The article I am going to talk about in this post is a transcript of a discussion about homosexuality between Peggy and Tony Campolo from...1996. Outdated perhaps, but with opinions and sentiments that are hot button issues 13 years later. I touched on their views in the first post in this series. As I said, both she and Tony believe that Christians have screwed up the mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves and have openly persecuted homosexuals. Not all Christians of course...but the Jerry Falwell's, Pat Robertson's, James Dobson's and Fred Phelps' who claim Jesus as their lord yet have fallen short in the "and the greatest of these is love" department.
And the Campolo's also agree that homosexuality is not a choice but Tony believes that the Bible mandates celibacy. Peggy does not. In reference to one of the most oft quoted portions of scripture declaring homosexuality an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, she says the following:
I'd like you to note that Paul wrote Romans in the city of Corinth where the prevailing religion was the worship of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was a hermaphrodite with both male and female sexual organs and in the worship of Aphrodite people played the role of the opposite gender and engaged in sexual orgies with same sex prostitutes who were available in the temple. It was against these orgies that Paul wrote in the first chapter of Romans. There is an obvious connection between idolatry and homosexual practices in Romans one and what Paul says here cannot be applied to the kind of relationships created by loving homosexual partners who are making a lifetime monogamous commitment to each other.
I don't think that that's a proper use of the Bible. Some people, including my husband, say that those who believe as I do about Romans one are stretching the passage to agree with our own a priori beliefs. They say it is arrogant to declare that 19 hundred years of church history and tradition are in error. I would remind these people that all those years of church tradition supported an interpretation of Timothy 2:11 and 12 that disallowed women from church leadership. We only know what the church fathers said because those who might have been the church mothers had no voice.
Later on in this series I will mention a few more scholarly writings that more or less say the same thing, but for this post, I want to quote what Peggy has to say about her time "in the closet." Even though she was a minister's daughter, until she was 47 years old she faked a relationship with God. Peggy "met" him at the deathbed of a dear friend of hers.
My husband got in trouble some years ago for saying that Jesus is a presence inside of every person whether or not that person is a Christian. Furthermore, Tony said the place to find Jesus is in loving service to poor and oppressed people. Some in the Christian community argued that Jesus dwelt only in those who believed in him. Right here in Chicago there was actually a heresy trial in 1984 which ended with the jury saying that Tony was not a heretic but did need to be more careful about how he stated things.
But later that same year I learned first hand that Tony was right about where to find Jesus. It happened at the bedside of my dear friend Helen who was dying. Helen had always said she believed in God but now she didn't have any assurance about heaven or peace about dying and there I was, her best friend in this world, not even remotely in touch with God, with Jesus or any hope of heaven. I felt more inadequate than I'd ever felt in my life.
Helen needed God to die and I needed God desperately if I was to be any comfort at all to Helen. So I decided I would tell my friend all that I had ever heard about God and going to heaven. And after all those years in church I knew it well. Helen held my hand for dear life and I know she heard me and as I shared God's grace and love with my dying friend, the presence of God became real to me.
Helen grew too ill to talk after that day but I could talk to her and I did and I believe God did take her home to heaven even as I know God has remained with me. It was in my caring for Helen that I had come to know God. My husband's quest in theology about finding God in those who are in need or being oppressed became a reality to me that day in the hospital. You do stand with God when you stand with and for those who suffer.
She goes on to explain how she came to the realization that God was calling her to stand with and for homosexuals.
Interesting article...interesting lady. And for more from both Peggy and Tony, there are four audio messages (two from Tony/two from Peggy) on Gay Christian Network. I haven't had a chance to listen to them so if anyone has...or does...comments are very welcome here on this blog....