IS the battle over marriage equality and homosexuality the nail in the coffin of a dying church? In previous blogs I've discussed the decline of the church. Below are links to two different perspectives on attitudes toward gay marriage/homosexuals and reactions of the younger generation to the church.
First: One Young Person's Perspective on the Death of Church and a Complete Guide to Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality
This link-- http://dannikanash.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/an-open-letter-to-the-church-from-my-generation/ -- takes you to An Open Letter to The Church from my Generation. In it a young woman explains how attitudes toward homosexuality on the part of Christians she has encountered are driving her from the church. I found it a powerful testimony.
But the comments that followed were an education. Reactions cover the range of perspectives on the Bible, Christian faith, and homosexuality. Reading some of the comments made me want to turn away, but I slogged through. I reached the end with a better understanding of the mindset of people who view this differently than me; where the points of difference are; where there could be some room for discussion if people would stop shouting at (and start listening to) each other. But it also gave me confirmation and strengthened support for some of my opinions.
For Good Measure (in the interest of Equipoise): Another Young Person's Perspective that Even Evangelical Christians Show Tolerance and Love Sufficient to Embrace a Homosexual:
Being Gay at Jerry Falwell's University: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/being-gay-at-jerry-falwells-university/274578/
I also found this very powerful. I wonder if reading this (which I did first) actually opened my heart and mind enough to make it through the comments on the other page. While the young author doesn't totally embrace the church, he does find love and acceptance there.
My late husband's nephew, Fr. Matthew Kozlowski, brought my attention to this article. I think it really does shed light on common ground that Christians will reach some day.
I'm still thinking about what I'll say in a review of Rob Bell's new book, What We Talk about When We Talk about God. But for the moment and the purposes of this post, Bell seems to relegate the whole discussion of homosexuality to the general category of "people God doesn't love." His book would say that would be the null set. In other words, God loves everyone (therefore, homosexuals and any other group you can name are included.)
"I believe God is for every single one of us, regardless of our beliefs or perspectives or actions or failures or mistakes or sins or opinions about whether God exists or not. I believe that God wants us each to flourish and thrive in this world here and now as we become more and more everything we can possibly be. In talking about the forness of God, I want you to see how many of the dominant theological systems of thought that insist God is angry and hateful and just waiting to judge us unless we do or say or perform or believe the right things actually make people miserable and plague them with all kinds of new stresses and anxieties, never more so than when they actually start believing that God is really like that. I want you to see the radical, refreshing, revolutionary forness that is at the heart of Jesus' message about God as it informs and transforms your entire life.
"Then ahead, because when I talk about God, I'm not talking about a divine being who is behind, trying to drag us back to a primitive, barbaric, regressive, prescientific age when we believed Earth was flat and the center of the universe. I believe that God isn't backward-focused -- opposed to reason, liberation and progress -- but instead is pulling us and calling us and drawing all of humanity forward -- as God always has -- into greater and greater peace, love, justice, connection, honesty, compassion and joy"My impression is that in his earlier life as a pastor at Mars Hill church, (near Grand Rapids, Michigan) Bell's position on homosexuality was not inconsistent with this, but more non-committal. I recollect that he said something like, "get to know a gay/lesbian person as a close friend or family member. Then formulate your opinion."
The latter approach gets to the heart of what I like about the Atlantic article. When you attach a beloved face, a beating human heart to that thing--that practice--that group you are rejecting, your whole viewpoint changes. Suddenly you're right there, looking at this one particular neighbor-woman, watching Jesus write something in the sand and then say to you and the assembled group, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone."