March 21, 2012 § 4 Comments
I recently heard a new catchy argument about homosexuality floating around the Christian community: “There are arguments on both sides, but only one side has Scripture to back it.”
I think I have proven that wrong in other posts, and so have many other people. I have pointed to the ways the Bible was used to condone slavery and mask an evil practice, and to fight against it. And many other Scriptures can be added to the argument. Take the only dialogue between Jesus and Satan in the Bible, which undoubtedly shows that Scripture can be used wrongly. And the fact that most of Jesus’s arguments with religious leaders of his time Jesus was regarding the letter of the Law. While they applied dead letter, Jesus had the right application of the Spirit of Love as his argument, which seems a much better backing to me.
To me, it feels like this argument embodies much that is wrong with contemporary Christianity. It comes from the totally wrong spirit. It does not even feel loving. It is meant to shame and silence people who would call the Christian community out for emulating the homophobia and bullying of mainstream culture under the guise of spiritual and loving behavior.
And it shows a fear and laziness in how some of us bear challenges to our beliefs about sexual ethics. If we were truly guided by a living Spirit, we would be ready to embrace new information, to make arguments in peace, and grow into new truths.
We need to collectively face the reality that our history as a culture includes rampant violence regarding sex. And that Christians have offered no alternative with strength of Spirit or beauty of vision enough to move the hearts of people and motivate them to change the way the teachings of Jesus did.
Perhaps some might envision the Kingdom on Earth as a place of nuclear families with heterosexual couples who married as virgins and never masturbated. But there is nothing radical about that vision, and it will not motivate the world to change. It will instead create a norm that we will attempt to impose upon one another with blatant or subtle violence, and draw us away from reality and the living context in which the Spirit can move and create beauty and instead into a detached and dead religious practice that creates confusion and suffering leaves us vulnerable to the manipulation of false spiritual leaders seeking power.
I think the Spirit is moving us to a grander vision, one beyond fear, where we can see how sad and weak violence is and how alive and creative and filled with joy we can be through and on the other side of the process of healing. I think we are called to rethink what we’ve learned regarding sex, and I am glad those questions are being asked relentlessly. And I don’t think throwing up blind arguments that misapply dead letter to a living world with a living Spirit can stop it.
April 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I just came across a rant online entitled, “there is no such thing as a gay Christian.” I’ve heard this plenty of times, and this time, I got to thinking on how I might respond if I spoke from my deepest, truest self. It goes something like this…
I agree that you have the letter of the law right. You can quote Biblical text to back your opinion. But I would have the letter of the law right if I said slaves should submit to their oppressors or that you should stone your parents to death for cooking on a Sunday. Whenever you quote the Bible, you are appealing to some other authority outside of the simple letter of the Biblical text. Whether or not you like to be confronted by this point is beside the point.
What we always have to appeal to in order to know how to live our lives as Christians is the spirit of the law, not the letter. This is what Jesus did, and this is what we have to do, either mindfully or by simply following the mandates set out for us by authority figures.
I say your argument has got the spirit of the law all wrong. So perhaps, in essence, we’re following a different spirit under the same name. If you are drawn to Christianity for a sense of moral superiority or shelter from the judgment and torture of an angry, violent God, then your spirituality is completely different from mine. What draws me to Christianity and the God Jesus represents is the ethic of love – radically simple and full of hope and life and vision for a world where connection and compassion and joy are found in abundance. I believe that is the spirit of the law, the spirit of teachings of Jesus, the spirit of God is the spirit of love. Not a spirit of threat and harm and restriction and fear.
If Jesus was showing us a better way, doesn’t it seem suspect that the same marginalized hated group in our culture is translated into the taboo sinner and moral scapegoat in our dominant religious culture? That doesn’t seem like a better way to me. Broader culture would suppress and kill and otherwise terrorize people out of same sex relationships; Christian culture would convert and consign to hell and terrorize people out of same sex relationships. I don’t even see that as a different way, much less better.
I would agree with the definitive statement that there is no such thing as a Christian hate crime or a Christian war. To be “Christian” derives from following in the teachings and example of Christ, and Jesus definitely didn’t do either of those things, but opposed them with his words and exemplified a better way, one of nonviolent resistance fueled by a divine love.
But to say there is no such thing as someone who loves and follows the Way of Jesus and has relationships and sex with people of the same sex… No one has yet articulated for me how same sex relationships contrast with the love ethic taught by Jesus. Arguments to that nature are shallow and cyclical and generally infused with an atmosphere of belligerence, threat, fear, and hate.
Anything that makes me feel like closing off a part of my soul or cowering or shutting out someone or something, I name to be the influence of a spirit of anti-love, or Satan if you will (though conjuring an image of horns and hooves seem like a distraction to me). Anything that makes me feel like my heart has enlarged to incorporate something or someone that was previously outside its bounds, that my soul has woken up and been united into one, clear, bright flame, I take to be the influence of the spirit of love, or the Holy Spirit of God.
That is how I discern what is the true spirit of the law, of the teachings of Jesus reflected in the Biblical scriptures. God is Love. And love is simple. As simple for me as that.