I have been asked by several to re-post my conversations that I had with my friend almost a year ago on philshepherd.com which now is my professional site with my resume and speaking examples hangout. So, as requested I am re-posting my dialogues on homosexuality that I had with my good friend Dave who I grew up with in Alaska. I would like to remind everyone that I love Dave, but we have agreed to disagree on this topic and have gone on with our lives. So, without further a do he is the second part of the dialogue with Dave.
I know that this response was not as quick as you may have liked, but here it is! First off in my opinion if you are going to take the stance that you in which you are entitled to have, you have created a posture that should be commended because it is a posture of love. I think above all else that it said in our conversation I think that love is the key ingredient that should always be mixed into things. With that said I will I dive into my response.
Over the years I have realized that Christians have hindered their effectiveness with the rest of humanity because of our lack of ability to have a conversation. We were taught at a young age to deconstruct someone’s argument so that ours could be heard. This is the term that is called apologetics. Apologetics is a lawyer term and rhythm that they use in a courtroom: I am a not a lawyer, but I am a practical theologian. I have tried to listen without the intent to prove someone wrong, but honestly listen to what people have to say weather I agree with them or not. That obviously does not mean I do not speak up for what I believe to be unbeneficial to achieve healthy rhythms of life within God and the rest of the creation, and that is why I posted the video. I believe that as followers of God through the way of Jesus we have created an emotional and spiritual holocaust for the homosexual community. I no longer want that blood on my hands however, I will get to more of that later in my “essay” : ) LOL I say all of this to prep our conversation to be just that, a conversation and not an apologetic battle: that would be the easy way to this, but I am about going down the path less traveled. Instead of deconstructing everything point-by-point I would rather tell you the story in how I got to where I am at on this conversation. Fare enough? Ok so here I go.
I first off would like to say that my view of scripture has changed over the years. I found that we grew up in a faith that centered our theology; hence being Southern Baptist we were “the people of the book.” Through my almost now 15 years of off and on again vocational ministry and 3 years of seminary (I went to Baylor a Baptist seminary) I realized that putting scripture at the center of our theology may been the improper place for it to be. As I read and reread over the years the first chapter of John’s gospel I realized that what I had given the title to “God’s Word” should not be given to scripture, but to Jesus himself because that is what the text points us to in saying. After have my world crumble with the idea of scripture not being “God’s Word” but Jesus being “God’s Word” it made me reevaluate what was at the center theology. I replaced scripture with Jesus. I still had “God’s Word” at the center of my theology, just not by the definition that we grew up with. I have not done away with scripture! I have learned to have it point to God instead of being my god. Recently in the past few years I was challenged in the fact that the entire trinity should be at the center of my theology not just Jesus. Not that I am discounting Jesus, but on the contrary I feel that to fully embrace Jesus we must embrace the other two parts of the trinity that we evangelicals most often forget to do. You are now probably now asking yourself why is he telling me all of this? When is he going to get to the gay stuff? LOL I am telling you this because we may be at different junctures in our journey in how we fundamentally view scripture because scripture was the bases of your initial part of the conversation.
So, with that out of the way I will continue my tale in how I got to where I am at today. As much as I bitch about seminary some days I realize that it did help my to rethink some ideas. Not only did the center of my theology change, but how I read scripture changed as well. I realized quickly that we as Southern Baptists took for granted that historical context that a lot of the writings were written. Outside of the Torah and maybe a few of the other OT books I really don’t think the most of the authors of scripture ever intended for their writings to become scripture. That is not to say that weren’t inspired by God to write the things that they did, but the intention in which they wrote may have been a little more universal in their teachings and less contextual if they had known that they were to be scripture. However, no the less they are contextual and I believe it is hard for us to faithful to the text and throw out the historical context in which they were written. This position in how I approached scripture changed in how literal I took some of the teachings for our 21st century context. I was a literalist and now I guess you could say I am a contextuallist in regards in how I approach the text. Folks have deemed a heretic many times before so if you are getting ready to chuck stones at me, get in line! LOL
With my the center of my theology evolving from scripture to the Triune Creator my intentional rhythms of life also changed which in turn changed my prospectus on many things, like the issue of homosexuality. I poured over the scriptures that you shared with me trying to make sense of how did they point back to the Creator and what was their historical context in which they were written. I remember one in particular moment that influenced my outlook on homosexuality, I was sitting in one of my scripture classes in seminary and my professor was addressing the issue of homosexuality. Dr. Garland conveyed to us that the historical context in which Paul was writing had to do with some of the male Greek aristocracy were sexually taking advantage of their boy and man servants. Essentially these aristocrats were raping their male servants and then attending church and acting like there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. This puzzled me because I had already learned in one of my OT classes that the Leviticus passages had to with the Jewish idea of a man wasting his seaman on non fruitful acts, and if the homosexuality (not always translated consistently as this word) in the NT had to do with raping, then what do we do with what we are dealing with today? So, in the processing of this in class I asked this, “you trying to tell me that the words that are translated as homosexuality in both the old and new testament contextually have nothing to do with the homosexuality that we are dealing with today?” “No”, he answered. “And you still think it is wrong?”, I asked. “Yes”, he replied. That was all that he gave me was a yes and it simply was not a good enough answer for me. This was the first real instance in which I realized scripture did not cover every topic that we as 21st century folks are faced with today. I was challenged to take off my 21st century eyes and take the text for what it was saying the context it was written and these passages where addressing two completely different situations. So what do I do with homosexuality of today if scripture that is not even at the center of my theology any more, but still points to God is silent about the topic? It pointed me to Creator. In its silence it pointed me to ask for guidance on subject that was quickly turning gray for me. My prayer was allow me to live outside the gray and possibly find a new way to engage this conversation, and that was found in love. I find if we take Jesus’ challenge and try to love him with everyone ounce of who we are and our neighbors as ourselves, then the black, white, and even gray dissipates and something else invades our palate and I believe that to be the color of life.
Through what I believe to dare call the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I came to the very comfortable conclusion that I don’t think monogamous homosexuality is wrong or even missing the mark. However, I will say I could be wrong and I am ok with that. Either way I trying to promote healthy sexuality to hetro and homosexuals a like and I do so by encouraging them not to find their sole identity in their sexuality and not to be in a promiscuous relationship that is only built upon taking advantage of one another. Christ’s challenge to his creation was to live in love and if we live to strive in that rhythm then we end up living out the qualities of love that are laid out to us in 1 Corinthians 13.
Weather you feel the leaning to hold the position that homosexuality is wrong or not that is your business however, if you do not do so in love then I feel that is when we begin to miss the mark. I guess that is all I have to say for now and I sure it was frustrating for you and you may have more questions or retorts than anything and I welcome it all. I thank you for you willingness to dialogue and I look forward to rest of our conversation.
Love ya man