Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Light Presbyterians & Evangelicals; ugly words & beautiful words

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me they will also persecute you; if they kept my word they will keep yours also. (John 15:18-20)

More Light Presbyterians are advertising a film about the oppressiveness of Evangelicals:

Let Your Light Shine" will probe the intersecting circles of evangelical Christianity, the gay civil rights movement and activism by queer alumni from Billy Graham's alma mater, Wheaton College! This kaleidoscopic lens will shine a light on the deeply historical and discriminatory roots of evangelical Christianity, and the growing visibility of queer liberation which challenges Bible-based homophobia. The testimonies of LGBTQ survivors from Christian colleges and religious upbringings reveal both the damaging impact of evangelicalism and a spirited resistance to continued religious oppression... (At the More Light Presbyterians site-taken from “Let Your Light Shine,” a film project)

MLP perhaps see the above words as a matter of justice as undoubtedly the Let Your Light Shine film project does, but on closer examination I believe there is more that could and should be said.

First I believe most Evangelicals in the mainline Churches have understood that this time was coming. When the LGBT community felt victorious in the mainline denominations they would push on toward the Evangelical community. And because most in the Evangelical communities comprise a larger group committed to Scripture, the battle, and it is a battle, will be longer and darker. In this context it is easier for progressives to call the ‘other’ names.

But what is the real truth behind the words, “Bible-based homophobia,” and “discriminatory roots of evangelical Christianity?” The problem is the living Word of God and the written word of God. The LGBT community is rejecting both and because they are rejecting both they are rejecting those who belong to Christ. This should not surprise the followers of Jesus; he promised it would be so. But he also promised that he would send the Holy Spirit both as one who convicts and as one who comforts.

Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit, said:

And he [the Holy Spirit] when he comes will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness because I go to the Father and you no longer see me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:8-11)

This is the message the Holy Spirit gives to the Church to give to the world. It has been given in the word of God written. And both that word and the Holy Spirit convict as the word is read, spoken, preached and proclaimed. Jesus Christ is the righteousness the world needs. The righteousness that Jesus bought on the cross is the solution to humanity’s sinfulness. But then there is judgment.

Because the ruler of the world, Satan, has been judged at the cross there is hope in Christ. His victory is our victory. In our union with him we escape the judgment because we bear his righteousness. The Holy Spirit convicts that we might dwell in Christ and not in alignment with the dark powers of sin. And this reminds me of a beautiful part of a C.S. Lewis story, The Great Divorce. It is where the shadows of hell meet the reality of heaven. One shadow is a young man with a red “lizard on his shoulder.

Lewis in his typical way uses the lizard as a metaphor or symbol for a lust that is controlling the shadow. A bright angel asks to kill the lizard and after a great deal of debate the shadowy young man cries for help. “Damn and blast you! Go on, can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, ‘God help me. God help me.’” In the end the shadow becomes a magnificent man who rides away on a brilliant horse-the new creation created from a dead evil lizard. And the person in the story explaining the meaning says:

“What is a lizard compared with a stallion? Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.”
There is a glory that awaits the repentant sinner. While the LGBT community is busy throwing names about, the King of kings is waiting to change sinners into magnificent creatures, humans covered with the righteousness of Christ. The community of Christ must wait also in prayer with faith forgiving the slander and hate. Jesus is Lord.

7 comments:

Dave Moody said...

Amen.

Pastor Dennis said...

We evangelicals oppressors are in an odd position. We are particullary sinful because we say that all are sinners and therefore need to be loved and forgiven and, because we are particullary sinful, we need to be hated and destroyed.

Jeff Ogden said...

Viola,

I find it helpful to remember that the homosexual community is not fighting against us. They are fighting the Holy Spirit. They know deep inside that they are opposing God with their lifestyle and are trying to silence their guilt by trying to silence us. Even if every bible-believing evangelical disappeared tomorrow, they would still lose the fight because they are fighting against God himself.

Viola Larson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viola Larson said...

Thanks Jeff that is important to remember. And it is also important to remember that our battle is not against flesh or blood either but against the power of darkness.

Anonymous said...

By their fruits you shall know them. Matthew 7:12-20 states the "Golden Rule" and speaks of the narrow and difficult road to God's kingdom, but it also speaks of knowing a tree by the fruit it bears.

So what do you do then with a relationship that is full of love, joy, peace, forebearance, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? A relationship where you are loved unconditionally, but where you are inspired to live more fully into who you are. A relationship that is not dominated by fear and shame, but by love and grace.

I am part of the LGBT community. I serve as staff in a Presbyterian Church. I don't think my relationship with God has ever been more tangible than it is now. I am a child of God, made in the image of God. The Living Word spoke words of love and made the outcasts whole again. I feel whole for the first time in my life. Yes there are the 7 traditional passages used against the LGBT community, but there are so many more that focus on love. Homosexuality is no where in the 10 Commandments nor did Jesus ever speak to it.

The church has been wrong before on issues of slavery and on women being ordained. I know I will probably get blasted for this post, but after reading it, I was moved to write a response. I mean no disrespect to anyone here or to God. I am a follower of the way. I pray often the prayer of Mark 9:24, "I believe! Help me now my unbelief."

Karen

Viola Larson said...

Hi Karen,
Thanks for responding. Are you talking about the love of Jesus or the love of another human? Jesus loves you in all of those ways but he will not leave you where you are. He keeps working on all of us, changing those places where we live in disobedience, allowing us to grow into the person he intended us to be.

Being made whole means being healed in those places where we are broken and we are all broken in some way, that is why Jesus died on the cross, why he was raised to life. There are really more than the seven traditional passages. Those are the negative passages-thou shall not- but there are positive ones about marriage between a man and a woman. Look at Matthew 19: 3-6. That is Jesus speaking about marriage. Notice he goes all the way back to the beginning-God made them man and woman. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.

Also Paul when speaking of the church uses the picture of a man and wife to show the image of Christ and his church.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or winkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:25-27)”

The same is true of our Book of Confessions there are many positive words about marriage between a man and a woman.

Remember it was only the Southern church that was wrong on slavery not the Northern church. And there were enough scriptures that could have prevented the South from making such a grave mistake. For instance at one point Paul writes, “Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able to also to become free, rather do that.” (1 Cor 7:21)

And it was certainly God who freed the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. And Jesus who frees us from sin.

As for women, there are seeming contradictions in the Scripture that can be reconciled. But there are no Scripture texts that say that same gender sex is okay. That doesn’t mean that God hates you God loved you and sent Jesus to die for your sin and mine also.