobby, after fulfilling their duty to fight poverty, they might be chastised and forgiven. They’ve revealed, though, they will abandon the poor, to condemn not only gay men and women but anyone who tolerates them. In doing so they’ve denied the very faith and savior they claim to revere. Whatever religion Fundamentalism is, it isn’t Christianity, and it’s time to revoke that label. Categorizing homosexuality, not injustice, as the greatest evil is absurd and disturbing, but it reflects a whole moral system that contradicts the essence of Christian Scripture.”

It’s Time to Stop Calling Fundamentalists ‘Christians’ (via azspot)

This quote (why bother reading the rest of it?) is a yawn-fest of red herring filled tripe. Pardon the mixed metaphor.

Wow, that’s a wallop of a substantive rejoinder. Sullen blind dismissal with overused metaphor FTW.

Volume of verses is hardly the primary indication of a particular topic’s importance. The word “Trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible at all, yet it’s one of the core doctrines of Christianity. Jesus talked more about hall and damnation than he did about love.

First, you do realize that there are a lot of Christian groups and denominations that hold to nontrinitarianism. I don’t personally subscribe to such a view, but I’m not going cast them out of the Jesus fold. Furthermore, many, perhaps most, Christians have little or no understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. And they couldn’t care less.. Myself, I struggle with all the tumult over the fine details of trinitarian aspects, like the perichoresis or why the schism erupting rancor over the Filiolique clause. But the words (and deeds) of Jesus on loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, is a constant drumbeat in the gospel of Jesus.

Second, flat out, Jesus did not talk “more about hall and damnation than he did about love”. If we want to get technical, he really didn’t really speak of “hell” as it is theologically constructed by contemporary fundamentalists and conservative Christians — allusions to Hades or Gehenna are translated to “hell”, and while some Christians equate these words to a state of eternal conscious torment, there are other theological streams that hold to a different scripture backed interpretation. But even if we grant those verses, there still are no more than a dozen or so in the four gospels. In Paul’s letters, Gehenna or “hell” is never used, though “Hades” is referenced a few times (but translators believe “death” or “grave” is a more appropriate term). But that’s being generous, and equating every admonition from Jesus on justice and judgment as an exhortation on hell is a twisted way of viewing “good news”.

But I only see a couple of times where Jesus talks about hell — in Matthew 25 and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In both, the rich (or the goats) are judged for neglecting the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, etc..

People with a retributive spirit tend to see judgment through the perspective of punishment. But “judgment” may not be as reciprocity minded, tit for tat inclined fallen human worldly sensibility confines it, but more so in the vein of destruction of evil side of which humankind chooses to elevate and that God chooses to kill, not the person. We can go back and forth ad nauseam on whether it is punishment, annihilation, or cleansing of evil — as there is scriptural support for all these views.

That said, Jesus was pretty clear about his mission:

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

Later, Jesus response to disciples of John the Baptist, that inquire if Jesus truly is “the one” they’ve been expecting:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth
have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.

Sounds like a message of love to me, not one of hell and damnation.

Those are just the highlights, but the words (and actions) of Jesus throughout the gospels are replete with love — are you going to tell me that the Sermon on the Mount is about hell and damnation, and not about loving your neighbor (and enemy)?

However, on the other hand, I will grant, that in some respects, simply tallying up scripture verses doesn’t represent the totality of the biblical scorecard ;) That some matters go to the root, are more fundamental and leave other parts of scripture sublated. Here’s Jesus again:

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?

He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

Love never fails. …the greatest of these is love.

Now, finally, we’ve arrived at the crux of the displeasure (honestly, while the author of the original article strikes some good points, I believe it’s above his pay grade to be kicking out those with theology he finds distasteful) — outrage over protest in treating LGBT people as full fledged brothers and sisters in Christ.

Also, Christian affirmation of human sexuality as defined by Scripture and the created order implies nothing about how they will treat homosexuals or the poor. What a jumble of polemical nonsense.

You’re blinded by your own cultural and/or traditional accommodation. You impose upon Scripture standards of your own which are not to be found there, and you accept as binding specific rules that suit you, while completely ignoring or discarding many other Biblical proscriptions and rules that you do not like. In other words, you pick and choose, and your “affirmation of human sexuality” is more a combination of social convention and prejudice, which you support by cherry picking carefully edited portions of Scripture.

Here are a few instances of “biblical teaching” on sexual relationships that most today would deem detestable:

  • no ban on men having multiple wives, though it’s recommended that bishops should have only one wife [1 Tim 3:2]
  • David and Solomon and many other patriarchs had many wives, and are never criticized for it
  • concubines permitted, along with stoning to death for adultery [Deut 22]
  • death penalty is instructed for homosexual relations [Lev 18]
  • death penalty for adultery [Deut 22]
  • death penalty for being disobedient to your parents [Deut 21]
  • death penalty for sexual relations with one of your father’s wives (shouldn’t that be covered under “being disobedient to your parents” already :)) [Lev 18]
  • marriage to your dead brother’s wife is under certain circumstances compulsory [Deut 25]

The point is not to descend into absurdity but to illustrate how we have reinterpreted Scripture with new social situations.

I believe monogamy is justified on the basis that it grants for full mutual respect, loyalty, trust between covenantal entrants, and preserves the security of children. These are important Bible themes, but just like the Trinity, not actually spelled out verbatim in the Bible itself, and it needs to be worked out in just the same fashion. That Jesus teaching on universal respect, compassion, love, and justice be applied.

We really don’t need to debate the issue of the Scriptures and same sex marriage at all, given that we recognize all the many Scriptural moral rules we have rejected. Because the reason we rejected them is that they conflict with these great fundamental Biblical moral principles:

  1. Unrestricted love of neighbor — we should treat all humankind with the same concern that we treat ourselves.
  2. Unrestricted compassion — we must always have in mind the ultimate good of others, even when we are compelled to restrain or punish.
  3. Freedom from law to walk in the Spirit — all written laws should be tested that they do indeed encourage relationships of trust, loyalty, honesty, and friendship. Christ is the end of the law. [Rom 10:4]

The tragedy of fundamentalism is that it is so utterly unbiblical. It insists on the literal truth of a few selected passages, neglecting or twisting the interpretation of many others. A truly Bible-based faith would see that fallibility of the human understanding of divine revelation and the many different human perspectives on divine revelation, even as it corrects that understanding and moves us on to new imaginative visions of the divine. What the Bible teaches, at least to Christians, is that we should take responsibility for our own moral decisions, always being motivated by the basic Christian principles of the self-giving, agapistic love and thew new and joyous life of freedom that is to be found in Christ Jesus. That is Biblical morality, and we should never try to disguise it by hiding behind a few written rules that often show the limitations of past moral perceptions that the Spirit calls us to leave behind.

Why should people who believe these things about gay people get to escape responsibility for the judgment that’s an inherent part of subscribing to such beliefs by muttering benign platitudes about respecting everyone? Let’s call a spade a spade, with a reminder and challenge to those who believe homosexuality is a moral wrong: We gay people carry around deep-seated feelings of desire for members of our own sex; we love and desire this way on a daily basis; many of us make the choice—which we find morally acceptable—to express our feelings with same-sex sexual behavior routinely. All this forms a deep part of who we are. Do you still respect us? If so, consider re-examining your moral compass; if not, please stop saying you respect us (much less everyone), and take responsibility for what you really believe. Should you respect gay people if you find homosexuality immoral?

The deeper question in the debate over religious liberty raises is whether sexual orientation and gender identity should be classified and protected in the same way race is. No one today makes the argument that a for-profit employer should be able to deny services to blacks or Asians; the public consensus has become that racial discrimination deserves no place in society. It is religious conservatives’ great fear that moral opposition to homosexuality and same-sex unions will assume the same status. "Religious Liberty": The Next Big Front in the Culture Wars

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I’m not going to “boycott” Chick Fil A but I’m certainly not willing to give my business to a sham operation that tries to wear a mask of Christianity. There is nothing about Chick Fil A that makes it any different than McDonalds or Burger King; it is a company like any other. Yet when it claims to be “Christian” that’s when I ask my questions. Really it doesn’t matter, there are plenty of Americans wed more to some vision of their country and their civic religion rather than the meek Jesus of Nazareth. The Civic Religion of America is a whore that drinks shed blood until drunk and bloated. One day it will be tossed off and trampled by the Beast it rides. May all gays be not misled by this moralism, but come and take up a yoke with King Jesus for He brings life. He brings fulfillment and peace and in this shambling mass called Church, of apostate and true, find a seat and sit under the Master’s feet. Chick Fil A and the Delusion of a Nation

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The issue is not homosexuality. We do the same with Muslims and Hindus, with Atheists and Agnostics. We do it with Christians that think differently regarding heaven and hell, baptism or remarriage, or those who get a little too charismatic when their favorite worship song is played. We do it with anyone who we view as “the Other.” The real issue is us. 

We struggle to “put skin” on the words and message of Christ with anyone who thinks differently than us. Too often, we demand conformity prior to connection. When we approach one another as brothers and sisters—image bearers of the God we claim to serve—and celebrate what we have in common, we better position ourselves to helpful dialogue in the midst of disagreement. 

We carry divine potential for healing and restoration. We have an opportunity and responsibility to allow our words and actions to surge with the power and energy of a life of love. Learning to Speak: Chick-fil-A & our Inability to Dialogue

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