Yesterday, while spending time in airports between flights back to Indiana, I looked at Facebook and Twitter a good bit. And I liked a good number of my friends and family's posts. And I saw some posts that I liked enough to share. Some of my friends and family didn't care for them. The one at the left was one of them.
Now I admit, that in the issue of LBGTQ rights, I'm a long way from where I used to be. And I'm a long way from where some of my friends and family are.
If you would have talked to the 1970s and 80s Brent Bill, he probably would have echoed many of the things that some of these friends and family are saying. But then I lived a pretty insular (rarely encountering Christians countering a specific Evangelical mindset (that one which grew out of what many in gospel songs call the "old time religion" -- the 19th century Holiness revivalist movement). That old time religion, invented in the 19th and early 20th century, was certainly not the "old time religion" of Jesus and the apostles though."
It is hard to say when the change in my thinking about LBGTQ rights began changing. It could be in the late 80s when a good friend of mine led the charge against LBGTQ people and meetings in our yearly meeting -- and then, a couple of years later was found to be gay. By then I realized also that my family includes gay LBGTQ people. I was named for a gay man -- a good friend of my parents (and I still have his old MG!). I also began teaching and had students that were LGBTQ. And I some of the deepest, most faithful Christ-followers I know are LBGTQ. Their faithfulness to Jesus and devotion to personal and corporate Christian faith at times puts mine to shame.
And so I have changed. I read the Bible a bit differently than I used to. Yes, I know the Bible verses that are used by those opposed to LBGTQ. Both Old and New Testament verses. I also know that many of those same people completely ignore many Old and New Testaments verses when it serves their beliefs. I'm not going to go into examples of that now. But let me say that when this post (and others like it appeared on my Facebook page, I began receiving corrective posts from some friends and family that
- Contained long discourses on the scripture references that proved that it was really fine to discrimate against LBGTQ folks because their sin is an abomination against the will of God. I appreciated those verses because, despite years of reading the Bible, studying scripture in institutions from the church, Young Life, Bible college, college, and two seminaries, I had never encountered the Bible before. At least that's what the writers seemed to assume. I must admit I was wee bit miffed to be Bible-hauled (the Evangelical version of keel-hauling in my mind) by people (even friends and family) who seem to think that all my study has been completely worthless and I have not learned a thing. Still, I guess I needed the correction.
- Talked about church doctrine over the years. I guess, again despite my college and seminary degrees and years of study (and ministerial credentials), I had missed the boat again. I had always found church doctrine interesting -- but which church's is right. I was wondering why a good Evangelical friend of mine was quoting Catholic church doctrine. In the 50s did we Evangelicals think they were all going to Hell and the Roman Catholic Church was apostate?? When did the thinking change? Such thinking shouldn't be able to change, should it?
- There was a big difference between serving pizza and saving a life. Ah. That's a thought that had not occurred to me. So, if I'm a doctor or nurse, my religious beliefs have to be put on hold but if I'm a pizza maker (or restroom monitor), they don't. I guess I missed the verse (but then, as I admit up above, I appear to have missed a lot of verses!), that where Jesus said "Verily, if a gay man falleth into a ditch and breaketh his leg, thee must nurse him. But if a gay man falleth from hunger on thy doorstep, thee can turn him away and say, 'Depart from me, you sinner. I know thee not.'"
If you feel your faith calls you to deny pizza, genderless restrooms, marriage, et al to LBGTQ folks, well, that's between you and Jesus. As for me, "Ally, ally, in free. Straight. Gay. Democratic. Republican. Donald Trump. Bernie Saunders. Muslims. Jews. Evangelicals. Unitarians. In the name of Jesus whom I try to serve faithfully (and often fail), I welcome you. For health care, prayer, or pizza -- if there's any in the house.