Scary Sexist Homophobic Christian Preacher, Revisited

If you’ve got some time to burn, check out the Mystery of Iniquity Blog — the link points to a post in which the author comments on my post (and critique) of Mark Driscoll’s “Jesus wasn’t a hippie in a dress” video. The conversations in response constitute a microcosmic example of just how hard it is for gender-traditionalists and feminists/post-patriarchalists to discuss the core issues that divide us. Here is an enlightening glimpse into the values rift that is at the heart of both our cultural and our ecclesial paralysis.

What’s at the heart of this particular conversation? The Bible and how we interpret it. Basically, the traditionalist position is “The Bible is God’s word, and God is not sexist/misogynistic, therefore the Bible is not sexist/misogynistic.” The post-patriarchal position runs more along the lines of “The Bible is sexist/misogynistic, which means either it fails as God’s word, or it implies that God is also sexist/misogynistic, or at the very least it points to how far we have evolved in both our understanding of God and of ethics; in any case, the Bible remains relevant only to the extent that we can honestly criticize it.”

Similar rifts divide those who argue for and against the acceptance of gay and lesbian persons in church and society; those who argue for and against the morality of legally available abortion, and those who argue for and against the acceptance of religious diversity and interfaith respect.

My friends, we who both love the Christian faith and identify with post-patriarchal, post-homophobic, post-modern ethics, have quite a task before us. We must find ways for the trads and the posties to talk to each other. Not past each other, but to each other. This will be a slow, painful process. But I am convinced that God will have it no other way.

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  1. Thank you for this, Carl. “This will be a slow, painful process. But I am convinced that God will have it no other way.” Yes! Absolutely! For myself, I simply have to hold onto the fact that like you, I “both love the Christian faith and identify with post-[all that stuff] ethics…” and go with it wherever God seems to be taking me. Slow, painful and scary – and that’s before all the other conversations…

  2. Hi Carl,
    Thanks for the pingback. I’ve learned, after many conversations with both sides, that within all the heated rhetoric are souls that love God. Each side feels that they alone may have the “answers” to what ails the church, but neither side believes the other has anything to offer. How indeed do we not talk around each other? The inerrancy crowd refuses to believe that there is anything wrong with how God is portrayed in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Being a firm believer in a “post-(fill in)” church, I feel such language marginalizes many, many faithful Christians. We can find no place in a pietistic church that refuses to think outside the proverbial box.

    Oh, and love your site! It’s an oasis.

  3. One of the things I think we all have to do is learn to see the world through the other’s eyes. I love the story of how, if you don’t like the taste of oysters, you need to find a (very good) friend who loves the taste of oysters, and is willing to partially chew an oyster and then pass it into your mouth. It seems that people who love oysters have a different chemistry to their saliva than do they oyster-haters, so literally, the oyster-lovers experience oyster eating in an entirely different way. Unless an oyster-hater is literally willing to taste the saliva of an oyster-lover, he or she will never know why oysters taste so good (at least to some people). Now, I don’t know if this is a true story or not — as a vegetarian, oysters are irrelevant to me! But it does point to the idea that trads and posties lierally see the world in entirely different ways. Until we learn to see through each other’s eyes, we’ll never be able to communicate meaningfully and constructively. Of course, what if the “other side” doesn’t want to look through your eyes? That’s always possible. But I think those of us who are willing to look through the other’s eyes should do so, even if the favor is not reciprocated. There’s just too much at stake not to.

    Thanks for kind words!

  4. That’s a great post. I think the conversation between traditionalists and innovators is and will be difficult.

    There’s an excellent website, Would Jesus Discriminate? which explains why the Bible is not in fact homophobic.

    Regarding the sexism aspect: I think it would help if people didn’t exclusively refer to the Divine by the male noun and pronoun. Also, whilst women priests are a thorny issue, I hope they will eventually be embraced by the Church.

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