Yesterday on Facebook I posted a link to an interview with Jen Hatmaker, a woman I love and respect, who has been a praying, giving friend to me for many years now.
She said lots of very powerful, insightful things in the interview, but what the Christian world has homed in on is this:
When asked if she supports gay marriage: “From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends.”
Would she attend a gay wedding? “I would attend that wedding with gladness, and I would drink champagne. I want the very best for my gay friends. I want love and happiness and faithfulness and commitment and community. Yes. That’s an easy answer.”
And the big one. Do you think an LGBT relationship can be holy? “I do.”
Here’s the part people are skipping over/ignoring. “And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.”
Christians, let’s just be honest with ourselves. WE ARE NOT REALLY INTO DOING HARD WORK.
I’m getting lots of Facebook comments and private messages from people who want me to “clearly state” my opinion on homosexuality and gay marriage like Jen did.
They want something cut-and-dried, black-and-white, because anything less is a scary “slippery slope” that could take us all right to hell.
Some people like statements like “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
And I think those words are great big fat cop-out. I think those words are lazy. I think a person who says those words doesn’t want to 1.) think or 2.) DO anything HARD.
As Jen said, this whole conversation, this whole issue, is nuanced, it is tender, it is too much for one interview, and it involves a commitment to a lot of hard, messy work. And none of us want to do that kind of work.
People are telling me, “The Bible says practicing homosexuality is a sin. PERIOD.”
And I am sooooooo tired of people using that line with an ALL-CAPS PERIOD at the end but ONLY FOR ISSUES LIKE HOMOSEXUALITY.
The Bible says a LOT LOT LOT LOT of things PERIOD, but guess what we’ve done? We’ve conveniently removed the periods, inserted commas and a “but” and said things like, “that was then, this is now.”
AT OUR OWN PERSONAL CONVENIENCE.
I’ve used so so so many of these examples before, and if I wasn’t typing furiously so I could take a shower and go celebrate Gabe’s 5-year anniversary of being alive after a heart attack, I would find those posts and link to them.
Off the top of my head (and this is all New Testament stuff, not Leviticus):
The Bible says “Slaves, obey your masters.” Yet, we freed our African-American slaves awhile back, and some of us are working to free other slaves around the world.
The Bible says, “long hair on a man is a disgrace and short hair on a woman is a disgrace.” Um, how many godly people are disobeying that one? As the President of my very-conservative alma mater once said (and I paraphrase), “Women should have long hair, guys shouldn’t, unless it’s Duck Dynasty long, then that’s cool.”
The Bible says, “Women shouldn’t speak in church. It’s shameful.”
(More on that one in a minute.)
So, this morning, I came across 1 Corinthians 14 and got stuck there for a bit.
(I know you’re really busy, but you should read it.)
Paul is speaking to the church in Corinth about two things that were very common in the church–and two things he wholeheartedly approved of–speaking/praying in tongues and prophesying.
(In easy-to-get terms, “tongues” is when you start speaking/praying in a language that no one understands. “Prophesying” is praying for someone, believing that God gave you a specific word of insight for them and their situation.)
Raise your hand if you go to a church where these two things are regularly a part of the Sunday morning service.
This is me sitting at the dining room table raising my hand.
Now. If you didn’t raise your hand, and you call yourself a “cessationist” (you believe that the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophesying began and ended with Jesus’ 12 Apostles), why is that? Where is your biblical basis for your belief that these things no longer exist?
How, when there are thousands of churches around the globe where people are speaking in tongues and prophesying, can you say these gifts are done, obsolete, no longer exist, have served their time and purpose?
Paul says very clearly that we should desire the spiritual gifts. How can we justify ignoring him? (I know how. We can say it no longer applies.)
But when someone says that maybe the verses about homosexuality no longer apply, all heck breaks loose.
Now, maybe you belong to a church that ignores verses 1-33 of the chapter but you pick your Bible back up for verses 34-35.
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Women are not allowed to speak in church. If they’ve got a question, they need to wait until they get home and they can ask their husbands. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (Never mind that Paul said seven chapters earlier that it’s actually better, simpler for people to stay unmarried. SORRY, UNMARRIED WOMEN. YOU CAN NEVER SPEAK OR ASK QUESTIONS EVER.)
I haven’t studied the Greek, but so far we know that it’s shameful for men to have long hair (how long, I wonder?), it’s shameful for women to have short hair, it’s shameful for women to talk in church.
When Paul talks about homosexuality in Romans, he uses words like “dishonorable” and committing “shameless acts.”
I could go on FOREVER (and ever) picking apart the Bible and figuring out who obeys what and ignores what and what still applies and what doesn’t and which denomination gets it all right and which ones are just heathens in Christian clothing and on and on and on and on.
Here’s the thing, friends. 3 things actually.
1.) We all pick and choose what “TRUTH” we’re going to believe in the Bible. We really truly do.
2.) We all IGNORE lots and lots and lots of things Jesus tells us to do. (I don’t know about you, but I haven’t given away all my possessions or visited any prisoners lately.)
3.) God is BIG ENOUGH to handle our doubts, our questions, our searching.
Okay, 4 things.
4.) We need to do the HARD WORK of really truly examining the cultural context of the Bible AND the REALLY HARD WORK of figuring out how to LOVE people instead of condemning them.
5.) LOVE is enough to keep all of us busy. Based on what I’ve read in the Bible, it’s the most important thing and it’s what’s going to matter at the end when we want God to let us into heaven.
I’ll save the other 49,000 words for another day.