Several people sent me inbox messages chiding me about my postings on Facebook regarding same-sex marriage and “gay special interests” questions. The gist of what they said: “you’re not interested in a debate, you’re just advancing an ungodly gay agenda.”
Hmmmmm… where to start?
First: How right you are that I am not interested in a debate. While I posted the words of learned biblical scholars (Renita Weems comes to mind), I don’t feel like trotting out the bible badminton where we just volley scriptures back and forth between one another. I find it particularly offensive for youngsters to quote scriptures at me like I (Hebrew bible scholar with a cognate degree in NT) have never read them. Really? Your mind is set. Frankly, so is mine. I didn’t just arrive here 53 years later. So, no. I’m not interested in a debate. I would be interested in a conversation, but I’m not even sure that’s productive. You think being gay is like having to lose weight (all you need is a good diet and will power). I think it’s like being 4’10 (I can’t get taller no matter how hard I try) [nod to OT scholar Julia M. O’Brien for this example].
Second: yes, I am pushing the “special interest” agenda of my LGBTQ friends, family, Christian members. You insist on calling it “special interest” as if civil rights for people are not of special interest ( and as if “Civil Rights” = Black American Rights and no other rights). I’ll join you in calling them “special interests.” I am especially interested in us doing civically right by a minority portion of our population. Our constitution presumably is designed to protect the rights of people the majority would deny. And the question about same-sex marriage is a civil question, even if it is a religious one for some people as well.
Screaming that there is a conspiracy to take down “traditional marriage” is so unconvincing to me. If you want “traditional marriage” to be protected, protect yours and keep the vows you made to your friends when you stood with them at their wedding and said you would uphold them and support them in their vows. It’s not my fault that you can’t see the same “scriptural” argumentation (not even argument, just the way the bible is used) that was used by white slavers against freedom for slaves, by men against rights for women, by white people against marriage between people from different ethnic/racial backgrounds, for example, is the same argumentation you have employed. I heard a black pastor say, “I would vote with the klan if it means putting down this ‘gay agenda.'” I thought, “Well you just did.”
Third: we will just disagree about whether my stance is ungodly. That’s all. I find it interesting that we can disagree on the nature of salvation, on baptism, on what happens at the Table, and you’ll still believe I’m Christian, invite me to preach, etc. Salvation, Baptism, Communion–we can disagree. But not about this question…. Pause. Consider.
It is not that I believe thinking religious people cannot disagree. We do it all the time. It’s called the marketplace of ideas. And, presumably, up here on “Mars Hill,” the ideas with the most theological, ethical, political capital will win the day. I “evolved” to my position. I really did. (Bishop Yvette Flunder is right. People get here through relationships with others, not through debating). And, I think I’m on the right side of this “special interest” in every way, and on the right side of history. And while it may not seem like it to you, I do respect your right to disagree with me. The difference between us is I won’t relegate YOU to hell, to heresy, to… whatever. I will reiterate my own strongly-held conviction: If I am wrong, I will gladly go to hell loving God and loving people.