Today I read this post, Methodist Pastor Found Guilty of Marrying Gays, and it brought forth a lot of emotions and questions. Before I tried to figure out exactly what I was feeling, I decided to post the article on Facebook and ask for some thoughts.
Some of the responses I received included…..
- I think that’s shameful. Love is love. Judge not…
- This will be looked back upon in the way we look back, not so many years ago, on the illegality of different races marrying. Rev. DeLong might be viewed as the Rosa Parks of the year. A simple person doing the right thing in the face of bigots.
- Part of the problem is that the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Quran (I’m leaving out the Book of Mormon on this one…) can be used to support almost any opinion, depending on the person quoting selected verses. If one wanted to use these holy books to support spousal abuse, murder, rape, infanticide, racism, etc. (yes, there are verses supporting all of these), one could, and many have. The Book of Leviticus (18:22) is perhaps the most-oft cited example of the Bible (and the Torah) speaking on homosexuality. But Leviticus also speaks of things we’d never imagine following today (cough cough animal sacrifices), so why would someone select to agree with the one, debatable, section on homosexuality but ignore the ludicrous rest of the book of Lev.? Why not deem the whole book of Lev to be unfit for today’s world and admit: hey, whatever sane, consenting adults decide to do to each other “ain’t nobody else’s bizness”?
- Very thought provoking… and I feel torn… as a lesbian who one day dreams of being able to be married… both legally and with religious support… I also respect the laws of the church, no matter whether they are fair or not… I agree with trying to change law, but aren’t there better ways to do it than just defy them?
So here is my current response, but I hope we can continue to discuss this issue.
Thanks, friends, for the dialogue! I have many thoughts on this, but here are a few….
Cris, I agree that the Bible offers up ammo for anyone who hopes to make a case in favor of or against any issue. The Bible was written by many different human beings. The majority of its books, especially in the New Testament, are letters written directly to certain groups of people in a certain time period. Not only would it be impossible for us to take every single statement literally, arguing over such insignificant issues is in direct opposition to everything Jesus taught us about acceptance, love and unity.
The majority of verses in the Bible pertaining to homosexuality are referring to acts of pure lust. The writers of the time had no inclination that two people of the same sex could be in a loving, supportive, God-centered relationship. Some newer translations of the Bible plainly state the sin as lust or sex, not same sex relations.
The only verse of the Bible that gives an explanation of why homosexuality is wrong, is in Romans 1, where Paul states that is it unnatural. (Once again, this passage talks directly about lust, not love). Later, in 1 Corinthians, Paul gives just as many words to describe how it is unnatural for women to have short hair and men to have long hair.
If we are going to persecute and condemn others for choosing to live a life of love with someone of the same sex, then why not persecute women with short hair and men with long hair? Paul, the man responsible for a large portion of the New Testament, seems to view these issues as equally important. I, however, cannot speak directly for Paul. Just as any human being cannot speak directly for God.
Jen, I hear what you are saying about respecting the church. I also respect the church as an institution that can bring people together to worship God and create a community of love, support and action. However, I have no obligations to a specific church or group of people. My obligations are to God. To serve him within the body of Christ. I believe we do God’s church (and I’m talking big picture here) a huge disservice when we claim that we have all the answers and that we are more correct in our Christian values than other groups or denominations.
It is my belief that Jesus came to us in order to save us and bring us together, not tear us apart through trivial issues and debates. I love that we all have different ideas, I just wish we could find a way to lovingly support each other, without setting up walls and divides that leave certain people out. Jesus came for all of us, and it breaks my heart that certain leaders and churches don’t act that way.
I don’t believe that defying the rules is the only way for change to occur, but I think sometimes it may be necessary, as long as the defiance is carried out in a peaceful manner. As we look back at many of the justice issues of the past, change did not happen simply through words. Change occurred when courageous individuals stood up within a broken system and refused to be second class citizens. Change takes action.
That’s why I am slightly baffled by this situation. The Methodist movement occurred because one man, John Wesley, stood up within the Anglican Church and said there has to be a better way. He was tired of being boxed in by outdated and irrelevant rules. So he stood up. He made is voice heard. He met people where they were. And this enraged the church! But he held strong to his convictions that faith is about a personal relationship with Christ and faith is about living a life of service and justice that was perfectly shown to us by Jesus.
The Methodist movement was founded on these principals. And now, this Methodist Church that started as a cry for justice and equality under God, has turned around and become the institution that it broke away from. And.It.Makes.Me.So.Sad.
I respect those who can stand within a powerful, political system and fight for equality. I know that God loves us all the same, so why is it so difficult to convince those in power of this simple, beautiful truth?