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Once again over at Rachel Held Evans’ blog, our mostly 30-something semi-liberal evangelical Xian friends are struggling with the divisive actions of their more conservative Xian brethren. The folks at World Vision, a large and prominent Xian charity organization, succumbed to conservative pressure and caved in, reversing a decision to “allow” gay couples to work for them. Rachel and her many readers are incredibly dismayed and disappointed once again. In Rachel’s own words: “This whole situation has left me feeling frustrated, heartbroken and lost. I don’t think I’ve ever been more angry at the church, particularly the evangelical culture in which I was raised and with which I for so long identified.”
Admiring Rachel and her efforts to modify extreme Xiansanity from within for some time now, I’m moved by her and her readers’ empathy and understanding for gays and lesbians. But another part of me wants to shake them all by the shoulders. What the hell did you expect? IT’S IN YOUR BOOK!
The World Vision folks are just trying to be logical, consistent, dedicated, righteous Xians, too! They are trying to interpret their sacred book’s verses and “live their lives in Christ” just like Rachel and her sympathizers. Also from Rachel in a previous post: “And it puts into stark, unsettling relief just how out of control the evangelical obsession with homosexuality has become. The gospel is at stake only insofar as we make one’s position on same-sex marriage a part of it. The gospel is threatened, not by gay people getting married, but by Christians saying support or opposition to gay marriage is an essential part of the gospel when it’s not.”
But that’s not how the only slightly more conservative evangelicals read it. It IS in the gospel, it is in the book, both the Old and New Testament respectively: gays are an abomination and that abominable behavior deserves death. No interpretation necessary as that’s exactly what it says.
Being Christ-like to the more conservative folks cannot include jettisoning those verses: loving the sinner, hating the sin is. Being kind to gays and trying to dissuade them from their abominable lifestyle “choice” thereby saving their souls from eternal damnation, and not accepting that gays should marry is a righteous, noble cause; one which Christ himself would definitely approve. To those uber-conservatives, Rachel and her readers are the ones who are misguided; too much influenced by our modern, overly liberal, secular culture to see this obvious truth.
And while the two factions are both praying for the other one to receive correct guidance from Jesus to open their hearts and change their minds to the right decision, we secularists are off to one side trying desperately not to be too offensive and blurt out: THROW THE BOOK AWAY! It’s the Scripture that’s the problem.
It is the wholly unfounded, hopelessly destructive idea that there is anything that can be a scripture at all: a revelation from some god that says how ALL must behave. The minute you buy into that idea you’re asking for exactly what is happening.
From enabling angry men like Fred Phelps and Mark Driscoll, the laughable clowns like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, the clueless, sleazy Bachmann, Palin, Santorum and their many Republican colleagues, to enabling “love the sinner, hate the sin” and any and every possible interpretation of St. Paul and the OT “clobber passages” that condemn homosexuality: believing you have “the word of God” makes for all this misery, MOST of the misery left in the world.
As an outsider, I can see how each side arrives at their conclusion. Their reasoning is based on the same delusion and there is no way for them to ever know who is right. It is the whole idea of Scripture that’s the problem: that there is writing that is the revealed word of some god. That’s the problem. That’s the delusion we must outgrow. All this handwringing and gnashing of teeth is inevitable once you accept that unprovable and absurd premise. It doesn’t merely allow people to judge others and demand how they behave, it sanctions it, it demands it. The Muslim imams who keep millions of women in cultural chains all over the world feel every bit as justified in the righteousness of their behavior as Rachel and her blog followers do in accepting gays despite what their Scripture says, no less than the conservatives at World Vision who feel they got it right and are certain they are acting precisely according to God’s will by excluding gay couples. This insanity will never end until the delusion of Scripture, the claim of revelation, is dropped from the repertoire of human behavior. Just like slavery. It never was a good idea. Got a revelation for you: there’s no such thing.
Column by William Zingrone, Associate professor of psychology