Christianity-o-meter

Can I be Christian and disagree with the Bible? Can I believe in God when the only link to his almighty plan and wisdom is a text I no longer have faith in?

I started disagreeing with the Bible pretty early on. When I first heard the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his own son I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9. The automatic leap was to wonder if God would test my parents faith with this demand and if I or my sibling might be on the receiving end of it. My dad is a preacher, so I felt my concern was valid. My parents assured me this was pretty unlikely, but I still thought it was a pretty awful thing to put- not only an innocent child- but Abraham through. 

As I got older I had to suspend disbelief pretty frequently with bible stories like Jonah and Noah and I think it was Elijah who got pulled up to heaven in a chariot. But I still felt that there was something under these “stories” that could be gleaned and learned from. I began to look at some parts of the Bible as I looked at other literature. It was a teacher about human nature, the nature of God, and faith, and how to live and be faithful despite hardships and challenges. It became more nebulous and interpretable this way, less of a historical document and more of a work literature to learn from.

However there are some things that I just flat out don’t agree with. It isn’t a question of historical accuracy, it is just saying, “No. I don’t agree.” One of the biggest is sin and homosexuality in the BIble. Basically, the Bible and I fell out over this and we have never been able to reconcile. 

It comes down to a dissolution of trust and the use of logic. I have interpreted and interpreted, and justified, and attempted to put the Bible in a culturally and historically relevant framework so much that I have constructed my own logical test for things! One question- does this “sin” hurt other people? Murder? Yes. Adultery? Yes. Theft? Yes. Jealousy? Sometimes… that one is more internal. Saying the word God? … no. not really. Being gay? Nope. Definitely not.

So. I disagree with the Bible. Regularly. Vehemently. How much of the structure of the Christian faith can wilt or be reasoned away before I am left with nothing? Luckily there is tons of structure to sift through :).

LGBTQ and the Pope and me

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Who has heard this before, “But, I have lots of gay friends!” Yeah, me too, and that is not an excuse for your opinion, nor does it make you an expert in anything. I have lifelong, close friends who identify with different sexualities and gender-definitions. But this does not make me special, it does not justify my opinions, it just makes me care more. It makes me deeply committed and intent on loving my friends and helping to create a world where they are safe and treated equally.

So what does this have to do with my “quest?” (I love quotes today!) (And parenthesis!) Well, the issue of equality for people who identify with different sexualities or genders is HUUUUUUUGE right now (hello Russia and the Olympics). With more and more states granting marriage rights to gay couples, with DOMA being struck down (yay!) there are segments of the Christian church that are going crazy trying to be “relevant” and yet maintain the ideological view that they hold to be “right.”

There are other churches (even in mainstream denominations), like one that I used to attend in Florida, that are fantastically progressive, overwhelmingly open, and constantly working toward equality and openness. I used to be employed at this church, and they also employed openly gay people in leadership roles (both paid staff and volunteer). The pastors repeatedly over the years have said (in somewhat blunted, but still definitive language) that they do not believe homosexuality is a sin. Recently, they started study groups specifically for the members of the church who are in the LGBTQ community, providing a place to invite friends, get comfortable, and study together. Yay! This church still holds my respect for it’s honesty, loving-ness, and work for social justice. But let’s be honest, it’s just not the norm.

Now the new pope has something to say about it. But frankly, it wasn’t much. I don’t expect him to come out of the Vatican, swinging a rainbow flag over his head, while Ru Paul preforms behind him, and proclaim that the Catholic church no longer sees homosexuality as a sin. But what did he say that got the world’s attention? Boil it down. He said, “shrug.” And while I am glad that he does not see himself as an arbiter or judge over mankind, that statement is not anything more than what the church SHOULD HAVE been saying for the past 2000 years. Color me unimpressed.

I am so done with half-assed statements of “support” to the LGBTQ community. Saying that you don’t judge people is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Because what you are really saying is, “I will not tell you to your face that I think you are going to hell, but you should pursue a relationship with Christ, cause if you don’t you will go to hell, and if you don’t stop being gay, you will go to hell.” or the classic “I don’t hate the person, I hate the sin.” BULLSHIT. If you call something a “sin” you are saying that people will go to hell for doing that thing. Don’t pretend that by watching GLEE or Ellen you are somehow safe from the logic of your theology. If you think something is a sin, then you think people will go to hell for it. There is no way to believe that, and not be judging them. So stop lying to yourself. It’s fucking irritating.