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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Reason and Hope from Bishop Jack Spong:"Religious homophobia is doomed"

Church Should Repent, Not Gays

Why would I form my belief about gay unions and gay clergy from my faith?

That is not where one goes for the knowledge that is the catalyst for destroying prejudice.

Historically my faith has taught that sex was evil, that celibacy was the higher path of virtue, that marriage was a compromise with sin, that slavery was a legitimate human institution and that women were created to be second class citizens.

Some have tried to use the old “separate but equal” argument, but it did not work in segregationist America and it will not work for religious systems trying to justify their patriarchal sexism. With that kind of a track record why would anybody go to their faith tradition to inform their attitudes toward homosexuality?

Is the Bible’s presumed condemnation of homosexuality more virtuous or lasting than its commitment to polygamy, slavery or the hatred that God was portrayed as expressing for other religious traditions than that of the chosen people?

The revolution in attitudes toward homosexual people in our generation has been fueled by the recognition that sexual orientation is neither a sickness that needs to be cured, nor a choice that needs to be challenged. It is also not a sin for which repentance is required.

Homosexuality is one of the givens in the world of human experience. We are born with different hues of skin. We are born male and female, left-handed, right-handed, gay and straight. Acceptance of the givens in life is the first step into wholeness.

The attempt in the name of religion to impose ancient and dying prejudices on any segment of the population is a sinful act. Many in the Christian Church at the highest levels of ecclesiastical leadership are today guilty of that sin.

The repentance needed is not the repentance of homosexual people who are increasingly self-accepting people; the repentance that is needed must come from religious leaders and religious people whose ignorance on this subject has led the Christian Church to act toward gay and lesbian people in a way that violates everything that Christianity has ever taught.

Minds, even religious minds, will change. The alternative is that these minds will die and the minds of the next generation will change. Either way, however, religious homophobia is doomed.

Posted by John Shelby Spong on March 1, 2007 8:20 AM


Eileen said...

Hey Elizabeth - I just linked to this article at my blog too.

He's preaching to the choir with me.

I just wish the hearts of those who really need to "hear" his message would open to them.

Mike in Texas said...

Bishop Spong is the one who inspired me to come back to the church. I'm always quite taken aback by the way even a lot proogressives try to write him off as a fringe lunatic. His message reaches me as well as a lot of other people who are taking a vacation from the church or who are looking for a place that feels like home to them. If the church is afraid that enacting justice will scare away the conservatives, they need to take a look at those who consider themselves among Spong's Christians in Exile. The church stands to grow a great deal once it stops repelling people in that group.

He was in my city a few weeks ago and gave two standing-room-only lectures, one at a university, the other at a Presbyterian church. Unfortunately I was unable to get to either of them.

Some years ago I did get to one of his lectures. It had been scheduled at a Methodist church. To his great discredit, the Episcopal bishop at that time harrassed the Methodist bishop(?) until the Methodist bishop forced the congregation to cancel the Spong appearance. Fortunately a UU congregation opened its arms to Spong.

As one might expect, the right-wingers sent some ringers to hijact the Q+A session. One of them asked in a patronizing manner about the Christians in Exile Spong talks about. He'd never met one in his whole life. Immediately about 3/4 of those in attendance stood up and said almost in unison, "Right here."

Nobody in my immediate vicinity was surprised to hear that the right winger had never met people like us.

Barbara said...

Dear Elizabeth,
Thanks be to God for you and the great job you have done posting responses to the Primates' Meeting. My sense is that our PB katherine needs our support in this and she is getting it here and elsewhere. As I pray over all of this, I keep thinking that I don't want to come before the judgement seat of God with nothin g but a "Nuremburg defense" of the primates said we should wait so I abided by their judgement. God calls for justice and justice delayed is justice denied. The kigndom of God is now.

Bill said...

Bishop Jack sounds like a man I'd love to meet. There's no beating about the bush. He call's it like he sees it. I like that in a bishop.

Dear Elizabeth, What with MP on the injured reserve list, I think that you may have to step it up and become more active. Now, before you go right up the sanctuary wall, just consider this. All you have to do is begin the post and then let the rest of your "pitiable lot" go at it.

Consider us mothers little helpers. We do like to help, you know.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Step it up? Are you kidding me?

I'm dancing as fast as I can, here.

Come back, Maddy. Come back!

Lisa said...

From Bishop Spong's lips to God's ears ....

Thanks for telling that story, Mike.

Bill's right, you know, Elizabeth. With Father Jake out of the game, and MadPriest dealing with the tragic death in his family, that brings you up to #1 in the rotation as "priest to the queer Episcopal nation." A heavy burden, I'm sure. But those of us struggling out in Boresville, USA, must get pastoral care from somebody. And we're not so petty as to seek DEPO. So it seems you're elected by acclamation. Deal with it, sistuh! ;-)


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The Mad One is back! I'm off the hook!

Hip Hip Hooray!

Bill said...

Something Lisa said. There could be a television make-over show in this. “Queer Eye For The Straight Christian”. Five or six gays, knowledgeable in decorating, scripture and the art of debate, descend upon a fairly conservative bishop and trough prayer, example, discourse and reason try to win him over to a more humanistic point of view and a better looking apartment.