Monday, March 31, 2014

Split, part 1.

Many churches and denominations have split, or are splitting, over whether same-sex marriage partners should be given membership and leadership.

rruuaacchh poured out among us
God's Spirit poured out among us
I am on a local committee that recently organized a civil public discussion on the church and same-sex marriage. Our committee includes both conservatives and liberals, with deep connections to very conservative and liberal churches. One of the invited speakers had discussed several biblical passages that appeared to condemn homosexuality, giving reasons why they actually did not condemn homosexuality. I thought some of his efforts had fallen short. I think some of these passages are against homosexuality, and are wrong. Afterwards, there was a debriefing exchange of emails among the members of the committee. It became evident that the core of our disagreement was over scriptural interpretation. In a reply to some remarks by Bill [not his real name] a conservative member of the committee, I wrote:

[Bill], I say amen to your "I believe that our hearts are primarily deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and that we need to sit under the authority of God’s revealed will in his Word." Sign me up.

And I utterly agree with your next sentence too:

Any attempt to take interpretation and application outside of the parameters laid before us in scripture is to me dangerous, irresponsible, and subject to the whims of a given culture and cultural idols.

Great, spot on. But for me, the parameters laid before us in scripture are precisely that IF we engage with our enemies in confrontational communion, in a commitment to struggle with each other and not let go, just like we're doing here in this conversation, then indeed God is revealed in our midst. Emmanuel happens. The breathing body of Christ, the Church+, walks among us. To refer back to your first sentence, the Word lives. I think you all can think of lots of scriptures that support the view that the Holy Spirit continued revelation after Jesus passion. (One example would be Peter's dream of the unclean food, and his acceptance of eating with Cornelius. This abrogated Peter's scriptures.)

[Bill], you continue

Much like the book of Judges where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” we too, without a recognized authority are prone to wander and follow after our own desires that Paul acknowledges in Romans 7 are often against the very thing he knows he should do.

Being open to the Holy Spirit, I want to forge communion with those who offend me, my rivals, my opponents, my enemies. I commit to staying in communion with them, that's the Church+. And so my safety net is my opponents. [I name all the conservatives on the committee], do you really think that if I were to wander and follow after my own desires, you'd let me get away with it? The thing that keeps me from sliding on the slippery slope of my own desires is my commitment to you, to not walk away from this conversation until we have consensus. That is my "recognized authority."

I have a question for you. Can you tell me where scripture says it is the end of all revelation? I think that any such assertion is unbiblical.

My next post will say why I think many churches and denominations should split. And that they should, at the same time, on another level, not split.