Post Orlando Massacre: Stop Facing The Wall and Face The Music


The Church has to be Jesus to a Hurting World!

 It is time to face the music of how our beliefs have contributed to the rise in attacks against the LGBTQ.  

Orlando-Vigil-in-Philadelphia-1024x538This is neither the time for opinions, nor theological debate. It is time for love, understanding, and compassion. We Evangelicals need to shut up and just love people and help them as they walk through suffering and pain and sorrow.

contemptToday was perhaps the newest of the lows I have yet experienced as an “Evangelical Christian.”  I feel nothing but sadness and sorrow for the LGBTQ communities around the world, and especially so in Orlando and across the USA.  I have no words to convey the deep sorrow I feel for what happened on Sunday at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, when 49 people were murdered and over 50 others were wounded by the “lone gunman” with an AR 15 assault rifle.

uproxx.files_.wordpress.com201606pat_orlando-62aff34f0bf4df3cb5395c31b8e853403297b762I watched several video clips of Pat Robertson and the 700 Club, and his comments concerning the LGBTQ community and ISIS and how the liberal left is in cahoots with both of these groups, and the clincher was his comments that the LGBTQ and ISIS should kill each other off.  I became so angry, and so filled with horror and sadness, that this man, who is supposedly a member of the Evangelical community as I am, could even think these things, never mind utter them in public.  I am ashamed of those people who have a media voice within my community of faith, who use it as a platform to justify their hatred and homophobic attitudes and beliefs and justify them through their twisted theological and sociological understanding.  I have deep sorrow, and yet I also have great outrage and anger.

I have a mix of emotions from outrage, anger, disappointment, to frustration with the  faith communities who largely bear the weight of responsibility for the homophobic attitudes of their respective communities and their lack of accountability for the conduct of their membership and followers

 

Questions and Answers signpostI have a lot of questions for my fellow Evangelical Christians.  You see, I can only speak about myself and my own faith walk, and my own understanding of God and God’s activities in the world through people who claim to belong to Him and follow Him.  I can only speak to that, as it is my own faith conviction and journey. I can only address my own community of faith.  I want to address them today, in this blog post.  I have a lot of emotion and a lot of pain in my heart about this, and it needs to be aired and stated rather emphatically.

MoralityThis makes it both awkward and difficult to discuss, as I believe as in all things, what is said and modeled at the top of the hierarchy, it is this that trickles down to everyone else who belongs to that group, and this is what ends up being embraced and walked out in life.  Be that in a corporation like Apple, or Microsoft, or Pepsi, or a major international bank, or an independent grocer.  Whatever is the corporate vision, values and culture of the enterprise, it is this mission and vision which is carried out by those who belong to that said entity and group.  Faith bodies and religious bodies are NO different.

They all have mission and vision statements, that encompass their values and beliefs and these are reinforced and driven by the constant proclamation of those same said beliefs and values. 

marie-de-gournay-quote-ignorance-is-the-mother-of-presumptionThese proclamations lead to assumptions, and these assumptions lead to actions, and regrettably we end up with some pretty messy applications of these distorted teachings and assumptions. Unlike the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, Evangelicalism does NOT “speak with one voice.” The Evangelical communities believe the same general core beliefs, but their interpretation and application to life and their values will differ across not only denominations but across actual congregations.

The Christian communities of faith in Orlando did not dally about. They jumped into the fray to help right away.  

In the wake of this violent hate crimeend-violence perpetrated against the LGBTQ community, there have been incredible local and some national responses from the faith community, including the condemnation of the violence, local demonstrations of interfaith solidarity, an ongoing debate on terrorism and combating terrorism, as well as calls for stricter gun control, and what is most important and in desperate need right now, is new and frank discussions about religious faith and homosexuality.

But on the ground, churches, church leaders and Christians of all expressions of the Body of Christ came to the scene to help and assist as best they could, offering blood, bottles of water, compassion, love and support to those affected and their families and friends.

pastorhunterDr. Joel Hunter, of Northland, A Church Distributed, said, “Anytime you have any kind of belief or religion or certain dogma there are people that can take that to extremes and the fault doesn’t lie in the belief—it lies in the person who has somehow hijacked that belief into something harmful.  So I don’t think it’s the church per se yet every time one of these events come we have to examine our own heart.”

Hunter spoke at the Sunday afternoon press conference with central Florida LGBT advocates and Muslim officials to condemn the shooting.  He said he will talk about the shooting in his teaching this week “to make sure that discrimination, much less hate, has no part in our congregation.”

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Orlando churches have responded to the LGBTQ community by reaching out to them, donating blood, giving water, offering prayer, support and encouragement, and standing against the violence.  Some are calling out for the need to fight against discrimination and hatred, especially in the guise of a “Christian belief system.”

“Whether Latino, black, white, straight or gay, one thing unites us and that is we are all made in the image of God,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of NHCLC. “The answer to radical hatred is none other than radical love; love for God and for each other. Every life deserves to be loved, cherished and respected.

“We mourn with the families of the victims and pray for those injured in Orlando,” Rodriguez continued. “In addition, we call upon all Americans to come together for the purpose of building a firewall of love, grace, truth and respect against intolerance, hatred, bigotry and violence.”

So, in the wake of all this, here are a few of my own questions targeted to my own community of faith.

  1. Why does it appear that some of the leadership within the Evangelical community so long to both condemn the hatred and violence and show support to the LGBTQ community?
  2. Why do many Evangelicals hold to a similar of their sacred writings as view of sacred writings as do some of the Muslims with their view of the Koran?
  3. Why do Evangelicals not seem to comprehend the command and unction of Jesus to love unconditionally?
  4. Why do so many Evangelicals appear to have a “sin” obsession?

 

Let us begin by looking at question #1.

Why does it appear that some of the leadership within the Evangelical community so long to both condemn the hatred and violence and show support to the LGBTQ community

250px-WashingtonNationalCathedralHighsmith15393vI know that there were local churches that responded in Orlando on the weekend.  I was delighted to hear of some of the local churches rallying to the need and to step in and be of any help they could be. What I am speaking about here though is the lack of response initially from the broad spectrum of Evangelical leaders and organizations that seemed to lack focus and lack the vision, and lack the comprehension and understanding of what was happening on the ground.

536The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association immediately sent trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Response Team to Orlando to offer emotional and spiritual care to victims of the attack. On Monday morning the Washington National Cathedral tolled its bell 50 times for the lost lives. Many Christian leaders who responded released statements mourning the loss of life, condemning the violence and encouraging prayer.  Ed Stetzer, the current Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College tweeted, “Christians everywhere must condemn this horrible violence against the LGBT community.”

 

President Barack Obama speaks about the massacre at an Orlando nightclub during a news conference at the White House in Washington, Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Barack Obama speaks about the massacre at an Orlando nightclub during a news conference at the White House in Washington, Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

I have heard some national (American) leaders of major Evangelical religious bodies respond the same way that many right of center Americans have responded to this situation. Rightly or wrongly, even President Obama was in my opinion wrong to call this incident an “act of terrorism.”  If this act was an “act of terrorism” then it was an act of “terrorism against the LGBTQ.”  It was much more than terrorism. It was hatred.  And it was more than hatred. It was targeted hatred against a minority. Not only was it an act against a targeted minority, but it was against a minority that has endured rejection, abuse, persecution, incarceration, loss of employment, loss of rights, and has been marginalized for decades, even after the Civil Rights movement began. It is time to admit that. It is time to denounce it. It is time to repent of it. It is time to admit to our wrongs. It is time to do better. The abuse must stop. The rejection must cease.

stetzertweetThe rejection has been enabled and accepted due to the narrative of President Obama and others, which has “reduced” this incident to an act of “terror” and this is causing even more grief and pain to the LGBTQ community.  It is an act of hatred against a protected minority.  Let me spell it for you “HATRED.”  Hatred leads to violence, as it did here.  When Evangelicals, and conservative leaders, lump in this hideous act into an “act of terror” without the context of the act being perpetrated in a gay club against LGBTQ people, the LGBTQ community is being maligned and marginalized and abused all over again. Instead of bullets, it is the willful neglect of speaking in a proper context about this “hate crime.”

Evangelical leaders, nationally and locally need to step up to the plate, and come without judgment and criticism. This is a place of suffering and pain, and many in the LGBTQ have only known rejection and pain and judgment from Evangelical leaders and the members of their church communities.

Let us look at question #2.

Why do many Evangelicals hold to a similar of their sacred writings as view of sacred writings as do some of the Muslims with their view of the  Koran?

biblekoranI grew up in a Christian home that was solidly Evangelical and classic Pentecostal.  I even got my ministerial license and ordination through the Pentecostal church over 22 years ago. I know the culture and I know the theological underpinnings of the Evangelical movement and I once embraced what I now believe to be a very destructive paradigm of understanding when it comes to how one views, understands and interprets the Christian sacred texts.  I was an advocate of biblical inerrancy. I not only accepted it, but I defended it and taught it and preached it. So know the power that view had over me, and my resulting hermeneutic and exegetical studies of passages that I taught and preached.

hermeneutics_BannerThe foundations of the two faiths in question here, Evangelical Christianity and Islam appear to have a very strict view of understanding and applying the teachings of their sacred texts. They are so similar that in many ways, the impact of these views are largely the same on those who call themselves followers or disciples of their faith.  They hold to a view that their sacred texts are inspired and that they must be obeyed as they are the literal revelation of God given to humankind.  Humankind must obey the sacred text and live lives that honor the message of the text.  Their respective ethical and moral understanding is based on these teachings they have in their sacred text.  Both communities have had their share of people who have become somewhat “radicalized” by their respective faith encounters. In their love of God, and in wanting to serve God whole-heartedly they have taken a more literal understanding of particular texts in their sacred writings, which in turn has become problematic in how these texts are applied to life, honoring God and walking a life of obedient service to God.

literalismIn taking a more literalist approach to the sacred texts, both Evangelicals and Muslims are challenged in how they interpret and apply their respective problematic texts.  Christians are fortunate in one sense in that in their historical line, they not only count on 2000 years of Christian historical thought, but also on 4000 years of Hebrew thought on the Old Testament. Throughout Christian history there have been many interpretive schools of thought, from allegorical to literal and this has been applied to all 66 books of the Christian Bible, which is comprised of all kinds of types of literature within it, from apocalyptic, to poetry, prose, treaty and contract language, to metaphors, parables, prophecy, and historical narratives.  Within these texts you find problematic issues related to interpretation, principles to be applied, and the resulting application to post-modern life. The benefit of historical theology is that it is progressive by its very nature.

jesus on a cloud taken up to heaven after his resurrection according to acts chapter 1

By being progressive, historical theology reveals that the development of Christian thought has revealed that in each successive generation of Christians, there has been an ongoing re-examination of sacred texts, and what they speak to or address to the current generation of believers.  Each generation has progressed within the larger culture, and with it has been the evolution of Christian thought alongside of it, and the two interplay and interact as there seems to be a mutual influence of thought that impacts morality and ethics not only within the faith sub-culture but also the larger culture and society of which the Christian sub-culture is a part of.  The same can be said about Islam and how the faith of Islam has spread across all the continents of the world and continues to impact the local culture and society within those countries, and influences the political and social economical life of these nations. Islam in many ways where it is the dominant faith, also dominates the everyday life of the people within that culture, all they believe, all they do and practice, and all they actually do when it comes to politics, business, education and advancement within their culture and society.

bible-literalists-dont-follow-jesus-they-support-murder-in-israelBoth Evangelicalism and Islam are challenged by a growing and expanding progressive advancement within society, especially so in the developed Western democracies.  Within Islam there is the challenge for the Islamic society to embrace technology, science and medicine, and reinterpret and apply their faith to this development.  In many Islamic countries there are reactionary forces which resist embracing the West and science and technology and wants to return to a radical understanding of Islam as empire and reinvent itself by becoming regressive rather than progressive, embracing the historical narrative of conquest, violence, and oppression by reestablishing what they perceive to be the ideal Islamic state, the “caliphate.”  In this way they seek to extinguish what they determine to be “not Islamic enough” within Islam, and to persecute and oppress and even murder and destroy those people they determine to be infidels worthy of oppression, slavery and murder.  The rise of ISIS and the Caliphate and its deeds of the last several years reveals what radicalized Islam looks like and how much of a threat they are to Muslims the world over, and to those they perceive to be worthy of only being conquered and dominated and enslaved. This is the tension that exists within Muslim nations and where Muslims live in the Western democracies. Even here in Canada, we feel and we see these tensions every day.  Wherever people appear to be different than the mainstream, look different, speak different, act different, and separate themselves, there develops, almost in a creepy oppressive way, a separation that evolves into an “us” versus “them” mindset.  This has to be confront and opposed at every level of Western society.  We cannot allow this kind of separation and division to grow and fester for it will cause major problem long term.  We are seeing this in the US election of 2016 and the GOP candidate and his attitudes toward Islam not only in America but around the world.

narrative_todayEvangelicals are challenged by a progressive flow within the culture that is not impacting the Evangelical sub-culture.  There has been a growing wave of progressive thought that grew over the last couple of decades through the Emerging Church movement which championed “narrative theology” and “deconstruction” of thought so that we could develop a more progressive understanding of the faith that does not depend of the fundamentalist grid of inerrancy and its grip on how to understand and apply the sacred texts of the Bible to life in a Post-Modern world.  To the credit of people like Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and others, and now including the likes of Rob Bel, Brad Jersak, Michael Hardin, Brian Zhand, Jeff Turner, these “progressive thinkers” are calling us to embrace a more dynamic understanding of the sacred texts as narratives, and to seek new and better interpretations with better applications and principles that will make life better as our society and culture will progress and evolve through an understanding and application of the teachings of Jesus on love, grace and justice. Now we are seeing a growing movement of Evangelicals moving left of center when it comes to politics, social concerns, from prison reform, removing the death penalty, to medicare reform for all citizens, to racism, sexual discrimination and sexual orientation.

the-scripture-the-world-behind-the-text-4-638There are  trends developing now within Evangelicalism where you can see the convergence of science and the social sciences and politics and political theory as well as business theory and practice impacting not only society but also the Christian Church.  The debates are moving from a classic Evangelical practice of literal interpretation and application and proof texting, to one of story and narrative and principles to be applied ethically and morally to life.   One classic truth in the West, within Evangelicalism, that is being radically challenged and transformed, is the almost card blanche acceptance of “just war theory” and practice.  One of the blessings to come out of the second war in Iraq in 2003 and the resulting years of occupation, was the re-awakening of the Church to the teaching of Jesus on peace and non-violence.   More and more Evangelicals are becoming anti-war and this has been problematic for the West as now more and more Christians of influence are refusing to endorse “sacred violence” against other nations and peoples, just because their government wants to intervene and use violence to justify it. We are living in new progressive days.

theology_historyWe are in the middle of a progressive reformation but within all reformations, there are signs of resistance to change as well as “counter-reformations” from those who don’t want to see progress in certain areas of life and culture.  The classic response in both Evangelicalism and Islam to those who are at the forefront of progressive thought and change, is to attack, demonize, ostracize, minimize, anathematize, exile, and reject the people and their views, and call them “heretics” to be feared, and held in suspicion and rejected.  Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt have felt the brunt of a lot of hard line Evangelicals for being visionary and progressive and thinking “outside the box” when it comes to what is going on in our society.   All this is happening to everything from theological views on heaven and hell, love and grace, same sex marriage, the death penalty, justice, atonement theory, and the list continues to grow. The reformation continues… and even here in the midst of the Orlando Massacre, this atrocity against the LGBTQ is contributing to the good of this progressive reformation within Evangelicalism.

theology_balloonMany Evangelicals are awakening to the need to re-examine their understanding of their sacred texts, and they are realizing, and more and more people need to realize that their sacred texts are not part of the Godhead.  We do not declare in the creed, Father, Son, and Holy Bible!  We declare the triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The sacred texts reveal God to us, through the lens of those writers who received inspiration from God. They wrote within a particular historical time period and through a particular way of understanding their world and they tried to convey what God was revealing to them.  We need to recover a better narrative theology that is not bent on literalism, for if we do not, we will continue to adhere to archaic understanding and application of problematic texts that have been used to justify slavery, oppression of women, the abuse of children, and the mistreatment, persecution and even the death of homosexuals.

ENOUGH! Literalism needs to be rejected where there is a better narrative that applies, and where love is fostered and people are respected and God is honored.  We need to change and it starts by getting a better narrative understanding of our precious Bible and how we live by its principles and teachings. Evangelicals need a new and better narrative that does not judge, criticize, reject, oppress, justify discrimination, or oppressive of minorities, and especially when it comes to issues of sexual orientation, and the LGBTQ community.

Let us look at question #3.

Why do Evangelicals not seem to comprehend the command and unction of Jesus to love unconditionally?

gandhi-and-christianity4407-121029192959-phpapp01-thumbnail-4One of the issues that Gandhi had with Christianity, was that Christians did not embrace or practice the Sermon on the Mount, and as such he could not embrace Christianity.  However the teaching of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount, and the reading and correspondence he had with Leo Tolstoy and his writings of the Christian faith, and in particular, Toltoy’s The Kingdom is Within You, so radicalized Gandhi that he applied the Sermon on the Mount, and the readings of the Gospels to his daily devotional readings of his own sacred texts. Every day Gandhi read and meditated on the Gospels, and living the law of love and peace as demonstrated by Jesus of Nazareth, and he encouraged his followers to do the same.  Gandhi encouraged love and respect and care of others and was so motivated to do so by living out his understanding of love and peace and caring for others that he saw modeled by Jesus.

quote-if-christians-would-really-live-according-to-the-teachings-of-christ-as-found-in-the-bible-all-of-mahatma-gandhi-328426Like many of us, Gandhi had the same issues with “institutional Christianity.”  It seems many Evangelicals like to talk about love and grace, but seem to have little capacity for such love, especially as it pertains to people that don’t fit their grid of being lovable.

quote-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-how-about-love-the-sinner-hate-your-own-sin-i-don-t-have-mark-lowry-71-51-15-570x268I am convinced that many have simply swallowed the Kool-Aid they were given when they were disciple as Christians, and they were taught certain beliefs, especially when it came to sexuality, and that God hates sexual sin, and included in those are those sins that the sacred texts call abominations and perversions. So over time and a constant barrage of teaching where people are taught “love God and hate the sin” you end up as a by-product, rejecting and ostracizing those “sinners” that don’t fit the mold of  being worthy of love.

love-like-father-720x380The problem for Evangelicals, and I have seen it over and over, where Evangelicals will say adamantly that God is love and we are commanded to love God and love people. Then they go about qualifying that statement by adding things to the criteria of what makes someone worthy of respect and love.  It becomes a little infuriating to me to hear a lot of posturing, a lot of rhetoric, and a lot of justifying that is really an excuse to not love and an enabler to discriminate “because the Bible told me so.” Sorry! That doesn’t wash! This is nothing but avoidance at best, and outright hypocrisy.

two-commandmentsChristians will confess we are commanded to love. That should be the end of the story. Christians have been taught that their faith is NOT a religion, and that religion is by definition, “man attempting to appease God by doing what they believe God requires.”  This is why so many people say, “I follow the Ten Commandments” and I follow the Golden Rule, and I am a good neighbor, and I try to do what God wants.”  THIS IS RELIGION, it is not the historic Christian faith as Jesus revealed.

x-the-love-of-christ-compels-usJesus  proclaimed that we would all be known by the love we have for one another.  He called upon us to love God with our entire being, heart, mind, body and soul.  He called on us to love others, and by so doing, we would be default fulfill the Ten Commandments.  All He ever commanded was for us to love.  To love unconditionally.  To really illustrate the point, He called on all of us to love our enemies, to love those that persecute us, and yes, even those who can take away our lives.   That really hits home to me.  To love the unlovely, to love the ungodly, to love those different than myself, to love the stranger, to love those that give me the creeps, to love those whose actions cause me grief and outrage, to love those who think differently that myself.  He calls me to love those who not only look different, but act different, and yes, those who sexuality I do not agree with or understand.  NEITHER you, NOR I, are given an out, or an option.  WE are commanded to LOVE. No qualifier, no restriction.  And, I confess, that I fail miserably. But I continue to try to love better.

loveI have heard more than enough hate over the last year within the Evangelical community when the US was battling over same sex marriage.  Canada dealt with that issue over a decade ago.  But the venom, the fear, the posturing, and the demonizing of the LGBTQ community was fierce over the last year, and I was pained by what I was seeing coming from fellow Evangelicals south of the border.

81love2When the Orlando shooting happened, I started to hear the same fear mongering and the same rhetoric all over again.  But I also saw a change, and I began to see and hear of Evangelicals who were reaching out in love and compassion, first in Orlando, and then across the nation, and across the world.

as i have loved youThis is not the time for a theological debate on a Christian understanding of sexuality.  This is a time to love. This is a time for compassion. This is a time for support and understanding. It is a time for us Evangelicals to just shut up and love people. A little more of the attitude of Francis of Assisi would go a long way, “Proclaim the Gospel, and IF you must, then speak.”  In other words demonstrate who you are by how your love manifests in acts of love and grace toward others.

christs-loveI believe this Orlando Massacre of LGBTQ people in Orlando, is an opportunity for us who call ourselves Christian, to love, to really love, without reservation and without limit, those within the LGBTQ community, in our own cities and towns, and in our nation and other nations.  IF we can truly learn to love without reservation we would see the world transformed as well as our own lives changed from the inside out.

Let us conclude with question #4.

Why do so many Evangelicals appear to have a “sin” obsession?

sintakesyouI have saved this question for last for a reason.  It seems the many Evangelicals I have discussed issues with be it in regard to sexuality, or other moral and ethical teaching of the Christian sacred texts, the more I get the “sin” word thrown at me, in order to either contravene and oppose my views and opinions on a matter, or for them to justify and stand on some perceived biblical authority, that the issue is a “sin” and it should be obvious to me as a Christian.  So here I am with this “sin” question and it is reserved for the conclusion of this rather long blog post (please forgive my verbosity on this post).

changeI am convinced that those of us who were raised I an Evangelical family, or came to faith early in our teens or in our twenties, we all became conditioned through the teaching we received in church, and we came to realize soon enough that “sin” was a big deal.  It was such a big deal to us that it helped us come to a conversion experience with God.  The classic Christian understanding on the issue of sin, is two fold.  One, we were born in sin, as one being marred by the effects of the disobedience of humankinds first two people, Adam and Eve.  Thereafter every person ever born was born “marred in sin,” meaning that our capacity to not sin was impossible.  Yes, we are made in the image of God, with intellect, the capacity to comprehend and act rationally and responsibly and be creative.  We are like God in every capacity, other than we are imperfect.  Sin is the cause of our imperfection. Sin is defined as “missing the mark” of never quite getting it right, as in an archer firing an arrow at a target, and missing the target.  Our quest to be good, and to do right, is imperfect. All this is true and to the point.  This is why in the Old Testament we see in the Old Covenant the establishing of sacrifice of animals to cover and atone for the sins of Israel, repeated yearly on the Day of Atonement. This was done on behalf of all the people.

forgivenThrough the coming of Jesus Christ, and his death on a cross for our sins, much the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning a Savior for the world (think hear of the Christmas carols like Joy to the World). The sins of the entire world, of every person who has ever lived, and ever will live, were all put on Jesus Christ, and He atoned for them, once and for all. There is no more need to sacrifice animals or anyone else for that matter. Jesus has it all covered, literally and forever.

be like christWhat this means is that sins and its impact remain upon us until we ask God to forgive us and make us new creations in Him.  When we are converted to Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are made brand new, but that does not mean sin doesn’t continue.  The sin that continues was our own wanton acts of disobedience to what we know contravene the sacred texts, and the moral and ethical teachings of the Scriptures.  When we deliberately ignore or neglect to do what we need to do, we commit sins of omission.  When we deliberately break a known precept, or teaching of God, it is a willful sin of commission.  We just boldfaced did it, be it lying, thieving, or coveting or whatever.  So, we end up being saved from sin, and become saints (redeemed by God) who sometimes sin (miss the mark). This is why so many Christians appear to have a “sin obsession.”

freefromsinMany Christians don’t want to admit it, but many have reduced their faith, and their Christianity to a “sin management system.”  They go to church, they follow the rules, and they do their good deeds, and usually watch others to make sure they do to, and by default their faith becomes a way to monitor and manage the “sin count” in their own lives and the lives of others.  How many times growing up did you hear some things like this excuse, “Yeah! I did that, but Tommy he stole my marbles and when I asked for them back and didn’t give them to me, I stole his baseball!” We have all heard talk like that. People comparing sins and checking up on the sins of others.

00scarletletterOne American classic piece of literature on sin, and the effects of sin on a community is the novel, The Scarlet Letter.  If you haven’t read the book, you should, and if you can’t, then at least watch one of the film adaptations of the book.  They are pretty good and convincing about the effects of sin on the life of a person, but more to the point, the impact of having a “sin obsession.”


depression-and-suicidal-thoughts-1024x739When people are fixated on people living a certain way, where everyone conforms to what they perceive to be a correct form of behavior, and they resort to a form of rule keep, and ritual observance of those rules of conformity, and when someone sticks out  as being different than others, and they appear to be in defiance of the publicly accepted standard of morality and conduct and behavior, others will do all they can within their means to expose them, and confront them, and even apply pressure to conformity by demanding laws to bring about changes in social mores. We have seen it over the historical record, and the history of the Western culture has shown how disastrous it is when you add the pressure of religious persecution to the power of the state, in order to punish, control, persecute and rid society of those people who do not conform to the accepted mores and beliefs of the community.

gay-students-CHRISTIAN-collegesThis has been the long and sordid history of how a sin obsession and a sin orientation to human sexuality has led to  the attacks, restrictions, oppressive laws, persecutions, imprisonments, fines, public ridicule and scorn, of the LGBTQ community.  This fixation of sexual behavior has affected even the straight community.  It has not been all that long that to be caught in adultery, or fornication meant more than just judgment and ridicule, and public scorn. It affected people’s livelihoods to be divorced, and it even affected those who were not only divorced but divorced and remarried.  So this sin obsession became a “behavior modification” system.

Angry-1The issues of the last five decades and the civil rights advocacy movement pertaining to the LGBTQ became oriented not on sexual behavior, but rather to sexual orientation.  This is in fact where many Evangelicals have had their greatest challenge in supporting the LGBTQ community.  The whole area of sexual orientation hangs around the issue of identity and personhood as understood by those within that community.  It is not about sexual acts any more.  It has been reoriented to being about identity and personhood. The debate has shifted from the “sin” debate about homosexuality, to that of identity.

romans_8_38-39.75184330_stdThe issues facing the Evangelicals and the LGBTQ community now should revolve around what it means to be a person, and what are the criteria of personhood and identity. This is even more important now that the whole debate is widening to include the whole question of gender identity and the growing debate about fluidity of gender, where a person may feel like a man in the morning, and then feel like a woman in the afternoon.  This is only going to grow and cause even more debate, and many Evangelicals and conservatives don’t know and don’t want to even discuss the matter.   I know in order to better address the issue of engaging with the LGBTQ community, many Evangelicals need to get over their “sin” definition of homosexual acts, and need to deal with the issue of sexual orientation, and how many of the LGBTQ community have always felt they were wired to be LGBTQ, just as straight people have always felt straight.

godisloveIf we are all honest with ourselves and each other, and stop using labels and name calling about our respective identities, maybe proper respect and discourse will evolve over time. But right now, the prophet ‘Be-Atles’ said it best, “All we need is love…”

Let us all turn away from facing the wall, and stop denying the reality of the world we are living in.  let us face the music about how much our obsession with sin and morality as we understand it has led to the persecution of and the marginalization of and rejection of the LGBTQ community.

More love. Please. More love. Let’s just learn to love better. Understanding will come. Respect will come. Acceptance will come.  But we really need to love better.

Peace.

~ Samuel M. Buick

LINKS:

A Meditation on the Orlando Shooting

Grieving Together: How Orlando’s Hispanic Evangelicals Are Reaching Out

Orlando Churches Condemn Attacks: Offer Help

Pastors Across America Speak Out Against Orlando Attack

Gabriel Salguero, Franklin Graham, Orlando Churches Condemn Attack, Offer Sympathy to Victims

Pro-LGBT Evangelical David Gushee: I’m With You and The Church Needs to Change

When Forbidden Sexuality Meets Unchanging Religious Tradition

No We Cannot Weep Together

Five suggestions for conservative evangelicals responding to Orlando

Pat Robertson: Gays & Islamists Are Allies So ‘Let Them Kill Themselves’

Trump and Clinton Couldn’t Respond More Differently to Shooting

Orlando Latino Churches Gather to Offer Faith, Hope & Love Following Local Massacre

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly – June 17, 2016

FBI probes nightclub shooter for suspected ties to Orlando gay scene, wife for foreknowledge of massacre

Gays and lesbians in Orlando to Trump: Don’t use us to bash Muslims

After Orlando, Faith Leaders Are Starting To Take Ownership Of Religious Homophobia

Pastor refuses to mourn Orlando victims: ‘The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die’

LGBTQ religion activist: it’s time to talk about America’s faith-based homophobia problem

 Evangelical Leader Implores Christians to Come Around LGBT Community in Wake of Orlando Terror Attack

 American Muslims Must Address Religiously Sanctioned Homophobia

Christians respond to Orlando massacre

 

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About Sam Buick

A lover and disciple of Jesus Christ. Married to my best friend, Lori-Anne. Father to 3 incredible daughters, Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn, and sons-in-law Alex, and Stephen Davis. An avid reader, a Droid user, a Mac addict, a lover of footy ball and football (there is a difference), and hockey. Once a soldier. Once a youth worker. Once an ordained minister. Once a claims adjuster. Once a charismatic, now a pacifist. A disciple of Christ, Gospel of grace proclaimer, pursuing union with Christ. There is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus unites, dogma divides.
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