BIBLICAL OBEDIENCE

I had the opportunity to join the United Methodist Yellowstone Annual Conference in Billings, MT this past weekend. It was a little bit of a retreat for me, with a room full of clergy and wonderful people whom I have grown to love since becoming a member of ST Paul’s, UMC in Helena a few years ago. We sang songs at morning services and even danced a bit. And, I sold a few books.

I learned a new phrase too, “biblical obedience.” When I first heard it, that same old fear came creeping up the back of my neck, and I wondered if I really wanted to be there. I immediately thought of all the evangelical Christians who would condemn me to hell for their literal reading of certain selected passages of the King James Version of the Holy Bible. As I sat amongst the members of the Reconciling Ministries Committee, I stifled the urge to fight or run. I knew they did not accept a literal reading of scripture that conflicted with Jesus’ command to love one another. I listened instead.
As I sat in a meeting of predominantly clergy members, I began to understand that it was they who would assert “biblical obedience,” and Jesus’ command was exactly what they were referring to. They would obey this command, rather than the Methodist Book of Discipline, which states that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” ¶ 304.3. In fact, many of the Conference’s retired pastors have publicly resolved to perform same sex unions.
One Pastor, my friend, Lyle Hamilton, has written a poem echoing this sentiment called When Persons Reach out Heart to Heart. It concludes:

They honor truly who they are
As ones marked by God’s grace;
Deep love looks though the lover’s eyes,
and looking back – God’s face.

Not only is this kind of “biblical obedience” new to me¸ it is, in one form or another, a common theme emerging amongst many Christian denominations. As pastor Marianne wrote in Sunday’s bulletin, they “effectively ‘come out of the closet.’” They are Episcopalian (http://www.integrityusa.org/#), Catholic (http://www.fortunatefamilies.com/), Lutheran (http://www.reconcilingworks.org/#), etc. (see also, http://www.gaychurch.org/Find_a_Church/find_a_church.htm).
I guess we are changing the world!

“The Sixth Sense” Comes To City Hall

You might be tempted to close this out-
but, trust me, hang on and watch the whole thing….

Yep. It’s awesome.

Touchdown! Kluwe

Chris Kluwe

Chris Kluwe (Photo credit: rburtzel)

It’s not often that a kicker scores a touchdown, but yesterday it happened.

Chris Kluwe, the outspoken (and well-spoken) punter for the Minnesota Vikings, famous for his letter of response to an anti-gay legislator, responded to Minnesota’s Archbishop (and the Pope) on the topics of being gay, being Christian and the separation of church and state in his blog at TwinCities.com.

And he gets to the heart of the matter very quickly:

How can we reconcile our version of the Catholic Church as salvation to the sick, the needy, the poor, when we must also bear witness to the Catholic Church as oppressor, tormentor, and executioner? Where, in all of Jesus’ teachings, did he ever say to deny the humanity of other human beings; where did the Son of God proclaim that mortal Man knew God’s will; where, pray tell, did Jesus ever say to harden your heart against those who may not be exactly the same as you?

I say to you – nowhere. Nowhere does Jesus preach hate, or intolerance, or loathing. Nowhere does Jesus say, “You shall deny the humanity of gay people because it makes you feel uncomfortable”. Nowhere does Jesus say, “And the mortal men of the Church shall be the sole conduits of the Word of God, for they are perfect and infallible.” Nowhere, in all of the recorded teachings of Jesus, does it say anything about discrimination or prejudice.

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Millions of children grow up raised in the Catholic faith. Some of these children will be gay, through no choice of their own, but because of how God created them. What does it say to those children when the head of their religion in this state, a man who claims to “explain and defend the teaching of the Church because I have been ordained to do so and I believe those teachings with all my heart”, a man acting under the direct auspices of the Pope himself, tells them that they can’t be as worthy as everyone else, even though they believe in the teachings of Jesus? What will these children think, as they suffer the barbed insults of their classmates and teachers; I ask you, sir, what will these children think as they are belittled and tormented due to teachings you espouse? What judgment will be passed on your soul when yet another poor child reaches for the knife or the noose to end his or her earthly torment due to your example? (emphasis mine)

Exactly.

Bravo, Chris Kluwe! Bravo and thank you. You speak for many of us.

Read the whole thing here.

And, in related news, Theologian Hans Kung is calling for a “Revolution From Below” to an authoritarian Catholic Church. Well worth a read:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/05/catholic-revolution-nazi-dictatorship-pope

Related articles:

Car Crashes Knocked Off By Suicide

From WebMD:

Suicide has overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.

English: Skull and crossbones

English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While public health efforts have curbed the number of car fatalities by 25% over the last decade, a new study shows suicide deaths rose by 15% during the same period.

“Comprehensive and sustained traffic safety measures have apparently substantially diminished the motor vehicle traffic mortality rate, and similar attention and resources are needed to reduce the burden of other injury,” researcher Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH of West Virginia University and colleagues write in theAmerican Journal of Public Health.

“Contrasting with disease mortality, the injury mortality rate trended upward during most of that decade,” write the researchers.

The top five leading causes of injury-related deaths were:

  1. Suicide
  2. Motor vehicle crashes
  3. Poisoning
  4. Falls
  5. Homicide

Researchers say the findings demonstrate that suicide is now a global public health issue.

And I would remind readers that LGBT youth attempt suicide at four times the rate of their peers. Notably because of intolerance, shame and fear perpetuated by ignorant institutions and people- sadly, many of them “Christians”.  So here’s a not-so-gentle reminder:

“…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble,
it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck,
and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” ~Matthew 18.6

Matthew Vines: Reforming The Gay Christian Debate

By Kathy Baldock, Courtesy of LGBTQ Nation

“What does the Bible say about loving, same-sex relationships?”

Nothing. Not a thing.

And in that absence of Biblical direction of support for or condemnation of these relationships, Christians need to follow the general principles of the Bible: love, justice and kindness.

This was the point Matthew Vines wanted to emphasize at his recent presentation at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

Matthew’s story is intriguing; he began to understand and accept that he was gay while in his first semesters at Harvard. The Wichita native knew, that by accepting his sexual orientation, he was risking his long time status in the Presbyterian church in which he had been raised, as well as relationships with family and friends.

“You realize how alone you might be when you come out,” recalled Matthew. He resolved to take a leave of absence from Harvard to embark on a scholarly study of the subject of homosexuality in the Bible.

What most people see and know of Matthew is his excellent 67-minute video, “The Gay Debate.” The presentation in itself is quite remarkable; the young man is even more impressive.

Read the rest here.

What If Jesus Had been A Republican?

Jesus Christ in Capernaum (study)

Jesus Christ in Capernaum (study) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A peek:

The Lazy Paralytic

1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at his home. 2. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5. When Jesus saw this he grew angry, “Why did you wreck my roof? Do you have any idea how much that cost to install? Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof? The reeds alone cost five talents. I had them carted in from Bethany.” 6. The disciples had never seen Jesus so angry about his possessions. He continued, “This house is my life. And the roof is the best part.” The disciples fell silent. 7. “It’s bad enough that you trash my private property, now you want me to heal you?” said Jesus, “And did you not see the stone walls around this house?” “Yes,” said the man’s friends. “Are these not the stone walls common to the towns and villages of Galilee?” 8. “No,” Jesus answered. “This is a gated community. How did you get in?” The man’s friends grew silent. 9. Then Jesus turned and said to the paralytic, “Besides, can’t you take care of your own health problems? I’m sure that your family can care for you, or maybe the synagogue can help out.” 10. “No, Lord,” answered the man’s friends. “There is no one. His injuries are too severe. To whom else can we go?” 11. “Well, not me,” said Jesus. “What would happen if I provided access to free health care for everyone? That would mean that people would not only get lazy and entitled, but they would take advantage of the system. 12. Besides, look at me: I’m healthy. And you know why? Because I worked hard for my money, and took care of myself.” The paralyzed man then grew sad and he addressed Jesus. “But I did work, Lord,” said the paralytic. “Until an accident rendered me paralyzed.” “Yes,” said the man’s friends. “He worked very hard.” 13. “Well,” said Jesus, “That’s just part of life, isn’t it?” “Then what am I to do, Lord?” said the paralytic. “I don’t know. Why don’t you sell your mat?” 14. All in the crowd then grew sad. “Actually, you know what you can do?” said Jesus. “You can reimburse me for my roof. Or I’ll sue you.” And all were amazed. 15. “We have never seen anything like this,” said the crowd.

More here.

Kathy Goes To SF Pride

Kathy (and message)

My friend Kathy is on a crusade- to let all LGBT persons know that not all Christians are out to hurt them- and I heartily support her work. This kind and loving woman is a fantastic ally of our community, and I’m very happy to help her in any way I can.

This week she’s posted about her experience in San Francisco at Gay Pride- and it’s a great read.

Excerpt:

For four years, I’ve been going to San Francisco Gay Pride wearing  a printed shirt that says “Hurt by Church? Get a Str8Apology Here.”  Accepting and affirming churches are present. They host booths and walk in the parade, but I walk around with a big target on my front and back inviting conversation. The idea came to me one day on a hike  while I  was  wondering, “How I could make my experience of serving with a church in SF more meaningful?”

Last weekend, I went to SF Pride again. It’s never easy. Even I, who can engage a deaf, mute rock, can still be intimidated. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has been told by Christians that it is too far from the reach of God, unless, of course, they get rid of their non-hetero sexual orientation. I go to these events carrying  the message that God is sexual orientation and gender identity neutral God who loves them. Just as He loves straight, go-to-church-every-Sunday, Bible-reading me.

Read about her adventures- and the amazing people she meets- here. It’s inspiring.