Coincidentally...and not instigated by me, there is a discussion about homosexuality on EU. We have discussed it before...there and on other lists...dating back to the hey days of the Wider Universalist Fellowship. My opinion has not changed a lot since then. My friend annie, who is one of the most loving people I know, has evolved a bit in her views. I think, perhaps, they are still in a state of flux....not solidified into a doctrine.
The other day she posted an article written by Bishop Spong...a rather militant article aimed at those who view homosexuality as an abomination. The Jerry Fallwells, Pat Robertsons, James Dobsons of the world. She disagreed with many points in the article...and especially the tone...which was an "us vs them" kind of theme. annie believes (and I've witnessed her trying to live it out in her day to day life) that we are all one. The Pat Robertsons and the Bishop Spongs....the gay and the straight....the liberal and the conservative. Divisive rhetoric is not her style. She posted the article mainly to discuss it...as we often do on EU...looking at all points of view...seeking to learn even from those we disagree with.
Spong begins his article by saying:
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view
still has any credibility.
...the tone of the article does not change much. Some more quotes from here and there in the article follow....
I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin."
I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone.
Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.
and he concludes with:
I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.
annie mused that perhaps by shutting down the dialogue with those he deems "other" (the religious right) that no change will ever come. She posted something this morning that made me cry. I don't think I have heard this story before...perhaps I missed it in the avalanche of posts on the WUF and now on EU. It expresses a side of the "gay wars" that is so often not seen by the religious right sadly, I think, because they choose not to see.
yes... perhaps he's not abandoning the call, but rather passing the mantle. after a fashion, it's easy to take up the cause of the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized. but, if we're all truly one, do we not have to care for the privileged callous, the fundamentalists, the ones that are harder to feel empathy for? i feel somehow that if we simply persist in reaching out to them there will come a point where they simply cannot deny the Love... tis the kindness/goodness of God that leads men to repentance.
it was witnessing love that first began to open my mind. in 1983 i cared for my first aids patient. ironically, it was a guy i'd gone to high school with who dated my best friend. i would have never dreamed warren was gay (although he was into drama and quite flamboyant with 20/20 hindsight). i wouldn't have recognized him - all of his thick dark hair gone, his emaciated frame practically glowing yellow from his failing liver, covered in the purplish kaposi's sarcomas. but, i recognized his name on the chart when he came into the ER where i was called to draw blood gases on him. basically, he came into the hospital because he had nowhere else to go. his family had disowned him. it was just him and his life partner, the two of them against the world. ken never left his side in the 3 weeks it took him to die. the nurses barely had to care for warren because ken took care of everything... when he threw up or defecated in the bed, ken was always there to clean him up - gently, lovingly. everything i thought i knew about an 'abomination to God' flew out the window. the only words that came to mind were 'greater love hath no man than this'. it wasn't some sick debauchery i witnessed. it was genuine unselfish overwhelmingly sacrificial love - to the very end. it broke my heart as i watched ken leave the hospital that last time - alone. my heart broke again when i read six months later in the local obits that ken had died too. i wondered if he died alone, no one to give him the kind of care he had so lovingly given as he poured himself out.
i was forever changed by that encounter. not by angry gays marching (though i've come to understand what drives them). it was years before i saw it as anything other than an illness, saw them as 'wounded'. but, i never again thought of them as 'wicked'. i think more hearts will be changed by love that cannot be denied than by whatever theological arguments one could make... just remembering... namaste - annie
Thanks annie...you always say things so well....
But there ARE theological arguments for those who have to reconcile their beliefs with scripture. I am not saying that is a bad thing...just that sometimes it takes some digging to understand what scripture REALLY says. I think it is similar to reconciling UR with scripture.
I've found some really good resources that take a candid look at what the Bible really says about homosexuality, cult worship, temple prostitution, idolatry. I've touched on it in previous posts but will delve into it a bit deeper in the next post or two...and provide some links for anyone who wants to explore it more "on their own time" :)