Smart people saying smart things

Matthew Blake Williams: “Why gays are going to save the church

Actually, it’s really not that hard to say why I devote myself to a Church that doesn’t seem to want me around. I do it because I get it. I get what Jesus was trying to do. I get it better than most, because I need it more than most. That might sound arrogant to you. That’s okay. For those of us who are gay and have come to trust Christ’s love despite experiencing a lifetime of hate from Christians, it’s just a hard-earned reality.

LGBT Christians have a profound understanding of Judeo-Christian story of faith. We believe in the mission of Jesus, in making a way for the outcast. We get it. We understand that that no one – not the lesbian, nor the Pharisee who excludes her – is beyond the reach of grace.

And, of course – despite the provocative title of this blog post – it’s not just gay Christians. It’s all of the marginalized and sidelined, the people who don’t see the world in the same stark shades of black and white that the American church prescribes. It’s everyone who tires of the hypocrisy and discrimination and selfish warring done in the name of Jesus and says, “This is our faith too, and we won’t stand by while it is hijacked. We won’t allow voices of hate to speak for us.”

Shari Johnson: “Christians can change their minds on homosexuality. I know, because I did.

I have learned since then that Cholene knew she was gay ever since she was a little girl. She got the message from pastors, Sunday school teachers, Christian leaders and even her parents that she was an abomination to God and didn’t deserve his love. I have agonized over this. People have said, “But you didn’t know she was gay.” What difference does that make? Our behavior was unconscionable, not only as parents, but also as Christians.

Thankfully, she received the message from God himself that he loved her.

I have had a dramatic change of heart since first learning of Cholene’s homosexuality. Call it a paradigm shift, an epiphany or just plain coming to my senses. Whatever it was, I know this — God was behind it. I would give anything to have a do-over for those years when we hurt Cholene so terribly, so I’m on a mission to help keep other families from making our mistakes.

Sarah Posner: “Embracing the fringe

A year after launching 40 Days for Life, [David] Bereit joined the American Life League, long considered one of the fringe players in the anti-abortion movement, serving as national director of its project STOPP, or Stop Planned Parenthood.

Shortly after joining STOPP, Bereit blamed the Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which ruled state bans on contraception unconstitutional, for “a tragic moral breakdown in our culture,” adding, “It is time for Americans to take a long, hard look at the real legacy of the Griswold decision. Although we can’t undo the consequences overnight, we can begin to take back our society one step at a time. The first step is to put an end to the destructive influence of Planned Parenthood, the organization that forced this tragedy upon our nation 40 years ago.”

At the Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally, Bereit told me he opposed the legal precedent that Griswold set, as it laid the groundwork for Roe v. Wade. But when I pressed him about whether he agreed with ALL’s opposition to contraception generally, he paused and said, “I still agree with the position that anything that directly causes the destruction of human life, and there is evidence suggesting that certain birth control devices can have an abortifacient property. I do have opposition to those things,” which he said included birth control pills. He, like other speakers at the rally, repeated the false charge that the emergency contraceptives ella and Plan B, which are covered by the HHS rule, are abortifacients.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally

    You mean they’re actually advocating treating Hindus, Muslims, polytheists of all kinds, pagans, what-have-you, with the same respect accorded Christianity in Western culture?

    Oh, never mind. Silly me, I was in bizarro Good Universe for a second.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    They’ve figured out that, if you say you’re in favor of religious freedom, many people won’t press further to figure out if you’re talking about “freedom to practice my religion” vs. “power to make others practice my religion”.

    I wonder how they would react if Muslim employers tried to tell their employees that they couldn’t use the money from their paychecks to buy pork, under the name of “religious freedom”.

  • Jurgan

    I had someone recently complain about how, as a pharmacist, he could be forced to provide prescriptions he didn’t think were moral (I’m not sure if he meant he really opposed certain prescriptions or was just speaking hypothetically).  And I had one of those moments where you think of the perfect comeback later, which was: what if one of the clerks was Mormon?  Could he refuse to sell caffeinated drinks?

  • rrhersh

    The post from Matthew Blake Williams makes a common error, of confusing a discussion of “the church” meaning the collective body of believers throughout the world with “the church” meaning a particular congregation.  When he writes of “a Church that doesn’t seem to want me around” I do indeed find it mysterious why he stays with that particular congregation.  Why doesn’t he join one that welcomes him?  I see from his “About” page that he lives in San Diego.  It would be trivially easy to find a church in San Diego that wouldn’t so much as blink at his homosexuality.  It could be that he see himself as an apostle to the bigots and that is why he seeks them out, but if he is simply trying to find a church to worship with, in which his sexual orientation is not an issue one way or the other, then he seems to be going about it wrong.

    As for the idea that the gays are going to save the church, in whichever sense of the word, I don’t see it.  Anti-gay bigotry is going to become increasingly less tenable.  More and more gays are going to discover their inner Episcopalian (or ELCA Lutheran or whatever).  Some percentage of straight people are going to decide that they don’t want to be members of anti-gay bigot churches.  At some point individual Evangelical churches are going to realize that bigotry is costing them more than it is gaining them, and they are going to discover the Biblical arguments that the liberal churches have known for years.  Turning away gays will become as obsolete as condemning sports on Sundays.  There will be holdouts–there always are–but they are going to be weird fringe groups, like the KJV-only crowd.

    I foresee an interesting next ten years for American Protestantism, as the Evangelical wing is showing the cracks in its foundation.  LGBT rights is going to be part of this, but I suspect relatively small compared with, say, the intrinsic weaknesses of the megachurch model.

  • Dash1

    rrhersh: the intrinsic weaknesses of the megachurch model.

    I agree with you about the cracks in the foundation of the right wing of American Protestantism. But the Catholics and Mormons have been running a version of the megachurch model quite successfully for a while now, if you’re referring to a large, centralized congregation with offshoots of smaller groups, activities, etc. (Longer while for the Catholics, of course.) Or are you taking as an intrinsic part of the “megachurch model” the reverence for the founder that may not be passed on to his heir?

  • Tricksterson

    Anyone else having trouble linking to the Shari Johnson article?

  • rrhersh

     There is a distinction to be made between the Evangelical Protestant megachurch and a more traditional church that happens to be very large.  The personality-driven character of the megachurch is part of it.  The financial model is another.  In its most extreme version it requires continual growth, as debt is taken on with an assumption of future growth built into the repayment plan.  A single facility can only be so large, as eventually all potential members within plausible driving distance will have been recruited.  The creation of the satellite campus with closed circuit television feed is an attempt to overcome this natural barrier.  It sometimes works, but only until it doesn’t:  the senior pastor retires, fashions change, whatever.  At that point the financial problems are simply worse than ever.

    In other words, megachurch planning is not done with an eye to making it a permanent institution.  My congregation has been existence for over a quarter of a millennium.  When we have financial discussions, there is an implicit assumption that we are thinking fifty or a hundred years down the road.  This changes the priorities.

  • Dash1

     Thanks. Megachurches have many characteristics, and I wasn’t sure which ones you were talking about. It had not occurred to me that they weren’t developed with long-term thinking in mind. (My knowledge of megachurches is–probably blessedly–limited.)

  • Trixie_Belden

    Yes, me too - I finally just opened up an additional window and looked her up on google.

  • erikagillian

    It’s my understanding that the pro-choice movement always understood that they were after contraception too.  They used the abortion thing as long as they felt they wouldn’t have traction on contraception but since the point is to control women through their fertility, and control that fertility, this is was always where it was going.  I knew that back in the early nineties, at the latest.  And as for why, there’s this concept called womb-envy.  This wikipedia article doesn’t explain it the way my folklore professor, Alan Dundes, did, his was much more general than ‘neurotic men,’ he thought it underlay patriarchy and the control of women by men on a societal level.  So yeah, neurotic men may experience it on a personal level, I have no experience there, but you can find lots and lots of evidence in folklore, especially creation myths, not surprisingly, for a wider concept of womb envy.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    There is also the economic opposition to contraception from the predator class. Fewer births could eventually lead to a shortage of labor, driving up the price. It might even become possiible for mere laborers to live the good life again and we wouldn’t want that-it is reserved for our betters.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     It’s working for me now.

  • Tricksterson

    Sorry but I do not envy your ability to carry a parasite in your body for nine months and then to let it leech off you for the next fifteen to twenty years.

  • erikagillian

     Luckily, it turns out that I’m infertile and starting to be too old.  Never wanted a parasite myself, but it’s still part of my job as a human being to fight for those who still can carry parasites.  But no, I understand you perfectly.  Oh, and the monthly bloodiness and pain is no fun too but gynecologist are starting to come around.  I haven’t had one in *years*!  I look forward to when girls don’t have them till they want a parasite or never have to deal with it.  Connie Willis wrote a short story called “Even the Queen” on that subject, I just realized it’s coming true.


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