December 13, 2018

Culture War Christianity…from the other side

Greyed Rainbow. Jackson Pollock

The ELCA claims to be committed to embracing diversity, seen even in Human Sexuality [ELCA Social Statement] as we embrace multiple positions on accepting same-gender relationality as a Christian lifestyle. So also there exist in the ELCA multiple positions on marriage, divorce, relationality, having children, monogamy, polyamory, sexual expression, and relational intimacy. We lift this multiplicity up and demand that its full diversity be recognized within the Christian lifestyle in our church.

Naked and Unashamed

• • •

In the past, I have written about how the Evangelical Church in America has spoken about issues regarding homosexuality and other human sexuality issues. You can see links at the bottom of the post for two such articles. Generally speaking, I have commended the ELCA in its statements for trying to walk a via media and to keep unity within a denomination made up of diverse perspectives. Still, serious breaches have taken place in synods and churches. I have heard most often about certain conservative individuals or groups who left the ELCA to form or participate in groups that sought to uphold more traditional forms of morality.

But conservatives are not the only ones dissatisfied with the ELCA approach. There are groups within the denomination who think the ELCA did not go nearly far enough. From their perspective, the denomination remains a “heteronormative” organization that is advancing oppressive power dynamics and structures upon individuals’ rights to practice sexual freedom as they see fit.

As the quote above shows, these groups will not be satisfied until a full range of sexual practices and relational arrangements are sanctified and “recognized within the Christian lifestyle in our church.”

“Naked and Unashamed” is one such group. Here is how they describe themselves:

We are Lutheran theologians committed to an incarnational theology that rejects purity culture and any theology that is afraid of bodies and their desires. We are not ashamed of our sexuality, our relationality, our queerness, and our genders, because we walk in the promise that God sees our bodies and calls them good.

Naked & Unashamed challenges the theology and expected conduct described in Vision & ExpectationsDefinitions and Guidelines for Discipline, and Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, among other ELCA documents.

In their full statement, the group lays out their problems with the ELCA approach in a summary:

  • The ELCA documents we are highlighting are being used to perpetuate a pressure for leaders in the ELCA to be married, and to additionally conform to oppressive relational and sexual standards set by our church that are often in contrast with our values and lived experience.
  • The expectations surrounding “chastity” purport an ethic of works-based righteousness, positing that certain practices of our sexuality make us a better steward of our pastoral call.
  • Singlehood, the dating process, friendships, and committed relationships outside of civil marriage are devalued by the overemphasis on marriage and family.
  • The recent inclusion of same-gender relationships in these ELCA documents still utilizes heteronormative language that sets narrow expectations of what an acceptable committed relationship looks like.
  • These ELCA documents have created a culture of shame in our community, one that manifests itself in both our experience with candidacy committees and among our cohorts. This culture sits in juxtaposition to our current context, politically, economically, scientifically, and medically.

They argue against the priority given to marriage (a priority which I commended in the article Unique below). “Our argument is that ELCA’s theology is hegemonic in that it prioritizes one cultural theology as the implicit norm, and those who fall outside are demonized and de-Christianized.” Now, I would be the first person to agree that people have “demonized and de-Christianized” people who look, act, and relate to others outside societal norms. I see this as a failure to “love your neighbor as yourself,” however, not “hegemony” that necessarily grows out of a sexual ethic that these folks deem “heteronormative, white-centric, economically oppressive, and non-Lutheran.”

They also argue that our fundamental approach to relationships should be based on an understanding of the power dynamics involved rather than on any particular view of sexuality. In their view, the very rhetoric of giving marriage a special place within a context of “heteronormality” is oppressive and shame-inducing.

We have experienced various overt and internalized pressures from the ELCA to make sure that any romantic or sexual relationship we are in is validated through marriage. This internalized pressure to get married leads to preoccupation with the self and with the fear of unworthiness in our actions. The shame we feel and the daily internal reliving of it does not embody the freedom in Christ that Paul and Luther emphasized. The ideal that the highest level of union is the marital relationship leads to non-marital relationships being characterized by this “burden of unworthiness” instead of love for the neighbor. The idea that sexuality should only be expressed through celibacy in singlehood and monogamy in marriage means that as ministers in the church, we are deemed unfit for ministry in other forms of sexual expression.

I myself have certainly criticized an overemphasis on marriage in certain ways in various Christian communities because it does often lead to ignoring and excluding others and making them feel less than people made in God’s image, claimed and beloved in Christ. In my view this represents a failure to understand and practice a healthy and inclusive doctrine of vocation and should be critiqued on that basis.

And certainly, where “purity culture” has been proclaimed and enforced through bad teaching about God’s good gifts of the body and sexuality, and where forbearance, understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance has not been practiced well, people have been made to feel dirty and ashamed in ways that are not fitting in loving pastoral or community care.

The views expressed in this statement are dogmatic and insistent. They represent the same kind of culture war mindset of those who throw grenades from their bunkers on the other side. An entire tribal rhetoric has been developed that inhibits listening and conversing with others on any kind of neutral ground. They are not approaching these matters as concerned brothers and sisters but as entrenched combatants with weapons of language and doctrine.

Culture war Christianity is as wrong-headed and off-center on the left as it is on the right. Working for “justice” can be as much an exercise of works-righteousness and self-righteousness as any promulgation of rules enforcing traditional moral frameworks. Groups like this, which develop their own constituencies, strategies, and rhetoric can be as unloving, aggressive, and even militaristic as any group touting “traditional values.”

The agenda of a church and denomination should be Christ. When Jesus is removed from the center, it becomes a free-for-all. And it doesn’t matter whether you replace Jesus with “family values” or “justice.” No matter which side of the debate you’re on, you’re missing the point.

• • •

For review:

Comments

  1. Am I correct in understanding that expecting ministers to be faithful to their spouses (from this bit: “The idea that sexuality should only be expressed through celibacy in singlehood and monogamy in marriage means that as ministers in the church, we are deemed unfit for ministry in other forms of sexual expression.”) is considered oppressive or “demonizing” by this group? (How dare leadership be expected live up to standards!)

    I hope this is my late night brain misunderstanding things instead of what they actually believe.

  2. john barry says:

    I would expect that the new hymn for the Naked and Unashamed group would be the Cole Porter classic “Anything Goes”.

    At first I thought this article was about the cable TV series I was watching where the man had to leave early because bugs were biting him in an area I am ashamed to mention. That group is Naked and Unafraid , but if you see most people naked you would be very afraid or at least amused.

    So it seems to me this group should leave or be made to leave the group that believes the Bible has value and meaning. Is that any values, idea, any traditions that are worth preserving? Why would this group want to remain a mainstream religion? I read a lot of social talk from the N and U but no values other than quoting Cole Porter. Actually Naked and Sunburned would be more understandable to me.

    I think perhaps this is a bridge too far. There will always be the faithful remnant and we are getting there quick.

    This reminds me when I was young and hitting the bars, our standard slogan was if the women do not meet our standards , we will lower them.

    • This “via media” is foul and wicked (but what do you expect from the media?). At the Final Judgement there will be sheep on the right, goats on the left, and then where will your “via media” be?

  3. Rick Ro. says:

    I gotta tell ya, the “Naked and Unashamed” self-description and the statements that follow are so filled with self-righteous language and twisted morality that they read as parody. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      They do often sound like parody. An exhausting parody.

      For example, the statement, “committed to an incarnational theology that rejects purity culture and any theology that is afraid of bodies and their desires” … Cool! I am completely down with that. But then it is followed by “We are not ashamed of our sexuality, our relationality…” which is where I exit.

      Cannot I be unafraid of bodies and desires WHILE ALSO recognizing that bodies and desires are problematic objects and forces, fraught with paradox and moral hazard? I am pretty sure I can, but these type of people just wear me out in the insistence that I can’t. Human sexuality has amply demonstrated its ability to make a grand mess of things.

      Is it self-righteous of me to feel that they cannot see the forest for the trees . . . or the trees for the forest, not sure which way that metaphor works in this case.

      • –> “Human sexuality has amply demonstrated its ability to make a grand mess of things.”

        Amen.

        A friend of mine recently had a prayer request from a co-worker who is going through fertility treatments so she can get pregnant with her boyfriend. He said, “I’m not sure how we’re supposed to pray about this, or what to say to her.”

        I said, “Don’t bring out the morality aspect. You can just say, do you realize there’s a chance you will be bringing a child into a situation in which you will end up as a single parent and that your child will grow up without a father?”

        Then it doesn’t become about “morality,” it becomes about “wisdom.” (History suggests, unfortunately, that sexuality will win out over wisdom.)

        • So in this case, better a legally binding relationship (and pray we remove divorce as a possibility) than two individuals choosing together to have a child?

          • Rick Ro. says:

            What I’m saying is, Has this woman considered that a pregnancy with this person might end up with her as a single mother and her baby as a fatherless child? That’s all. That way you avoid the morality issue in its entirety.

            • And a pregnancy in a marriage could end up in divorce. Why take the risk?

              • Rick Ro. says:

                That would be good counseling, too, yes. That’s my point exactly. Don’t take a morality position, approach it from a counseling position.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Human sexuality has amply demonstrated its ability to make a grand mess of things.

        And when you mix human sexuality and Religion, things get even more F’ed up.

      • Robert F says:

        Sexuality is a powerful thing. It can be beautiful and life giving, and it can be explosive, like a star’s nuclear fusion; handle with care.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        “For example, the statement, “committed to an incarnational theology that rejects purity culture and any theology that is afraid of bodies and their desires” … Cool! I am completely down with that. But then it is followed by “We are not ashamed of our sexuality, our relationality…” which is where I exit.”

        This technique is par for the course. Here is a classic: The Bible is inerrant? Cool! Oh, you (not you specifically, but the rhetorical “you”) meant “My interpretation of the Bible is inerrant.” Sorry. I’m outa here.

  4. Another example of the de-humanisation of humanity. If it isn’t the demeaning of patristic traditions, contemplative aChristianity, & a recognition that the Holy Spirit led the early church, then its the elevation of rationality in the realm of WASP theology that places ‘my’ experience at the heart of reality. Truth is subject to the ‘me’ of what is culturally relevant at the moment.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I just got off the phone with my writing partner, who told me of the demise of the “Church for Men” website. Its comment threads were hijacked by Loud Crazies — Male-Supremacist Hypermasculine Bros-or-Hos types. He did some tracking on these guys and found NONE of them were married, NONE of them had children, NONE of them had any relationships — and NONE of them were in any church (“Because God Talks Directly to ME Alone”).

  5. A pox on all their houses.

  6. Robert F says:

    I agree with your position, CM. I do think marriage is and should be normative for the ordering of Christian sexual life and relationships; and I don’t think a progressive, inclusive version of the Playboy Philosophy, where only consent is required for probity in sexual behavior, is either Christian or compassionate. I actually believe that making consent the only moral marker of probity in sexual behavior turns the world of sexual relationship into a laissez-faire economy, where the strong prey on the weak in a completely unfettered manner.

    • Robert F says:

      By marriage I mean that between two people in a sexually exclusive relationship, with the intention of maintaining this relationship for life.

      • flatrocker says:

        Robert,
        So I have dear friends. The husband is nearly completely paralyzed with MS. The wife loves him deeply and heroically provides his care. The husband understands and loves the wife in a profoundly inspiring way. It is a difficult relationship – full of heartbreak and challenge. But they are committed to this relationship for life. There has been no sexual activity between them for years.

        By your definition, sex is one on the hallmarks of marriage. Due to the physical reality present in their relationship, there is no possibility of this ever happening. Is this couple married?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > Is this couple married?

          Yes. I would push back against the notion of sex as the hallmark.

          The hallmark is the public ceremony of commitment.

        • Iain Lovejoy says:

          I suspect to be fair by “sexually exclusive relationship” Robert was referring more to not having sex with anyone else. I agree one should be a little careful in expression, though.

          • So it’s not “anything goes” in your marriage (if you aren’t married, just as an example)? Who tells you what is permissible for you and your wife to do in your marriage? God? Pastor? Government?

            Parents?

            “sexually exclusive” is not a hallmark of marriage.

            • Rick Ro. says:

              You’re drifting a bit, Stuart, just for the sake of being provocative.

              • I’m not trying to be provocative for the sake of it, trying to make a point. Poorly, I might add, lol.

                • Iain Lovejoy says:

                  I’m not sure what point you trying to make, making a reply rather difficult.
                  I’m going to assume you are trying to ask two questions or make two points about marriage: “What is permissible in a marriage?” and “What are the hallmarks of a marriage?” since that seems to be what everyone else is doing. If I have done an injustice, sorry.
                  I would say the first question is only relevant if you are a divorce lawyer or a family court judge, and is answered in depending on the laws of whatever particular legal jurisdiction you are in, and the second question only if you are writing a dictionary.
                  On the other hand, the question a Christian ought to be asking themselves is “What can I do to grow in love of God and neighbour?” and the Bible and experience tell us marriage can be a good way of doing just that, in a way that casual hook-ups just don’t.
                  What you do or don’t do in a marriage is determined by what strengthens or otherwise the marriage. Sex can build and strengthen the intimacy, love and trust between two people, but, to state the blindingly obvious, having sex with someone else is a pretty sure fire way of completely f***ing it up.
                  The idea that what we do with our bodies, our relationships with other people and how we live our lives has no effect on us whatsoever, and we can somehow magically grow in love of God and neighbour just by doing some Christian-y stuff on a Sunday morning occasionally and asserting how much we “believe”, whilst otherwise just doing whatever our fancy takes to (with whoever we can persuade to join us) or that actually we don’t need to bother at all which seems to be the basic premise of “Naked and Unashamed” is dangerously absurd nonsense, in my book, and parts company with anything recognisable as Christianity.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          By your definition, sex is one on the hallmarks of marriage.

          You want to see that doctrine taken to its ultimate, remember Mark Driscoll and the female alimentary canal, Cee Jay Mahaney forcing himself on his widdle wifey while she was puking from morning sickness (and chuckling about it), Douggie Wilson’s “Penetrate, Colonize, Conquer, Plant”, and Michael Pearl’s description of his wedding night. In all of these, the man’s Urrges in His Arreas cannot be interfered with.

        • Robert F says:

          Ian,
          Yes, that’s what I meant. It was a poorly expressed afterthought to my first comment. Marriage may be marriage even where no sexual relationship is occurring, for whatever reason. I only meant to say that where a marriage includes sexual activity, it is monogamy, not polygamy, polyandry, group marriage, open marriage, polyamory or etc., that it fitting for a Christian marriage. Sorry to flatrocker and others for the confusion.

          • +1 to first part, -1 to second part, lol. Monogamy in marriage is not a definer for a Christian marriage, historically, currently, biblically, or…idk, some other -lly.

            • Robert F says:

              We disagree in this, Stuart. I see monogamy as an essential part of both the starting point and the goal for Christian marriage, as well as the path to be traveled between the two. It’s true enough that it hasn’t been lived well by many; but there have been some, and I consider them the models for what marriage is meant to be.

              • Rick Ro. says:

                Right. In fact, if you looked at the “opposite” of monogamy (aka polygamy, in its current form or Biblical form), that road is loaded with baggage and bad stuff. Didn’t work out so well for Solomon, for example, nor his wives, I’m guessing.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > … where the strong prey on the weak in a completely unfettered manner.

      +1,000

      • Yes, the lie these people believe is that there can be a society without any power dynamics, only something like mutual support for unfettered individual choice.

        All the while they are trying to gain influence to impose their views on everyone else.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Another factor in play is black-and-white Boolean thinking on both sides:
          CHRISTIAN: The ring and “I do” is the only determining factor.
          OTHER: Legal Consent and Legal Consent alone is the only determining factor.

          Both out-of-balance in opposite directions, and thus constantly at each others’ throats.

          All the while they are trying to gain influence to impose their views on everyone else.

          “Hooray, Hooray for the One True Way,
          The One True Way, the One True Way…”
          Unfortunately, the Universe cannot have TWO One True Ways — “DIE, HERETIC!!!!!”

  7. Burro (Mule) says:

    There are two things that continually pester me, that scratch at me in the back of my head. the first is that we are in somewhat uncharted territory here, and the Church’s previous reluctance to construct a Theology of the Body is coming back to bite us.

    The second is that the malice of demons is almost entirely overlooked, especially in this area. A situation where ” the strong prey on the weak in a completely unfettered manner ” is their preferred state, they delight in it, and it is their goal to manifest that on Earth.. For some reason, I would trust the most atavistic Pentecostal ululator on the subject of demons before the most erudite ELCA theologian.

    And am I the last person alive who has no problem with hegemony and authority? I have no problem with somebody telling another person what to do, and doing uncomfortable things to their body if the other person refuses.

    • ” For some reason, I would trust the most atavistic Pentecostal ululator on the subject of demons before the most erudite ELCA theologian.

      And am I the last person alive who has no problem with hegemony and authority?”
      ______________

      Just Stop it Mule – laughing – I have no idea what the heck you’re saying here.

    • Robert F says:

      And am I the last person alive who has no problem with hegemony and authority? I have no problem with somebody telling another person what to do, and doing uncomfortable things to their body if the other person refuses.

      Except under very strict limits, when due process has been followed and it is necessary to protect potential victims by restraining a known predator, what you may be the last person to have no problem with actually represents a form of the strong preying on the weak in a completely unfettered manner under the guise of protecting the social order. That’s what hegemony is: the strong dominating and preying on the weak in the supposed service of social order.

  8. Dan from Georgia says:

    I grew tired of the Culture wars on the Right about 10-15 years ago, and even before than when in the early 1990s someone put a “It’s a sin to vote for Bill Clinton” flyer on my windshield on a cloudy Sunday morning. Over time I drifted into Left field and was a borderline Progressive Christian. Nowadays I can’t stand both sides. It seems to me that those who who were once on the Right and now align with Progressive Christianity have basically traded one form of fundamentalism for another. One popular Progressive Christian author/blogger has really turned me off recently. This person, and many others like them, seem to want to tear down ANY and EVERY facet of traditional Christianity (“deconstruct”), impose their beliefs on others, feed off the “you go girl!” or “This!” or “I can’t even!” comments on their twitter feeds and Facebook pages, and cannot tolerate and won’t engage opposing viewpoints. Anyone who disagrees with them is a racist, sexist, homophobic, and intolerant person. There really is no gray area with them. Same can be said about the radicals on the Right. Jesus is not either side’s savior, but a poster boy for their cause.

    • –> “Nowadays I can’t stand both sides.”

      Ditto.

      Through the careful reading of the gospel accounts, I was led to drift away from my conservative (semi-fundamental) Christianity toward a more progressive Christianity (which I think is more in line with Jesus’ nature).

      But, yes… the drift has gone way too far in many, to where they are just as fundamental.

      We are all so broken.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        True Rick.

        Brokenness on both sides. And brokenness in the middle too.

        I still won’t call myself a Progressive Christian, but my beliefs are more aligned in that direction. It’s just the extremes (on both sides) that I want to disassociate myself from.

    • –> “Jesus is not either side’s savior, but a poster boy for their cause.”

      Case in point, the standard “progressive” Christian line I hear almost incessantly is “Jesus says to love everyone.” (In other words, “How dare you hold a belief that being transgender is wrong!”)

      Wait… aren’t you now telling me how I should believe? And using Jesus as the reason I should believe that?

      • Christiane says:

        I wrote a response to a post about transgender people over at SBCtoday. I thought I’d get banned, or certainly that I would get a lot of negative comments . . . . but the strangest thing happened . . . . what I wrote seemed to have ‘calmed the waters’ and the comments were not attacks at all.

        I must learn how to write in that more thoughtful mode more often . . . usually, I am more upset and angry than thoughtful, and it brings out the worst in folks,

        THIS is what I wrote at SBCtoday:

        I am conscious of people’s discomfort with those who are ‘different’ and that often not knowing how to ‘fix it’ for them or ‘make it right’ for them, how it is that we seem too eager to distance ourselves from them in ways that are not Our Lord’s Ways.

        What there is that makes us ‘human’ is something even more basic than our ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’ . . . and that IS a difference that invites us to engage with people who have gender issues on more common ground: our common human origin . . . the very soil from which we were formed and the very life breathed into us by God.

        Some in the Church are wanting to surround and care for those who are ‘different’ with great patience over time with gentle care and unremitting hope for their salvation,
        whereas others seem impatient in how quickly they are ready to cast transgender folk out from their midst . . .

        I think it important not to be afraid of encounters with those who suffer from differences so many of us cannot understand;
        or worse, not accept them as having one kind of ‘presenting form’ of that far more basic fallen human condition we all suffer from, each in our OWN way.

        The person who was ‘outed’ as ‘transgender’ IS, first and last, a child of God.
        What could be more important for us to know?”

        http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/survivor-transgender/

        • Dan from Georgia says:

          Very well put Christiane! Writing in a non-confrontational, non “in your face” way as you did most likely did disarm folks!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It seems to me that those who who were once on the Right and now align with Progressive Christianity have basically traded one form of fundamentalism for another.

      More like they were Fundies to start with, and just transferred the Fundy mindset from one to the other.

      Fundamentalism is a State of Mind, and can be attached to ANY ideology or belief system.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Jesus is not either side’s savior, but a poster boy for their cause.

      The Ultimate Celebrity Endorsement.

  9. Chaplain Mike

    I wish you well with ELCA.

    We Anglicans (Episcopalians in the US) have had the so called progressive crowd pushing their agenda for years (since about 1968). It was always framed as ‘let’s dialogue’. And slowly they took the positions of power in the church.

    The mantra is ‘inclusivity and diversity’ which is good, but taken to an extreme (as they do) it means if you do not agree we will sideline you and push you out. Anglicans in Canada have been very resistant to breaking up. We always said that the various groups will not violate areas of core doctrine.

    And then in 2009 Bishop Michael Ingham here in British Columbia authorized same sex marriage against the wishes of the Anglican communion. It has led to worldwide problems. Currently the Anglican communion is in crisis and beginning to split world wide. For those that do not know it is the third largest Christian group in the world.

    Many priests and congregations have been hoping the problem will vanish, because they just want to live the Christian life.

    I have learned that the ‘progressives’ are really another set of fundamentalists every bit as toxic and power hungry as the ones that I left in my evangelical days. Just recently in a conservative diocese they voted in a conservative bishop. The house of bishops overturned it on a technicality, and sent him to a remote church and after a few months fired him without cause. Since he is a US citizen he had to leave the country – problem fixed!

    In the meantime at the other end of the country they ordained a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.

    As an ex-fundamentalist I had always thought that progressives were more open minded. Alas I discovered that allowing ideology to blind you to the gospel of Christ is an all too human problem.

    • We Anglicans (Episcopalians in the US) have had the so called progressive crowd pushing their agenda for years (since about 1968). It was always framed as ‘let’s dialogue’. And slowly they took the positions of power in the church.

      With respect,

      We let their children attend our schools, and not by our choice. Now they want to be in leadership in our church. They want “to dialogue” about the gospel and life. Well, the scriptures are clear, they are lesser and cursed. Well, it’s a free country, but they should be free to be with their own kind, they aren’t one of us.

      • The point is Stuart, it is a power grab, plain and simple.

        Its not about dialog. This type of progressive is no different than the fundamentalist which you and I left behind. Every bit convinced of their rightness as Falwell and the moral majority. Just as willing to grab the levers of power to destroy opposition.

        I have sat and listened to clergy tell me their experiences at the hands of these guys and thought like my Russian buddy says ‘same sh*t, different pile’

        • It may be a power grab. Maybe after decades of “dialogue”, a power grab is what is necessary. We’ve certainly seen such power grabs before, such as the Southern Baptist Convention.

          Are they different from the fundamentalists? Absolutely. What they want to accomplish reduces a huge amount of hurt and doesn’t add much hurt in it’s place. (Contrast to the SBC takeover.) The people who are hurt are those who are trying to appease their illiteracy, their god, their “ways things were”…and who didn’t care if they hurt others holding on to those things.

          The point I’m trying to make in very broad strokes is that this is about equality. You may not like their tactics, but there are those who are still upset about the “tactics” of the Civil War/Civil Rights issues.

          • I think you are conflating issues Stuart. You think that by drawing parallels to racial issues that you win your case.

            Is there the slightest possibility that your conditioning by fundamentalism has left its traces on you? I certainly know it has me! And I left it over 30 years ago.

            Your argument above says that the end justifies the means. Is that what you really mean or am I misreading you?

            That is the exact same argument my friends in the Christian right use, only for a different cause.

            • I’m not trying to draw parallels to racial issues. I’m trying to draw parallels to equality issues.

              You’re right, fundamentalism has left many traces on me, and I’m trying to ascend beyond them rather than swinging to another extreme. I want to get above it and see them all clearly.

              Hence, this is an equality issue. A marginalized group asked for more. After much dialogue, the majority gave up something. They asked for more, no, we still aren’t equal. The majority gave up something more, less reluctantly. The minority group is sick of it, they will take more, the majority group screams at them to be grateful while their boot is on their neck.

              It’s an equality thing. It’s a power thing. It’s an equal rights thing. It is a human thing, a gospel thing.

              It is NOT a sin thing.

              It is NOT a racial thing.

            • I’m struggling to remember the exact quote, but it’s common…something like:

              “To the powerful, any equality is seemed as oppression.”

              That’s what this is.

              • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                And loss of privilege is persecution.

                • Rick Ro. says:

                  So if I’m Donald Trump, and someone tells me that everyone should have the same number of Skittles AND I don’t get more than anyone else, I’m both oppressed and persecuted!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I had always thought that progressives were more open minded

      Some are, pretty much by definition. Some are not.

      The secular space reflects much the same thing.

      • Robert F says:

        If you read the comments under any Washington Post article posted online these days, you will encounter plenty of close-minded progressives, and their opposites. It is frightening to witness the vitriol with which people go at each other, and the hatred mirrored in comments from opposite social/political camps.

  10. It’s always “how best can we uphold the law” as the splitter.

    Would be refreshing to see people split about how best to be like Christ and love others.

    Oh wait, it often is about loving others…

  11. The views expressed in this statement are dogmatic and insistent. They represent the same kind of culture war mindset of those who throw grenades from their bunkers on the other side. An entire tribal rhetoric has been developed that inhibits listening and conversing with others on any kind of neutral ground. They are not approaching these matters as concerned brothers and sisters but as entrenched combatants with weapons of language and doctrine.

    With respect,

    We gave them the right to vote. What, they expect the right to eat in our restaurants, use our bathrooms, drink our water, marry our women? They should be grateful for the concessions we’ve made.

    • The agenda of a church and denomination should be Christ. When Jesus is removed from the center, it becomes a free-for-all. And it doesn’t matter whether you replace Jesus with “family values” or “justice.” No matter which side of the debate you’re on, you’re missing the point.

      Amen.

    • So, I’m wondering how – as one example – commenters would respond to meeting an intersex individual at church (or anywhere else)? “Intersex” is a catchall term for a wide range of biological conditions that basically mean an individual with said diagnosis does not actually fit (biologically) into the binary male/female categories, even though said person may appear to be “normal” in all respects. This is *not* the same thing as hermaphroditism (which is a misleading term at best re. human biology).

      In any event, i feel like there’s something of a kneejerk reaction occurring here – the language used by these folks, plus a lot of the concepts, are things that could be rephrased in ways that would have many of you nodding your heads in agreement – i can say, for my own part, that yes, longterm singleness *is* devalued in the evangelical churches i used to be in. There was a pretty upfront assumption that one didn’t attain full adulthood unless or until they got married. For women, there’s the extra kick of having to reproduce to order, rather than delaying/not having kids due to work and career, academic pursuits, etc. In men, this is tolerated better, but in far too many religious circles, women’s biology is still viewed as destiny.

      If single, heterosexual people experience a stigma, how much more that must be the case for LGBTQI folks – as well as those who are asexual (orientation). There really is VERY little room for people who don’t conform to social and cultural norms in churches, and in that, they are a mictocosm of society as a whole… and then some (see my comments above about pressure on individuals in churches).

  12. John barry says:

    Andrew Dice Clay

    Told my girlfriend “Sex is a sacred thing between you and and my friends when I am bragging”. Men being men with no inhibitors or moral constraint.

    • Robert F says:

      Men can control themselves. It’s just that traditional male culture looks negatively on such control, as a sign of the weakness of a man’s desires, and so as a lack of masculinity, when masculinity is understood to be about dominance and power.

      • john barry says:

        I left out me in the stupid quote, it should of course between you and me and my friends when I am bragging.

        It took civilization thousands of years to get man , (men) to be monogamous and accept responsibility for this children. When the social, cultural and moral under underpinnings do not require men to take care of the family unit they have sired and they can live a life of moving on to the next attractive woman and they will. The term baby’s daddy and now baby’s mama is creeping into the language.

        Morality was built on what was needed to have a stable society, culture and religion. A village can raise a children in a simple, farming or low tech society but in the first world it takes a nuclear family to keep the wheels churning . I would just say men can control themselves if they have to or want to but if there is no restraint they will act upon their promiscuous male trait. I am sure 16 year old male teenagers with raging hormones fully endorse the N and U guys agenda.

        • Robert F says:

          Girls have hormones, too, and their hormones rage at an earlier age than the boys do. Actually, males wanted wanted wives who would only have sexual relations with them from early times, because they wanted to know who their offspring were, particularly their male offspring. Patrimony is about keeping male dominance in the family and down the generations; marriage in which the women were faithful was vital to establishing patrimony in societies, so males wanted marriage very much from early times.

        • Robert F says:

          Look as hard as you like, you will find little like the sexual nomadism of post-modernity in ancient societies, whether tribal or later more complex ones. It wasn’t hard to get males interested and invested in their offspring; what’s been hard is getting the situation we have now, in which males are severed from their offspring and alienated from their families. This is not according to male or human nature; this is an anomaly, with perhaps a few precursors in history, but not many and not widespread and also anomalies.

        • Robert F says:

          The idea that early human males existed as isolated nomads running from one female to the next is frankly preposterous. Early human beings, male and female, existed in tribal societies in which social cohesion was of utmost importance for the survival of the group and the individual. There were no lone human wolves, except for perhaps those exiled from the tribe for crimes against tribal codes, including sexual codes; it is unlikely these survived long alone.

          • john barry says:

            Robert F. I will admit my knowledge of early man is limited to seeing 6 Million Years B.C. with Raquel Welch, and I saw it twice because it was so educational. It was far more realistic than Fantastic Voyage that was based in the future (at the time) but the acting as usual was great by 22 year old RW .

            The latest out of wedlock % births are for native born Americans
            Total out of wedlock 42%

            Hispanic 56.9%
            White 30.0
            Black 77.3%
            Asian/Pacific Island 27.2
            Indian/Alaskan Native 68.4%
            More than one race 56.8%

            For Immigrants
            Total 32.7 out of wedlock

            Hispanic 48.9%
            White 12.7%
            Black 34.2
            Asian/Pacific Island 10.9%
            Indian/Native Alaska 41.2
            more than one race 19.7%

            It is now common for adults refuse to child support and basically move on leaving families in crisis. This is becoming so normal that men feel no shame or guilt trying to evade child support and have a series of children. The family based on religion teachings was the bedrock of western civilization that is now eroding as Cole Porter and the Naked and Unashamed advocate anything goes. And every man did what was right in his own eyes.

            I forgot I also saw the movie Clan of the Bear Cave will Darryl Hannah I think had the first modern baby , so again my knowledge is as always limited.

            • Christiane says:

              well, in a sense, Our Lord was conceived ‘out of wedlock’ which does rather make people thoughtful about discriminating against babies who are born out of wedlock . . . .

              a baby is innocent . . . there should never be any stigma placed on a child in my opinion.

              The sociological studies of which races and areas have the most or least out-of-wedlock babies is more of a reflection on ‘culture’ and yes, that might have to be examined on a more localized manner: for example, Scandinavian countries do have more out-of-wedlock births which is not seen as such a scandalous thing in those countries . . . . and the survival rate of newborns in those countries is higher than our own country . . . and parents are helped in the early months and years to have time to parent and also to receive supplementary funds to help with the baby’s care . . . . yes, it’s a kind of ‘socialism’ but far more civilized and less restrictive than we would have seen in Russian when it was the USSR.

  13. Richard Hershberger says:

    Naked & Unashamed: As a point of information, I (who have been an active and involved ELCA member since it first came into being) had not heard of this before now. It might be a lapse of attention on my part, but a likelier explanation is that there is no reason I would have.

  14. This sounds very much like having your cake and eating it: both in terms of (apparently) unbridled sexual relationships with no constraints, and remaining in the church whilst picking and choosing what they want to believe.

    Quite apart from any theological considerations about homosexuality or marriage, I just don’t see this kind of ‘I do what I want’ philosophy in the Bible. The narrative is through and through about orienting yourself to the good, even when it costs you. Doing the right thing, not the most pleasing thing. (And I don’t think that is antagonistic to grace).

  15. I haven’t been here in a while. Who the heck has hijacked internetmonk?

    How can anyone have questions about the sinful nature of homosexual relationships, in the light of the Bible? The problem here is people have issue with authoritative structures. Relative morality is the rule of the day. I am far from fundamentalist, but this isn’t “via media”. It’s anathema.