A Pastoral Miscellany for Pride

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A Pastoral Miscellany for Pride

The Bible is only a part of the voice of a Stillspeaking God—but only part.

Atlanta celebrates Pride this weekend:  a festival in Piedmont Park on Saturday and Sunday and the Pride Parade on Sunday, 14 October at 1:00.  Over 200,000 people attend the annual events.

When

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A Pastoral Miscellany for Pride

The Bible is only a part of the voice of a Stillspeaking God—but only part.

Atlanta celebrates Pride this weekend:  a festival in Piedmont Park on Saturday and Sunday and the Pride Parade on Sunday, 14 October at 1:00.  Over 200,000 people attend the annual events.

When I use the word “Pride,” I certainly mean the annual commemoration and celebration of the Stonewall riots of 1969.  I also use “Pride” as a theological concept of radical acceptance of self and others.  We are all claimed and accompanied; we do not make this journey alone.  We are all deemed acceptable by God.  ”Pride” is not just “a gay thing”—it’s for everyone.   We are not nearly as different as we sometimes suppose ourselves to be.

For those who are in pain or afraid, remember that Love will have the last and lasting word.  Many march for you, even when you cannot, so that day might come all the sooner when fear is banished.  Intolerance, prejudice and hate will all be made to yield.  To quote a magnet that has been stuck to my fridge for some time:

Everything will be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

The posts for the next few days are a brief “pastoral miscellany” (collection) to feed heart and mind as we celebrate and claim Pride.  Many of the “pastoral care” items I raise here, if one mutes the language of sexual orientation, are words for many.

Reject the Premise—Don’t Be Bashed by the Bible

I have oft taught a six-hour workshop on “Homosexuality and the Bible” during which I attempt to “rescue the Bible from Fundamentalism.”  I carefully walk through the “clobber” passages (the ones used to bash anyone who is not 100% straight) and debunk the false notion that the Bible is “antigay.”  It’s easy scholarship actually; just a few points:

  • Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing to do with “same-sex sex” (try actually reading the story in Genesis 19); curious that the Fundamentalist never criticize Lot for offering his two daughters to a violent mob;
  • The verses from Leviticus are part of the “Holiness Code” that have to do with religious/cultural purity and not so much about sexual morality;
  • Jesus says NOTHING about the topic that has become a controversy that threatens to divide and unravel the community established to continue his vision and mission.

While I’m sure that I will probably teach the worship again, I’m generally not inclined to do so.  It may sound odd, but I think the workshop “demeans” the Bible a wee bit—it accepts what I think is a “false premise.”  I do not believe that the Bible says anything about homosexuality; the workshop answers a question that the Bible does not ask and grants credibility to those who posit that it does.  As a general rule, I now refuse to debate those who want to argue about the “clobber passages;” thier minds are not usually changed by scholarship and I consider the question asinine.  It’s akin to asking what the Bible says about the outcome of the November election:  nothing.  The writers of the Bible didn’t know the candidates, the electorate, the latest polls, etc.  See the absurdity?

In politics, we call this “rejecting the premise of the question.”  When asked if I prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream more than the other, I don’t have to accept that those are the only two options or that I even have to choose.  If I answer the question as asked, I affirm the false choice.

The Bible doesn’t bash those who are something other than “100% straight.”  People use the Bible to do the bashing.  The Bible doesn’t need to be defended; the basher needs to be confronted—or avoided.

However, don’t let bashers take the Bible away from you, either!

Just because people misuse the Bible and sometimes use it as a weapon does not mean that we should abandon it, be afraid of it, or deem it irrelevant.  People sometimes use shovels for destructive means; that’s not the fault of shovel.  Use shovels to build things and tend gardens.

When folk are struggling to make sense of the Bible, I often ask them what for me is the critical first question of hermeneutics (interpretation):

What are we asking, begging, demanding, pleading or cajoling the Bible to do for us; and, no matter how hard we might press it do so, can it yield to our expectations?

The Bible is a miscellany, a collection of writings from different authors. It uses faith stories, poetry, a play (the book of Job), letters and other tools of wisdom literature to capture the journey, wanderings, and liberation of a tribal people.  The Hebrew Scriptures, among other narratives, present the Exodus and wilderness sojourn toward freedom of a people who were enslaved in Egypt.  The Christian Scriptures, in the Jesus stories, present a powerful vision of Lovingkindness in the midst of terrible oppression and domination by Rome.  Both collections of writings hold forth a vision of a world that yearns to be, but struggles to emerge.  Doesn’t it sound familiar?

When we liberate the Bible from our demands, the Bible becomes a liberating word for us.  While I do not believe it says anything about homosexuality (affirmative or derisive), the stories and hopes it continues to proclaim claim me and I claim them.

The Bible shines Light when darkness creeps all around, it proclaims Truth to falsehood, and speaks words of liberation to those who are oppressed.  Sounds like a good book for Pride.

 

Read more http://whereheartandmindmeet.ccuccatl.com/2012/10/10/a-pastoral-miscellany-for-pride/

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