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View Diary: Questions re: Homosexuality (74 comments)

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  •  Have a few thoughts about this (13+ / 0-)

    being a gay theologian and all.

    First, if you want to get a sense of how gay-friendly Evangelicals deal with the question, I'd start with Is the Homosexual My Neighbor: A Positive Christian Response, which works from basic Evangelical assumptions.

    You're going to bump into a bunch of frustration if you're trying to argue with a born-again Evangelical based on this:

    There are the Bible verses.  But these can be impeached pretty easily.  The only thing that Jesus was clear about was the New Covenant, which is the core of Christianity.  The Old Testament laws and prophets are not important compared with the admonition to love God and love each other.
    For the born-again person, Jesus is not primarily a teacher, but a person with whom one is in a transforming relationship.  This can be hard to grok for Enlightenment types, because you have to wrap your mind around someone having an "invisible friend."  I suppose the first question to ask yourself is how deep the friendship is, and how far you're willing to try to do the thought experiment of figuring out where he's coming from.

    In the Evangelical equation, Jesus can't be taken out of the Bible - the Bible as a whole, understood as God's revelation, is the key to understanding what Jesus came to do.  So, you'll generally get a bunch of "love the sinner, hate the sin" stuff - which isn't a bad principle in itself,  but doesn't do much to actually treat LGBT people as having a valid voice in the conversation.  It's fairly easy to find Evangelical anti-gay arguments, and if you want to have this discussion, it's probably a good idea to get some of them under your belt so you can argue against the actual positions, instead of a straw man.  I might check out Stanley Grentz Welcoming But Not Affirming.

    I'm not an Evangelical or born-again, so I generally avoid having that conversation.  I did participate in a two-year process in a local United Methodist congregation, over whether to be explicitly welcoming to openly LGBT people.  The first year, the proposition was narrowly defeated.  The second year, the proposition was unanimously accepted.  In large part, that was simply a matter of me sticking around as an openly gay person, and having some persistent allies.  

    Another book I'd recommend strongly is John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, which addresses a lot of the questions you're asking from a historical perspective.  It's really not as simple as "bad Medieval" vs. "good Enlightenment."

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:02:40 AM PDT

    •  Thanks, that is a real response (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42, yaque, sewaneepat, jgilhousen

      I very much appreciate a serious person who actually has spent some dedicated effort delving into the source material.  I never thought I would run across a gay theologian.  Great.

      I went to Baylor, so I have a basic orientation in Bible history.  For me, it was easy to just ignore the Old Testament and I have never really understood why some people are obsessed with it to the degree they are.  

      I also became politically active in the years after I graduated and have been intrigued at the way evangelical culture, with the Bible as a superficial varnish on it, has become so intertwined with elitism.  It has come up again and again at different levels and is intensifying.  

      So there is a larger context.  But I chose to focus in on one aspect here.  

      hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

      by Stuart Heady on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:19:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I got an Master of Theological Studies (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, sewaneepat, jgilhousen

        in Old Testament Interpretation from a liberal-leaning Methodist seminary.  I've always like the the Hebrew Scriptures better - they seem more realistic to me.

        But, from college forward, I had a good grounding in historical-critical methods of biblical interpretation, so I always read the Bible more as a cacophony of conflicting voices striving to articulate what God is than as a book that landed with a thud from on high.  I'm even comfortable with the fact that God kind of goes away in some of the later books of the Hebrew texts.  So, the kind of arguments I make wouldn't hold much water with a Fundamentalist, or even an Evangelical.  It is endlessly frustrating to me that 200 years of liberal theology gets erased in a debate between theologically conservative Christians and secular folk, both of whom seem to accept Fundamentalist notions of Scripture and take that as the basis for acceptance or rejection of religion as a whole.  The non-Fundamentalist approach to religion gets completely erased in the process.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:32:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not elitism. It's exclusivity (0+ / 0-)

        Elitists actually do have reason to think themselves better than others. Fundies believe in exclusivity and exclusion. There's a big difference.

        The overwhelming majority of Fundies don't have the education levels to constitute being described as elite.

    •  And look what the UMC did this week (0+ / 0-)

      It seems most of your work was all for nothing.

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