Texas Church Sponsors Pro-Gay Christian Billboards

Saw this on Twitter and had to write about it! Thanks to @QueerJohnPA and @lgbtlife for posting.

WouldJesusDiscriminate.com
WouldJesusDiscriminate.com

Please read the article linked, I’m not going to show any quotes from it, but it is a good read. I’m more interested to share my own reactions to these billboards.

First, I’d like to say that they are really gutzy, and I really give them credit for putting themselves out there like that. The message- that Jesus and the Bible is more welcoming and inclusive than some think it is- is a valuable message to share. But if their goal is to get people, especially Christian believers to rethink their negative judgements of gays and lesbians, I’m not sure how successful this is going to be.

If I have any real beef about the project, is the way it uses scripture. Consider Matthew 19: 10-12, (displayed here from the NIV)

10The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

11Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.

12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage[a]because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Now, this is a very interesting passage, especially following the earlier passages of Matthew 19, but how can anyone interpret it to say that “Jesus said some are born Gay.” Jesus didn’t say that unless the Greek for Eunuch(????????) is exactly the same as Greek for Gay (????????????), which it isn’t. And frankly as a gay man, I’m not sure how I feel about being called a Eunuch.

WouldJesusDiscriminate.com
WouldJesusDiscriminate.com

Genesis 2:24 and Ruth 1:14 (NIV)

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

14 At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her.

There is a wonderfully beautiful story to be told about the love between these two women, although I’m hard pressed to say that they became one flesh. Here’s the same problem as the Matthew example. By trying to distill it down to a few passages, and then claim this is what it means, can’t possible provide any real teaching. It can only set the stage for a dispute about does it mean this or not. The tactic of pulling individual verses and claiming to know exactly what it means, that is the problem, not the solution to the problem.

WouldJesusDiscriminate.com
WouldJesusDiscriminate.com

The last billboard is probably the saddest example, for this is truly a rich and meaningful story.

Matthew 8:5-13 (NIV)

5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6″Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”

7Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”

8The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

How they get from “a centurion and a servant” to “a gay couple” is truly remarkable, if not deplorable. If you go to the web site there is a full explanation of each passage.

The reality is that there may have been men who loved men and women who loved women in that time and place, but our contemporary understanding of Gay simply does not apply. There were no gay couples, where a couple is understood as an equal partnering of 2 men or two women.

Faith and tradition are things that many will defend and protect even beyond reason. To mess around with someone’s understanding, especially when they feel pretty sure they know what it means, is to invite a defensiveness and promote an unwillingness to be open to other interpretations. To place contemporary constructs (ex: born gay, gay couple) into a biblical era is just as bad as those who go the other way.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 Bible Reading

Welcome to a Queer Look at the Bible!

This week’s lectionary readings:

This week’s QP:

  • Reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (Christian Old Testament) 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19:1Rainbow (A very little bit Gay)
  • Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 24 or Psalm 85:8-13 1Rainbow
  • Reading from the Epistles: Ephesians 1:3-14: 1Rainbow (Not Gay at all!)
  • Reading from the Gospels: Mark 6:14-29: 21Rainbows (Not Gay at all!)

Overall QP: 1Rainbow. Not very Gay overall

Notes or References:

Book: Jonathan Loved David, by Thomas Horner

Book: What the bible Really Says about Homosexuality, by Daniel Helminiak

? Both of these books have been around for a while and are good resources. I have met Daniel Helminiak and he is a great guy.

Next Week’s Readings:

Gay Religion: news of religion and GLBT folks: Gays Step Up Efforts to Reverse Gay-as-Godless Stereotype

This blog and blog entry is a very good read. It uses the Barna Group survey data to explore the issue of religious gays and lesbians. I’ve been planning to write about the Barna Group report on thomascwaters.com– it is sitting half-done as a draft. Check this blog out below.

Gay Religion: news of religion and GLBT folks: Gays Step Up Efforts to Reverse Gay-as-Godless Stereotype.

Queer Look Podcast to Return Soon!

It’s a long story why I stopped producing the queer Look at the Bible Podcast, but the short answer is that it is about to return! Each week, I’ll look at the week’s lectionary readings from the QP (the queer Perspective, and assign each a QP ranking. That is, just how “queer” is the scripture on a scale of 1 bible (not at all queer) to 5 bibles (way way queer!). Most consider that the Bible is condemning of homosexuality, but I think what we are going to find is that the vast majority of it has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality, and will score a 1bible ranking. The passages that appear to be about homosexuality will be few and score a 5bible ranking. There is just the question about what to do with the issue of passages that appear pro-homosexual, and those which appear as anti-homosexual. In terms of my QP ranking, I won’t make any distinction/ for or against, it is still queer. but I will talk about each to see what we can learn about how pro- or anti the passages might actually be.

A Queer Look at the Bible isn’t intended only for the religious, but for everyone, even those who see themselves as atheists or agnostics. But I’m not trying to convert you. You are welcome here, no matter what your faith (or lack of faith) tradition. and here is why. If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, or transgendered person, the Bible impact your life today, here in 2009. Doesn’t matter if you are a believer or not. The Bible serves as the foundation of all of the opposition to GLBTQ rights, as well as many of the conservative movements, such as to deny a woman’s right to choice. The growing battle cry of this radical right movement, is Religious Liberties, as if they own the Bible, and everything in it is on their side. but they don’t, and it isn’t. and the more everyone knows about that the easier it is to see through the fallacious arguments that they put forth.

Let me say, as straight (ha ha) forwardly as I can. I am not anti-God. I am not anti-Bible. I am not anti-Faith. I just think that the Bible has been co-opted by the radical right, and t is time to take it back and put it out there for anyone to pick up and consider. And the best way to do that it to take a new look at it- a Queer Look. If I can rightfully be accused of anything, it may be that I can come across as anti-religious. Like many theologians since the beginning of the Judeo-Christian story, I ask that rather than simply wearing “religious” as an adjective to describe oneself, consider it a journey to be traveled. Consider it a puzzle to be pondered. consider it a question to be asked rather than answered. I am fairly anti- those who self-righteously think they have all the answers. I certainly don’t have them. But I have and can ask and explore questions. I think that when we are willing to ask, and see where the question takes us, we can find things we never anticipated. That for me, is about hearing God.

I’m going to start by producing an audio podcast in the iTunes enhanced podcast format, but there will also be an MP# file to download for other brands of players. Each week’s podcast will be a part of a blog post that has notes and stuff I want to share. Feel free to comment here, but please be warned. I have no patience for folks who can;’t do any more than tell me I’m going to hell, or can’t say anything except to quote scripture, or issue some blanket generalized statement with out anything backing it up. I will only accept comments from real people (no anonymous postings) who register for the site. If you don’t have the guts to have a name and an email, I don’t have the time for you. But feel free to disagree with me- just be man or woman enough to represent yourself authentically.

So you ready for a Queer Look! Great! Glad to have you along!

How Religion Fails us- Covenant Marriage

This post may seem politicaly based, but I decided to post it here due to the religious motivations behind the law being discussed in this linked blog.

This is a story about something called Covenant Marriage, a type of legal marriage began as an attempt to stem divorce rates, begun in Lousiana, but now available in several states. My purpose in writing about it is to illustrate the ways in which conservatives apply a double standard when it suits them.

You can follow te link at the bottom to the full story. I have pulled out some stuff, and it is displayed as quoted text, and the rest are my comments/text.

The Definition of Marriage may not be re-defined!

The first line of attack towards same-sex marriage is that it would be redefining marriage, as if the definition of marriage has never been re-defined. Covenant Marriage is one example of a redefinition of marriage. While it remains a marriage between a man and a woman, it is still a different definition and type of marraige. If there can already be 2 types of marriage with 2 different sets of rules or qualities how would adding another destroy the definition of marriage?

The definition of marriage is biblical and may not be altered!

There are 2 sets of scripture often used to justify marriage as between a man and a woman. Adam and Eve as the original husband and wife (even though I’m not sure the Bible ever says they were married), and the words of Jesus. Jesus was actually talking abot divorce, and the passage ends with te idea that who God has joined no one may tear apart. Interestingly, even though the Bible says there can be no divorce, Covenant Marriage allows for divorce.

Ending a marriage is still possible, though no-fault divorce is eliminated, and grounds for divorce are limited. They include physical or sexual abuse (of either a spouse or child), infidelity, a felony conviction or abandonment.

Note, that sexual abuse is an acceptable reason for divorce, and yet rape is not an acceptable reason for abortion (according to some such as Governor Jindal of Louisiana). where conservatives draw the lines varies even where the Bibler does not. Why must the Bible be followed literally at times and at others it can be modified?

Don’t use the government to advance social change!

When legislation is advanced that gives GLBT people more rights, it is attacked as an attempt to force social change upon people- or blamed on activist judges. Covenant Marriage was developed by a professor at a law school and a congress person. The purpose? To advance a social agenda.

…an attempt to strengthen the family and protect children.

Critics called it a potentially dangerous injection of religious belief into a civil commitment…

The sky will fall!

Conservatives have a very hard time predicting the results. They are sure that if same-sex couples can marry, that all hell will break loose. They were also sure that Covenant Marriage would take off big time, and it has totally not happened. It hasn’t done what it set out to do, and has not been embraced by the american people, even in some of the most religious states.

Then-Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Baker, predicted, “I think in about a year a majority of couples will make it [covenancy] part of their marriage plans.” Today, nearly 12 years later, the total has edged closer to 2 percent. Nor has covenant marriage reduced general divorce rates. In 1997, when covenant marriage became law, 13,836 divorces were granted in Louisiana. In 2003 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), the divorce total was 15,230.

Gays want special rights!

“Louisiana has elected to confer special benefits on covenant marriages, such as a 10 percent cut in auto insurance rates,” wrote Pat Buchanan…

So it is OK to provide special benefits to some but not others. How hyocritical is that?

Being gay is a choice!

If gays can marry, then there will be no limits, anything goes!

According to our opponents, being gay is a choice and therefor, we do not deserve to be a protected class. But the truth is, choice makes a difference. Straight couples who chose Covenant Marriage, had a lower divorce rate. These are couples who actively chose to define their relationship as special and more than just being together.

Though covenant marriage has had little effect on divorce as a whole, those who opt for it do have lower divorce rates.

But so many of the gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage are already in a committed relationship. They are chosing to define their relationship as more than just being together.

For gay and lesbians don’t mean it! They are only doing it for the show!

…then-Gov. Mike Huckabee ­— who, though he was an ordained Baptist minister, did not “upgrade” his own marriage at the time. And Bush and his wife Laura chose not to upgrade their own. Later, Huckabee did in a very public way. Columnist Margaret Carlson saw the $65,000 spectacle as a political ploy: “If moral values helped President Bush win the White House, why not Gov. Huckabee?

Don’t force tour ways on the American people!

Though the 2008 Republican Party platform made no mention of covenant marriage, the Texas GOP platform called for it, along with the complete abolishment of no-fault divorce, as well as making it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple ­— this despite the fact that during the 2007 Texas legislative session, a proposed covenant marriage bill failed to clear the state house.

Covenant Marriage is an idea that some want to push on the American people, who have shown that it is not their choice. And even though it has been shown not to create the desired results, andhas not been embraced, even in religious states, conservatives don’t give up.

But Perkins says he has not given up. “When the Jindal administration gets through some of these challenging times,” he says, “I hope they’ll focus on some of these family laws.”

The Independent – I Don’t

GOD.LOVES.GAYS.COM

Came across this link today as gays.com began to follow me on Twitter. I certainly no fan of Westboro Baptist Church, but I’m wondering.. what will this accomplish? Fred Phelps and his loonies are a fringe element- very fringe even for most conservative evangelicals. So we have a very real and very big battle looming those who seek to oppress us with the Bible.  What do we need to accomplish more: this interaction with a fringe cult or real dialogue and discourse addressed towards the majority of Christians?

GOD.LOVES.GAYS.COM.

Why Even Atheists should Care about the Bible

 

What do you believe?
What do you believe?

Even atheists should care about the Bible.  Care about does not mean believe in or support or follow, but to ignore how influential it is in today’s culture is a bit like sticking your head in the sand.

 

Queer Look at the Bible was originally (and will return to be) a podcast I began back in 2006.  For a variety of reasons, I stopped adding episodes, and it has sat, dormant since then.  This isn’t confession, and I have no need to sort out all of the reasons, but one of them, was that by the time I started to produce the podcast, my own personal beliefs had changed dramatically.  Perhaps one of these days, I will write more about my own beliefs, but for this post, suffice to say I think there are three types of people who ought to follow my blog and podcast.

  1. GLBT people who are Christians and for whom the Bible holds meaning.  Maybe those who already feel somewhat liberated from more conservative fundamentalist readings, but also for those who are still stuck hiding within their churches and struggle with their sexuality and their beliefs.
  2. Open-minded Christians and people who are willing to think outside-the-box and consider different perspectives.
  3. Atheists and other non-believers who do care about the world in which we live, and for lack of a better descriptor- our culture. 
So how about that last broad group- atheists and non-believers.  For me, this includes people who don’t necessarily not believe, but aren’t practicing believers; people who aren’t sure they want to believe, but are afraid to admit that they don’t for fear of what might happen; people for whom it isn’t an issue of “believe in” who realize that being a religious person is about action not thought or feeling; as well as those who are sure there is o such thing as God- the true atheist.
No matter where you fall in the spectrum, you have to admit that the Bible affects everyone and everything.  Attitudes based within it affect the laws and government.  Consider the backlash to gay marriage.  The very notion that marriage is fundamentally about one man and one women… Or how prevalent prayer is…  We even have a vice presidential candidate that believes creationism should be taught as science.
No matter if the book or the belief system has personal meaning for it, it shapes much of our world, our government, and the establishments that make up our lives and our culture.  So how do we combat that without taking it (The Bible) away from those who have faith in it?  For they deserve to believe as they wish.  The world really is big enough for everyone’s perspective. The way we maintain a balance and let the believers and the not believers exist in peace is to broaden the discussion.  To be able to answer and counter oppressive viewpoints by offering other ideas.  By bringing light and reason to the mix.
What the Bible has to say- how to understand it, and what it may or may not mean is a topic for everyone if we are going to move our world, our lives and our culture forward instead of backwards into the dark ages.

Why I Use the Lectionary

Gayest Jesus Ever
Gayest Jesus Ever

So, I  want to say something about why I’m using the lectionary.  First of all the lectionary, is a set of prescribed scripture readings that follow a three year calendar, and were intended to be used by all churches.  Theoretically, people who attend a Catholic service, and a Methodist service and an Episcopalian service on any particular Sunday, would all hear a sermon based upon the same scriptures.  Now, in reality, this doesn’t happen exactly- not all preachers/ministers/priests stick to the lectionary, but some do.

 
My reason for using it is three-fold: First of all, because it s easy.  I don’t have to work very hard to decide what I’m going to talk about each week. And by following it, I have scriptural references that align to the general church calendar, and all of the Bible is basically covered over three years.  Secondly, I can potentially be less often criticized for selecting only those scriptures that “fit” my agenda.  Now, in all honesty, I expect I’ll receive this criticism anyway, but it isn’t as applicable as if I hand picked only a few scriptures that easily fit the category of “gay friendly.” And lastly, what appeals to me most, is offering a new and different perspective upon a scripture that many people think they already know.  If at least one person looks at a scripture and realizes that there may be more in it that they had previously considered, then I’ve been successful.  So, it is a good thing, if someone sat in church on Sunday and heard one interpretation of a scripture, and then they listened to my podcast and were prompted to consider something new in the same scripture!  Agree with me or not-but be willing to consider the possibilities.
 
There are many problems with using the lectionary, and most if not all are quite valid.  There may be times where looking at scripture NOT a part of the lectionary would be useful.  So, it isn’t a hard and fast rigid rule.  Just a starting place.  The composition of the lectionary, like the entire Bible itself, was human (male specific) determined .  In that sense the lectionary, is one male-centered editorial decision based upon an deeper male dominated editorial decision.  
 
I don’t mean to suggest (well, I’m open to discuss this…) that the Bible is human authored.  I know for many people of faith it is a critical cornerstone of their faith to believe that the Bible is the literal Word  of God. It may or may not be.  But either way, men, at differing times in history have made choices about which of those words were to be included and which were to be kept out.  Men (human and biologically male) decided which were valid and which were not, even if all were the Word of God in the first place.
 
What are your thoughts on the lectionary?

Queer Look at the Bible

 

gayest jesus ever
gayest jesus ever

A number of years ago, I produced a news magazine program on the local public access cable station called “The Gay Nineties.” Almost every time I was at the station to edit, there would be some bible thumper in the studio, taping their sunday sermon and ranting on about homosexuals and other deviants.  One evening, taking a break from the editing booth, I sat down next to a woman waiting to get into the studio.  We chatted for a few minutes- she telling me about the scripture she was using this week, and didn’t I like the new scarf a friend had blessed her with so that she would look good on camera.  After a short pause, she looked at me and asked what program, I worked on- that I seemed like a nice boy ( I was considerably younger than she) and she hadn’t seen me around before.  I told her the name of my program, and she looked a little surprised, but remained pleasant.  I didn’t hear any ranting about gay people coming from the studio that evening!

 
Too often, the radical religious believe they own the Bible, and equally too often gay and lesbians abdicate participation in the Body of Christ- they hand over this document-the Bible- and allow it to be used as a weapon against them.  But can the Bible be like other hateful word-weapons?  Can some of the power be drained away, and a greater truth be found in a different interpretation of the meaning?