Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Resigned to Respond: More SOGI Stuff

Recently I made the paper. I was described as promoting a “fringe” version of Christianity that consisted mainly of “Jesus sugar” rather than a substantive, scriptural faith. The saccharine idea that had elicited the description was, apparently, that Christian people have differing opinions about issues of human sexuality.

I was named personally by a man I have never met, and only communicated with via email. I’ve written about that interaction here, in a previous post(A quick follow-up to that post: there was a response to my email to let me know that the language of the communications would not be changing because, in the author’s words, “I do not regard varied and diverse responses as valuable, because God does care [sic] about every ones [sic] perspective of the truth.  His view is the only one that matters.” He was very respectful, and asked that I align myself with God’s view, which also happens to be his.)

In short, a man who does not know me at all chose to call me by name to a reporter from our local paper, presumably understanding that said reporter would subsequently print my name in the article. In fact, he was probably counting on it.

I have gone through a range of emotional responses since then. I’ve felt angry, offended, amused, flattered, and finally … resigned. I am resigned to respond.

My brother in Christ believes that the Bible is “crystal clear and God is not confused on the issue.” For clarity’s sake, let’s recall that “the issue” is if people should be denied employment and housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. And further, I never claimed that God was confused. So there’s that.

I looked for Bible passages that addressed housing and employment for gay and transgender people. I did not find any. Now of course, there may be some in there. But if so, I didn’t see them.

So, it follows that without clear scriptural guidance on the questions, what’s left is interpretation, right? So Christians take ideas from scripture and apply them to current questions. Each person can choose which parts to apply, as well.

Some will choose the “anti-gay” verses. Some will choose the justice, unity, and love verses. I have chosen the latter, because these ideas are quite clearly predominant themes throughout all of scripture. And as John Wesley said, “…the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly.”

I am applying the numerous, plain spoken scriptures that speak of God’s justice, that affirm all are one in Christ Jesus, and that love is unconditional and unearned, to the questions at hand. (Remember, the questions at hand are about employment and housing for people who happen to be gay or transgendered.)

And applying those scriptural principles to the decision, I have decided to vote no on “Question One” here in Springfield this April 7. I do not want the anti-discrimination language repealed, so I will be voting no.

And I have come to this decision because, "fringe" or not, I am a Christian. Quite frankly, my personal religious beliefs should provide motivation for only one person – me. Honestly, I can make a case for voting no on Question One based on business, civic, and constitutional foundations, as well. But I am a follower of Jesus, and I do all I can to pattern every part of my identity after him.

At the same time, I do not begrudge my brother in Christ his views on the matter. I just disagree with him.

I want the city of Springfield, Missouri to have language in our city ordinances that forbids employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, just like it does based on “race, creed, sex, handicap, age, national origin, or ancestry.”

I want that to be so for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I am a Christian. And so, that’s why I’ll be voting “NO” on Question 1 on April 7. I hope this clears things up!


Karen Cameron said...

I am truly blessed that you are my pastor and Jesus is my Savior!

Garra Crews said...

It shocks me that in this day and time, especially considering all we have experienced in our past-from Martin Luther to Jesus (who spent a lot of his time with those who might be discriminated against today) that humans could think it was ok to discriminate against ANYONE. Not one of us is perfect! If we open the door to discrimination as an acceptable form of behavior, anyone and anything could be next under the microscope. And so Pastor, I also choose LOVE...not only as my interpretation but my way of life, for I feel that is the image of God that he desired for us to follow. Will God someday ask us if we loved others as He asked? Yes. If we treated even the least of these as we would treat Him? Most definitely. If we made sure that people were shown inequality and hate because they weren't following His rules? If so, we may need to add a lot more people to the list...

Sharon said...
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Sharon said...

Thank you for being on the fringe. As I recall many thought the same of Jesus. Keep speaking Love. It is the language of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the first time you've been called out for teaching the gospel of love, not hate. If that's what he means by sugar Jesus, then a spoonful of sugar is just what the doctor ordered. Anyone who reads the Bible and thinks that Jesus's gospel is anything other than love, is willfully misinterpreting it for their own purposes. There were no caveats to "Love thy Neighbor." Keep speaking of God's love and consider it providence that your message just reached a broader audience.

God bless you always.

Anonymous said...

Emil anonymously said: Don't want to derail the thread but I find it shockingly unprofessional that the reporter did not contact you before submitting the story and that the editors of the paper did not insist on giving you a chance to respond.