Pubblicato da: rainbowman56 | 5 giugno 2011

Homophobia is not a christian value.


The Good News Proclaimed
Preached by the Reverend Doctor Durrell Watkins at the Sunshine Cathedral on Sunday, June 6, 2010.

We are discussing something today that in many other houses of worship would be a scandal. We are talking about love, but not just love, romantic love…and not just romantic love, but romantic love shared between persons of the same gender. And, we aren’t condemning it; in fact, we are celebrating it. And, we daring to suggest there are models of such love in our own sacred scriptures…if you are feeling light headed it’s because the air is being sucked out of the room all at once.

Now, the story we are focusing on today is about two men, but that is only because most of the bible focuses on the lives of men. The bible comes from a patriarchal culture in the very distant past and the biases of its time and place have wound up in the bible, but the news we find in today’s story is good for men and women, it’s good for gays and lesbians, and bisexuals and heterosexuals and those who now call themselves heteroflexible, it’s even good news for those who are questioning and haven’t really come to the full realization of how their love and attraction can be most authentically expressed. Whoever you are today, wherever you happen to be in your journey, if you feel you have love to give or have ever enjoyed the tenderness of love shared, today’s story is in fact, your story.

Now, let’s get the some of the discomfort out of the way right off. Some people assume that the bible condemns homosexuality…in fact, some assume that the bible condemns any joyful experience of sexuality…in fact, some assume that the bible condemns any experience of fun. I, as you might imagine, disagree. We are not fundamentalists at Sunshine Cathedral…a fundamentalist is someone who is desperately afraid that someone somewhere is having a good time. At Sunshine Cathedral, we PRAY that everyone everywhere is having a good time.

Some will point to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as a condemnation of same-gender love and attraction…the only problem with that is that love and mutual attraction are never mentioned anywhere in that story. Strangers narrowly escape an attempted act of violence, and violence is deplorable, but nowhere in the story will one find any trace of chocolate or roses or dancing cheek to cheek.

Mob violence is the reprehensible act in the story, not love or attraction, which of course the story isn’t even about. In addition to the mob violence, we also see the world’s worst father willing to sacrifice his daughters to the mob, and we see the same father committing incest with his daughters at the end of the story. Oh there is plenty of wrongness in the Sodom and Gomorrah tale, but love or mutual attraction between two unrelated persons never even make an appearance in the story. Attempted rape, inhospitality to strangers, drunkenness, incest, manipulation, and disregard for human dignity all stain the story, but same-gender loving relationships are never condemned, they are never even mentioned.

Some will say, “but what about Leviticus?” Leviticus gives us exactly two verses, two, that can be used to promote a homophobic agenda. Strangely, those two verses come from a holiness code that also condemns the eating of pork and shellfish, the wearing of clothes made from mixed fibers, the eating of rare meat, and even getting tattoos. I find it strange that someone with a tattoo in a polycotton blend shirt, eating a salad with bacon bits, shrimp cocktail, and a medium rare steak would ever dare to bring up Leviticus as a justification for anti-gay prejudice…but strangely, people do. According to Levitical Law, it is as much a sin to eat at a Cajun restaurant, to under cook your beef, to get a tattoo, or to shop a Wal-Mart as it is to be gay.

Ah, but what of St. Paul, one might ask. Well, besides being a closet case himself (yes, I said it), Paul’s very few mentions of same-sex activity are always in the context of practices associated with idolatry. Not even Paul condemns same-sex loving relationships or the mutual attraction shared by any two people.

So, of the six or so passages in the bible that homophobic religionists sling like poisonous darts to wound same-gender loving people, we can dismiss and dismantle their interpretations and abusive use of each of those texts. But the good news doesn’t end there.

The good news is that there are also passages of scripture where same-gender love seems to be affirmed. Time won’t let us go through all of them, but we did hear two of them this morning. The gospel shows a Roman centurion who is very concerned for the welfare of his servant. This story is told in two gospels. And in both versions we see a man so concerned for the welfare of a “slave” that he seeks out someone outside his community, outside his religion, outside his class…he seeks out Jesus, a Jewish peasant faith-healer in the land the centurion’s people are occupying…how desperate the centurion must have been to go to such links.

What sort of relationship would cause someone to go to all that trouble, to take such risks? No, this is no mere slave…this is someone special to the centurion’s heart. This is the centurion’s lover for whom he will obviously do anything. The centurion’s relationship is not condemned, his lover is healed, and Jesus goes so far as to praise the centurion’s faith. That’s enough to make a former Episcopalian shout – almost.

The other story is even more obvious. That is the story about Jonathan and David…yes, King David, ancestor of Jesus, warrior, sovereign, poet, and legendary hero…THAT David.

Jonathan loved David as if his life depended on him; he loved him as if they were one.

Jonathan and David held each other, and kissed each other, and wept together….you know, like buddies do(!). And then we see Jonathan swearing an oath to David, making a vow, entering into a life-long covenantal relationship: “We two have sworn by the name of God that God will hold us together, forever.” Wedding vows couldn’t be any more tender, heart-felt, or even romantic.

The story sounds every bit like a warrior love story from ancient military cultures. Jonathan’s father, King Saul, figures out the nature of the relationship, and reacts like macho fathers sometimes will. In verse 30 of 1 Samuel chapter 20, King Saul confronts Jonathan, saying, “You son of a rebellious and perverse woman, do you not know that I know that you have chosen David, the son of Jesse to your own confusion?” Really, Saul? It’s the mother’s fault and Jonathan is just really confused…it’s a phase?! We’ve all heard that. But Jonathan doesn’t accept the guilt and shame his father tries to use against him, and remains faithful to the love of his life, David, until the very end. And that end comes when Jonathan is killed on the battlefield, and David wails, “I grieve for you my dear Jonathan! Most precious have you been to me; more precious have I held love for you than love for women.” David, the bible says, was a man after God’s own heart. Well, David gave his godly heart to Jonathan. They were bonded together in a covenant they chose to make together. They share intimacy, without shame. Jonathan’s father makes accusations about Jonathan and threats against David, and still, their love endured. And when Jonathan died, David wept and mourned as any widower would.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying LBGT people are OK because David might have been one of us. We’re OK whether or not anyone in the bible is like us; but what I am saying is that people who use the bible to condone their prejudices need to learn that there are other ways of viewing scripture. In fact, if they look with open minds, they might just find the very people they are trying to beat up with the bible are in fact part of the bible, and part of God’s plan, and part of the sacred story that we all hold so dear.

It remains true that God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them. Jesus demonstrated that when he responded favorably to the Centurion’s love for his “servant.” And David and Jonathan show us that a covenant based on love is blessed by God, regardless of the genders of the people who make up that covenantal relationship.

I hope the stories you’ve heard today will let you affirm boldly with the Apostle Paul, “It is by the grace of God that I am what I am.” And this is the good news. Amen.

*******

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