Next in the series?
Perhaps the novella the I co wrote with Conway Chung during year seven (which I think I still have in a box of stuff and I will then need to transcribe as there is no way you could OCR our year seven cursive script).
“...I’m so used to acting another role in order to fit in as the ‘heterosexual’ at church and the Christian ministry where I worked, and before that, in my family... I’ve found I have absolutely no idea how to act as myself.
Has anyone any ideas on how to revert from playing the role that others expect of you, to being yourself? And particularly making that work within a church setting, ...”
I’ll just say for the moment that some of the specific scenarios going through my head of being authentic in church makes the whole concept just laughable.
e.g. You’re at a wedding and you’re thinking the bridal party look just like nondescript clones wearing WAY too much make-up and the groomsmen look really cute, and one of them’s a real spunk.
I don’t see the problem with this scenario. You think the bride is a meringue and the bridesmaids look like someone ate a florist’s stock then threw up on a frock?
Hell I think that too and I quite like women. Honesty isn’t the same as blurting out everything you think (I tend too be a blurter and I don’t recommend it). So it comes back to what is ‘authentic’. Let me continue your analogy.
You’re sitting in a wedding thinking to yourself that the best man (a rugged librarian) has buns of steel and a face that’d make a Greek God weep. Your mate Barry turns to you and says “phwarrr, that bridesmaid looks a right proper root rat, wouldn’t you love to do her”
- If you reply, I bet she’s into photography nudge nudge, know what I mean. Turn to page 32.
- If you say, she doesn’t do anything for me. Turn to page 16
- Or if you respond, I’m a homosexual and if you don’t accept this fact here and now then I’m being persecuted. Turn to page 96
Option two however allows you to talk further to Barry after a few pints at the reception or to simply leave it be if you couldn’t be bothered to talk to Barry because if you ask me he sounds like a bit of a dickhead.
I think Christianity and conformity are different animals. I’m also a bit of a lefty (but not a drinker of Chardonnay) I’ve voted democrat and green, I’ve had arguments with people about my refusal to condemn abortion or nude beaches or ...
You get the drift, I have no problem with a Christian being a homosexual, nor with a homosexual being a Christian. I see the hypocrisy when the church can change its stance on so many issues which were once “man the barricades, we’re here to the death!” issues. Divorce and remarriage is one example where I’ve seen the change (and I didn’t grow up in the church).
The whole question boils down to what is the essence of Christianity, and I say it is between God and me. I wouldn’t get an abortion (as a man I couldn’t but you know what I mean) yet I won't condemn someone who did. I wouldn’t have sex with a man, but I think that has more to do with what I find attractive in people than it does with my faith. If someone else thinks that a bit of bloke on bloke action feels good for them, well it’s up to them to work out how God feels about it. If someone with a club foot feels like becoming ordained as a minister, I’m not about to complain about that either (although I could quote scripture at them and stand on my moral high ground as someone who God loves more as is evidenced by my lack of club feet – but somehow I don’t think that’d feel right).
I know the frustration of engaging with people whose views are already fixed and immovable, yet in a debate where the prevailing ethic is a Christian one it would be a poor debate if the conservative views weren’t raised.
That the Christian Church has moved on and accepted change does not automatically mean that we model our Christianity on what is culturally appropriate. Sometimes we need to be inappropriate (salty if you will) to demonstrate what makes us different from everyone else. If the only argument we have against that, is that we don’t accept it or that we’ve moved on from there then I don’t think we’re being true to our shared belief.
I personally hate the writings of Paul (much to the dismay of many at the Bible study I facilitate) I find him a misogynist, think that when he writes he is oversimplifying and I worry that what we are getting is his personal opinion. That said, it is the Bible folks and as Christians that alone carries some weight.
We can argue that we imperfect people place more emphasis on homosexuality than on other things but if we are watering down our beliefs in some areas that doesn’t mean that watering them down in all areas is better. Some people believe they are correct in labeling homosexuality a sin, therefore what they says on the subject is consistent with their beliefs. What if they are correct, should they shut up just to be socially acceptable? Does the fact that our society has changed override scripture? It depends on where you stand on the authority of scripture and the literal interpretation of the Bible and while I don’t subscribe to those views I see that they have a firm base from which to argue, as opposed to someone who calls themselves Christian without reconciling their personal beliefs with the core beliefs of their faith. If I stand up and say that homosexuality is not a sin, I need to either accept that scripture is not literal or not unerring otherwise, calling myself Christian seems to fly counter to the definition most people would use.
I know it is broadening the debate but I have problems when someone like Spong or Thiering stands up and states that they are a Christian who does not believe in the divinity of Jesus. It would seem to me that to deny divinity is to refute Christianity and I don’t know why someone who doesn’t believe Christ was God would want to be called Christian. Yet I can also see how someone more conservative than myself could see my beliefs as counter to the basic tenants of the faith and wonder why I wanted to attach the tag Christian to my beliefs when I don’t accept some of the Church’s teachings and have questioned or will question most of the others.
If liberal Christians can’t cope with the arguments of conservative Christians it is probably because rather than draw our liberal theology from Jesus we have drawn it from western society. Society's influence on us is unquestionable, yet I stand firm in saying I am left wing because of the example of Christ. Despite being protestant I draw a lot from the liberation theology of South American Catholicism. Jesus came to set captives free, give sight to the blind, reduce poverty, combat oppression (even that of the Church). I believe it is this spirit of Christ which should influence me as a Christian rather than a literal interpretation of a Greek text translated into my tongue via Latin which covers issues I don’t experience from a time and a people whose context I can’t comprehend. But the fact that our permissive society would side more with me than with the conservatives, does not in any way indicate that I am right nor does the fact that I hope they are wrong make it so.