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PostPosted: 30 Sep 2009, 17:34 
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Personal Reflections

No More Others
September 26, 2009
So many cruelties that have been perpetrated against people in the name of the Christ I so fervently love. It breaks me... From the earliest days of the Church, we have known how to exclude the "others" of our time, and some 2,000 years later, we are not much better for it. Certainly, the identification of the "others" has changed over time, but as long as they remain at all, God help us!

You see, I am a Gentile, and my Gentile heart does not afford me the luxury of eyes that do not weep at the thought of it. I am a Gentile, and I remember how ostracized my Gentile forbearers were in the early Christian community. I remember how we were shunned by the Christian authorities of the day—which were all Jewish at the time. I remember how even the apostle Peter, having been granted the grace of a vision of acceptance, still stumbled in the way of open arms and had to be put in his place by the apostle Paul.

But, thank God for a revelation. Thank God for the understanding that finally invaded the Church that there was neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile)—that we were all one in Christ. It's an unfortunate historical reality that it took a while for this to set in, but at least it did, right? Too bad for those who were deeply wounded along the way, while the Church grew into a revelation that it should have had from the very beginning—seeing as Christ's own example showed the way!

But, did they really accomplish what they at first set out to—to make for a more inclusive Christian body? I cannot say that they did, for if I examine the Middle Age history of the Church, what do I find? I find that tears must be wiped from my eyes because I am a Protestant. I am a Protestant, and my Protestant heart does not afford me the luxury of eyes that do not weep at the thought of it.

Protestants were the victims of inquisitions, stake-burnings, and countless tortures—the iron rod of religious authority. Christians championed these evils. They somehow convinced themselves that their thoughtless cruelty actually served the God who is love—the Christ who is embodiment of compassion and justice. They patted themselves on the back because they stood together as a united and holy Church, mighty in conviction and faithful to a fault. As a single, cohesive body, they fought to quell the spread of false doctrine, keeping the Christian faith, as they chose to see it, pure and holy. It's amazing what evils we can so easily bring ourselves to do when we "know" we're right.

I sit here many hundreds of years later, hurt and angered at the thought that the Church committed such atrocities. Dare they ever to have feigned the royal status of Christian! Dare they ever to have borne—and in so doing, tarnished—Christ's holy name. Yet, history bears out that that's exactly what they did. In their pomp and glory, they oppressed, repressed, and destroyed many lives, wholly convinced that right was on their side. And obviously it was, for the perpetrators of these crimes against Christ had chapter and verse of Scripture to back up every cruel intent, passages that so ingeniously cemented the superiority of the Catholic Church by putting Christ's seal upon their religious worldview. "Thus saith the Holy Bible, and so shall we carry out the judgment of God."

Even worse than the thought that it happened at all is the thought that it lasted as long as it did. Though centuries passed, the sordid state of affairs changed not. Generations lived and died, perpetuating the cruelty of their forbearers; and it escaped them the whole of their lives that their Christian religion so scarcely resembled its namesake.

But, blessings to the faithful Protestants! Though it took a while, Christians finally began to see the error of their ways and sought to rid themselves of the fault. They washed themselves of the vanity of empty religious tradition, and made love revive in their ranks once again. They separated themselves from religiously justified cruelty, protesting their way into a more holy faith. They set their path aright, never to return again to the oppressive state. They may have been Christians who oppressed the Protestant "others", but they were also Christians who recognized the abuse of Scripture in harming other human beings in body, soul, or spirit, and fought to bring right into the light.

But, did they really accomplish what they at first set out to? I cannot say that they did, for if I examine the "superior" troupe of Protestantism—those who cut the shackles of detached religion and donned the righteous cloak of truth—what do I find? I find that tears must be wiped from my eyes because I am a Black man. I am a Black man, and my Black heart does not afford me the luxury of eyes that do not weep at the thought of it.

Blacks were the victims of supposedly enlightened Christians. The same virtuous ones who protested the oppression of papal authority and died for the right to serve Christ alone... those same heroes put my people in shackles. They fled to the Americas to be free, yet their freedom did not extend to people with a different hue of skin. Their enlightened, Protestant whips ripped into shreds the backsides of my ancestors, forcing them to bear crosses of bloody scars on their flesh, put their by the ones who worshipped He who hung on a cross of wood.

But, slavery was obviously right and good. I mean, the slave masters had chapter and verse to validate that "noblest" of institutions, Bible passages that so ingeniously cemented the superiority of the White man by putting Christ's seal upon their racist worldview. "Thus saith the Good Book, and so shall we carry out the judgment of God."

But, blessings to the North! Blessings upon the abolitionist Christians, who saw the immorality of slavery and railed against it. May we never forget the sacrifice of the many who put their lives and property on the line in order to fight the good fight. They may have been Christians who took pleasure in oppressing the Black "others", but they were also Christians who recognized the abuse of Scripture in harming other human beings in body, soul, or spirit, and fought to bring right into the light.

Looking back through the history of the Church, it's only too easy to pinpoint other groups of outsiders who were oppressed by the religious powers. Whether it was the poor of Jesus' day, who were oppressed by the wealthy religious authorities, or the Gentiles of the first century Church, who were oppressed by the Jewish Christians who didn't believe that Gentiles could be counted in their number, or women, who are only recently being allowed to walk out the full Christian experience (vis-à-vis being able to teach God's word)... It is evident throughout our 2,000 year history that the Christian Church has always had "others" to oppress—groups of people who were so obviously inferior, and against whom multiple passages of Scripture could be levied to validate the oppressive worldview. I am a Christian, with the heart of Christ beating in my spirit. How can my eyes not weep at this historical fact?

But, at least today we've gotten it right. Today, there are no longer "others". We have rid ourselves of every oppressive error, right?

Come to think of it, did we really accomplish what we at first set out to—to make for a more inclusive Christian body? I cannot say that we have, for if I examine the "superior" troupe of the contemporary Church, with all of it's modern and evolved sensibilities, what do I find? I find that tears must be wiped from my eyes because I am gay. I am gay, and my gay heart does not afford me the luxury of eyes that do not weep at the thought of it.

Gays continue to be the victim of supposedly enlightened Christians. The same virtuous ones who finally opened their eyes to the inclusion of the poor, of Gentiles, of women, of those with different theological beliefs (Protestants), and of Blacks still have not mastered the art of inclusion. We still stumble at so foundational a principle as open arms.

But, this is different, right? I mean, it's too easy to open the Bible and turn to chapter and verse to validate the Church's doctrinal and practical cruelty toward gays. Christians are only submitting to what the Bible obviously teaches. "Thus saith the word, and so shall we carry out the judgment of God."

I can scarcely bring myself to understand how we continue to miss the mark. We were wrong about so many exclusionary doctrines, despite the fact that each one had multiple passages that, when applied without consideration of the time, place, and purpose surrounding the initial recording of the passages, seemed to validate our bigotries; yet, we continue to make these errors over and over again. We continue to establish "others", and to unite as a Christian body against them.

But surely, so many Christians can't be wrong, right? Surely, 2,000 years of Church doctrine can't be wrong, right? Hmmm... Wasn't it wrong about women, or should they still keep their mouths shut in church and learn in silence? Wasn't it wrong about Blacks, who were thought subservient to Whites because we were supposedly descendants of Ham and, therefore, cursed by God; or should Black people still submit to the White master?

Get it together, saints! The duration of bad theology does not make it any less bad. Indeed, it only serves to indict the many generations of Christians who were too blinded by religiosity to apply the heart of God and critical thought to the passages they read. With so many examples having gone before us, we have no excuse for our continuing failure; and we, indeed, are made more guilty than they, for the preponderance of errors that we should have learned from by now.

I am a Gentile, Protestant, Black, gay Christian. I refuse to propagate theological bigotry, which is wholly founded upon face value readings of Scripture, rather than the rightly-divided word of truth. But, I do not only take this position because I'm gay, or Black, or Protestant, or Gentile. Must one be a part of an oppressed minority in order to apply the heart of God to their Christian beliefs? Certainly not! I'm not poor, and I'm not a woman. My inclusion of those "others" is not based off of my being oppressed as a member of that group. You see, the heart of Christ beating within me does not allow me to exclude them.

What's so heartbreaking is that this is not a matter of choosing Scripture over the heart of Christ, or vice versa. Indeed, the two are in perfect harmony. It's nothing more than horrible interpretations and/or applications of Scripture that are the culprits here, not the text itself. What has so often seemed obvious by a surface level reading of Scripture has proven untrue time and time again. Why is it so hard for Christians to accept the very possibility that their theological position against gays is only the latest symptom of the same disease?

The proper interpretation of Scripture on this regrettably controversial issue is available for those with enough of an open mind to consider the evidence—evidence based solely off of Scripture, and not one's personal worldview. If you care enough to get this one right, you must at least expose yourself to the evidence that demonstrates that homosexuality is not the sin that we've been taught it was. Set yourself free from the lie that God condemns homosexuals, or that you somehow serve Him by treating gay people with anything less than completely open arms.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that Scripture is so obviously clear on this issue. We've gotten it wrong too many times before to make that same mistake again. Love God enough to at least consider the evidence, if perchance it proves true; and always remember the wisdom of Proverbs 18:13 – "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."

Get the proof, and walk in the glorious liberty that comes from realizing that you don't have to deny anyone a place at the table of the Lord. You have no idea how much your shift in theology on this issue will positively impact the lives of your gay sons or daughters, nieces or nephews, aunts or uncles, co-workers or friends, and the many other gay people who surround you every day. Whether you realize it or not, there are gay people in your family, circle of friends, church, workplace, and neighborhood! Love them enough to consider the evidence; for you are a Christian, and the heart of Christ beating within you should not allow you to exclude them any longer.

Now, while we may be grateful that the Church isn't where it used to be in excluding so many "others" from full fellowship within the Body, we cannot exhale until there are no longer "others" within our ranks at all! Get the book, Homosexianity, and see the evidence for full and complete inclusion of gays presented directly from the Scriptures.

Let's rid the Body of Christ of one more "other", my brother/sister. Love compels us forward. Let's go with arms wide open!

In Christ's service,
Pastor R. D. Weekly
A Gentile, Protestant, Black, gay, and unapologetic Christian!


perhaps a religion so easily warped to man's evil intentions shouldn't be followed so closely? Instead of fitting the religion of angry nomadic desert people into modern life, scrap it and get a modern one?

_________________
Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010, 17:11 
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Bunny

Joined: 12 Jan 2010, 20:00
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To me, adopting the very title of "Christian" sets up a distinction, which the author seems to adopt, between "all who are in the body of Christ" versus "those who are NOT." Despite all the progressive steps he is making in his ruminations, that inclusion is better than division, he still holds onto the most fundamental one, that there is a division between human beings: Christian versus non-Christian. If we are all one, if we truly love one another, there should be no such divisions. Such matters DON'T matter, or shouldn't at any rate. What part of "love" excludes another person?


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PostPosted: 13 Jan 2010, 18:23 
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Grand Poobah
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Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Very good point.

I was looking at a much more literal, text based level, but you have the spirit of it.

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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2017, 21:19 
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