Sunday, April 10, 2016

LBGTQ, Facebook, The Bible, And A Solution!

I got in trouble yesterday. That's not unusual. I seem to get in trouble quite often. Usually I feel bad about it. In this case, I don't.

Yesterday, while spending time in airports between flights back to Indiana, I looked at Facebook and Twitter a good bit. And I liked a good number of my friends and family's posts. And I saw some posts that I liked enough to share. Some of my friends and family didn't care for them. The one at the left was one of them.

Now I admit, that in the issue of LBGTQ rights, I'm a long way from where I used to be.  And I'm a long way from where some of my friends and family are.

If you would have talked to the 1970s and 80s Brent Bill, he probably would have echoed many of the things that some of these friends and family are saying.  But then I lived a pretty insular (rarely encountering Christians countering a specific Evangelical mindset (that one which grew out of what many in gospel songs call the "old time religion" -- the 19th century Holiness revivalist movement). That old time religion, invented in the 19th and early 20th century, was certainly not the "old time religion" of Jesus and the apostles though."

It is hard to say when the change in my thinking about LBGTQ rights began changing. It could be in the late 80s when a good friend of mine led the charge against LBGTQ people and meetings in our yearly meeting -- and then, a couple of years later was found to be gay.  By then I realized also that my family includes gay LBGTQ people. I was named for a gay man -- a good friend of my parents (and I still have his old MG!). I also began teaching and had students that were LGBTQ. And I some of the deepest, most faithful Christ-followers I know are LBGTQ. Their faithfulness to Jesus and devotion to personal and corporate Christian faith at times puts mine to shame.

And so I have changed. I read the Bible a bit differently than I used to.  Yes, I know the Bible verses that are used by those opposed to LBGTQ.  Both Old and New Testament verses. I also know that many of those same people completely ignore many Old and New Testaments verses when it serves their beliefs. I'm not going to go into examples of that now.  But let me say that when this post (and others like it appeared on my Facebook page, I began receiving corrective posts from some friends and family that

  • Contained long discourses on the scripture references that proved that it was really fine to discrimate against LBGTQ folks because their sin is an abomination against the will of God. I appreciated those verses because, despite years of reading the Bible, studying scripture in institutions from the church, Young Life, Bible college, college, and two seminaries, I had never encountered the Bible before. At least that's what the writers seemed to assume. I must admit I was wee bit miffed to be Bible-hauled (the Evangelical version of keel-hauling in my mind) by people (even friends and family) who seem to think that all my study has been completely worthless and I have not learned a thing. Still, I guess I needed the correction.
  • Talked about church doctrine over the years. I guess, again despite my college and seminary degrees and years of study (and ministerial credentials), I had missed the boat again. I had always found church doctrine interesting -- but which church's is right. I was wondering why a good Evangelical friend of mine was quoting Catholic church doctrine. In the 50s did we Evangelicals think they were all going to Hell and the Roman Catholic Church was apostate?? When did the thinking change? Such thinking shouldn't be able to change, should it?
  • There was a big difference between serving pizza and saving a life.  Ah. That's a thought that had not occurred to me.  So, if I'm a doctor or nurse, my religious beliefs have to be put on hold but if I'm a pizza maker (or restroom monitor), they don't. I guess I missed the verse (but then, as I admit up above, I appear to have missed a lot of verses!), that where Jesus said  "Verily, if a gay man falleth into a ditch and breaketh his leg, thee must nurse him. But if a gay man falleth from hunger on thy doorstep, thee can turn him away and say, 'Depart from me, you sinner. I know thee not.'"
When I finally got home last night, all of this could have kept me up all night contemplating it. Except that I didn't get home until 1 a.m. and went directly to bed and fell asleep.

The interwebs didn't, though. They kept posting and I was awakened, on this Lord's day, to more discriminatory screeds in the name of religious purity and biblical adherence.

What's a Christian to do? And then in came to me. I need to turn the clock back. I need to go back to a time when I didn't know all that I know or think now and the people I know now. I need to go back to the old time religion when Jesus (and his sidekick Paul) said it, I believed it, and that settled it.  

I wondered if 1973 would be a good date -- pre-seminary, still attending the same church I grew up in.  Nope, Things were already in motion that made me question -- new translations of the Bible, Catholic friends, and that afore-mentioned gay man that I was named for (who I really liked).

After more pondering, I decided to land around 313 CE. That would miss the Roman persecution, be ahead of adoption of the Nicean creed, Christians were one big happy family then, sitting around reading the Bible (King James Version?). 

I invited all those who sent me corrective emails and posts to travel back there with me. Of course, the woman who sent me a long list of scriptural proofs of my error won't be able to do that -- no email of course and likewise, women were to keep silent in the church and not ever try to teach a man. But we won't have worry about serving pizza to LBGTQ, because according to one fellow who writes me every time I post on this subject, there weren't any back then. Not having been there myself, I guess I have to take his word for it. I am pretty sure there wasn't any pizza,though, so that solves that problem.

But, the more I think about it, I think I'll stay in this time. I'd rather wrestle with what the Bible says (and what people say the Bible says) than be a part of a same thinking bunch of people (sounds rather cultish to me). I'd also rather live in a time with safe food, good water, nice homes, means of traveling the world, instant communication, health services and more that Biblical times people could only marvel at, And try to make sense of the ways of God (and the ways God is calling me) in this day and time.

If you feel your faith calls you to deny pizza, genderless restrooms, marriage, et al to LBGTQ folks, well, that's between you and Jesus. As for me, "Ally, ally, in free. Straight. Gay. Democratic. Republican. Donald Trump. Bernie Saunders. Muslims. Jews. Evangelicals. Unitarians. In the name of Jesus whom I try to serve faithfully (and often fail), I welcome you. For health care, prayer, or pizza -- if there's any in the house.


Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Bill,

I've not commented for some time, but your reflective article today so accurately captures the confusion of the various versions of modern Christianity that I decided to respond.

I've also gone through major changes related to the topic in the last some 25 years.

#1 Some of them are relational. We learned that a close friend is same sexual. Personal relationships and dialog with those whose views you oppose does often change a person. It has me. It has helped me to be more understanding, even if I still don't agree. Empathy and compassion are so important.
I read more scholarly work on same sexuality, which led me to see that some of my views and reasonings on the topic were inaccurate, others irrational.

#2 Even if one doesn't necessarily agree with same sexuality, one can still support monogamy and marriage for those who are same sexual. Equality before the law is a human right. Those Christians who deny same sexual people the same rights they enjoy are being prejudiced and unfair, even if they are correct about s.s. being wrong.

#3 Like you clearly point out, many of those most outspoken against s.s. based on biblical texts also don't apply all biblical texts to their own lives either. It was really hypocritical when a famous Christian politician in the last election strongly condemned s.s. people, when he himself had violated Jesus' explicit command against divorce 2 times, and he had committed adultery twice!

Many of the same Evangelical churches which deny s.s. people a place, welcome divorced people, people who kill, people who practice greed, gluttony, etc.

I'm most puzzled why the Evangelical church has focused so heavily on s.s., but doesn't do likewise on many more clear commands from the Bible? On these other topics, churches let individual Christians decide.
Even more strangely, many Evangelical churches come down on the very side that is the exact opposite of Jesus' words.

#4 In your post, you use the term LBGTQ, as do many other Christians who care for s.s. people the same as they care for o.s. people.

I think this is unwise, though I realize that you and others probably use the term to emphasize that you don't condemn s.s. people.

However, since LBGTQ is a term coined by non-monogamous secular (in the negative sense) individuals, I don't think it is good to use the term.

For instance, B stands for "bi-sexual." But if a person is celibate until they marry, whether in an opposite sexual ceremony or a same sexual ceremony, clearly "bi-sexuality" does't apply. One can't be bi-sexual and live for fidelity, monogamy, and purity.

I’ve got your Sacred Compass book right here on my bookshelf from when I read it in late 2008. I think I’ll pull it out and see if you had anything to say on this topic then.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for making me think again on the topic.

Brent Bill said...


ACR said...

What are the general thoughts among conservative Friends surrounding the same-sex issue(s)? Especially, when the social and political redefinition of marriage comes into question?