This month I write with a sad and heavy heart. Five young men have died due to suicide. The common thread between them is that they were young, Gay and experiencing harsh harassment and devastating discrimination from their peers. Current statistics inform us that 9 out of 10 Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Young People experience such dehumanizing and demoralizing treatment every day. We are informed, also, that they are 30% more likely to commit suicide than their peers.
Main-Line and Progressive Churches and Clergy have, for far too long, endeavored to be conciliatory and civil in reaching out to educate and inform those who perpetuate and promote this hostile environment. They do so with rejecting the known and available Biblical Scholarship and Clinical Evidence relating to the issue of this area of human sexuality. The limited texts (only 7 of them) are taken out of their cultural and creedal context and mistranslated and misapplied. All Biblical and Clinical Scholarship is rejected in favor of this Literal Interpretative Viewpoint. It is sad that this scholarship has fallen on deaf ears and dead hearts. Tragic that it results in the marring, maiming, and murdering of human beings. “Ignorance”, as the poet has proclaimed, “isn’t bliss” it is criminal when “it is folly to be wise.”
Biblical Literalism gave us 200 years of slavery, laws prohibiting marriage between the races, and other such discriminatory and destructive societal behavior. Even as I write, these same Literalists, deny women equality under the rubric of “That is what the scriptures say and teach.” Common sense and decency dictate that we view scripture in the redeeming light of revealed knowledge and rational understandings. “God isn’t finished speaking to us” yet.
An example of this Literal Miopic Interpretation and rejection of rational understandings can be seen in the statement of the President of one of the largest Protestant Denominations (63 million members). He stated: “It is becoming clear that modern clinical understandings of human sexuality indicate that Sexual Orientation (both Heterosexual and Homosexual) is not chosen.” Then added: “But we will consider being Homosexual a sin anyway.” Now the recent Barna Study (A Conservative/Evangelical Group) indicates that young people between the ages of 16 and 25 are leaving the church in large numbers. One of the major reasons given, is the discrimination of the church against Homosexual People. (read the study yourself. It is titled: “UnChristian.”). A real eye-opener and this isn’t the only reason they are leaving.
The above statement would be ludicrous, and rejected by rational thinking people, if it did not result in discrimination and dogmatic ignorance leading to the death of so many Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Children of God. It is past the time for such people, who preach and practice a miopic and archaic Biblical World View, to begin the study of those Biblical Texts and Clinical Studies that present a rational and realistic standard of scholarship.
Jesus commanded us to “know the truth as that truth would set us free.” I don’t ask anyone to accept my point of view or my interpretations. I only ask that they investigate and “read the literature” (both Biblical and Clinical) and make an informed decision. Unfortunately, it is easier to label someone as wrong, than to discover the truth for oneself. We continue to perpetrate and perpetuate the myths and destroying lies that hurt and harm people different than ourselves. We manipulate scripture to support our prejudices. We, self-righteously, proclaim that “This is God’s command and we are God’s Agents.” Let us be wise in understanding that “not everyone who proclaims to speak and act under the authority of Scripture or Scripture’s God, are truly “Talking The Walk and Walking the Talk.” Nor must we assume that everything that “marches under The Christian Banner” is necessarily Christian. Our standard should be “What would Jesus have us do?” or “Is this consistent with the love, justice. equality and inclusion preached and practiced by Jesus?” or, better yet, does this fall in line with “The Golden Rule?” These standards are excellent guidelines for discernment and direction.
I would suggest that people read the following book: “What The Bible Really Says About Homosexuality” by Dr. Daniel Helminiak. It deals with the “texts of terror” so often mistranslated and misapplied by those who would utilize such texts against our Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Brothers and Sisters. Places them within their ancient settings and understandings. Deals with clinical evidence in a simple manner. It may not convince everyone, but it is a start for us to engage in an informed and rational dialoque. If it saves one young life from being wasted, then it was time well spent
The Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Sparks
Community Church (UCC)
California City, CA