Scripture Discussion in Kalamazoo

There is an instructive story at Box Turtle Bulletin (which has become my favourite site for general LGBT news and comment) on a Kalamazoo discussion of the Bible and homosexuality.

With a city council anti-discrimination ordinance facing a test at the ballot box, a public meeting was arranged to hear a public discussion on just what Scripture has to say.  But this was a discussion, not an anti-gay tirade.

So the Wenkes sponsored a forum with ministers discussing scripture. But you probably have made some false assumptions about Wenke’s motivation. (

“The more that you talk about this issue and the more you get to know families struggling with this issue, the more you know the Bible doesn’t condemn them,” Wenke said.

So Wenke’s forum was not limited to anti-gay messages. Rather, he presented three ministers who find scripture to condemn homosexuality and three that do not.

“It’s only .002 percent of the entire Bible, an incredibly small slice,” Laney said. “Sexual orientation is not a choice; it’s not a disorder. It’s part of God’s diverse creation.”

The Rev. Dr. Douglas Vernon, senior pastor of Kalamazoo’s First United Methodist Church, agreed, saying the Bible may be taken “very seriously” but not always literally.

“We believe there is no one right way to interpret Scripture,” Vernon said.

The Rev. John Byl, pastor of Immanuel Fellowship Church, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Naumann, of St. Michael Lutheran Church, disagreed, saying the literal words are relevant and timeless.

The organisers say they were encouraged by the turnout.  Expecting 300, they had 800. This is encouraging, but not surprising. It is easy to demonstrate that, as noted, the supposedly anti-gay texts are only a very tiny slice of the entire Scripture. Those who have gone into it more carefully have observed (i)that this in itself is surprising, in a Graeco-Roman cultural context where homoerotic relationships where commonplace; (ii) that the supposedly hostile texts have misinterpreted, mistranslated, or misapplied; (iii)and there are far more supportive texts than hostile ones.

Wherever the churches have approached the issue with careful reflection and study, there have been movements at least towards greater acceptance.The recent proceedings of the ECLA are a great example. Following an extended process of careful study and prayerful reflection on Scripture, the assembly passed a series of notable resolutions that recognise that differing interpretations are possible and equally valid, that approve the recognition of gay and lesbian pastors in committed, monogamous relationships that need no longer be celibate, on exactly the same terms as those of heterosexual  pastors, and that are likely to lead to the recognition of same sex marriage or blessing ceremonies in church.  This process towards rational debate and greater acceptance will continue.

We as queer Catholics and other people of faith need to say this to our non-religious friends, and point out that if they could just set aside their anti-religious bigotry, and try to understand the supportive side of the religious argument, they can assist the moderates in the churches in this move towards LGBT acceptance


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