Sometimes in Facebook I get involved in theological/philosophical arguments. It comes with the territory and most of the times I wish that these discussions happened in person. I truly believe that speaking to each other while looking at the other person would (at the least) help minimize some of the misunderstandings that we have when we are speaking to someone that has different different views from ours. But alas, sometimes we are not that lucky.
The following is part of a Facebook conversation that I had last year; if you know me personally my dear reader you either remember this conversation because you were part of it or you remember me talking about this. Here is the background: I posted the following in a certain Facebook group:
Being gay is NOT "sexual deviancy", it is NOT a "lifestyle" and it is not a 'condition' that needs to be "corrected".
I always thought that regardless of our theological view in this matter, it does not justify harassment and violence. One person asked me what the Bible said about this and that lead me to bring up a couple of the verses from St. Paul that are used by some Christians on this but that it was my theological opinion that to continue to use them did not make sense and that fellow human beings should not suffer violence over this. Then a fellow Christian (let us call him Brian) said that he was a Christian who believes in the 'truth', and that to stand for the truth is the duty of every Christian. When I asked him what truth he referring to, he quoted Leviticus from the Hebrew Bible. I asked him if he considered the implications of quoting a verse from the Hebrew Bible (before saying anything about the New Testament, like I said in an earlier post) that states they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them (Lev 20:13) along with Lev 18:22 since this could be interpreted as stating that the death penalty should be given to those accused of "homosexuality". He replied that the death penalty was logical before Christ came into the world; that in the context of "Old testament" laws BEFORE the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Yes absolutely he affirmed.
Then he added that his only charge was to show that willful homosexual acts are considered sinful before the Lord and that if I had some evidence that some how God doesn't consider willful homosexual acts sinful, then by all means...share with me. My reply was: So from your exegesis you conclude that: before Christ, yes to both sin AND death penalty. But after Christ, yes to sin BUT NOT the death penalty. Is that correct? His reply was: Yes Mario, the death penalty under that context absolutely. Do we have the right to do the same now? No the reason being that Christ is our mediator, we are charged with sharing the gospel by Christ. He quickly added: But all of this is actually irrelevant, the question here is...are willful homosexual acts sinful? the answer is yes...via old testament, and ALSO new testament, there are plenty of scriptures about it that paul speaks on.
My reply was the following:
It is very relevant. You invoked a part of the Holiness Code to make your arguments. I was the first one to mention Paul. And you keep taking about Christ, and yet the Son of Man himself said nothing about this issue. But I guess that is a discussion for another day. Look AGAIN at my original post: --Being gay is NOT "sexual deviancy", it is NOT a "lifestyle" and it is not a 'condition' that needs to be "corrected".-- I was talking about our current understanding of sexuality. The 21st century Christian CANNOT ignore the findings on sexuality, and from psychology and psychiatry on this issue for the last 40 years. To do so is a tragedy.
Then the conversation went this way:
The question "Is homosexuality sexual deviancy" can not be answered by science. That is a moral question...and as a christian I feel it has been answered in the word of God. Is homosexuality a sin? Yes absolutely...according to Gods word. If your a Christian Mario you need to stand on the truth of the word of God. No matter what you say some one is not going to like you...but its your Job as a christian to share the gospel, stand on the word of God and defend the faith with gentleness and respect.
You say it is a moral question, yet as Christians we cannot deny that this moral question, that comes from 'morality', that comes from 'ethics' has been based on an OUTDATED understanding of our bodies. There used to be a time that certain people were thought of having a demon, when later science said it was epilepsy. We cannot ignore science on sexuality.
Mario just to be clear are you a professing christian that is denying the truth of the word of God? And btw for you to say that because these commandments where based on scripture and scripture is "outdated" (whatever that means)....and there for its claims about demonic possession or homosexuality are false...would be the genetic fallacy.
Indeed I am a Christian. It appears that we disagree in our UNDERSTANDING of the 'truth of the word of God'.
Mario I dont really see why you are having such a problem with this....The word of God is clear...why are you denying it? Im really not trying to be confrontational but I am concerned. Telling some one the truth is not intolerance....neither is it attacking some one.
Again, we disagree in our 'understanding' of the truth. There are countries where your understanding of the truth, justifies harassing, abusing, persecuting, imprisoning, and executing human beings. And that concerns me.
My dear reader, if you are a Christian like myself and yet you disagree on this issue on theological grounds I understand. However, I do really hope that your theological position does not make you believe that 'standing for the truth' justifies bullying, or violence. You and I may have a different understanding of the 'truth', but you and I should agree that violence against our fellow human beings over a theological issue is NEVER acceptable and it is NEVER part of the 'truth'. In fact I believe that as a Christians is our duty to listen to what science is telling us about sexuality and about our bodies as part of the search for the 'truth'. If you my dear reader are a Christian like myself and you and I believe that God gave us the gift of reason, and we accept that this gift has been used many times in many areas like physics, chemistry, and medicine, why not in sexuality? There is so much that we thought we KNEW about all of this and yet, we found out later that we were wrong. This is not an attack on faith, quite the contrary: our faith should drive us to search, to ask questions, to come up with new questions. And if we find out that we are wrong about something, then we must fully admit it; to do so is not a sign of weakness, but instead it is a sign of strength and of wisdom.
And if you my dear reader are a Christian who believes that telling someone the truth is not intolerance or is not an attack because you have the truth consider this: the person that you are telling this 'truth' to today, may be bullied AGAIN today by someone at school. Or, he may have been kicked out of the house. Or she is thinking about suicide. Ask yourself: what good is the 'truth' is someone kills himself? What good is sharing the 'Gospel of Christ', if it drives someone to kill a fellow human being?
Is there only ONE UNDERSTANDING of the truth?
Is there only ONE WAY to share the Gospel of Christ?
As a Christian, as a straight man, as a person who is trying to find a better understanding of the truth every day, as a person who does not have all the answers and as a human being, I will continue to stand up for my brothers and sisters in the LGTBQ community. Too many have died over a certain understanding of the 'truth'. Too many have died because of the belief that that homosexuality is a 'lifestyle', that is 'sexual deviancy', and that it is a 'medical condition' that can be "corrected". These beliefs are not only driving acts of hatred that are resulting in lethal violence, but also lead to scenarios like this one: all it takes is to be accused of being gay; you don't have to be gay at all to suffer violence. And if you are straight and stand up for members of the LGTBQ community, in some places around the world that can cost you your life as well.
During my ministry, the stories are endless; so many have come to me in tears because of what someone did to them. So many have come to me in pain because their families have rejected them. So many have come to me because they lost friends. So many have come to me because they know someone that is suffering right now. So many have asked me "Mario, if God loves me, then why do so many hate me?"
Brian said that it is the duty of every Christian to stand for the truth. I agree, as long we remember that our UNDERSTANDING of the truth may not be as correct as we think. What I said to him I say again and those who know me have heard me say this before:
The 21st century Christian CANNOT ignore the findings on sexuality, and from psychology and psychiatry on this issue for the last 40 years. To do so is a tragedy.
And I will say this: if someone is going to find out that I am a Chrstian, I prefer that he/she finds out not because my theology is 'perfect', or because 'I know the word of GOD', or because 'I know the truth', but because hopefully my love is clear in both my words and my actions (Gospel according to John 13:34-35).
|With Bishop Christopher at Brent House, Episcopal Campus Ministry-University of Chicago|
For more information on many of these issues I recommend the following:
The work of Bishop Christopher with the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation and the St. Paul's Reconciliation and Equality Centre in Uganda. The American Psychiatric Association has some great resources on LGTBQ issues, specially dealing with a lot of the myths and misunderstandings about sexuality and sexual identity. The American Psychological Association is a also a great place for information on these issues.
My dear reader I hope you will have a wonderful week. Take good care of yourself.