I’m apologizing right away for quoting the musical “Book of Mormon” but I’ve been trying to title this thing for 15 minutes now and I need to get on with my Saturday.
I have a friend from college that ran in the same circles I did. We spent a spring break together one year spreading a cement floor for a mission trip in Mexico. Now, she’s a mother of two and has a blog where she eloquently writes lots of stuff that I agree with. I think she’s come to a lot of the same conclusions I have- but unlike me, she’s somehow been able to hold on to her faith. The following is a response I had to write to her post about being a Christian and affirming/accepting LGBTQI people. It got so long that I decided it wasn’t exactly appropriate to just copy and paste on her Facebook page… so I’m posting it here.
In one of her more recent posts, she writes about things in the bible that mainstream society, including those identifying as Christians, doesn’t include in their own belief system like slavery and, possibly also the condemnation of homosexuality:
“If we believe that God is alive and working today, then we must admit that he is working in this generation, in this time, in our culture. Not that we assume all beliefs are therefore valid because of the time we’re in, but is it possible that certain truths were veiled from humanity in a time where their implementation was not possible?”
And here’s what I have to say:
So mainstream Christian society figures out that they should ignore the verses that condone slavery and not take so seriously the (many) verses which condone the subjugation of women and now, more recently, they can also reinterpret the verses which condemn homosexuality. All the while, these changes are happening because God is allowing it- that he is unveiling the truth to humanity in a time when it can be implemented. Suspend your belief for a moment and look at this suggestion from the point of view of a non-believer (like, say… me). To me, it is very obvious that the interpretation of scripture follows the whims and lessons of society. It’s exceedingly more logical (to me) that these revelations are our own- not something directed by a higher power who inspired the very writings that made us okay with slavery, subjugation of women and homophobia in the first place. You figured these things out on your own. You’re not giving yourself- or society- enough credit. I don’t think you could argue that this wouldn’t have been easier to figure out without the curveball scripture you had thrown at you.
It would be SO much easier for everybody if the bible didn’t actually condemn homosexuality. You know in your own heart that the condemnation is wrong. I applaud the efforts of those who have tried to come up with alternative interpretations of the problem verses, but they’re not all that convincing to me. I think it’s pretty clear what the bible says about homosexuality.
You cited the documentary Dr. Keene did about homosexuality and his church. I was at the convocation at Pepperdine he held in the chapel when people were standing up and reading these verses. He had decided he didn’t want to talk about why he thought the bible didn’t condemn homosexuality and he wanted to focus more on how his church decided to let them be themselves at church. But that’s all everyone wanted to talk about- because if the bible didn’t condemn homosexuality, then we could all be friends again. We all had LGBTQ friends and we really wanted to love them as we loved ourselves. But we really loved God- and we really thought the bible was the word of God. And God must be right. Right?
And that’s just it. You know it’s not right to include “homosexuality” on a list with other sins like lying, cheating and murder. How could you know something God didn’t know? This isn’t something God revealed to you. This is something you discovered for yourself. I’m pretty sure God’s not all like “oooo, let’s see if they get that I didn’t actually mean all that stuff!”
At some point here, you have to concede that the bible is not the end-all-be-all infallible document that we were taught it was. And I think- from reading what you’ve been writing in the past year- that you know that. I appreciate the post about how to reconcile your compassion and your faith and I haven’t read all of the links (and books). The reason I’m writing long-winded posts about this is because this is where it turned for me. It became exceedingly clear that I knew it was wrong to condemn people for things they could not control- be it their sexual preference- or the culture they grew up in (which might not include exposure to Jesus or the opportunity to accept him as a personal savior before dying and being condemned to hell forever) and I refused to believe in a god that did that. And it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. And I’m still trying to sort out the pieces.
Because there is a large part of me that is spiritual–that’s still seeking… that wants to do good… that wants purpose and meaning in life. And I’m interested in knowing how anybody can still identify as a Christian, but not cling to the tenants of eternal punishment. I don’t think I will ever end up adopting a religion again- but I do believe that many of the principles (doing good) and many parts of the culture (helping others /community) are important. And lacking in my life in particular.
And I’m going to try to keep having these discussions- because people are dying at the hands of other people with these deeply-held fundamentalist beliefs. It’s absolute madness. It’s absolute lack of reason. And although I do not identify with Christianity any more- it’s still my alma mater. I feel like my former homies need to be the ones to step up and condemn violence and hatred. They need to be the ones shouting about peace, love, forgiveness and acceptance. Not about marriage rights and bathroom privileges.