Things I didn’t say about inclusion
I am always in awe of the members of this church! It’s always hard to know how well a sermon is received because most people try hard to be nice, even if they think the message was nonsense 🙂 But I got many positive comments–and more important, a number of people stopped me to talk about it after the service. It’s clear my ideas are shared by many–although certainly not all, which is fine! We don’t need agreement; we need love and understanding.
As I contemplate the message, I realize how much I didn’t say. Remember that I don’t write out any text in advance, so as I move through my slides, which are my outline as well as illustrations, I say what seems to be called for at the moment. So many things I had been thinking about didn’t make it in.
First, how upset I get at the exclusionists’ argument that the inclusionists are happy to abandon Scripture in favor of cultural accommodation–i.e. we only want to include LGBTQIA+ folks because they are being more accepted in society, and we need them to increase our church acceptance by the younger generation. I believe the truth is that attitudes toward LGBTQIA+ people have changed because our understandings have changed. The ancient Judaeans had a very different understanding of homosexuality, and no understanding of what we now see as a gender spectrum, rather than a binary pair. And Paul’s argument in Romans that homosexuality is a conscious revolt against God doesn’t match what we know, but does closely match what the Roman culture itself believed. There are only seven verses in the entire Bible about homosexuality, according to the standard count, as opposed to 59 about adultery. Jesus himself said nothing about homosexuality.
The exclusionists counter is that every word of the Bible comes from God. That’s a very limited understanding of the Bible, one I certainly don’t share and that is certainly not universal. Each person must make up his or her own mind about the Bible, of course, but it is worth noting the inconsistency of this argument. If every word in the Bible comes from God and every stated practice in the Bible must be followed to be faithful–well, we are still living under the law of Leviticus. And even the most Bible-literal believers I have every known do not do that.
That leads me to the main subject I left out–the people. I have known many LGBTQIA+ people in my lifetime—mostly L or G, but a smattering of others as well. I have found them to be people like any other. One young friend was certainly promiscuous and leading a risky and unhealthy lifestyle. Others were struggling with building relationships. Some were fully established in long-term, committed relationships. None believed that they had chosen their sexuality. Several were and are among my dearest lifelong friends. I found no evil in these people. The only evil I find is in the oppressors of the LGBTQIA+ community. Today’s news included this: Texas transgender woman found dead. Jesus wept.