LGBTQ-A Defense for my Brothers and Sisters and a Movement into the sacred flow of a Rebirthing Church

*Edit: If you like this post then check out this link as well, it is my dear dear friend’s story of moving into the open and embracing arms of God’s love and call for her life and accepting who God created her to be. Link here

Today there is something very important for the United Methodist Church happening in New York City. There is a hearing regarding the “legitimacy” of the appointment of a United Methodist Bishop who is openly a member of the LGBTQ community. In addition to this, the UMC currently has a panel of 32 lay-people and clergy from around the world who are currently discerning a “way forward” in the midst of church upheaval and disagreement over whether or not to fully include members of the LGBTQ community within the United Methodist church, most notably in ordination.

As a member of the United Methodist Church now, while still new, I feel as though I must share my peace. The current state of of LGBTQ rights within the United Methodist church are nowhere near equal. In fact, in some cases, open discrimination of LGBTQ members is practiced. I must note that this is not just a topic of conversation that only the UMC church is facing, but Christianity as whole is facing the conversation as well. Getting back to my point, however, the basis for this inequality and, at points, discrimination, is not based off of something that John wesley wrote about originally in the book of Discipline (The “rule book” or “guide” to being a Methodist more or less). Actually, in the original vision for John Wesley’s faith community, there was a distinct vision for the diversity which is exhibited in creation.

Where this inequality comes from, therefore, is biblical interpretations, many of which are simply taken out of context and misunderstood, however, since they go with the status quo of what has been taught before- namely the false notion that the Bible is completely inerrant, and therefore tantamount to the Divine itself, something the Bible never attests to by the way- it is therefore sinful and wrong to change or evolve into a different understanding of the Gospel message or the portrayal of the Divine found throughout all of scripture; This portrayal that I speak of is a God that is for freedom from slavery and oppression. It is also a portrayal of limitless grace and love for the diverse creation that was birthed from the Divine source. The Divine’s grace and mercy is for all and is found within all things that reflect the life and love of the source which gives birth to life itself.

However, there are many in Christian circles who, intend of focusing on the over arching theme of forgiveness and love found throughout the scriptures, would prefer to pick out particular verses, written BY people, and written to a very particular societal and historical context. So, since that seems to be the source of many people’s beliefs about how the LGBTQ community should be treated, I figured I would give some different information about each of these verses, in order to help people’s understandings about God and creation expand beyond just the traditional biblical view that they have been handed; to help their understandings expand to the width and breadth and depth of the Divine source that runs through and in all things, including people who are created by God in the way that they are created to love who they will love, and who will serve as they will serve through that love and uniqueness with which they were formed.’

So, first, let us talk about Genesis…

Genesis 2:24 (NRSV)

24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

This verse comes out of a greater passage that is actually describing the consequences for Adam and Eve’s sin. This verse is not talking about how society should be, it is indicating how society was. Nowhere does it say that this is how every single person should live, but rather, because of Adam and Eve’s sin, this is what ended up happening. In fact, it reads very much like someone in the future looking back and reflecting upon the incident and then applying their symbolic reflection to the story. IT reads much more like a reflection essay than it does a well sourced historical account.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah…

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is not homosexuality, as many would assume. Rather it is the lack of hospitality. The sin was desiring to mistreat a guest in the house of one of their inhabitants. I can go more into this if you would like, but to refrain from making this post tooooooo long, I think it suffices to say that God’s central command to the Israelites to care for the weak, the orphan, and the needy. In other words, loving others and caring for others, especially the outcast and stranger. Sodom and Gomorrah failed to do that. In addition to this, I also have serious doubts that this is a historically accurate story, and rather it is an allegory/myth aimed at teaching the importance of being hospitable to strangers. (Check out Hebrews 13:1-2)

Now, Leviticus 20:13…

13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

There are two things about this verse.

Firstly, it is a purity law, which is much different than our modern understanding of sin. By acting in this way, the members were not sinning, but, instead, they were becoming what is labeled as “ritually impure”. It is the same for someone who sleeps with their heterosexual spouse, or even for women who experience menstruation. Ritually impure simply meant that there were steps that must be taken in order to become ritually pure again, whether it be taking a ritual bath, sacrificing a dove on the altar at the Tabernacle, or leaving the camp for a certain amount of time before returning.

Secondly, this is a society that has very different standards for marriage and sexual intercourse than we do today. In the Ancient Israelite tradition, the reason to get married was not to fall in love with your soul mate, but rather to have children, to have a first born son, and to have many other children besides that. This is why Polygamy was openly practiced. Marriage was not a covenant of love for Ancient Israelite custom. Marriage was a means to an end. It was a transaction. It was a way for the father to have a male heir to carry on the family legacy. It is no surprise, then, that the community would frown upon homosexual practice. It was not for bearing children, it was for entering into a different sort of relationship. A relationship that was centered on a covenant of love. In actuality, our marriages today resemble that a whole lot more than just “popping out” kiddos. I much prefer the whole love covenant thing. To me, it actually mirrors the love that the Divine has for Its creation.

Paul’s comments on homosexuality…

Paul had some things to say about homosexuality, however, Paul is not addressing homosexuality as it is practiced today (that of a normal, loving and committed relationship with another, willing participant). There are two particular situations that arose in the roman empire to which Paul is referencing.

Firstly, the place and reason that the sexual acts are happening is the topic of conversation, particularly in Romans. In the Roman empire, sex was a common form of worship to Roman deities, especially in that deity’s temple. In this sense, there are Christians who are in fact engaging in idol worship by continuing to seek sexual pleasures in Roman temples. Paul also confronts this problem in I Corinthians where he comments on what to do about food that has been sacrificed and committed to Roman gods (I Corinthians 8). For Paul, the sin and the abomination is idolatry (the biggest no-no in Judaism), not the homosexual acts.

Secondly, another common practice in Roman culture was that of sex slavery. Paul confronts this issue in I Corinthians as does the author of I Timothy. The abomination in this sense is the fact that the men of the congregation (I Corinthians)/false teachers (I Timothy) are partaking in sex slavery, forcing their own slaves or another’s slave to have sex with them. One of the most disgusting and abominable practice, particularly within the Corinthian community, was the act of forcing boys (at oldest 12-13) into sexual acts for their masters. The boys had no say whatsoever. THIS is the homosexuality being discussed by Paul in I Corinthians. I Timothy also confronts this, naming the likes of slave traders in the same list as sexual deviants. For Paul, it is not the act of a stable and healthy loving relationship between two LGBTQ members, but rather the abomination of sexual abuse and slavery, particularly to young children.

These are the main Biblical passages that “oppose” homosexuality, supposedly. But when one looks deeper, we see that they are more related to specific societal situations that are not prevalent in our current discussion. In addition to this, we need only look at Jesus. Jesus’ ministry was to the outcast and the stranger, particularly those that were considered ritually impure; tax collectors, lepers, cripples, widows, prostitutes, etc. Nowhere does Jesus tell these ritually impure people (harkening back to Leviticus) that they cannot serve Him or follow Him. In fact, it is these people that Jesus relies upon most in His life and ministry. In addition, it is these people that spark the beginning of an ever expanding religion that truly encompasses all of the nations. It is no longer just a “Jewish” thing, but it is instead a “cosmic/universal” thing, waiting for any and all to join in.

The belief that members of the LGBTQ community are unable to become ordained, or even recognized as full members of a church, based on their “sin” is absolutely ridiculous. Impurity and sin are completely different things. Sin is that which is destructive to ourselves, to our relationship/covenant with God, and to the earth. There is nothing destructive about a loving relationship that looks to support its members and looks to mirror the love that the Divine has for it’s creation. 

Besides, and please note that I do not think homosexuality is a sin at all, but even if one were to believe that it is a sin, why, then, do we choose to look past the amounts of full members in the church that are openly racist, bigoted, alcoholic, prideful, greedy people? There are countless Christians who are given full membership into the church, yet they continue to openly practice “sinful things”.

Now, obviously, this is my opinion, and I know full well that there will be many that disagree with me, but I urge this to begin a conversation for you. I urge you to earnestly seek these things out, not just “take what has been handed to you”. I, as well as many others, believe in a God that is constantly helping humanity and creation come closer and closer to its heart. As Humanity grows, we continue to understand the forgiveness of love of the Divine better and better. In other words, humanity is in constant motion, particularly, motion forward. That is the way of life, that is the way of creation, that is the way of the universe, that is the way of human consciousness, that is the way that God set it all in motion. I hope and pray that we may all stand hand-in-hand as we move forward into the future, into the new beginnings that God has in store, to the new birth that the Church is about to undergo. I want you there with me, will you come along for the ride?

Grace and Peace,
Eric

 

*Edit: If you like this post then check out this link as well, it is my dear dear friend’s story of moving into the open and embracing arms of God’s love and call for her life and accepting who God created her to be. Link here

 

 

This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the views of Community Church or Virginia Academy

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “LGBTQ-A Defense for my Brothers and Sisters and a Movement into the sacred flow of a Rebirthing Church

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s