I'm doing it again. I'm engaging in internet debate. It's a practice I swear off now and then, but my recidivism rate is alarming.
What set me off this time was a claim that there is no biblical explanation for the ELCA's actions at last August's Churchwide Assembly (check out posts from last August to learn more, if you don't know what that's about). These claims came from two individuals who have had explanations given to them over and over, biblical and beyond. The problem is they simply reject the interpretation.
Which is really okay. I reject their interpretation of the Bible passages in question. Bible interpretations vary widely on any number of issues and have been used to justify building hospitals and torture devices. I believe the rigorous discussion of interpretation is essential to avoiding abuses and outright horror. Obviously, the church has not always been so good at such rigorous discussion.
The thing about the whole GLBT debate is that it really is about whether or not people can be comfortable with the idea of two men or two women living together in emotional, spiritual and sexual relationship, because the issue of things in the Bible that refer to heterosexual sin can't get a good discussion going. I've repeatedly brought up the ELCA's allowance of divorced and remarried pastors to serve, despite very clear words from Jesus himself that such a relationship is adultery. The only answer I get is "that's too complex to go into here."
Which I read to mean, "heterosexual sex just doesn't bother me so much and I can overlook that problem." Or else, "there is s double standard for people who are heterosexually oriented and those who are homosexually oriented---one may sin and continue in their sinful relationship, but the other may not."
I'm not sure how else to read their comments.
What annoys me most of all, however, is the abdicating from the conversation. Almost always we get to this point and the anti-GLBT ordination person will cry foul, say there is clearly no room for a conservative voice in the ELCA, and leave the conversation.
Asking questions you don't want to answer is denying you your voice?
I'm at a loss. And I'm leaving the conversation, too, because I have too many other things to attend to.
But here is my wish, and it may need another post, but I'll end with this wish:
I wish we could put aside terms like "liberal" and "conservative." I feel certain that they get in our way. Somewhere along the way, we decide, "well, yes, I want to be a conservative" and then we go looking for what conservatives think and believe and teach. Same with liberals. I swear, I've known people from both sides who, if told by the right person (Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, for example) that the liberal/conservative thing to do is to paint your houses canary yellow with hot pink trim, there would be canary yellow houses with hot pink trim. And there would be arguments about how it's important to uphold the conservative/liberal value of canary yellow houses with hot pink trim.
But this conversation is held among Christians, where we allegedly claim Jesus is Lord. We do not claim conservative values are lord, we do not claim liberal values are lord, but Jesus is Lord. From day one, 2000-and some-odd years ago, there have been arguments about what that means and how we live under that Lordship, but that doesn't mean we can't look to that as the guiding principle.
Can we come together, in the love of God, and discuss, ARGUE, even, about things without claiming a liberal or conservative silencing or bias? Maybe not. But we're also supposed to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, who, scripture might lead us to believe, is always doing something new, even some shocking things. I'm willing to bet that if we could somehow learn to pay attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit, people who claim both liberal and conservative labels will be blown away by the surprising newness of what's in store, and all camps would all be brought to the ground, their faces in the dirt, in worship and awe of how the Spirit breaks our preconceptions and shows us the crazy wild beautiful Reign of God.