St Matrona /Babylas of Perge, November 9th *

This post has moved to my new domain at http://queering-the-church.com/blog

Secrets & Lies – and Uncovering the Truth

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!”

(James 3:5)

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Indeed, this small member has potential for great damage – but also carries with it the potential to counter and repair the damage.  It is this potential for recovering truth that interests me more, but first, we must review the nature of the problem. There are many kinds of lies: outright falsehoods, lies of selective truth, and lies of omission among them.  For us as lesbian & gay Christians, some examples of each are well-known.ttongue

Perhaps the most egregious of the downright falsehoods is that the destruction of Sodom was God’s vengeance on the homosexual sins of its populace.  As many modern scholars have shown, there is absolutely no basis for this. The true sin of Sodom were pride, indulgence and sloth, which motivated the visit of the angelic messengers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Road from Emmaus: Gay & Lesbian Prophetic Role

As an example of powerful Biblical interpretation which combines the different approaches approved by the Pontifical Biblical Commission of which I wrote yesterday, I would now like to present to you a powerful reflection by Michael B Kelly.  This was originally presented as a keynote address to the Australian lesbian and gay Catholic group “Acceptance” back in 1997. An edited text is reprinted in his book, “Seduced by Grace”.

Seduced by Grace_ Michael Bernard Kelly

Michael’s interpretation is notable for the way in which he places the familiar story of Emmaus firmly within the broader context of Luke’s Gospel, and specifically its narrative of the Resurrection. Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage Equality & the Church: Take 2

Back in May, I wrote that the growing international acceptance of civil marriage for same sex couples would inevitably nudge the churches to rethink their own positions, nudging them to greater acceptance.  (See “Marriage Equality and the Church” ). Some recent news stories illustrate the point.

gay_marriage

In the UK,  the change in Swedish law is already having a direct imact on the Anglican church, which has close ties to the Lutherans.  The resonse described here is about two English bishops who have written to the Lutherans to express their “concern” that the change in Swedish law will ut pressure on the English church to accept same sex marriage:

From the Daily Mail online:

“The Church of England warned last night that it is under pressure to accept gay marriage. Read the rest of this entry »

“To the Tune of a Welcoming God”

Michael Bayley at The Wild Reed has drawn my attention to David Weiss’ book “To the Tune of a Welcoming God”, and posts two excerpts from the book.

To theTtune of a Welcoming GodIn the first, David describes his journey in coming out – not as gay, but as a gay ally.  The second is a prose poem,   “Words Offered at the End of the Day to an Unknown Friend Living in Fear”. Both are worth reading:  we as LGBT people of faith need to speak up opnely and in our own voices, but we also need allies, and we need to hold firmly to the knowledge that God is always welcoming:  not “in spite” of our sexuality, but just because we are all God’s people.

I do not reproduce the text here, but encourage you to read it.  Go to Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage Equality & the Church.

In the wake of the disappointing, but expected, Californian ruling on Prop 8, it is worth stepping back and reflecting on the gains elsewhere, and especially on the impact on the churches.

It is well known how rapidly legal recognition of same sex marriage has progressed: first in Iowa, by court order, then in rapid succession Vermont and Maine by legislative action. New Hampshire is not quite there yet, but it is likely just a matter of time – as it is in New York and New Jersey.  DC has voted to recognise marriages legally conducted elsewhere, Washington has approved expansion of their civil union regime to ‘everything but marriage’, and in many other states and city jurisdictions, there have been less dramatic, incremental gains.  These have been widely reported and celebrated.

One big advance, and the one that I suspect may be more important for its long term impact on the churches of the world, Read the rest of this entry »

Uproar on Oprah: God’s Gay Gift

I was going to list this originally as just an oddball news item, but in fact it raises some big issues, so I held back, gave it some serious reflection, and can now comment.

First, the bare facts.  A little while ago, Oprah hosted a panel discussion with a group of religious leaders.  During the Q & A, one of the panellists, Rev Ed Bacon, commented that “Being gay is a gift from God”.  Oprah, obviously surprised by the line,observed that she had never before heard that said by a minister of religion.   Oprah’s legions of loyal visitors were more than surprised, they were outraged.  The show’s website quickly swelled with comments from shocked viewers, almost unanimous in the response that ‘nowhere in the bible’ does it say that, and quoting repeatedly the good old clobber texts.

There is a happy ending:  Rev Bacon has now been invited back to expand on his remark.  What was just a throwaway line as part of an answer to a question, will now become the focus of a more extended discussion.

So:  Why is this important?

Well, my first reaction to the original story was one of surprise, even shock, that so many people should have found this observation so scandalously new. I was particularly disappointed that Oprah herself should find it such a new concept:  her show could not have the viewership figures it does, if she did not have an excellent set of antennae out there, feeding her with information on what people are thinking, and what is worth talking about.

I was surprised by the ignorance, because the idea is one that I have become so familiar with, that to me it seems ‘obvious’.  But nothing is obvious util you have seen it for the first time.  The more I reflected, the more I realised there was a time when I did not recognise the concept – and how revelatory, and profoulndly important the idea was to me, when I did first encounter it.   What was once new to me, will certainly be new to others. So it is worth repeating and restating the argument.

First, recall (if you are old enough) the old penny catechism:

Question 1: “Who made you?”
Answer, “God made me.”

Next, reflect on the findings of science – sexual orientaion is not a ‘lifestyle choice’, but something innate and fixed within our physical and mental make-up – probalby before birth.  If this is how we are made, and God has made us, it follows that this is how God made us.

Now consider that God does not mistakes – so, this is how we were made, quite deliberately, by God.  Our make-up is deliberately given to us.

Finally, if we accept that God is good, then we must also accept that this is not given as a joke, nor as a punishment on the innocent young child.  Rather, it is given fully and deliberately as a precious gift.

Now, many people may wonder in what sense this gift may be ‘precious’ when it often brings such oppostition from society, and especiallly in the church.  This is a topic that requires rather more expansion than I can go into now.  However, part of the answer is that precisely because we sit so outside the mainstream, outside the conventional pattertns, we are in fact closer to the heart of the Gospels.  Christ and the apostles no more fitted standard stereotypes of family than do modern gay men and women.

Books etc

One of the best ways to prepare oneself for the onslaught of religion-based hostility is to read some of the very many books on the subject that have  emerged over the last thirty years or so. But with such a wealth of titles available, and the field constantly expanding, the obvious question is where to begin? To which the obvious reply is, where are you starting from?

The question matters. You need to be clear on whether you want a simple introduction, a general but comprehensive overview for laypeople, or a scholarly tome filled with notes, sources and all the necessary qualifications, ifs and buts. Are you looking for approaches rooted in scripture, or Church teaching, or both?

Read the rest of this entry »