It’s a Matter of Choice
We often hear of objections to the GLBT community: “It’s a matter of choice – to sin or not to sin.” I believe the resolution of the conflict in the various Christian churches over full inclusion in the life of the church is a matter of choice, not of gender or sexual orientation, but of where we put our faith.
I note in the article concerning Rev. Amy DeLong , http://www.rmnetwork.org/trial-of-rev-amy-delong-approaches/, that it concludes that the trial is “incompatible with scripture . . . [and] with our larger Church Tradition . . .” I do support Rev. DeLong in this matter. But I think it is as mistaken to quote scripture as though it is definitive on loving inclusion of the GLBT community within our own as are the various biblical arguments for judgment and exclusion.
To some degree faith is a gift; but it also involves choice. I am reminded of Hans Kung’s book Does God Exist? He proceeds through the proofs of God and concludes that there is no ironclad proof of God’s existence. He then traces the proofs that there is no God to its ultimate conclusion of nihilism. He likewise concludes that it cannot be proven that there is no God, or that there is no purpose in life. As I interpret my recollection of the book, one is left with a choice: choose God or no God and take the consequences: meaning in life or no meaning.
Eric Fromm, in Psychoanalysis and Religion asserts that a healthy religion is necessary to mental health. Interesting coming from a person popularly categorized as an atheist and a humanist. He defines religion as that which gives us an object of devotion and a sense of orientation. Rev. Bruggeman says that the command not to worship idols also means not to reduce God to our private purposes, as in church fund-raising. Have we idolized God into the form of our image, our prejudices or our purposes? That would certainly be contrary to the Jewish (Christian Old Testament) notion of the nameless God and the living God.
How does this apply to my view of GLBT issues? We must accept that the Bible can be used to support almost any position, no matter how disparate. We find the same of Jewish, Muslim and other sacred scriptures. We like things to be black and white, right or wrong. But, as our world is a mixture, from our individual point of view, of good and bad, so is our scripture. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral recognizes this. In this blog, I have attempted to set out the various biblical arguments used by some Christians to judge GLBT issues (sometimes politely distinguished as “discernment”) and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, I set out a homosexual’s biblical argument justifying his sexual orientation.
I suggest here and in the blog that we will not find clear, consistent answers in the Bible on the issues of gender, sexuality or sexual orientation. We are in the same position Hans Kung found himself on the issue of whether God exists: we must make a choice, and that choice will have practical effects: ranging from “life has meaning” to “it has no meaning;” or from, “I am the center and condition of all existence” to “life is bigger than I am;” or “I am the author of my fate” to “life is something that happens to me.” My father, Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler, once put it to me this way, “People think Christianity is all about dying and going to heaven. I say, ‘No. It is about living a life of eternal significance.’”
For my part I choose for my object of devotion and sense of orientation Matthew’s quotes of Jesus: “Inasmuch as you did or didn’t do it unto others, you did or didn’t do it unto me;” “By their fruits you will know them.” To paraphrase a great figure in another day and situation, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Life involves choice. It just does. Make your choice and see what kind of fruit it bears. Does it bear hatred and exclusion or love, respect and inclusion?
In this blog, I note the biblical contradictions and I suggest that if you can find an honest way to both judge and to love unconditionally, to both judge the act and love the “sinner,” and if it bears good fruit, do it. As for me, I must make a choice between the two. I can’t hold onto judgment of another’s gender or sexual orientation, whether by choice or circumstance, and still love the person. I choose to love unconditionally and share in the rich give-and-take of community.