Posted by: minnow | June 9, 2014

He Even Ate with the Pharisees

GRRRrrr!!!…This post from Michael Brown makes my blood boil!  In it Brown characterized the two sides of the same sex marriage debate as those who put God first and those who put themselves first.  He defines those who put God first as those who agree with him on the issue of same sex marriage (which is that God would not approve), and those who put themselves first as those who do not agree with him (or in other words believe God would approve of same sex marriage).  His book title, Can you be Gay and  Christian?, might indicate a question but given the point of view he has expressed elsewhere I feel safe making the assumption he answers the title question with a resounding NO without honestly looking at both possibilities.

If you want a more balanced approach INSTEAD OF READING ANYTHING FROM MICHAEL BROWN read Matthew Vine’s book God and the Gay Christian and if you don’t trust my recommendation start by reading this article from Formerly Fundie blogger Benjamin Corey.  I only wish I could be as eloquent and irenic as Corey.  Actually, most of me wants to embrace the anti fellowship splitting-over-secondary-theological-differences-stance like The Third Way. It “sounds” ugly in my head to say unity isn’t the most important issue with regard to various controversies.  In fact, part of what irritated me about Brown’s article was his invitation to split the Church over the idea of Gay Christians.  Still, I simply cannot believe in the God I see portrayed by people like Brown in articles like the one I linked.  Thinking I love and worship and represent the same God he does is almost unfathomable to me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not questioning Brown’s faith confession.  God and God alone knows the sincerity of our hearts.  Nor am I saying I am without error in how I reflect my Creator.  The amount of screaming and yelling I do at people even when it’s only in my head or the privacy of my own car is proof positive I have character work to do.  In fact, that very self assessment is what keeps me showing up to the reconciliation table even though I left the building a few years ago. I long to find a fellowship that chooses to focus on relationship, inclusion, and praxis  over theology.  If I could I would go to the fellowship pastor-ed by Danny Cortez in La Miranda CA. Unlike with what I’ve read from Brown, this sermon from Cortez makes me think I would find a safe place to worship in New Heart Community Church even if I don’t line up with every theological point of view.

The problem with Brown’s assertions that, “there is no ambiguity in what the Bible says about homosexual practice” and that, “there is not a single verse supporting the position while, in reality, the testimony of the entire Bible is against it.” is not only his use of hyperbole but the fact that by merely disagreeing with him his point falls to the ground.  In other words, my legitimate questions about what the Bible says proves some ambiguity exists.  We do not have a “clear word from God” regarding same-sex monogamous relationships because the Bible NEVER talks about them.  Further more, painting God-ordained marriage from the beginning of time as between one man and one woman ignores a couple thousand years of Old testament practice.  Indeed what do we do with people like David who was a man after God’s own heart and yet had multiple wives?  From my point of view, if anyone is reinterpreting scripture to fit a preconceived idea it is Brown.

So my question becomes–how do I BOTH stand my ground on what I believe to be the side of love AND make room in the body for a voice like Brown?  I don’t have a problem loving my gay son but how do I love Brown?  In her posts, ‘Third Way’ applies to Rules, Not People and The Third Way: the Only Authentic Response, Susan Cottrell lays out the difference she sees between focusing on the letter of the law and the spirit of the law by suggesting if the way we understand the law gets in the way of loving people or worse stands in between a person and God then we need to set aside our understandings.  We need to put our understanding in the category of “let God decide”.  In other words, if I am going to actually stand my ground on what I believe to be the side of love I must include Brown.  I can assert my point of view with passionate conviction but at the end of the day I (we) must invite the Browns of the world to the supper table.  We cannot follow Jesus half way.  If we pick either/or ultimatums–either agree or you’re not welcome–we pick religion–even if we’re trying to apply the either/or to the either/or pickers. Frankly, that’s what the Bible means when it indicates that His ways are not our ways.  We want rules.  We want formulas.  We want easy to follow directions.  God, however, wants relationship.  After all, He ate with ALL the sinners, including the Pharisees.


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