Friday, November 4, 2011

GAY LOVE AND GAY LIFE.... November, 2005..edited Nov. 4, 2011

Introduction: An area of social justice that that has challenged our churches and our nation especially the past fifteen years has to do with the reality of  persons of  various sexual orientations who are a part of our culture. I reached personal strong convictions about the significance of LGBT persons  and the discrimination they have experienced. My change came about through  what I consider an influence of the  Spirit of Jesus, conversing with LGBT persons as counseling clients and friends and  personal dreams and 'visions' content. Here are two  expressions of  my basic beliefs. The first is an article that was in the State Journal Register in November 2005. The second is a brief statement I wrote about the same time as an answer to a question on the topic.  I attempt to put this human justice issue in the context of other historical  justice issues which  the church and culture , for the most part,  have found their  way to a more just, loving and I believe Jesus-like position. *

Tragic Misuse Of Scripture/Right To Marry:
 Regarding any social justice topic, Christians should be very aware that the church has often been slow to action. This is in spite of the gospel  stories’ determined  focus on Jesus accepting, valuing and affirming all kinds people; especially ones his own religious community had labeled unworthy and thus to be distanced or outright rejected.
History documents sadly that large parts of the Christian Church used ‘clear sounding’ scripture to hinder social justice and equal valuing of human beings. The institutional church used scripture to justify the inquisition. People were  tortured and killed for not accepting the teaching of the existing church.  Many churches  used scripture to justify enslavement of people of color for the benefit of the dominant white ‘Christian’ culture. Parts of the American church concluded that Jesus’ teachings opposed  the immorality of slavery and acted to help end it. Still people of color were denied  human rights in much of the nation and the right to vote in our evolving democracy. Corrective legislation finally emerged out of the leadership of  Pastor Martin Luther King Jr.

Catholics and Protestants are embarrassed by the church’s supportive role in Hitler’s Nazi regime bringing the Holocaust against  Jewish people. Scripture was powerfully used to stimulate hate toward Jesus’ own ethnic group. Christian churches misused scripture to define  women as second class citizens in most denominations until recent decades. It’s been misused for centuries  promoting a model of marriage where a husband is openly taught to be dominant over his wife and she to be submissive. By quoting scripture women were denied American voting rights until only eight decades ago. Susan B. Anthony, of Christian Quaker background, rose up affirming that the Spirit of Jesus opposes such discrimination in the land of the free.

I believe within the next few years discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgendered  persons will be viewed similarly. We’ll see regretfully how the church misused scripture again to deny persons full acceptance in the church and even used politics to deny them equal rights and protections under the law. History will show, I believe, that our evolving democracy was again true to itself, and  parts of the church were sensitive enough to hear the still speaking voice of Jesus. And that Christians finally opposed discrimination against and denial of civil rights to persons simply because they had a different sexual orientation; simply because they were gay.

Misuse of scripture happens when people, believing they honor it, actually are disrespecting  the given nature of scripture. It happens when its embeddedness in ancient times, it's humanness, its effort to describe the indescribable are taken at face value and literally. This easily results in a narrow and  psychologically uninformed discriminatory  perspective. It’s handled irresponsibly also by refusal to allow  literary, biblical and scientific scholarship help shape its interpretation and application. In retrospect, a discerning use of Jesus’ teachings could have quickly put the church on the moral and just side of  the historical situations above.

 Legal rights have been denied gay persons for centuries based on negative interpretations of a half dozen Biblical passages, none of which are attributed to Jesus. Though such interpretations are long standing  in many churches, all either take statements out of context, do not identify  what behaviors or states of heart are actually wrong. Or they tragically ignore the wealth of information about homosexuality provided by science, with God’s help, in recent decades.  They definitely don’t  refer to loving, committed, monogamous  relationships like are in today’s culture.

Continuing to misuse scripture to declare all gay persons sinful and to arrogantly preach that their love and commitment is never honorable, and so unworthy of celebrating, is morally wrong. No longer should this be practiced or tolerated by Christians in light of  the extravagant acceptance by Jesus of all kinds of people and his insistence that his followers do the same.

 The United Church of Christ Synod's vote in Atlanta  July 4, 2005 to not deny  the right of all loving, committed, responsible marriages, regardless of gender, to stand as equally accepted in church and culture should be seen as a courageous and spiritually discerned action. The timeless values which Jesus taught and lived, which should always be the standard of the church, are beginning to be correctly applied to another area of shameful social injustice.  And again, small parts of the Christian church are getting it right.   Jim Hibbett
Jesus' teaching on homosexuality is not just 'unclear' but non existent. The frequently quoted Rom 1:27 is definitely not from Jesus. No gospel reports Jesus ever addressing the issue of homosexuality. Nowhere does the Bible speak of monogamous, committed homosexual relationships as harmful or sinful behavior. Paul's theme in the Romans passage  is that all humans have sinned and are under precisely the  same judgment. Then comes his profound thesis of forgiveness to all humans based on God's love and grace through what he calls the >good news'. The passage does say in passing, "males did shameful things with males". Some cling to this passage desiring to condemn all sexual expression between same sex partners as 'shameful.' I suggest that it is just as biblical to say that >males did shameful things with females.' Sexual sin is any sexual interaction that is based on power, control, selfishness or disrespect rather than on love, mutuality, commitment and responsibility. Either ways of behaving can be present or absent in both LGBT and heterosexual involvement. That is what determines the right or wrong of any sexual expression.

Observable facts, reputable human knowledge and a desire to apply the Spirit of Christ inform me that it's a terrible and mean spirited  mistake to condemn a large part of the human family for their experienced  God-given sexual orientation. Informed people are coming to understand this more than previous generations could. This whole changing  area of  sexual human reality has to do with the fact there are higher levels of consciousness possible in present day humans than was possible in ancient, including Biblical, times. Racial  and gender equality are two parallel  areas that  were not matters of cultural social value in Biblical times as well. Making  negative judgments regarding LGBT  is not just to judge a human behavior but is to judge the very being, potential life joy and inner reality of a person. It is nothing less than, no matter how unintentional, an attempt to crush the souls of fellow brothers and sisters. That can never be a loving, kind or moral thing to do. Like much human activity, in things sexual it may be less important what one does than how and why s/he does it. This last statement is  consistent with Jesus' way of  teaching about the nature of  moral living(Mark 7:14 23).
Jim Hibbett
* Another post on this subject from September 2012.

No comments: