Meet Scott Anderson, Soon To Be the First (Openly) Gay Minister Ordained by Presbyterian U.S.A.

Scott Anderson

“Our pastor is gay! Our pastor is gay! How can we possibly continue being Christians now?!”

Okay, fine: I don’t actually know what the two people said to their fellow parishioners at Bethany Presbyterian when, in the spring of 1990, they decided to out their head pastor, Scott Anderson. But they did out Mr. Anderson, who as a result did feel compelled to leave the Sacramento church he’d been serving since 1987—a church he had served so well that soon after he departed from it, for instance, Bethany received the Presbyterian General Assembly’s Ecumenical Service Award for its outstanding collaborative work in meeting the needs of people throughout the Sacramento area.

Awesome pastor? No problem!

Gay awesome pastor? Problem, indeed: Mr. Anderson was pushed out of the closet and straight into the unemployment line.

“Getting outted at Bethany was both the best and worst moment of my life,” Scott told me over the phone. “On the one hand, it was so freeing and empowering to finally be honest about the truth of who I am. On the other hand, it forced me to step away from my passion. The gay issue had never been part of my ministry at Bethany; it hadn’t played any role at all in our conversations there. When out of the blue it became the conversation, I thought it best if I voluntarily resigned from Bethany. I didn’t want the tumult caused by my staying to ultimately prove disruptive to the life of the church.”

Mr. Anderson planned on returning to college full-time, getting a master’s degree in public policy, and then, as he put it, “disappearing into the blessed anonymity of the vast government bureaucracy.” He thought he was forever finished with leading ministries.

Apparently God, however, had a different idea. Soon after leaving Bethany, Scott was offered a job as an administrative coordinator for the California Council of Churches, an advocacy organization in Sacramento that, according to its mission statement, “is to be a prophetic witness to the Gospel by advocating in the public policy arena for justice, equity and fairness in the treatment of all people, in particular those most vulnerable in our society.” He could work at CCC part-time while attending full-time at Cal State Sacramento.

Perfect! So that’s what he did.

Mr. Anderson (who earned his M.A. in Public Policy and Administration in 1992) served the California Council of Churches for twelve years. He spent six of those years as the CCC’s Associate Director before being elected its Executive Director in September 1996.

He also served six years on the governing board and executive committee of the National Council of Churches, was president of the Sacramento Interfaith Service Bureau, president of the National Association of Ecumenical and Interreligious Staff (NAEIS), and chair of the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Concerns for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Now a resident of Madison, Wisconsin, Scott is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

Hard to imagine such a person disappearing into bureaucratic anonymity, isn’t it?

In 2001, Scott joined Presbyterian U.S.A.’s  Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church—or PUP, for short. In 2006, PC (USA)’s General Assembly adopted a recommendation of PUP’s that would allow a candidate for ordination to submit along with their ordination application a “scruple,” or an objection, to the PC (USA)’s ordination standards, based on conscience. The governing body responsible for that candidate’s ordination must then determine whether or not their objection in any essential way violates Reformed faith and practice; if not, that candidate can be ordained.

Perhaps you see where this is headed.

The “scruple” that Scott Anderson wrote and submitted as part of his 2010 application to be re-ordained into the Presbyterian church (his first ordination was “set aside” after he was outed from Bethany) is as elegant, succinct, and persuasive a document as you’ll ever read. Though today relatively few have even seen it, I believe history will remember it as seminal in the evolution of gay rights. See if you agree: read “Scott Anderson’s Objection Based on Conscience.”

The administrative, legislative, and deliberative process by which Mr. Anderson ultimately became the first openly gay person ordained for ministry by PC (USA) is so dense and abstruse it would take a master’s degree in public policy and administration to track and/or explain it. Just looking at my pages of notes on the matter makes me want to climb into a giant maze and take a nap. His case has been winding its way through church-courts for the past two years. (Not hurting his cause at all was PC (USA) officially allowing the ordination of gay and lesbian candidates as of July 10, 2011.)

But he did it. Scott Anderson, who because of his sexual orientation was in April 1990 essentially forced out of his Presbyterian (U.S.A.) church, will, this Saturday, October 8, at 10:30 a.m., in Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, become the first openly gay person ordained in the history of PC (USA)—largely due to his own work modifying the ordination process.

“I’m very excited, humble, and surprised by all this,” Scott told me. “As Christians, we say that we are all made in God’s image. We say that God loves us all equally. We say that we were created to be in relationship. Well, this is the church’s way of fully living into that message. I believe the Presbyterian church will be much, much stronger for having seen this process through. It means that we can now bring true authenticity to our relationship with gay and lesbian people. What a blessing that is to all people who look to the church to find a God who loves them.”

Scott has been with his life-partner Ian MacAllister for twenty years. I do not know how he and Ian will spend the evening of the day on which Scott is ordained. I imagine at some point they will sit together in the living room of their home, beaming broadly at one another. Eventually they will pad off to bed, where they will cuddle up together, and perhaps dream of a world in which a gay man or woman being ordained for ministry in the Christian church isn’t considered newsworthy.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrea-Morales-Barton/100000288339030 Andrea Morales Barton via Facebook

    Proud to be Presbyterian!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    congratulations, sir. you are an honor to all people of conscienc

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.frazier1 Paul Frazier via Facebook

    Scott is the first openly gay minister. I am sure that we have had gay ministers before. But yes, we have begun a new era. May the Kingdom of God grow!

  • Frank

    Evidence of a further decline of the American church. Thankfully more churches than not understand Gods word and do their best to follow it. Love yes always, accept sin, no never!

    • Reed

      Dear Frank:

      Your presence alone is sufficient evidence of the decline of the American church. Please, lead by example. Leave.

      And find a hobby other than trolling about for opportunities to sprew your “love is not acceptance” Orwellian bilge.

    • DR

      Frank, your 15 minutes of Christian fame where your beliefs (that you really can’t justify with Scripture at all) are up. Most of us aren’t going to allow you to speak for who gays and lesbians are any longer. You can feel all spiritually persecuted for that or you can step back, find some courage and ask yourself why smart people – both Conservative and Liberal – people who are devoted to Jesus – are beginning to ask themselves if they’ve been wrong on this.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Frank’s been put on moderation.

      • W. Lotus

        Thank you.

        • Christy

          Honestly, John, nor anyone here is afraid of dissent. But this is John’s page and he’s the decider. What he deems hurtful or rude or over the top or worthy of monitoring before it is made public is his choice.

        • Nick K.

          Christocentric – Hello Pot! Have you met Kettle?

        • Stephen McBride

          I did make the same point. But it didn’t make it past the moderator.

          Which is a terrible pity, because this is possibly one of the best and certainly one of the most thought provoking pages on the ‘net. But it does seem that liberals can sometimes be as intolerant of opposing opinions as fundementalists.

          As I say that’s a pity, because the way to change people isn’t to censor them, but to engage them.

          • Mindy

            Stephen, the thing is, that us danged liberals get all stuck on one point: This is no longer a matter of “opinion!” The fact that homosexuality is not a choice is roundly accepted in the scientific, medical and psychological communities, as well as more and more in our culture in general, and the fact that God would damn his own creations for simply being honest about who they are and who they love goes against everything Jesus taught about love.

            Homophobes really need to move on, get over it and live their lives – while allowing LGBT citizens to do the same. It’s not disrespect, it’s not intolerance – it’s utter exasperation that people still CHOOSE to walk around with their minds snapped shut.

          • DR

            This is a very ignorant perspective in that it completely dismisses the damage these people do when telling a gay man or woman “You are condemned by God because of something you will never be able to change.” The damage that causes at the individual level and the way we’ve allowed it to create a culture of disinformation that allows for gay men and women to be chased out of churches, prevented legal rights that others have and more is so vast, we’ll never be able to repair it. So for you and others to just couch it as “Hey this is just my opinion” is like a white man telling a black man “the N-word is just a word and it’s my opinion. You being angry with me for expressing it means you’re being intolerant!”

            There is zero difference.

        • DR

          As for me, I’m just tired of dealing with those of you who are actually posting on a blog with thousands of gay men and women reading and are so incredibly self-involved, you’d feel not only comfortable stating your “beliefs” here but that you’d do so with such a profound lack of tact, knowing who the audience is.

          If you actually demonstrated an openness of mind, a real willingness to examine the role your beliefs have played in damaging the gay community? If you were able to face it and still say “It makes me sick to my stomach that me believing God condemns homosexuality causes gay kids to go into despair and even hurt themselves, but I can’t see my way out of believing that way right now.” I’d respect that. But those of you who refuse to do that, who refuse to look at the damage you do here squarely? I find that entitlement you feel to have some free reign to “express your beliefs” and the damands with those beliefs being respected – when we’ve seen firsthand the damage they do here from the testimony of gay christians? And non-Christians? It’s shocking how selfish it is.

          • Brook

            It’s always confounded me how anyone who thinks of themselves as Christians (meaning they know they are hopeless sinners that deserve Hell but for the grace of Jesus Christ), can so easily turn their back on fellow Christians who happen to be gay.

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        John,

        OK on the same thread 2 people have been put on moderation and you never did that with me!! Why, I want to know why, I beleive in moderation, like drinking in moderation. You discriminated against me for not moderating me. When I read some of the posts I wrote, you probably should have banished me to fundie heap pile of the narrow minded…….

        • Mindy

          And yet he didn’t, and here you are, being kinda loving like toward your fellow Christians. Whoda thunk it?

          I have to say, though – there is a different sense of superiority emanating from Frank and Centric. Although Centric did acknowledge that some of her comments which were called out as mistakes were “debatable.” So maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for her, too? I’m not sure. Frank, however, just blasted in to slam without really saying anything of substance at all. Good riddance, that one.

        • Diana A.

          Brian, I think your tone might have been ever so slightly different. I was wondering myself why I felt differently about Christocentrc and Frank than I did about you. Maybe you came across as being just a little less sanctimonious, a little more open to change.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Diana and Mindy,

            Thanks, for the kind words, one never really knows how one comes across on this blog. My eyes have been opned even more. Thanks to all for your patience with me!!

          • DR

            Brian I had my doubts about you, you know that. But for me it was your willingness to really *talk* to gay men and women about how your beliefs have impacted them – to wrestle with that, to struggle with it – that is the difference. I’ve been where you are, I know how difficult it is. I think a lot of us have. But there’s just this core of goodness in you that is evident. I know you love Jesus and I know you love gay men and women. And I respect you getting totally hammered here and coming back for more. I think you’re a man of God who has demonstrated a willingness to listen and a true commitment to pursuing the truth.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            I am amazed on the journey God put me on these last several months; what started off as a fairly innocuous friend request on Facebook to John (we attended the same high school and graduated the same year). I find myself here now with a complete new mindset. I consider myself quite the “progressive conservative” Christian, living in California, but I soon discovered through this blog how clueless I really was about homosexuality. I’m not (yet) a rainbow flag waving champion of gay rights, but I’m now keenfully aware how verbal and written dogmatic conservative biblical beliefs can cause such pain and suffering, and is actually COUNTER productive for the cause of Christ (salvation for all through His Gospel). I still have a long way to go – but I see the error of my ways – because of people on here. Praise God……

          • Christy

            You have helped us all grow too. I hope you know that. That’s how relationships work. That’s how love works. When both parties are really invested in it, there is giving in the receiving and receiving in the giving. Praise God, indeed.

          • DR

            I just adore you for how willing you were to hang in there and you helped me face some important and very difficult things about myself too. You’re a blessing.

          • Allie

            Do you have any idea how hard it is to do what you have done, how rare it is to see someone listen to others, admit his failings, and change his opinions? I’m awed and humbled. If you have a lot to learn, you also have a lot to teach.

          • Mindy

            Brian, here I sit, with tears in my eyes. You are a blessing for all of us. Proof positive that minds can change, that hearts can open, that listening matters. You taught me along the way, too, even as I was harsh with you. Thank you. Truly.

    • DR

      “More churches than not?” This is wildly inaccurate, Frank. You’re in the minority, 53% of Christians believe in gay marriage. 87% of that population being evangelical christians between 19-30. You were so focused on fighting the liberal agenda that you lost your kids. You lost your future. Even Focus on the Family has admitted defeat in this issue. Now it’s just a matter of educating other people who are listening and for a few of you, just waiting it out.

  • Allie

    My local Episcopalian church is all caught up in schism over this issue. How refreshing to see the Presbyterians take a step forward! Bless you, Mr. Anderson.

  • Bob

    Thank you for sharing this. We have all been witness to and advocates for this moment. It’s been far too hard, and taken far too long, but it’s worth it. We have overcome the outside funding sources that have fed the hostility in so many denominations, and shown that the response to such acts is even more powerful acts of love. Our church is born again.

  • Dan

    This is a step forward for progressive Christianity. Awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Molly.Cate.Marshall Mary Catherine Marshall via Facebook

    Blessings, Scott! ‘Bout time the Presby’s caught up with the UCC!

  • Robin Fox via Facebook

    As a Methodist Minister working with the Presbyterian Church of Wales, I offer my love and congratulations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jkindlen Jane Kindlen via Facebook

    Fantastic article, and so moving and affirming to read his ‘scruple’…. when such eloquent words rightly explain why being gay & Christian is from God it simply blows me away – thk you John – and Scott for your work and witness!

  • Erin D.

    I am proud to live in Madison! Welcome, Pr. Scott!! God bless!!

  • Joan Mielke Yost

    I sincerely wish Scott Anderson well and I hope he has a good idea of who his friends and enemies are in the Synod of Lakes and Praries before Saturday.

    The issue of homosexuality and celibacy in the PCUSA has tumultuous and mostly very unpleasant history over the past couple of decades. Read about the history here: http://www.mlp.org/resources/history.html The decision of the GA against Jane Spahr in 1992 affected people at all levels of the church and introduced a homophobic zealotry that persisted for well over a decade and damaged countless lives, including mine. I most sincerely hope that these events are not repeated.

    • Amy

      The decision against Spahr led me down a 10 year path of practicing homophobia because my church leadership created hysteria over it. I regret every day the hurt I caused others in the name of Jesus. I, too, am hopeful for the future of the PCUSA.

  • http://nobleexperiments.blogspot.com NobleExperiments

    Congratulations, Rev. Anderson, and huge courage points for living your convictions.

    The huge Presbyterian church in my town is in the process of leaving PC(USA) over this issue, and it all comes down to “Gay Is Bad!”. I don’t understand how they can preach that God loves everyone and yet expect LGBT people to be comfortable coming to their church when what they really mean is, “…. as long as you’re not gay.” They honestly expect anyone who is not a married heterosexual to abstain from romantic/physical relationships. As far as I know, they don’t bring out Bible verses to justify it; they just say that sex outside of marriage is bad. Period.

    I get blank stares when I ask about states where same-sex couples can marry – is that okay? And even blanker stares when I ask that if it’s okay for the church to tell the state who can marry and who can’t, why wouldn’t it work the other way – the state can tell the church who to marry? Of course that brings up howls of indignation. You’d think their heads would explode over the cognitive dissonance.

  • Stephen McBride

    A fine moment indeed. In the UK, the Church of England has been gradually liberalising, and finally seems to be getting somewhere. Alas that my home country, Northern Ireland still chooses, like so many Abrahamic faiths, to live in the middle ages.

    All the best, Scott. a heart warming story!

  • Christocentric

    A huge mistake many churches are ignoring in having Gay pastors or accepting homosexuality is ignoring God’s description of love: “. . .does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.;”… (1 Corinthians 13:6).

    True love rejoices in TRUTH and not INIQUITY (immorality). Of course the next mistake made is ignoring homosexuality as iniquity. John, I would just say that you are leading many astray and can easily be categorized as a false teacher. You are teaching people to ignore God’s description of marital union in which Jesus declared to be between a man and a woman and NOT to be broken apart – Matthew 19:4-6. I quoted Jesus since you seem to have an affinity of ignoring Paul’s admonitions regarding homosexuality in his writings. But Jesus stressed AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING, and no there are no biblical accounts of blessed homosexual unions in the beginning.

    I just urge your readers that if you truly LOVE God you will seek His truth and follow after Him. People latching on to you John fulfills some warnings such as this one:

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      As, I see the crazy train has arrived. It’s almost always late, of course. But sooner or later, squealing, screeching, and spewing noxious smoke, it always pulls in.

      sigh

      • Melody

        More like OBnoxious smoke. They aren’t much different from street preachers, if you ask me.

        • Melody

          Christocentric, if you don’t like what John and his readers gave to say, there are other blogs you can troll. (Not that I’m encouraging you to keep trolling, mind you.) Seriously, don’t waste your time.

          • Melody

            That should read “have,” not “gave.”

          • Neo

            Melody, are you saying that this blog is required to be an echo chamber, where only one point of view can be expressed? I didn’t realize that was his idea.

            I don’t know Christocentric and haven’t followed enough comment threads to know much about her, but I can say that not everyone with conservative beliefs about homosexuality is the same – familiar with http://www.gaychristian.net/sideb.php at all? Would someone with that view be considered a “troll” here? (Not saying that you claimed such a person would be – you were talking about Christocentric, who for all I know could be showing trollish behavior.)

            (Full disclosure: I’m side B and bisexually attracted, although I’m not really a GCN supporter.)

          • Melody

            No, far from it. I’m just saying she doesn’t have to read it if she doesn’t like it.

        • Mindy

          Oh, goody, Centric is here!

          I love that you believe you can say “Of course the next mistake made is ignoring homosexuality as iniquity. John, I would just say that you are leading many astray and can easily be categorized as a false teacher,” and NOT see that as disrespectful – no, John’s the big bad meanie. You can tell an entire segment of the population that they are immoral and call John names, yet HE is the disrespectful one?? Riiiiight.

          You just keep holding on tight to that modern English Bible of yours. You just keep believing that you are morally superior to this pastor and all the gay and lesbian Christians (and LGBT people of all other faiths and traditions). You keep teaching your children that they are morally superior to their LGBT peers, so that they feel justified in standing by when someone bullies a gay classmate, or worse, offering to “heal” said classmate’s soul. You keep ignoring the brilliant scholarship of so many well-educated theologians, like Mr. Anderson and many others. You keep your blinders on and your fingers in ears so you can’t see or hear the spirit of love blossoming around you. And I will pity you, in your high-minded ivory tower, missing out on the love and friendship and communion of so many wonderful people with whom God has blessed this world.

          • Diana A.

            Beautiful. Thank you, Mindy.

          • relevantpreach

            So Mindy, because someone disagrees with your point of view or John’s point of view, they are making themselves morally superior? Could it just be that they are being faithful and trying to speak the truth in love? I did not hear anyone even coming close to the language the Apostle Paul used when someone strayed from Biblical, or Orthodox belief – where he turned them over (or more literally released them) to the devil. But Paul must have been considering himself morally superior? Right?

            Be tolerant of everyone except those that don’t agree with you? Is that what it means to bear with one another in love?

            By the way, I would love to know which brilliant scholarship and educated theologians you are reading or studying that speak to these issues in a faithful way to the original text. Maybe it is Robin Scroggs, who showed his agenda driven theological exegesis of the texts when proven historically and textually wrong in trying to argue for homosexuality being acceptable. Maybe it is Rev. Jack Rogers who is not a linguist at all, but sharing from personal experience, rather than beginning with the text (also called isogesis). Or maybe there are others who have this view that have a working knowledge of the text. I would love to know who you read, because I would recommend two of the most accredited and esteemed theologians of our day (Bishop N.T. Wright and Dr. Robert Gagnon) to you for your reading and study.

            I have heterosexual tendencies, and am happily married. Using your logic, if I have any sexual attraction toward another woman, that is OK and should be celebrated?

            Please explain.

          • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com/ Molly Bandit

            I think having sexual attractions toward another person… means you’re not asexual? I’m married as well, but I’m not dead and will still do an 80s style shade tip at the hottie buying fro-yo at the mall. Joking about semantics aside, *acting* on those tenancies when you’ve made a monogamous commitment to someone involves both lying and doing something that your partner has told you will hurt them. Both of which are frowned upon in any interpretation of the Bible (or any other religious tradition I can think of).

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Yikes.

          • DR

            I don’t really care who’s morally superior but I do find those of you who come onto this blog with some kind of “reverse tolerance much?” approach really kind of – sorry – not very aware of how relationships work.

            You can opine all the live long day if you want to. Knock yourself out. But what those of you who wish to condemn homosexuality are doing with your words – your expressed beliefs – is both damaging and dangerous.

            I suspect that none of you have actually read the testimony of gay men and women here. You won’t face the damage that your “opinion” does to them, you won’t look them in their virtual faces. You prefer to stay where you believe your hands are clean; you’re just “expressing an opinion” and because you believe that opinion is “God’s Truth” . You actually try to equate the damage you do – the way your beliefs drive gay kids to suicide and repel gay men and women from Jesus – to someone here being angry with you about your impact and saying so. It’s really creepy to see how a lot of you seem to believe you’re operating within this “holy immunity” where you get to say anything you want to and not be held accountable for the impact. As a Christian! That’s what’s so unsettling and scary.

          • Christy

            Relevantpreach, It’s not because someone disagrees with a point of view that makes them come across as morally superior. It’s their tone of voice. Not unlike what you have used here.

            There is value to dissent and communication…..when it is civil and healthy and informed. It takes a great deal of effort not to get irritated with those with whom we disagree. It takes practice and attention and intention, especially on subjects about which we are passionate.

            The thing is….many people reading here know that folks who use passive aggressive styles of communication; sarcasm; broad sweeping certitudes; who defend, deflect, excuse and avoid; who do drive by snarkings and show a general degree of anger and assholiness, etc. are speaking from a defensive place….. that comes from deep inside, who likely have issues that they are yet unaware of and are yet to be dealt with…..generally involving one’s psyche and ego and self-concept.

            The trouble is the folks who use this style of communication are usually unaware of this. Thus, the shock and the “who me” and the confusion when they get blocked or put on moderation…..or lose friends, or have trouble in their marriage, or get fired from work. There is healthy communication and there is not. There is self-awareness and there is not.

            Our ego is highly adept at self-deception. It is the essence of our human coping strategy. And once we figure this out…..once we shine the bright light of truth on it…..and drag it, kicking and screaming, out of the darkness…..and we continue to check ourselves, and actively work to live and speak from a place of compassion, our ego can’t control us any longer.

            Those who are aware of this can see through unhealthy communication styles to what lies at the heart of it….and with a great deal more work can have an enormous amount of compassion for those who are still there.

          • Mindy

            Relevant, your “reverse tolerance” argument simply no longer holds water. No more than if someone came to this blog – or anywhere – and posted a racist rant and I ignored it, because, well, I must tolerate those with whom I disagree. No, I mustn’t. Not if what I am disagreeing with is hatred and dangerous to ANY of God’s children. We must call out bigotry and hate and intolerance because it flies in the face of Christianity, a religion based on a God who SO LOVED THE WORLD. LOVED. Here, I’ll say it again in case you don’t fully grasp the concept. LOVED.

            There is a long list of behavior I “tolerate” even as I don’t agree with it because I realize I have no authority or right to intervene. What I will not tolerate is bigotry, even when it is all dressed up in its Sunday best and carrying its modern-era Bible. I recommend you read Pr. Anderson’s scruple, linked above. Investigate PBS interviews with Daniel Helminiak or John Boswell. Read William Countryman. Explore the Soulforce website, the Progressive Christians website, CanyonWalkers – all of them are full of wisdom, conversation and links to those far more educated than I am in these matters. The “original texts” of which you speak have been manipulated and taken out of their historical context for far too long. When viewed within the appropriate framework, the fact that monogamous gay relationships are never addressed one way or the other in the Bible becomes clear. They simply aren’t. But you and your ilk will continue to insist that is not true, regardless of what those who are historical experts have to say about it.

            As to your last question, you are married. So whatever sexual attractions you have, whether they be to men or women, should be left at that, as attractions, and nothing more – because you have made a commitment to be faithful to your spouse. I’m not really sure what point you are trying to make there.

            The bottom line, Relevant, is that Centric’s brand of Christianity thrives on being exclusionary. Quite the paradox to manage, considering that the Bible states quite clearly that God loves all, God will welcome all to His Kingdom. But y’all keep trying. You just want to be part of something that everyone can’t join.

            This is how it sounds to a gay person (and those of us who are straight but support them wholeheartedly): “Except, well, he loves you, but he doesn’t LOVE you. Or really, he doesn’t love YOU.” On one hand, we are told that good works don’t mean anything – doesn’t matter how kind, compassionate or generous you are, or how ethically well you live your life, if you haven’t accepted Jesus and been born again, you don’t get to join the club. “Sorry. We wish we didn’t have to exclude you, but, gosh, God says we have to.”

            On the other hand, though, it doesn’t matter if we’ve accepted Jesus and been born again. Even if we believe with our whole hearts that He is the way to God, it’s how we live our lives that will keep us out. “Again, so sorry. We wish we didn’t have to exclude you, but gosh, God says we have to because you are an abomination because of who you love. Not our rules. God’s. Bummer for you.”

            And always with the caveat: “But hey, if you’ll just reject your identity at its very core and pretend to be someone other than who God made, you, too, can join our club!!”

            That is utterly ridiculous – and to me, to many of us, sounds like you are really not giving God very much credit at all for being, well, reasonable. And if I were God, that would reallyreallyreally bug the crap out of me, frankly.

            So sure, I’ll tolerate you feeling the way you do, even though you are wrong. I’ll tolerate the fact that you and the Centrics and Franks of the world have the right to believe whatever bigoted notions you please, even when you are flat-out wrong. But I will not sit quietly by and let you damage the vulnerable with that bigotry. If you want to pretend I’m simply exercising my own brand of intolerance, well, you keep telling yourself that. You keep justifying your hatred that way. And I’ll keep calling you on your bigotry, every time I see it. Because that is God’s work, and it is the least I can do.

          • Christy

            Mindy, He read the scruple and commented on it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/04/03/scott-andersons-objection-based-on-conscience/comment-page-1/#comment-95907

            and of note, he (she?) is a Presbyterian minister.

          • Alan

            Robert Gagnon is a hack who thinks adultery is better than homosexuality. Seriously, that’s how he ranks sins. (And the notion that anyone like Gagnon who imputes himself to be a Reformed, Protestant Christian ranks sins like that demonstrates that if that’s the best “esteemed theologians” we have today, we’re in trouble.

            Yes, I know the Catholics have their sin ranking system (mortal vs. venal, etc.) but that’s a notion that we Protestants did away with, and Gagnon, who is supposedly a New Testament Scholar ought to know better. I suspect he got his degree out of a Cracker-Jack box.

            But he uses Jesusy sounding words, so I guess that’s what amounts to intellectual rigor these days.

            Not to mention that his work doesn’t even pass the smell test. He’s written thousands and thousands and thousands of pages online about homosexuality. Whenever a straight homophobe spends that might time thinking about man-on-man sex, I start to wonder.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            You sing when you’re angry, Mindy. And what beautiful music you make.

          • Mindy

            Wow. Just . . . wow. Thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever received such a beautiful compliment.

          • Diana A.

            Especially her last six paragraphs. Wow!

          • Donna W.

            Well put! Thanks, Mindy. Centric and others of the same mindset, are in fact the false teachers. It’s like they read the book, but missed the point.

    • http://nobleexperiments.blogspot.com NobleExperiments

      May I offer a helpful suggestion? Read the entire passage instead of quoting bits out of context. Of course, that would mean that you would have to retract citing this passage as “proof” that you’re right. Never mind.

    • Nick K.

      Christocentric – How do you know that 2 Timothy 2:3-4 isn’t referring to you?

      • Christy

        Show me a scripture that says the earth revolves around the sun or that antibiotics are a solution for curing what ails us much more effectively than bleeding by leeches.

        • Christy

          Christocentric, you set the standard of asking that someone provide a scripture to you that proves Truth about homosexuality, and I provided you with examples of Truth that have been revealed outside of scripture to make the point, not that the Bible and science are incompatible, but that Truth can and is revealed to us outside of scripture.

          In your quoting of Isaiah 40:22 do you admit then that the Bible has been wrongly interpreted by well-meaning but misinformed people in the past?

          • Christy

            I should inform you that I am a member of the medical community and your carelessness in implying that same sex unions are what cause health ills is deceptive and poorly stated. Promiscuity can lead to health problems whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. Mutually monogamous relationships are something entirely different, yet are also subject to health issues.

          • Allie

            Christie, I think he’s referring to – hmm – probably not allowed to say that here. Certain sexual practices.

            May I point out that those sexual practices also take place between men and women? In fact far more often? Look it up!

          • Christy

            Christocentric is female according to her blog.

            I agree, Allie. Though I surely hope in 2011 we are beyond rehashing the missionary position and the question of whether non-procreative sex is evil.

          • Allie

            Shoot, not only did I get her gender wrong, I misspelled your name! Sorry, my daughter is Christie, it’s a habit.

          • DR

            I did Google that and I found some “science” that was debunked. Please offer us some citations that are recent and non-religiously based. Looking forward to those. Thanks.

        • relevantpreach

          Christy, the burden of proof in such an argument lives with the one who is challenging the norm. The traditional, and orthodox view for 2000 years has been set on this subject, whether I agree with it or not. If I believe it to be false, the burden of proof is on me to show it to be false. Therefore, Nick K has the burden of proof to share a passage of Scripture which approves of same-sex unions. This will be hard, since Mark’s Gospel shows Jesus referencing back to Genesis do discuss marriage as between a man and a woman.

          But since you have called for a response regarding the relationship between the earth and the sun, I will comment. Scripture does not contradict that statement. Nowhere does it say that the earth revolves around the sun, but it also does not discount that view. The Pope discounted that view, and the church accepted the Pope’s teaching due to the doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church of the Pope speaking truth without error. This is then a problem with human teaching, and not Biblical exegesis. That is why Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli began the reformation – to place authority back in the words of Scripture and not in the words and opinions of man. The prophet Jeremiah showed a need for this reformation thousands of years earlier when he reminded humanity that our heart is deceitful. When we give authority to men, we fall prey to the deceit of the heart. When authority resides in Scripture, it becomes a plumbline for faith and practice as a follower of Christ.

          • Allie

            The verse which was taken as saying that the sun went around the earth is the one in Joshua where God “stops the sun in the sky.”

            I agree with most modern people that this verse does not in fact say anything about physics and astronomy. The point, though, is that this was once an issue the church was willing to fight over and excommunicate people over. It is indeed possible for the traditional interpretation to be the wrong one, and possible for the church to reverse itself when confronted with reality.

          • Christy

            Relevantpreach, I appreciate your explanation. Allie does a wonderful job of helping illuminate my point: that an incorrect interpretation of, and misreading of, and translation of scripture by fallible human beings within The Church has been used to justify various forms of injustice down through the age.

            It is in the message of Jesus that we see the very heart of the gospel; this is the lens by which we should assess the previously held human understanding of the authority of scripture – the traditional, orthodox view – as well as the very real fact that capital T truth exists in the Creation and is revelatory about the Creator.

            Copernicus and Galileo challenged the understanding of Scripture because of the Truth that was revealed to them in the Creation. Because of this, I, personally, do not and cannot hold to Sola Scriptura. For me….to ignore the God revealed in the Creation, is to ignore the balance of Scripture.

            You said, “When we give authority to men, we fall prey to the deceit of the heart.” I agree. The Buddha would agree as would Lao Tzu and Confucius and Socrates…..and Carl Jung…..and Jesus. Our words, our writings, our translations, our interpretations, our denominations, our religions, our human limitations necessarily limit God, the Divine, the Almighty…..the I Am….. What Is. To admit this is humbling. To surrender to it is the first step to drawing closer to Logos.

          • relevantpreach

            Allie,

            I agree with you, that the Church can and has had to reverse its understanding and application of Scripture when confronted with reality. I thought I made that clear in my explanation that the Church, under the Roman rule of Magesterium, gave authority to the words of the Pope, which led to many atrocities throughout history. But as the Reformers did, I stated that authority resides within Scripture alone – both the written and the living Logos – and until we seek out the truth as revealed in Scripture, we will continue to be deceived by the heart of man.

          • Allie

            Fair enough. In this instance I think the living Logos is speaking pretty clearly. Making people miserable is not Godly and making them happy is. To paraphrase Jesus, which is legal, to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil?

            I invite you to take a long hard look at those who share your beliefs and ask if that’s the side you really want to be on.

          • relevantpreach

            Allie,

            I would have to disagree. It has never been God’s job to make us happy. No where in Scripture does it promise that. In fact, it promises just the opposite, that we will suffer because of our faith in Christ. God is very clear in scripture that God will do whatever it takes to make us his. That is very different than a fleeting emotion.

            I appreciate your invite though to look at what those who share my beliefs are saying and doing. I do want to say that your wording does point out a problem theologically for me though…I am not choosing sides – as far as I am concerned, we are all on the same team or side. If you claim Jesus Christ as Savior, then I am on your side, whether we agree on everything or not. I believe that Scripture is clear on all those things which point to salvation. On all other issues, there needs to be hard work and discussion to discern what God’s word really says.

            I will keep my mind open to learn from others on this site, but do ask the same courtesy from others.

          • Mindy

            Whoa, Relevant. You say: “The traditional, and orthodox view for 2000 years has been set on this subject, whether I agree with it or not. If I believe it to be false, the burden of proof is on me to show it to be false. Therefore, Nick K has the burden of proof to share a passage of Scripture which approves of same-sex unions.”

            That is such a logical fallacy as to be (almost) laughable. The fact that “a view” has been set for 2000 years does not make it fact. It simply does not. To prove that monogamous same-sex relationships are not an abomination does not require anyone show a passage specifically “approving” of such. All one has to do is show (which has been done repeatedly) that the passages typically used to exclude LGBT people from Christianity do not, in fact, DISapprove of such relationships – because the sexual activity about which those passages referred was not, in fact, referring to monogamous anything.

            The Bible doesn’t explicitly give approval to interracial marriages, yet they happen all the time and no one (well, no one normal) bats an eye anymore. Your “logic” isn’t logical at all.

          • relevantpreach

            Mindy,

            You have some very strong opinions, and I appreciate that. Let me clear something up. When a view is the accepted view (whether said view is right or wrong), and someone challenges it, it is the challenger who holds the burden of proof to show why the previously held view is false.

            Nick K challenged the previously held view (which even today a majority of Christians throughout the world hold to) and claimed it to be false. He was asked to prove its falsehood in order to convince someone to change their mind. He has yet to do that. In the interim, Christy chose not to refute the falsehood, but to change the burden of proof from Nick to Christo. I’m not saying that I agree with the things I have seen Christo write – what I am saying is that the burden of proof to prove something false remains with the one challenging – just as it did with Galileo and Copernicus. They challenged the norm by pointing back to Science and Scripture together, and though it was not received well by the Church – due to the leadership’s need to be right, they still are credited with proving the norm false…and thus pointing back to Scripture.

          • relevantpreach

            Oh, Mindy, I never said it made it fact, I said it was accepted.

            Now, Mindy and all else who would care to know me or comment negatively toward me. I grew up in the church, and within my group of friends, many were gay men and women. I am still friends with them today. When those that live outside of town are visiting family, they come to my church. They know that they are loved by God and that they are loved by me. I am not someone who condemns people for their sexuality (or identity as some of you have referred). All of my friends know my stance on sexuality. I do not believe that our culture promotes seeking God’s best when it comes to relationships. I do not believe that the church promotes seeking God’s best in relationships any longer either. The church has accepted divorce as being acceptable – though Scripture does not. The church has accepted unchaste behaviors by hetero and homosexuals – which Scripture does not. The church has accepted adulterous actions – which scripture does not. The church has accepted older adult sexual relationships outside of marriage under the guise of financial reasoning for lack of marriage. I think all of these are not within God’s best plan for His creation.

            I believe that Scripture is clear that the only relationship within which sex is acceptable and celebrated is marriage between a man and a woman. Why do I believe that? Because it is the ONLY one mentioned in Scripture. Does that mean that I condemn homosexuals in my church? Not at all. In fact, when people wanted to have homosexual couples take their photo directory picture separately, I said that was unacceptable, unless you were going to ask each couple in the church homosexual or heterosexual to do the same.

            All of that being said, I do not condemn people for being homosexual or heterosexual. I simply want each person to examine God’s Word (both written and living logos) when discovering God’s best for relationships.

          • Christy

            If you accepted as true that homosexuality is an inborn trait, in the same light as skin or eye color (which it is evident here that you do not) how do you think that would influence how you interpret the scriptures on this issue?

            Secondly: if you have a committed elderly couple who are not legally married but are mutually monogamous, living as a married couple, who are devout and faithful followers of Christ, who keep all the commandments and display and share a wide variety of Christian fruits including their own professed faith, who have been baptised…..at what point does looking at them as living in sin dwell in legalism and focussing on the outside of the bowl as compared to dwelling on the Spirit of things, looking at the heart and the inside of the bowl?

          • relevantpreach

            Christy,

            I don’t think that you should assume things about people. I do not think that homosexuality is a choice. Though I have not seen medical proof that it is an inborn trait, I still support the idea that homosexuality is an inborn trait. And that has influenced how I interpret scripture.

            If I have a committed elderly couple who are not legally married but are mutually monogamous, living as a married couple, who are devout and faithful followers of Christ, who keep all the commandments and display and share a wide variety of Christian fruits including their own professed faith, who have been baptised, I would encourage them to get married. Because if it is for financial reasons which they are not committing to marriage in the presence of God, it shows a lack of trust in God’s provision. I don’t think that is legalistic at all. Especially as a pastor, who is (as scripture says) accountable for the souls of those who God has entrusted to me, I think it is my place and my responsibility to call people out of a culturally acceptable relationship and promote God’s best plan for relationships.

          • Christy

            It was difficult for me to infer otherwise from what you have written here and because my two requests of you to address this very question have gone unanswered.

            So you would encourage the elderly couple to marry. And the same gay elderly couple? How shall they marry?

          • Mindy

            Bottom line is this, Relevant. Your antiquated Biblical “justifications” for the demonizing of homosexuality by Christians – even if you yourself are accepting and welcoming – HURT PEOPLE. So you can fall back on the traditional tiresome arguments, you can insist it is up to others to justify what is right, and all that does is leave you looking bigoted.

            I understand that you are not. I understand that what you are defending is a tradition that you have preached and worked within – the church framework that employs you and that, as a pastor, I will assume you love and believe matters greatly. But what you did was come here and explain why Pastor Anderson’s actions were wrong. You compared homosexuality to polygamy. You insinuated that remaining celibate might be a better choice for a gay pastor – that a gay pastor should be held to a different standard than a straight pastor. And in doing all that, you outed yourself as someone who does not see LGBT citizens as equals. Even when you say you do – your actions and words belie that fact. You said yourself that you do not believe they should be allowed to marry – and that, dear Relevant, is bigotry. You can use that Bible passage to justify it til the cows come home, and it won’t change the fact that you expect your LGBT parishioners to live their lives with less than the rest of us.

            You can take those Biblical passages in historical context and cultural context and you can see a very different picture. Or you can choose, as you have thus far, not to.

            So your insistence that it be on Nick to justify

          • Mindy

            Geez, edit much? I meant to say that *I understand you THINK you are not [bigoted].* And that last half-sentence should go away. Sorry.

          • relevantpreach

            I am not sure, Mindy, what antiquated Biblical justifications you are referring to. This line came from calling someone to understand where the burden of proof lay. I even said in the explanation that i do not agree with all that Christo was writing, but that doesn’t matter as the burden of proof was still with Nick.

            I am actually not a proponent of demonizing homosexuality by Christians.

            I do think that you get worked up by certain words within a post and then comment back assuming you have the jist of what people have said.

            I agree with you that the church has hurt the LGBT community. I also agree that being beyond passionate in responding to it by accusing everyone of being bigoted is just as harmful to relationships. As I mentioned in my first post, reverse discrimination is still discrimination. Bigotry is still bigotry even if it is outright assuming that the LGBT lifestyle is right and those who oppose it are wrong if you are closed off to relationships and hurtful in responses.

            I am sure we would agree on much more than you think.

            I will be glad to talk through any of the historical passages in scripture with you in a cultural and historical context. You can even pick which one to begin with. This is one of my favorite exercises that I do with my church. We play stump the pastor. I have such a love for Hebrew and Greek that I would love to go through it with you as well and see what I can learn. Just let me know where you would like to start…or we could start in Genesis and just take a look at all the passages dealing with sex and relationships together and have some good discussions. Your call. Hope to hear from you.

          • DR

            You having gay friends has nothing to do with this issue. The truth of your belief is that one cannot stop *being* gay. It is more than just chaste behavior, it is chaste thoughts and desires and one who is gay cannot stop those desires. You trying to boil this down to sexual *acts* being what God condemns contradicts how God describes the sin in Scripture that He condemns. He talks about coveting – about thinking – not just our behavior.

            So it’s either all of it – the desire for the same sex, the thoughts of being with a member of the same sex and acting on those desires and thoughts is all sinful or it’s all not. They are bundled together. Given gay men and women can’t stop desiring and thinking, you condemn them to hell.

            And the burden of proof you ask for to support that? Gay men and women become Christians and still desire and think about the same sex. Their attraction does not change.

          • relevantpreach

            DR,

            I am very sure that sexual acts are what i am talking about. I would say that every one of my gay friends would say that they have on going sexual thoughts about others. I would also say that every one of my straight friends has ongoing sexual thoughts about others.

            I have never argued that sexual thoughts are the focus of those passages in scripture which people use to condemn homosexuality. Nor have I said that about heterosexuality.

            Do I think that sex outside of God’s perfect plan for sex is sin? yes. Does that happen only in homosexual relationships? no! it happens in heterosexual relationships as well. God’s best plan is laid out in scripture. Do I fall short of God’s best plan for relationships? yes. maybe you are perfect and do not. I tend to cling to John 3:16-17…especially the part that says that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through him. So, do i condemn my friends for their sexuality? no. Do they know my thoughts on sexual practice vs. sexuality? yes. In fact, chastity in the Presbyterian Church was not just a call for homosexuals in leadership.

          • DR

            relevant, please don’t get so defensive. I’m just challenging your point of view that it’s only “sexual acts” that are homosexual which are condemned by Scripture when in fact, coveting your neighbor’s wife – the act of *coveting* – is one of the Ten Commandments!

            That’s the point. You can’t just make sexual sin about homosexual “acts”. The decision to focus on “acts” is to justify the belief you have about homosexuality. You’ve done so in order to address the elephant in your particular belief room which is God would never create a “sin” from which we cannot escape. And gay men and women in the thousands here have told us that they become Christian and don’t stop thinking about the same sex, wanting them. Even if they choose to be celibate – still gay. You simply can’t make the definition of “gay” according to God about sexual acts.

          • Christy

            Your procedural points are a bit tiresome. Again, addressing the spirit of the information rather than addressing the letter of the law in the way the points are presented would go a long way toward demonstrating some Hesed here.

            I’m pretty sure you are aware of the body of scriptural exposition that exists in conjunction with an understanding of homosexuality to be an inborn immutable characteristic that supports the position that the emerging paradigm within the Church holds on homosexuality. It may not have tipped the scales in your mind, or in the minds of some others, as to proving something beyond a reasonable doubt, but that, my friend, is impossible to do if the hearer is already certain they hold the correct answer and is unwilling to change their mind because of an unyielding commitment to unwavering convictions.

          • relevantpreach

            Christy,

            I have read the studies and have looked at which have been accepted and which are just theories. And yes, for me and as far as I am able to tell in the medical community as a whole, and the homosexual community as a whole, the tables have not been tipped to the accepted view point being that homosexuality is an inborn trait. Even saying that, I admitted that I accept it even though it has not been shown to be the accepted view. What is tiresome is listening to all the people on this site who share opinion or train of thought responses as though they are fact, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt or something more than mere personal experience.

            I am, and am sure that you are, also familiar with the studies on fidelity (or the lack of it) within same sex couples as compared to that of fidelity within heterosexual marriage relationships. What the studies consistently show (confirmed by my lesbian friend who is a professor of psychology and a sociologist) is that less than 3% of same sex couples have relationships which last more than 7 years on average and in which more participants in the studies admit to having closer to 100 sexual partners than admitted to being faithful to their “monogamous” partner. And yet even you, a member of the medical community, continue to push the faithful, monogamous same-sex couple card to see if I will condemn. I will not.

            You seem like an educated person who has studied scripture. I have enjoyed hearing your viewpoints. I also hear your desire for justice to be done and equality to ring throughout the country. I would love the same.

            You seem to be looking though for a letter vs. spirit of the law discussion in order to make a point. I would love to hear your point on this with regard to a neutral subject. Share with me your take on the letter vs. spirit of the law as explained in Matthew 5-7.

            And could you please clarify what you mean by “demonstrating some Hesed here.” Hesed is the Hebrew word for a covenantal love based in obligation (as referenced throughout the Psalms, and most poignantly in Jeremiah 31 and 32.), and I am sure that is not what you were requesting of me, since it consistently points back to a joyful submission to the Law.

          • Christy

            My understanding of hesed from my Jewish friends and other research and study is that of kindness, loving-kindness, hospitality, or compassion. I’ll have to get back with you on your request Re: Matthew 5-7.

            What might be helpful to know, and a much quicker reply to your request, is that my background is deeply rooted in Fundamentalism, so I have some issues with legalism, Pharisaism, overt piety, self-righteousness, dogma, ego, and hypocrisy. I’m much more of an interfaith, mystical, compassion transcends ego person now, and, so, I see the Greatest Commandment as the heart of Jesus message. This is the spirit by which I use to measure.

            OK, I’ll do a quick one from Matthew 25 instead. Let’s take the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. The letter of the law would interpret this to mean: In order to be pleasing to God feed the hungry and thirsty, show hospitality to the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the prisoner……..because this will please God and pleasing God is good, and not pleasing God is bad. It is a means to an end: pleasing God. This is works for the sake of reward or rule following because God said to do it.

            The spirit of the law would interpret this to mean: What you do from your heart for no other reason than out of love and compassion for others because you are so filled with the love and compassion of God – what you do when no one is looking and for no benefit or reward to yourself – you do to me and for me. A truly transformed (new person in Christ) loves as God loves. Shows compassion as God shows compassion. Is perfect as God is perfect. Embodies grace in the world because they are so filled and overflowing with grace. It is a means in itself. This is transformed living.

            It’s like in I Corinthians 13: You can do all these wonderful things – speak prophecies, cast out demons, give all you have to the poor —– but if you do it for any other reason or without love (without the inner transformation, without the death to self/ego), it is just a lot of noise.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            In the 4th paragraph, “It is a means in itself. This is transformed living.” should have been: “It is an end in itself.”

        • Peet

          The Bible. Here’s the fact: everyone reads it through their own lens and finds in it what they want to find. If ONLY it were God’s word, intrinsically, essentially, unquestionably. If only it were so plain and obvious. Then everyone would see it that way and we wouldn’t have to have these discussions. But noooooo. We get a document so pliable, so amorphous, so clear and yet so unimaginably hard to pin down, that we have three MAJOR branches (all of whom view the others as schismatic) more than 1,100 denominations, and we can’t get doctrinal finality on almost anything. Name a doctrine. Virgin birth, resurrection, gays, drinking, war. Whatever your position, give me two minutes on Google and I’ll find theological support that claims to be authoritatively Christian and thinks you’re dead wrong. You, like so many, have this view that your opinion, your own ideosyncratic, subjective, filtered, conditioned, culturally-shaped, peer-pressured, media-formed, hermetically-sealed American Conservative Protestant personal interpretation of the Bible is THE authoritative, final and objective viewpoint. If the Bible is God’s manual, it’s like an Ikea manual translated into English from Swedish by a Chinese speaker raised in Portugal. So you’ve picked the parts of the Bible that give you permission to hate gays. Please understand that that says EVERYTHING about you and nothing about God.

          • A’isha

            Peet- Brilliant. Totally brilliant. The most articulate explanation for differences of opinions of the Bible ever. Ever!

          • Suz

            Stunning! Absolutely stunning!

          • Ric

            Stated with excellence, Peet.

          • patrice wassmann

            I love that so much I am tempted to post it on Facebook.

          • Christy

            Booyah, Peet. Excellent.

          • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress

            Peet, I applaud you [sound of me clapping]. Perfectly said.

          • Mindy

            This is just . . . breathtaking. Brilliantly breathtaking and succinct and true and perfect. Wow. Thank you for this.

          • HJ

            Peet — May I quote you? This is fabulous!

          • Peet

            HJ, I’m flattered you want to post it elsewhere. Please feel free.

          • DR

            John this should be its own post and pegged to the home page of – well – everything.

      • Nick K.

        Christocentric – You said: “The Bible is the final authority in all that we as Christians believe.” Which Bible? Catholic? Protestant? Eastern Orthodox? There are so many. Also which edition? King James? New World? St. Joseph? Once again, there are so many.

        You also said: “Show me a scripture that approves of same-sex unions and you’ll have a believer out of me!” The story of David and Johnathan. I believe many Biblical scholars are in agreement when they say that David and Jonathan were more than “just good friends.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I’m gonna put Ms. Christocentric on moderation now. Thanks, you guys, for handling her in the fine manner you almost always do such folk. Wonderful job.

          • Mindy

            Aw, John, c’mon. She is dead-set on being a “good” Christian – maybe we should see if she can actually become one? Like Brian W., whose heart seemed to grow three sizes one day . . . . . :)

          • Melody

            Well, Mindy, unlike Ms Centric here, Brian has expressed, and subsequently demonstrated, the the willingness to learn and question his beliefs. We’ve often disagreed vehemently with him, but his openness is the reason for the change of tone in his posts. I have yet to find any sign of that in Centric’s comments.

          • Mindy

            Agreed, Melody – except somewhere down below here, when someone pointed out errors she’d made, she acknowledged one and said the others were “debatable.” Which seemed like a big step for her, from “carved in stone.”

        • relevantpreach

          Nick K,

          I think what you mean is which translation. The only differences in translation are whether they are trying to share a literal word for word translation or a phrase by phrase translation. Maybe you are also referencing paraphrases, like the Good News or the Message, which are just a modern paraphrase – which is very different than a translation.

          I honestly have struggled with your question, “Which Bible” because it really insinuates that there is a different message if one reads a Catholic Bible with the Apocryphal writings included, than if they were reading a Protestant bible with only 66 books. Or if someone was reading the Syriac Orthodox Bible, though it is the same as the Catholic, and protestant in regards to the NT. All of these Bibles communicate the same message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

          But then you reference the story of David and Jonathan as a Biblical example of approving same sex relationships. This again makes me wonder about your Bible question – you seem to be using the exegetical process of Google topics – Did you research the idea here, or just take the homosexuality apologetic course. This is not even the majority view of the text by gay Christians, mostly because they look at the original language and translate the word AHAVA…one of the Hebrew words for love…but the one translated and used to describe a love of commitment to one another – not sexual in nature (that would be Dod). When we try to add to the text, or make it fit our agenda, we have abandoned faithful interpretation. Please be careful in this. It can fool people into believing something that is not there.

          • Christy

            As you have pointed out the devil is in the details. I believe it does matter that when the original Hebrew Scriptures became the Christian Old Testament the subtlety of meaning present in the original “book” order was lost. I believe it does matter that stories like Susanna and the Elders and Judith Beheading Holofernes – rich with their strong female characters and deep metaphors – do not appear in the Protestant version of the Bible.

            Does it change the heart of the gospel message – no. That has remained just as Rabbi Hillel also elucidated it in the first century. But these missing and rearranged pieces of scripture do matter when we go to the great trouble of taking things in context in light of the whole, including the light of history and culture and writing style, and may not change at all how God views us and how we are in relationship with God…..but they matter very much when it comes to how we relate to and interact in our world and with one another…..as well as the level of inerrant authority we give to what we call scripture.

          • relevantpreach

            Christy,

            It would seem that you and I agree. But it also seems that you are trying to argue for the sake of arguing. To ask “which Bible?” as Nick K does insinuates that there is more than one message. There is not. The addition of the Apocrypha does not in any way change the message of God’s love for his elect, as seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It also does not make it a different Bible. In fact, my Presbyterian Church has a copy of Scripture sitting in the chancel from which we read each Sunday that includes the Apocrypha. His response shows a lack of knowledge of Scripture, which damages his rationale throughout his posts.

          • Christy

            I argue because I am passionate. And because I come from a tradition full of people who are uneducated yet certain of what is true and inerrant down to every last jot and tittle, every period and semicolon, every thee and thou when it comes to God and Scripture and who would, and do, consider you and your denomination heretics for not holding as solely authoritative the King James Version of the Bible; and in my own passionate search for Truth and the One in whom I live and breathe and move and have my being I have found them to be woefully blinded to Truth by their own self-righteous ignorance and arrogance…..and it not only irritates me, it pains and grieves me and disillusions me such that I deeply, on a personal and palpable level, understand Barbara Brown Taylor when she writes:

            “These are grim times, in which the God of our fondest dreams is nowhere to be found.

            But down in the darkness below those dreams — in the place where all our notions about God have come to naught — there is still reason to hope, because disillusionment is not so bad.

            Disillusionment is the loss of illusion — about ourselves, about the world, about God — and while it is almost always painful, it is not a bad thing to lose the lies we have mistaken for truth. Disillusioned, we come to understand that God does not conform to our expectations. We glimpse our own relative size in the universe and see that no human being can say who God should be or how God should act. We review our requirements of God and recognize them as our own fictions, our own frail shelters against the vast night sky. Disillusioned, we find out what is not true and are set free to seek what is — if we dare.”

            You might not see how the message changes academically, but, in function, for folks like women and how the church has viewed and treated us, every story of a relevant woman that has been dropped matters to US. And you might not see how the message changes academically at its core, but, in function, for folks like mystics and how the church has viewed and treated them down through the age, every story that was excluded where Jesus said things like, “pick up a rock and I am there, split a piece of wood and I am there,” matters to US.

            Your response sounds remarkably similar to what our good friend Brian W. used to write here, whom many of us have come to care about and about whom John has recently written. It also, if I may be so bold as to point out, shows a lack of pastoral care. Perhaps Nick’s question could have been interpreted in the spirit in which it was offered rather than critiqued in the literal way that it was. As a member of the medical community, I understand that we are all human and it is often difficult to look beyond our academic knowledge to see the person before us and focus our attention solely (soul-ly?) on their needs, but as mine is a profession of body and yours is a profession of soul, both of our jobs involve a pertinent need to communicate our knowledge through the filter of compassion.

          • Diana A.

            Wonderful. Thank you, Christy!

          • DR

            This is amazing.

          • Christy

            Thanks, guys.

          • relevantpreach

            Christy,

            Thank you. and you are right. Some of what i have written was not done through the lens of compassion. And you are correct that Jesus met all the marginalized with compassion. I will work to try to share more through that lens than just the academic.

            But, there is a fine line between showing compassion and boldly speaking the truth in love. As the doctor treating my father after his stroke shared compassion, he gave my mother a false sense of hope for recovery. It took a nurse noticing the compassion misleading my mother to speak the hard truth to mom in love and give us time to plan accordingly.

            The same is true in the church. We can not continue to placate any personally opinionated theology out of compassion. For in doing so, people can be misled. There are times when the truth must be spoken boldly in love, knowing that people’s feelings will be hurt, their esteem might be bruised, but their soul deserves to hear it.

          • Christy

            Well….the truth in love to the Church is this: You can believe whatever you want about homosexuality and where people are going to spend the afterlife and how it is they get there, and, as a private organization, you have the right to set your own governing rules and standards by which you elect and appoint your leaders. But when it comes to interacting in the world at large: 1) You cannot use your beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against anyone or used as a justification to treat people differently because you disagree with them. 2) In a free society, religious beliefs are not a basis by which we use to set legislation that limits human rights and the Federal Government has a compelling interest to protect the rights of all its citizens and make sure the law insures they are recognized and treated with equality. This is Justice. And portions of the church who see this as a Justice issue will continue to work for the equality and protection of all God’s children regardless of where other portions of the church believe those folks will spend eternity. And in time, the Church at large will come to see the error of its interpretation of scripture when it comes to LGBT equality within the church and in the eyes of God just as it has done in the not so distant past with racial minorities and women.

          • relevantpreach

            Christy,

            For arguments sake only – not because I believe this is the best case scenario, nor do i agree with it, but to make a point…

            In a democratic society I sure can treat someone differently if I disagree with them. Just try raising your voice at the manager of a restaurant and see if they don’t refuse you service because you disagree with them. That is part of being in a democratic country. Beliefs can be used to discriminate as well…that is why you do not have more than 1 NBA player who is under 5’5”. They believe that to win in the NBA, you need players who are tall. Because a player is not tall, they are not chosen. Discrimination at its core.

            Now, I agree with you for the most part. But here is a question…you say, “And portions of the church who see this as a Justice issue will continue to work for the equality and protection of all God’s children regardless of where other portions of the church believe those folks will spend eternity.” Who are you defining as all God’s children? Just a question.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            You are an intelligent guy relevantpreach, but I think you know this isn’t a very convincing argument.

            A manager at a restaurant will ask a patron to leave if the patron breaks the social contract regarding rules of civility and when the patron’s behavior interferes with the dining experience of other patrons, not because the patron and the manager disagree.

            The NBA drafts players who are good and capable, not players based on height.

            Humanity is all of God’s children, relevantpreach. And until we get that through our heads as people of faith we continue to grieve God.

            What did they teach in Presbyterian seminary about who God’s children are?

            Here’s a sermon about that you might find compelling:

            short version: http://www.shopterryhershey.com/jesus-with-skin-may-19-2008.html

            Longer (but more complete) version:http://www.csec.org/csec/sermon/hershey_5115.htm

            “You see, when I look at that person who is different I need to recognize that God did not put them on this earth for me to change or for me to convict or me to save. God them put them here for me to learn from, listen to, to challenge and be challenged by, and to enjoy together this dance called life.”

            “We’re scared to death when we live by grace instead of keeping score.”

            There’s a song we sing at our church called Namaste that includes these lyrics: “the God in me sees the God in you, I hope that you can see the God in me too.”

            And my favorite prayer is by a woman who worked in a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. It goes something like this: Dear Lord, We know you’ll be coming through the line today. Help us treat you well.”

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            How do you deal with the Biblical scholarship that shows the context of the Leviticus and Romans verses to not having anything to do at all with a mutually monogamous loving committed relationship? What is your response to it?

          • Allie

            Love passing that of women, plus a very florid eulogy, doesn’t equal a same-sex relationship but does strongly hint in that direction. Whatever was between them, they were close enough that David took care of Jonathan’s crippled son when everyone else expected him to have him quietly murdered.

            Which is rather ignoring the point that whether or not David did it doesn’t mean it’s approved. Presumably sending your lover’s husband on a suicide mission so you can get him killed and marry her wasn’t approved behavior, but David did it, and it’s in there.

            I’m amused that no one has brought up “the disciple whom Jesus loved” reclining on his breast. ;)

      • Mindy

        Did you read Pastor Anderson’s scruple? If not, you really should. And try, just once, to do so without your mind clamped shut.

    • Allie

      Did you read the link in the article? It addresses your questions about the beginning very nicely.

      I think you are misunderstanding that passage of scripture. To not rejoice in iniquity means to do the exact opposite of what you are doing. You are at this very moment rejoicing that you believe others do iniquity. To rejoice in iniquity is to seek out the sins of others so you can crow triumphantly over them. Like the Pharisee Jesus talks about in Luke 18, who stood in the temple and prayed, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men. That’s what love – and I prefer the translation “charity” instead of love, here, because it prevents confusion with romantic love – doesn’t do. Love doesn’t rejoice over other people’s mistakes.

      The passage doesn’t even make sense when you interpret it as you have done.

    • Christy

      FYI: the scripture you quoted is actually from 2 Timothy 4: 3-4

    • Christy

      Spiritual certainty is bright and shiny and…….blinding. It is the largest stumbling stone I ever tripped over. I have found in my own faith journey that there seems to be far more grace and humility in surrendering to the mystery of the Divine than there is in insisting one is inerrant about doctrines which exert our own fallible and short-sighted understanding of scripture onto others.

      • Erin D.

        It is a good thing that people like Christocentric had the good sense to be born straight. Imagine if he had been born gay and had to rally against his own right to feel romantic love for anybody. You see them everywhere—in the streets, in the churches, outside the polling stations—hundreds and hundreds of gay people, all chanting “Don’t let me marry! Don’t let me love! God made me flawed! God wants me to die family-less and alone!”

        It is so awkward, isn’t it?

        I don’t know why these bigoted Christians don’t accept *this* truth—if God had created them ever-so-slightly differently (because the difference between gay and straight or anything inbetween is .0000000000000001% of what makes us who we are), they would not have the smug, self-satisfied interpretation of the Bible that they have. Most likely, they would feel, oh, like all the other gay people on the planet who want the same rights as everyone else. You know they have thought of that and the thought creeps them out to no end. Of course they will say “No, I would choose to live and die miserable and alone. I really would!” but they know damn well that’s a lie. And God says “thou shalt not lie.” That’s something in the Bible that *hasn’t* been warped by generations of mistranslation and misinterpretation.

        • Allie

          Sadly, you’ve just described Michelle Bachman’s husband, Ted Haggard, what’s-his-name the wide stance senator who voted against gay rights, and a whole lot of other conflicted and confused gay men. They do indeed campaign against their own rights.

          • Erin D.

            Ohhhh, you’ve got a point.

          • Erin D.

            Difference is, they don’t admit that they are gay. It just makes everything so much easier for these poor, conflicted people when they live as God created them to live!

          • Mindy

            I was gonna say the same thing, Allie! But Erin, I love your post. “had the good sense to be born straight” is my favorite line of the day.

        • relevantpreach

          Erin,

          That was very entertaining. I appreciate your sarcasm very much. Since I don’t know much about you, would you mind answering some questions? How do you reconcile the Doctrine of Sin as expressed in the Bible with your views expressed above?

          And since you are arguing for homosexuality as a born trait, how do you reconcile the news story of the lesbian couple who adopted a son, and then at age 7 the boy requested to become a girl, so the moms put him on hormone blockers and began calling him Tammy?

          Not trying to argue, just wondering.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            But not trying to argue. Got it.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            Again, I’ll let Erin speak for herself…..but for me:

            The Doctrine of Sin is analogous with selfishness or ego-based living. All of the Ten Commandments have to do with putting ourselves before God or others – they are acts of selfishness. The Greatest Commandment and the Golden Rule have to do with putting God and others before ourselves.

            Compassionate living, Grace-filled living, forgiveness – living, loving our enemies and neighbors as ourselves and doing unto others – living, transformed/repentant/seeing with new eyes – living necessitates a dethroned ego: putting ourselves last, losing our self, losing our life – concepts Jesus readily spoke of.

            The “sin nature” is the “ego nature.” We all have it. It’s how we are wired. It separates us from being fully present in loving relationships with others, including God. When we put ourselves first it blocks compassion.

            The Way of Jesus is the way of compassion. It is a new way seeing, a transformed way of being in relationship with God and with others. We often miss the often overlooked miracle of Easter: the transforming power of unconditional love that lays down his life for his friends, that forgives 7 x 70, that turns the other cheek and when realized has the power to turn the world – and us – upside down……for good.

      • Brook

        Indeed, Christy! Dwelling in possibility is so much more authentic and powerful than stagnating in certitude.

        • Mindy

          Lovely way to say it, Brook. Sooo true. Blinding certitude will stagnate even the deepest faith.

      • patrice wassmann

        beautifully said, Christy

        • Christy

          Thanks so much….

    • Elizabeth Mercer

      The only comments I have found that JESUS said:

      1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.

      3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

      4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a]them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[c]

      • Elizabeth Mercer

        So where is there any reference to homosexuality? Jesus answered a question re: divorce. Notice the answer was to offer some protection for the female. Can we assume this makes Jesus a feminist?

        • Melody

          Oh NO!! Not a feminist! We can’t have that pinko commie-liberal baby-killing *feminism* in our churches!

        • Christy

          Thank you, Elizabeth.

      • Brook

        And then there’s this:

        11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

        ______

        Hmm… interesting. So it seems he was saying, although there are norms and conventions, not everyone is the same, and each person needs to be true to their own nature, as the Spirit calls them.

        • Christy

          Thank you, Brook.

    • Donald Rappe

      I know it’s a fine point, Ms. Christocentric, but in the beginning God lined up all the species and made them parade past Adam as he searched for a helper meet for him. God appeared to be ready to bless quite a range of mates. Nor are there any words pointing to a “marriage” between Adam and Eve. Yet rather than say they were living in sin, the Bible indicates they were living together sinlessly. You must pay attention to the words when you read the scripture. We have no way of knowing whether the most subtle of the beasts of the field felt hurt or jealous when Adam passed it up. All we know is that it chose to tempt Eve and test her wisdom. AT ANY RATE, THAT’S HOW IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING. Thus we have no way of knowing what kind of unions God might have blessed IN THE BEGINNING! We do know that the meaning of the word homosexual as we now use it is less than 200 years old. If you find this word in any translation of the Bible you can be sure that translation is in error.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    Sharing this as soon as I get to my computer. Hopefully, this amazing man can be an inspiration to LGBT Christians everywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    her, i like…

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Mindy’s just the best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jill-Joiner/100000809409370 Jill Joiner via Facebook

    Mindy has truly righteous anger that is well deserved she handled the hateful troll very well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debbie-Ward/1057657641 Debbie Ward via Facebook

    Why don’t people get excited about my sex life? Oh yeah – I am not gay! Why is being gay all about thanking God you love someone other than yourself? We should all be having sex as soon as we learn what our orientation is. I mean where in the bible does it say you have to be a certain age? I mean marriage isn’t a clue because heaps of people still have sex even if they are not old enough to be married. So what the fuck is the big deal? Good on you for being ‘the first’ – I hope it works better for you than it has for the ‘first’ chocolate colored president. Only people give a crap about this stuff. God sure as shit don’t care – yet if you need to believe He does then good for you too!

  • Alexis Smith via Facebook

    that comment seems to have attracted another troll, though :/

    • Mindy

      I tried again to make my point to Relevant. Not sure if anything I say will ever crack the facade of the morally righteously superior folk, but I have to try.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    ::::blushing righteously:::: Wicked articulate? You made my day.

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    It really was Mindy! You turned it around on Centric.

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    It really was Mindy! You turned it around on Centric.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Thanks, A’isha. I’m very curious to see if she’ll respond with something that will not need to be moderated away. I’m sure she’ll figure out a way to point out how doomed I am.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Thanks, A’isha. I’m very curious to see if she’ll respond with something that will not need to be moderated away. I’m sure she’ll figure out a way to point out how doomed I am.

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Definitely. You must be “deceived by the enemy” or something to believe like you do. Yeah, that’s snarky. Feeling that a lot lately. :)

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Definitely. You must be “deceived by the enemy” or something to believe like you do. Yeah, that’s snarky. Feeling that a lot lately. :)

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Snark on, sister. Sometimes, you just gotta.

  • Simon Frost via Facebook

    God bless you Mindy

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Wow is right! Love this: “If the Bible is God’s manual, it’s like an Ikea manual translated into English from Swedish by a Chinese speaker raised in Portugal.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    Beautifully put, Mindy! Keep fighting the bood fight!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.frazier1 Paul Frazier via Facebook

    Scott Anderson is not a “gay minister.” He is a minister who happens to be gay.
    There have been gay ministers before, in every church, whether one knows it or not. But now it’s time to be open and honest about this. God calls all kinds of folks to ministry.

    • Danielmormon

      God never calls us to dance and pass the time with open sin, Pastor or not.

      • Jeff Preuss

        Well, sometimes the rhythm IS gonna get you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I’ve since changed the title to this piece, Paul, to reflect exactly what you’ve here noted.

    • Danielmormon

      The Presbyterian church is greatly deceived. A Pastor cannot support open sin and gross rebellion without a most terrible chastisement upon himself and all who listen to his vulgar cat calls, as he mocks the grace of God and refuses to recant his perversion .Pastor and misguided flock will wind up in the abyss.

      • Jeff Preuss

        He’s not perverted, but you certainly seem to have a perverted obsession with this issue. How are you feeling today?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debbie-Ward/1057657641 Debbie Ward via Facebook

    I want to apologize for my above comment, I took my filthy mood out on some innocent person who really didn’t deserve my, “what about me!” , cry for help. So I sincerely am sorry, I self medicated and can face another day. Peace.

    • Christy

      We all have something heavy to carry. It’s easier to be more tender toward each other knowing this. Peace to you ….and thank you for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    there are two clear and conflicting points of view regarding homosexuality in the church. both can’t be true, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. i, if i just pick a side, have a 50/50 chance of piking the wrong one. given such odds, i think it’s best to make the choice that involves kindness and loving rather than closed-minded hatred…

  • Kara

    Congratulations to Mr. Anderson. I truly believe there’s a special blessing prepared for those who forge a path – in spite of great personal cost – that those of us who will come after them can follow. He shouldn’t have had to. I’m thankful that he did.

    My prayers are with Mr. Anderson as he returns to vocational ministry, and with his partner as he supports him, and with the congregation he will serve as they welcome him.

    • Danielmormon

      If he is on the path of disobedience to the revealed Word of God he cannot do anything but bring sorrow to himself and all others he deceives

      • Jeff Preuss

        What do you usually bring to those YOU deceive? I mean, is that an appropriate time to bring a bottle of wine? Or is that too formal? Maybe a nice cheese plate?

  • MikeinAZ

    When Paul wrote that all scripture was inspired by God, what scripture was he referring too? This is a question every evangelical literalist needs to ask themselves. The bible, which the majority of Christians believe to be the infallible word of God had not yet been written when Paul wrote this. So what scripture(s) was he referring too? When Jesus speaks of God’s word – what scripture was He referring too? Again the bible was not created – the authors the ‘bible’ not even born during Jesus’ time on earth.

    It’s as if nothing has changed since the time when Jesus was living and breathing on planet earth. How many times did Jesus say to his disciples – you don’t understand, you don’t understand, you don’t understand? Same still applies for His so called modern day disciples – you don’t understand – you don’t understand.

    Thank you John Shore. You are a breath of much needed fresh air. You rock!

    • Jack Heron

      That’s well put. And I would add a further note: that many people who wrote what is now called ‘Scripture’ did not conceive it as such. Paul, for instance, wrote letters. Lots of letters in the middle of his hectic schedule of bouncing around the Mediterranean like some kind of proselytizing pinball. Booming voice of certainty from the heavens it was not.

      • Christy

        I’ve often wondered this about the 2 Timothy 3:16-17 passage: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”. I asked a clergy friend that very question once: Did Paul know he was writing scripture when he wrote it? Though I realized, for the purpose of communicating with my fundamentalist family members on the matter of scripture, this mattered very little, for they hold dearly to the notion that the entire process and chain of events that led to the King James Version of the Bible was inspired by God and executed according to God’s plan.

        • Jack Heron

          Jury’s still out on whether Paul wrote Timothy – though even if he didn’t, ascribing authorship to a ‘Pauline school’ or close connection of Paul is likely.

          Well, my Bible (NRSV) has a couple of interesting things on that question. Firstly, it gives an alternative reading of ‘Every scripture inspired by God is useful…’, so there was some debate even in the early church about the passage. Also, the previous verse references the reader as having known the scriptures essential for salvation ‘from childhood’. What might be counted, therefore, as Timothy’s definition of scripture could depend on when it was written and to whom.

    • Diana A.

      The very first chapter in my “Claiming the Promise” workbook deals with this scripture. “In the original Greek, 2 Timothy 3:16 lacks the verb ‘is.’ Translators must supply it and decide where to put it. Should it be ‘All scripture [is] inspired and useful’ or ‘All scripture inspired [is] useful’?”

      This is the “Young’s Literal Translation” of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: 16every Writing [is] God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright, for instruction that [is] in righteousness,

      17that the man of God may be fitted — for every good work having been completed.

      As you can see, the [is] is in brackets–signifying that it’s not a part of the original text. So, now I will quote the verses without the [is].

      16every Writing God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright, for instruction that in righteousness,

      17that the man of God may be fitted — for every good work having been completed.

      Anyway, I just thought I’d share this.

      • Christy

        Thank you, Diana. Do you have a clergy connection? I’ve been wondering for sometime.

        • Diana A.

          A clergy connection? I’m not sure what you mean by that. I’m currently attending a United Methodist Church and I take a lot of classes there. But I’ve never been to seminary or anything like that. I don’t have any close friends who are clergy either, though in the context of my classes at church, I do get to discuss stuff with the clergy. Mostly, I’m just an insatiable reader, especially on Christian topics. Call me God-haunted (a term I’m borrowing from Andrew Greeley–who’s been a huge influence on my theology, though not the only one.)

          • Christy

            I wondered if you had been to seminary. You seem to have a breadth of knowledge and insight…..and tenderness. God-haunted. I like that….and a fellow insatiable reader….I like that too.

          • Diana A.

            Thank you, Christy. I’ve thought about seminary, but I think I’m being called in a different direction–though maybe God is just taking me the long way around.

          • Christy

            I’ve more than thought about Seminary…..but there are a few hurdles to cross first.

            The long way is familiar. Perhaps synchronicity is in play as a friend posted this this morning: “Sometimes the hard way is really the easy way and the slow way is really the quick way. Yet such sublime surprises may remain forever unknown when one waits… and waits… for the quick and easy way to manifest. Go!”

            Blessings on your calling.

      • Allie

        One thing for sure about the writer’s intentions: Paul did not, as he was writing a letter, consider HIS OWN WRITING, not at that point gathered for the edification of anyone, “scripture” and regard it as inerrant. I suspect he would have been horrified that his comment about what he considered to be scripture at that time was taken as referring to his own writings. He also certainly wasn’t referring to the Gospels since they hadn’t been written yet.

        There’s even a verse where Paul states in so many words that he has no inspiration from God on a given matter but is giving his own opinion. I asked a literalist about this one, and was told, “Paul didn’t know. He was really inspired and inerrant when he said that, he was just mistaken in believing he wasn’t.”

        So… paradox much? He was inspired and inerrant when he said he wasn’t inspired and inerrant?

    • Danielmormon

      This is not a breath of fresh air ,but the stench of sin trying to hide its nastiness by a cheap coat of paint.

      • Jeff Preuss

        I think a nice shade of blue would be appropriate, don’t you?

  • karen

    “there are two clear and conflicting points of view regarding homosexuality in the church. both can’t be true, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. i, if i just pick a side, have a 50/50 chance of piking the wrong one. given such odds, i think it’s best to make the choice that involves kindness and loving rather than closed-minded hatred…”

    I LOVE this sentiment. I have struggled with the entire “is being gay a sin” issue for a long time. My heart and mind tells me one thing, but the bible is there in black an white telling me another. I lean toward the former, but cannot totally leave behind the nagging “what if” of the latter. This so eloquently speaks of what I believe.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Should have come to FB first, A’isha – I first saw the quote in your comment and didn’t know where it came from, but I am now officially in awe of Peet. Brilliant.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Some days, I love these conversations because I feel like wisdom is actually being shared. Some days, they just make me tired. I need a nap.

  • DebraK

    I am happy to say that our church has a discussion group, both in person and on Facebook, that lets us discuss the hard questions, and not surprisingly this topic came up. A more traditional gentleman asked “How would Jesus handle same sex love? 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, written to believers in Corinth, has very serious consequences.” (I assume his perspective is that it is a sin).

    In relation to the scripture reference: I looked up the verse (as well as 1 Tim 1:10) in many different translations and some used the word homosexual, but many did not:

    1 Corinthians 6:9

    nor effeminate (or is less than a man),

    nor male prostitutes

    nor abusers of themselves with mankind

    nor abusers of themselves with men,

    nor any who are guilty of unnatural crime,

    sodomites

    1 Timothy 1:10

    perverts

    them that defile themselves with mankind

    for abusers of themselves with men

    for those with unnatural desires

    sodomites

    Which translation is right? What does “Abuser of themselves” mean? Abuse is usually unwanted, forced, damaging to the body/soul/spirit. What is an “unnatural desire”? Despite its constant use, these phrases are not automatic synonymns for homosexual.

    Also, this quick, not in-depth research doesn’t even take into account historical context, cultural practice, or specific cmmentary to a specific audience.

    Even a little bit of research (which I think we are ALL accountable to do regarding the “hard questions”, rather than just repeating what others told us was true) opens the door to more questions or should at least allow us to admit that we can’t be as sure as we once were.

    To answer the first part of the question, I think Jesus would be sitting down with them and having dinner and sharing His love and the kingdom. Since I personallly don’t believe same sex love (mutally shared, caring, familial, healthy love) is a sin, I don’t think the dinner conversation would end with “Go and sin no more”.

    Also note: this view is not shared by all in the discussion group, let alone the wider church body, but I think we are making headway.

    • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

      Debra,

      Why do you think Jesus would not say, “go and sin no more”? Presupposing that (monogamous) homosexuality is not a sin, there are plenty of other sins that we ALL are guilty of – for ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Do you honestly think that there are “sinless” homosexuals in this world? I’m sure if Jesus sat at a table of homosexuals he would indeed say “Go and sin no more”, because there are plenty of other sins they’re guilty of, as we all are. As a side note Jesus only said that to people that where truly repentant and sorrowful for their sin before God, the self-righteous, he let them be.

      • Christy

        BW: Why do you think Jesus would not say, “go and sin no more”?

        Me: I did a quick search and, please correct me if I’m wrong, I can’t find where Jesus said this other than to the woman caught in adultery in John 8. I thought he said it also to the woman at the well, but a reread didn’t reveal that.

        In the context of where “Go, and sin no more” is used, Jesus is acting on the behalf of the woman as her intercessor, as her defense lawyer, before those who have accused and would judge her. Using his knowledge of the law in her defense, he can find no one to condemn her (an important word in light of our current conversation here). As her intercessor and a representative of a higher authority neither will he condemn her. He has enacted justice tempered with mercy showing God’s compassion for her. She is free to go. And as modern day judges often do, he reminds her to abstain from anything that might bring her before the court again.

        Having worn theological glasses now from both ends of the spectrum, I have to agree with Diana. To me, the difference is in perspective and looking at what Jesus actually said and how he said it. My old paradigm sees and focusses on negative messaging: Thou shalt NOTS and Go, and sin no more so you don’t go to hell. My new paradigm sees and focusses on positive messaging: Go. Follow. Love. Forgive. Feed. Clothe. Heal. Visit. Free. House. Keep (the commandments). Pray (without ceasing). Give (to the one who asks of you). Be (salt). Shine (your light). Use (your talent). Show (yourself friendly). Be an overflowing vessel of grace in the world as your heavenly Father has shown grace to you. It’s a paradigm that interprets the parable of the sower who scatters his seeds everywhere to mean that we are to be lavish and extravagant like the sower spreading seeds everywhere without exception, rather than teaching us to be the good seeds paying close attention to where the seeds should seek to fall…..avoiding the weeds and the rocks.

        I hazard a guess that Jesus knew something of human psychology. Positive messaging makes a world of difference. His message was not: Stop sinning! so you can avoid punishment. His message was: Follow me! Here is the way. The way to life…. more abundantly.

        So, no. In the image that Diana has painted for us here, I can’t imagine that he would end a dinner with “Go. Sin no more.” He would have told stories with the same depth of meaning that he did for his disciples, encouraging us to think, to hear what was within the words and not just hear the words themselves, to see with eyes that penetrated deeper than the surface…..to the heart of the matter. And he would have encouraged us and offered comfort to fear not and be of good cheer “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

        • Christy

          Sorry. I meant to say “agree with Debra.”

      • DebraK

        Of course we all sin …but in the context of the original question posted that I was answering, in which the questioner implies that homosexualtiy IS a sin, I was just using my Jesus response as a play on words to indicate that I didn’t think it was a sin (and believing that Jesus wouldn’t say it was either :o)

        • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

          Yes, In the original context, you’re both right right and I agree. We must keep a short account of sin in our life, not point out someones else’s, especially since I have a log sticking out of my eye, when others have but mere splinters in theirs. Thanks for the comments ladies…..

    • Jack Heron

      One important point to remember here is that Corinthians and Timothy were not written by Jesus. Obviously this in no way makes them useless – they are the opinions and ideas of people closely connected to early Christianity (and at the very least, Corinthians was definitely Paul, who had in some sense encountered Christ). But it does mean that we have the freedom to say ‘I disagree’. Even if Paul truly believed homosexuality to be a sin, which he may well have, I disagree with him.

      • Diana A.

        This is pretty much how I feel.

      • Danielmormon

        Jesus warned against the sin of adultery.It makes sense that He would have negative things to say about two guy giving each other the smack. It was the Savior as the pre mortal Christ that brought destruction to Sodom and as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

        • Jeff Preuss

          Smack? Isn’t that heroin? I don’t remember Jesus talking about heroin.

        • Jeff Preuss

          Oh, and the sin of Sodom was very clearly delineated later in the Bible as one of inhospitality, at a time when being barred from a walled city at night could mean certain death from wild animals.

  • Mariah

    This makes me so happy. The struggle our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are going through is so awful to watch. It brings tears to my eyes to read and hear the joy of their successes! When NY finally allowed gay marriages, I cried looking through pictures shared by the media of couples who had finally been able to be wed! God smiled that day! I pray He will continue to smile at His children finally stopping their widespread practice of oppression against these amazing people.

  • mike moore

    having been with my (now legal, woooohoooo!) husband for 25yrs, I suspect your padding off to bed and cuddling up option is most likely .. but let us not forget, there’s something pretty darn sexy about men of the cloth … maybe some scorching hot sex ensued that night!

  • C. Graham

    In giving the Ten Commandments, before God spoke a word about how to treat others, he started with the family: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). Notice that God did not give the command to honor your father and your other father. Or, honor your mother and her partner. Or, honor your mother and her live-in lover. No, it says “Honor your father and your mother.” That is God’s order. When we tamper with God’s template, we do so at our own peril.

    The Bible is very clear in saying that homosexuality is not in God’s order. In the Garden of Eden, God brought a man and a woman together. God is not anti-gay; God is anti-sin. No matter how sin expresses itself, God deals with it. A person is not born a homosexual; he or she is born with a sinful nature, like everyone else in the human race.

    I will acknowledge that a person who is born with a sinful nature might be attracted to members of the same sex. Certainly that can happen. And I would also acknowledge that a person who is born with a sinful nature might be more prone to issues of addiction. Some people, if they touch alcohol or get involved in drugs, become addicts. There are certain people who are perhaps more vulnerable in certain areas.But having said that, all these things can be overcome with God’s help.

    Sometimes people say that the Bible is not clear on this issue. That is false. The Bible is crystal-clear on its teaching on what God says is clearly sin:

    Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10 NLT)

    There is no confusion on this issue unless your confusion is with the Bible. Romans 1:22–27 lays it out as plainly as it can be laid out regarding what the Bible teaches on this subject. God’s order for the family is a man and woman – a husband and wife – who are faithful to each other. We need to respect that and give it the honor it deserves.

    Honor your father and mother.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, DR.

    • Allie

      Small problem with the verse you quoted. The word “homosexuality” didn’t exist at the time it was written. It says something different. And what exactly it means is disputed.

      Incidentally, all people have a father and mother regardless of who raises them. Some people are adopted and therefore have more than one father or mother. Jesus, for example.

    • Val P.

      No, actually I do not believe that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God – because ALL man have fallen short of the glory of God. But another scripture does come to mind: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16.18. Hey, we all have Bibles, we can all pull out scriptures that fit our particular frame of mind. Personally, I choose to believe ALL are given salvation by grace and Jesus died as a substitute for ALL mankind. Even those who have sinned…which includes eveyone.

  • bapagao

    Does not the Bible in the New Testament also say “Jesus the same yesterday, today and tommorrow”, I am not so sure when we pick and choose different portions of scripture to condone a life style. Did not also the Book of Corinthians 5:9- say that “adulterers”, sexually immoral”,”whore mongers”,”perverts” will not inherit he kingdom og God?.

    Where do you place Romans 1:24,28: “basically leaving the “natural use of women”, lusting for one another, men to men, committing what is shameful”.

    If the greate Apostle Paul states homosexuality as shameful, I hope you are greater in wisdom and godly fear of God that the great Apostle himself to be freely professing and propagating the lifesyle and be gultless to stand in the pulpit and be a minister of the gospel!

    I rather God be the righteous judge…

    • Veritologist

      You are absolutely right. John Shore shines light on those who embrace the angel of light’s lies.

  • Val P.

    I’m a divorced woman who is remarried. We all know what Jesus says about divorce. However, I’m not going to sit in the fireplace in sackcloth and rub ashes on myself for the rest of my life. I believe God has forgiven me for that particular sin, just as he does all the other sins I have committed – isn’t that the point of Christianity? And I also believe God not only blesses my current marriage, but that he led me to a particular little Presbyterian church that was pretty darn hard to find in the first place where I would meet this wonderful man that He had chosen for me to spend the rest of my life with. Now, it would be pretty foolish for me to waste my time pointing out someone else’s sin – don’t know if I could do it with a straight face. He who is without sin cast the first stone, ya’ll.

  • http://www.queery-wort.blogspot.com Kathryn

    Thanks for this great article. Ran across it while prepping for an interview with Scott Anderson tonight (in 20 minutes, actually). If you’re interested in listening, it will air at 7 p.m. central today on WORT 89.9 FM in Madison, Wis. We broadcast live over the internet (www.wort-fm.org), and the show will be in our archives for six weeks. the show is an LGBT interest show called Queery. I was confirmed in the PCUSA at age 13 and this has been a long time in coming. So glad it finally happened!

  • http://blog.happypeacock.com/2011/05/31/15_minutes_to_live Snulafluofs
    • Jeff Preuss

      Why, thanks. I think I WILL read more about sinks. ….what?

      • Andy

        And yet it’s for a bank.

        I’m not from Germany, but I didn’t know these 2 concepts were so closely integrated with each other, let alone relevant to a discussion about a gay minister.

  • Bob

    Mygenes.co.nz shows nobody born gay

  • Danielmormon

    May God help us! Can a blind guide lead the flock to water? The Presbyterian Church is greatly deceived and has been taken in by a spiritual con man who preaches freedom and yet he himself is bound by heavy chains of disobedience.This cannot lead to any sort of happiness and this pastor has done a gross disservice to those unstable souls that listen to his justification for sin and they all together will wind up in the same pit.

    • Jeff Preuss

      A mosh pit? I don’t think anyone wears heavy chains in those, because as you flail around to a They Might Be Giants song (trust me – I’ve seen it happen) they could put an eye out.

  • Danielmormon

    Now, let us reason together on this issue. Picture if you will a homosexual pastor that gets up on Sunday morning after he has put perverted hands on his male partner all day Saturday. His filthy hands touch the bread and water of our Lord’s Communion and you are going to put that in your mouth? Really? To mock the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ by such nastiness is beyond understanding and borders on blasphemy! Wake up!

    • Jeff Preuss

      So…men are unclean? I’m not really sure what point you’re making here.
      I’m pretty sure he will have washed his hands before performing the Lord’s Communion – I think that’s pretty standard practice.


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