homosexuality

On the Anniversary of Losing My Religion

I was born into a Pentecostal family. My dad was the pastor.

All versions of my story start the same way, with that line.

For decades, I was stepping further and further away from the faith I was taught as a kid. But the emotional core of my faith was still fundamentalist, and I still thought of myself as an Evangelical. And I still believed in fundamentalism (kind of like Daniel Dennett’s “belief in belief”). By the end of 2013, there were two of me living inside my mind. There was the fundamentalist, who believed in some version of Evangelical theology. And then there was the rationalist, who would admit that it’s all just a story, a religious narrative, but—I believed at the time—a useful narrative. I thought of myself as an agnostic Christian, because I didn’t think you could prove whether God existed—all the “evidence” people cite are just stories—but I believed in him anyway, just because.

And at the same time, I didn’t feel I could talk openly about these thoughts. The few times I had cautiously put out feelers in front of religious friends, or even worse, religious leaders, I had been been soundly thrashed with them.  Click to continue »

Redefining Marriage?

My father over at his blog posted a two-part series on gay marriage. It started as an initial post called “Redefining Marriage,” which proved controversial enough among his theological colleagues that he felt a need to post part 2 to clarify.

What follows is in reply to part 1.

Same-sex marriage is now a fact of life with state after state endorsing it as a bonafide marriage contract. This has brought me to reconsider the subject hopefully without prejudice and just a soupçon of bias. I have come to the conclusion in studying the, so-called, relevant scripture that God does not approve. But by the same Biblical message I cannot limit God’s grace in matters of the heart. [emphasis in original]

My take:

The theology of homosexual relationships is more complex than the most outspoken Christian theologians would indicate. We pull out proof-text after proof-text, but without taking into account the cultural context—or even the moral point—the biblical writers were speaking to. Sodom and Gomorrah may have been evil, but in this case the liberals happen to be right: they were violent and did not respect the rights and needs of the foreigner (both of which are important values which show up repeatedly in the Bible); homosexual lust was not the worst of their crimes. In the first century Roman Empire, homosexual conduct largely served as a means for powerful men to play out perverted sexual fantasies at the expense of their subordinate underlings, in a social structure that even modern gay-rights activists would probably agree with Paul (in Romans 1) constituted “indecent acts.”  Click to continue »

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