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From Anonymous:

Dear Liberal Preacher,
 
I am a young college student who is questioning their sexual orientation.  My question is what does the bible say about being gay?  I have always heard it is wrong to be gay and I want to know what you are supposed to do if you can not be straight?
 
Thanks
Anonymous

Dear Anonymous College Student:

I am so glad you are in college.  You will learn that many things you were previously taught are wrong, including that your sexual orientation is a sin.

I am a liberal Christian.  We typically are not certain of much, but I am certain your sexual orientation is not a sin.

I wish I could explain my position in a blog entry but I can’t.  I’m writing a book titled The Sex Education of a Baptist Ministry which explains how I became convinced, with not even an ounce of uncertainty, that one’s sexual orientation and gender identity is not a sin.

Now here’s the bad news.  In my opinion, there are probably two Bible verses which disapprove of same sex.  What they don’t tell you is that many of the verses which are supposedly clear are, in fact, unclear.  Either way, parts of the Bible are simply wrong.  I know that may be shocking news but I want the chance in the book to convince you such is the case.  I also want to convince you that in thinking about God and life and sexual orientation, etc. we (if you are a Christian) need to consider that all sources for our theology are equally valid (experience, reason, church tradition, Bible, science) and are our sources are problematic, including the Bible.

Now I don’t mean to be “smart,” but Dale C. Martin has taught me in Sex and the Single Savior that the Bible does not “say” anything.  Put a Bible in the room and be quiet for two or three hours and listen to if you hear any the Bible say any words (literally, now).  All that is to say that simply referring to the Bible is not enough. The Bible requires interpretation.  Now all interpretations are not possible and not interpretations are equal.  The church throughout its history is forced to use more than the Bible.   Actually, when you consider Christians disagree about what books should be in the Bible, that we have tons of manuscripts and have to pick which ones to use, and when you consider many other factors – well, it’s really just more complicated than many Christians want to be honest about.  Regardless of what I just wrote, for starters I would encourage you to read the Bible and start highlighting all the horrible things in it.  Buy Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer’s book Jesus Against Christianity.   Read the first 100 pages and then check back with me.

Sorry for the delay in responding to your very important question.  I’ve been in intense pain the last five weeks and am recovering from gallbladder surgery.   (Sorry for not having a drawing at the end of the post.  Just not up to it yet.)

You need to recover from the untruths the church has taught you.

Now here’s a prayer for your healing.  Here are the lyrics of Easy To Be Me (Lifehouse).

“Easier To Be”

Lifehouse

Chasing fireflies
Elusive dreams
This pre life crisis
Is killing me
Beautiful tragedy
Who I was wasn’t me
Yeah yeah

Do do do do
You make it easier to be
Easier to be me

It’s hard to believe
You make it easy…

We speak in silence
Words can’t break
It feels like we are
Falling awake
In a place and a time
Of our own
Yeah yeah

Do do do do
You make it easier to be
Easier to be me

Hard to believe

It felt like the world
Fell from my feet
Gave up on myself

You didn’t give up on me
Let myself go
You were still there
Like coming home
Coming up for air
Yeah yeah

 

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From MJ:
 
Dear Liberal Preacher,
 
Can you explain the Holy Trinity? If God and Jesus are the same was Jesus talking to himself from the cross when he said “forgive them father for they know not what they do”?
 
MJ
 
Dear MJ,
 
No, I can’t explain the Trinity.  That graph above helps me about as much as a sore throat helps me.
 
Three in one.  Monotheism but trinity too.  Sounds like talking out of both sides of your mouth.
 
Well, I guess with God you are trying to explain the unexplainable.  We have to make attempts at God-talk, at theology.  My problem is with religious folk who think they’ve given the final answer.  It’s not like we are on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
 
Here’s a question I have.  Let’s suppose all this conservative theology is correct.  Here’s my question:  Why God, why make “it”, why make theology, so complicated?  Life is hard enough without God making theology so darn confusing.  Why not spell it  out.  If you are going to provide us with Scripture, how about some Scripture that is clear?  Blaming theological and biblical confusion on the limited brains and understanding of humans – that little manuever is not going to work.
 
MJ, I don’t know if Jesus on the cross talking to God was Jesus talking to himself or not.  I talk to myself all the time, but then again I’m not God. 
 
Thanks for your question.  I like your questions more than the Christians’ answers.
 

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From Scott:

Dear Liberal Preacher,

Where are all the clergy in the current debates on HEALTH CARE REFORM and the sacramental nature of ALL marriages….gay or straight?  Like where is our backbone!??

Scott

Dear Scott,

Clergy have to make a living.  They have to put food on the table, for themselves and their family if they have a family.  Some Christians say they like for their toes to get stepped on by the preacher during the sermon.  I actually heard a Christian say that today.  It’s not true. 

So preachers like to stick to heaven and hell and psychology sermons.  Typically, the hell remarks aren’t directed to the flock who are “saints.”  Preachers, you might, say preach to the choir.  If sin is preached on it’s the safe sins.

But it’s not just preaching.  Do something Jesus did or said to do and you are out the door.

On the other hand, I know of one preacher at an uppity church who instead of preaching from the pulpit preached in front of the first pew.  This style of preaching didn’t quite fit the socioeconomic image of church members and his marching orders were delivered shortly thereafter.

It doesn’t take much to upset the Christians so preachers tend to lose their backbones.

I don’t say that judgmentally because I’ve got a wife who has a job and I’ve known that if I get kicked out I will be able to eat beans, and I really like beans.

It raises several questions:  Can paid clergy preach prophetic sermons?  Will preachers always be the world’s greatest wasted resource?  Can you be a preacher and not be impotent or gagged?

Another question I have is:  Do we set church up so very little Jesus said to do ever gets done.  We build buildings, which the early church didn’t.  We have to pay for our big buildings.  We need rich people with money to pay for our buildings. Jesus said rich folk have the hardest time understanding and living kingdom of God values.  So……….

Clarence Jordan in his book The Substance of Faith:  Cotton Patch Sermons says, “I preached the word of God in south Georgia, and I didn’t think I would survive the ordeal . . .”

Say a prayer for preachers and churches.

I’m with you, I think health care reform needs to happen and all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, should be treated equally.

May the world and churches be filled with more Christians like you!

Chris

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