Christian humility in light of gay pride, or The desire to Converse gracefully about same-sex relationships
I didn't really want to be pulled into this fray. After an invigorating and thoughtful discussion on Facebook, -- no, seriously, this does happen sometimes -- I've decided to record here some of the better elements of this larger discussion, and maybe enter some thoughts of my own.
Honestly, I'm ambivalent about sharing personal thoughts about a controversial issue in a public forum. If I've learned anything from observing Nazarene higher education in the last few months, it's just better, or simply prudent, to stay quiet and lurk in the shadows. My responsibility as a Christian educator, the primary focus of my ordained ministry in the Church, provokes me to say more to keep the conversation going. But, I'm just not ready. So, for now, here are some thoughts from other voices in Christianity that will season our conversations with grace and humility.
Grider in the paper argues for the gradual scientific acceptance of the biological roots for same-sex proclivity, even citing Copernicus being rejected by Luther and his fellow Reformers and the then-popular intelligent design explanation of human origins over Darwin's theory of evolution as examples of changing scientific positions sparking new perspectives among theologians.
Moving to Scriptural texts, Grider makes a convincing biblical case for not identifying Sodom (Genesis 19) with its namesake behavior (sodomy), but rather with the absence of hospitality (pp26-29). He also critiques the Western church for taking a hard line against homosexuality while giving usury--the practice of charging interest on loans--a sympathetic pass (pp32-35). He mentions other areas of willful "non-compliance with Bible teaching" in the holiness code of Leviticus in the contemporary church, including wearing blended fabric clothing and eating shellfish. More on this from the links below to Keller's review of Vines' book and Vines' response to Keller.
The section on "What the Orientation Is Life" is nothing short of haunting (pp20-23). I dare you to read this listing without entering into intercessory prayer for someone you know.
Grider ends on this note: "Are we still medieval, or Victorian, because of three Old Testament passages [Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:12] and three New Testament references [Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10] to the same-gender matter -- interpreted, still, as negative to gayness, long after we came to disregard the clear teachings opposed to such matters as to receiving money on interest loans, the abolition of slavery, and the ordination of women?" (p42) Sounds like a question a retired professor might ask and be brave enough to answer.
The strength of the paper is found at the beginning with what I think is the real reason for his research: "We Wesleyans, with warmed hearts made about three sizes too big, have enjoyed a long history of running to help when almost any group has not been getting a fair shake . . . [and] whether we might be the ones whom God wants to come running to help . . . gay and lesbian persons . . . who are our last large oppressed minority" (pp1, 2). This was written by a 79 year old theologian over 15 years ago.
A Pastor's Apology to the #LBGTQ Community
On June 29, 2015, Michael Palmer posted this written confession seeking forgiveness on several counts of Christian misbehavior toward the LBGTQ community. Palmer wrote, "Because you've been treated as an agenda instead of a face, a name and a story, we have been unwilling to hear the journey that's brought you to this point. Because we've not listened to your story, we're unaware of the ways in which the pulpit has been used as a club and our Bible as a knife to wound instead of heal." Words for Christians to take seriously in all areas of contention with unbelievers and other believers, I think.
One Thing Social Media Got Right about the Decision . . .
Tim Young from the blog Heartstone Journey takes another perspective in this June 30, 2015 post "One thing social media got right about the decision on gay marriage, #LoveWins!" The core of this piece is centered on Carle Zimmerman's Family and Civilization published in 1947 and abridged in 2008 for a series called Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind. Also, a free Kindle e-book. Young basically notes seven actions that usually take place as an epoch of civilization begins to deteriorate. The breakdown in the stability of marriage is one of these actions; sexual perversion including homosexuality is another.
40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags
Kevin DeYoung is a banner contributor to The Gospel Coalition blogs. On July 1, 2015, DeYoung posted a series of questions directed toward open supporters of the LBGT community and same-sex marriage. He concluded the lede with this statement: "Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place." In many ways, DeYoung could have been speaking for supporters and opponents of gay marriage, (even though I do not think he was). Questions from DeYoung ignited one of the more thoughtful and helpful discussion threads on this subject in the group Sacramental Nazarenes dated July 5, 2015.
A theology of sexuality in the beginning: Genesis 1-2 by Richard M. Davidson, St Andrews University Seminary Studies, Spring 1988, faculty.gordon.edu
Homosexuality Calmly Considered by Dennis Kinlaw, FrancisAsburySociety.com, 2014.
Love Wins: LGBT, a Facebook group for a "ministry educating and equipping the Church of the Nazarene to make Christlike disciples in the LGBT community" since 2009.
Loving Homosexuals: When Gay Pride Meets Christian Humility by Chad Thompson, 2011.
The Bible and same-sex relationships: a review article by Tim Keller, redeemer.com, June 2015
Matthew Vine's Response to Tim Keller's Review of God and the Gay Christian, MatthewVines.com, June 5, 2015
The Church of the Nazarene -- The Board of General Superintendents releases statement on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015.
The Wesleyan Church -- Response to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015. See also A Wesleyan View of Homosexuality & A Wesleyan View of Gender Identity and Expression
How I got here: Why a conservative Christian changed his stance on gay marriage at TheFletchSays blog June 28, 2015.
"I was born gay, it was my choice to be Baptist" by Bryan Kessler, al.com, July 6, 2015
If you know of any helpful articles, contact me by email or connect on Facebook and Twitter (@jamaprice)