Today is a big day for Same Sex Marriage– proponents and opponents. The Supreme Court started mulling over Prop 8 this morning, and DOMA will be considered tomorrow.
This is all pretty timely for me personally, since in the last few days, I’ve probably discussed it more than I had in the last few years. It started after I posted that Rob Bell story last week. Despite not getting any comments here, I did get one on Google+ and wound up in a full blown e-convo with a couple of friends from my old church, Cat and Jen. They’re both young, twenty-somethings, and they both got married last year. And they both, like me, felt… very conflicted about Bell’s video (included in that post). I don’t want to speak for them, so I won’t. But I figure I can share some of my thoughts on it.
First, I’m not surprised Bell came out for gay marriage. He’s not pastoring anymore, and after the controversial “Love Wins” a couple years ago, it just seems he feels free to challenge and repudiate some of the hallmarks of Evangelicalism. He seemed to be heading in the Brian McLaren direction for a while now anyway. I know that there are a bunch of surprised and disappointed followers/fans, though. A word of advice: instead of screaming “Anathema!” and burning your copies of “Sex God“, go pray for him.
Second, this has become a surprise teachable moment for me. In all my years of Christian school and church attendance, I’m well aware of what Jay Bakker refers to as the “clobber verses”– the oft-repeated Scripture passages that list homosexuality as a sin. But honestly, I haven’t actually studied up on them. Why? It’s not some post-post-Modern, Millenial Generation avoidance. As a straight, and for most of my life, single lady, my eyes were trained more on Bible verses I felt applied to my life, like having faith, overcoming, perseverance… I even looked into those “women stay silent” verses as pertaining to that debate. Now I know that’s not the best way to be in regards to the Bible, but I’m being real here. So now, with Bell’s announcement making chiming echoes throughout large swaths of Christendom, I’m being pushed to actually do the right thing. Study to show myself approved.
Third, on Sunday, Joe called and told me about a friend of his, who I’ll call Dude. Dude had been a member of a church for years, attending and paying tithes faithfully. He was involved, too, running errands for the pastors, buying pastries for after-service fellowship, and helping to keep the church building and property in top shape. He is friends with the pastors, even hanging out at their homes. Then all that came to a screeching halt when one of those pastors preached that gays were headed straight to Hell. Like old-school, bust Hell-wide open, damnation. Of course, Dude is gay. He was crushed. He was trying to live for Christ, yet that message implied that no matter what he does, he is destined for Hell. He called Joe late Saturday and told him he had enough. He was taking his membership elsewhere.
The sermon wasn’t the only reason. More like the icing on the cake. But he had eaten enough unappetizing, brimstone cake, and visited a friendly, Charismatic Evangelical church on Sunday. He told Joe he enjoyed the service there. No word on if it’s gay-affirming, but he seems to just be looking for a place that’s not Dude-bashing.
This story really motivates me to get studying. Homosexuality is not just a matter for court cases and politics. There are gay people in our communities, jobs, churches and families. People like Dude.
I picked up a copy of Jesus, the Bible & Homosexuality, a book by Presbyterian minister Jack Rogers supporting not only gay rights, but the ordination and marriages of gays and lesbians. I’m going to listen to some podcasts on those Romans “clobber verses” by my former pastor, Gary Hartley. Jen recommended it to me. Pastor Gary is on the con-side. I’ll be checking out other books, too, to get a well-rounded view of the debate. I invite you all to take another look at this issue, even if you feel you know all you need to know. There should never be an end to learning.