Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Derek Webb on Homosexuality

A while ago, I blogged about sexuality and how the church just seems downright mixed up when it comes time to discuss it. I don't plan to be redundant, but after reading an article this week on homosexuality, I felt that this would be a good time to bring up that particular subject (as a side note, I acknowledge that my terminology may be politically incorrect, i.e., "LGBT", "queer", "homosexual", etc., but I am unequipped to keep up with the current appropriate terminology, so I will simply state my ignorance up front).

The article was an interview in the Huffington Post with Christian singer/songwriter Derek Webb. Webb is quite notorious in the Christian music scene for his edgy lyrics and outspoken views (and, if you ask my wife, add "goosebump-inducing music" to that list). The interviewer asked him about his views on homosexuality and Christianity, and I found his responses thought-provoking and challenging.

Webb calls for Christians to first look at themselves when they look at homosexuals and realize that they are not radically different people. For him, many Christians have seen homosexuals as fundamentally "other"- as people of a completely different ontology (my words, not his). Naturally, this has caused fear and, in turn, hatred. This is not the response of the gospel in Webb's view. I see his point. Whether you see homosexuality as a sin or not, homosexuals are still created in God's image. So are saints, murderers, and the playboy who sleeps with a new woman every night. No matter what your opinion of each of these person is, Christians and the church are called to nourish and replenish whatever may be tarnished in that image with the love of Christ.

But Webb is careful to point out that love is not tolerance. Love is much stronger and much more engaging than tolerance. He is dead on here. Tolerance is not a virtue. Tolerance decides that "I'll let you do your thing if you let me do mine". Tolerance keeps others at an arms length. This is not what Christians are called to do simply because that is not the gospel. God did (and does) not just tolerate humankind. God loves us intensely. As we are so often reminded here in the Christmas season, what God did in Jesus was very a very intimate reponse to our desperate need for salvation- it was love in its purest state.

This brings me to a final point of Webb's interview- following Jesus. Webb calls for Christians to focus primarily on the call to follow Jesus. This seems like a no-brainer, but Webb reminds us how hard that really is- especially as it concerns the homosexuality issue. But what does this look like? I am not ready to ordain homosexuals in the United Methodist Church. I am not ready to concede that God is "OK" with homosexuality any more than I am ready to concede that God is OK with any other sexual sin (and this might rile you up, but I am almost at the point where I am ready to include recreational birth control, even for married couples, in this). But I will admit that I am ignorant. I do not know many homosexuals, and I do not feel educated enough to make any sort of judgment on the topic. Really, if I'm supposed to go beyond tolerance and love, I should not judge at all. In short, my mind is always open on this subject. So how do we go beyond tolerance and enter into loving dialogue and action with homosexuality?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No More Methodist Church?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short blog about politics and religion. Today, a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook which exemplifies why I no longer vote for political conservatives- or really at all. I would love to hear some responses on this (OK, so nobody ever responds to my posts, but I thought I would give it a shot.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent of Peace

This year, Trinity UMC's theme for Advent is "Advent of Peace". In order to provide a resource for daily devotions and a calendar of church events during Advent, we have launched a wonderful website- Each of the pastors on staff will contribute a devotional every week. Mine will appear on Fridays. Check out the website here.