Sunday, July 18, 2010

Theology, one word at a time

We are often asked to describe something - our life, our ambitions, ourselves - in a limited number of words. Sometimes one, sometimes two, maybe three. Ernest Hemingway is famous for his six-word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never used," and the idea has inspired many similar efforts across literature and the internet. This interest in distilling something - ourselves, a story - into its smallest possible form is strong and widespread, because it requires every word to count - discarding only the most essential of essentials, to arrive at the purest essence of its subject. Pondering this, I thought it would be interesting to write my theology in one word, then two, then three, and so on, as a unique (and hopefully helpful) way of expressing the most important aspects of my faith, and going outward from there. Each summary must stand on its own, without its surroundings, and be true to my beliefs. The first word is easy, since I've titled my creed of sorts a "Theology of Love." So I'll start there. This, I hope, will be a work in progress, hopefully improving (and not just growing) as I go. Getting too long may start getting unweildly and not as useful, but thus far, figuring out what one word needs to be added is hard. We'll see.
  1. Love.
  2. Love everyone.
  3. God is love.
  4. Love God, all humanity.
  5. Love your neighbor above yourself.
  6. Always share God's love. By example.
  7. Love everyone perfectly. Any failure is sin.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church (and me)

This is cross-posted from my Tumblr, because it ended up being substantial enough to justify its own blog post.

I believe that there simply isn't definitive enough Biblical mandate against committed homosexual relationships to justify anything less than embracing our homosexual brothers and sisters as God created them, and loving them for who they are, and that there certainly isn't enough to justify excluding or condemning them.  I don't see sexuality as any different at the core than the issues of female clergy, abolition of slavery, or interracial marriage.  There is at least some scripture - applicable today or not - that can be interpreted as contradicting all of the above.  But there's a consensus on the last two, and generally at least extradenominational tolerance of the first, that just doesn't exist for sexuality yet.

The few scriptures on the issue are at best not definitive, and as I read them either ambiguous or not applicable. Taken against the central mandate of love, considering the integral part of a person that sexuality is and the witness of my gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances, Christian and non-Christian, I can't in good conscience condemn them for being born gay.  I am, in fact, convicted to love and embrace them and their sexuality.  Such action is doubly needed precisely because of the fear, condemnation, anger, and doublespeak directed at them by much of the church.  As a result of this, gay and lesbian Christians are too often alienated and distant from the church, Christianity, and Christ, for reasons that I believe are invalid.

In light of the Presbyterian general assembly voting earlier today to allow non-celibate gay clergy, I was asked on Facebook why I was in favor of the vote.  That's what I came up with, plus a little expansion.

It's certainly not the entirety of my views, and doesn't have the specifics.  My final essay for one of my classes, while somewhat dry, has more of them.  But it's a good summary and gist, which I think is helpful.

In regards to the assembly, they later voted to not discuss or vote on any changes to the definition of marriage, which was another of the proposals, and the gay clergy has to be approved by the churches (which a similar proposal failed at two years ago), but it's a step forward.  Objections or reconsiderations of the non-discussion vote are still theoretically possible, but there aren't any indicators of if that will happen.