1 Two Discussion Strings Concerning the Bible and GLBT Issues

I have ten siblings. Our father is a retired pastor, and our mother saw her calling as a witness in her home.  Both remain active in their Christian witness and unconditional service. We love each other but we have a wide range of views on the Bible, religion and sexuality as they relate to GLBT key issues.   It is always frank and sometimes it gets a little and dicey; but we are still family, we still love each other and we still communicate at least at some level.

I suspect that as to our disagreements, we are not so different from other families and certainly not so different from the various members of other societies, churches, and religions.  But these differences do not tear apart the “ties which bind us.”    As to siblings who joined these discussions, I will assign randomly a name since their identity is not necessary to these purposes.

There were two series of discussions, the first was initiated by my 2009 New Year  greeting, which I will identify as “First Family Discussion”  and the second began with my  post  on one of my sites in 2012, which I will call, “Second Family Discussion.”   I see these discussions as representative of the larger debate on GLBT issues that remains hot in various denominations, religions, and political arenas and generally in society.

The next several posts will share the various contributions to each discussion.

 

2 New Year’s Greeting of 2009https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/309

1 Two Discussion Strings Concerning the Bible and GLBT Issues

Bob and Betty Dorr’s Story

OUR STORY—BETTY AND BOB DORR, First United Methodist Church, Omaha

In the late 1950s, Betty’s brother was seen in a gay bar while serving in the Army.  He received a dishonorable discharge.  That was when we learned he is gay. Betty’s parents, especially her mother, never wavered in their love for their son.  Betty’s brother remained an important part of our family.  In the mid-1960s, Bob’s brother told us he is gay.  It didn’t matter.  He is loved and accepted in our family.

As we raised our family of three sons, we didn’t bring up the subject of homosexuality with friends because we didn’t want to risk jeopardizing her brother’s public school teaching job.  In 1992, our youngest son Michael came out to us at age 27 while in Omaha to attend his best friend’s wedding. He knew we would still love him because his two uncles were loved and accepted within the family.

Why did he wait so long to tell us he was gay?  He said, “Mom and Dad, I know that you love me, but when I walk out the front door who else will?  My church has told me that they feel it is wrong and so does society.”  Michael excelled in academics both in high school and college.  He rose to senior management at the Chicago-based Leo Burnett advertising agency.  However, his personal life took a bad turn.  He struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse. He was diagnosed with bipolar mental illness.  In 2006 he died at age 41 in his Chicago apartment of cardiac arrhythmia, a heartbeat disruption.

After Michael came out to us, we joined the Omaha chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and for about a dozen years one or the other of us led our local chapter. We also became active in efforts to win equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in theUnited Methodist Church.  Betty testified in the defense of Jimmy Creech at his church trial for conducting a Holy Union commitment service for two lesbians at our church, First United Methodist in Omaha.  Creech was acquitted at that trial. Later he conducted a commitment service for two gay men. He was tried again and lost his ministerial credentials.  Betty served on the national board of Reconciling Ministries Network, which is committed to winning equality for GLBTs in theUnited Methodist Church, and also on the steering committee of the Parents Reconciling Network, a group affiliated with RMN.  She has retired from the board and the steering committee.

Along the way, we have helped many parents understand that their gay son or lesbian daughter still is the same person they always have loved. When we served as grand marshals of the Pride Parade in Omaha, Bob spoke these words for the two of us: “On behalf of all accepting parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children we say this, If your parents for whatever reason don’t love and accept you just as you are, think of us as your parents. We are honored to be your parents.”

Young GLBT people need to know that there are pastors and lay members who care for them and that they can come home to their church.

 

12 Discussion Strings concerning the Bible and GLBT Issueshttps://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/304

Bob and Betty Dorr’s Story

It’s a Matter of Choice

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.

 

Next blog post: “Clergy Call for Justice and the Quality” by Bishop Minerva C, Carconia               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/151

It’s a Matter of Choice