AnonymousDeleted UserNovember 12, 2020 at 4:27 am
In trying to write an answer to one of the prompts, I ended up writing a response that encompasses both of the prompts! Apologies for a very long post….
I have shared in previous posts that when my views began to shift and evolve to accept and believe that God might lead people to (and bless) same sex relationships, it was very much spirit lead. I think that this connects to what Sam Matthew says: “Without faith-response to God all hermeneutics will be in vain. This perspective will help us to be cautious in our use of tools that sift the text of the Bible for historical ‘facts’ or study the Bible as literature without any faith commitment on the one hand, and to consider faith-response to God as a guiding principal in Indian biblical interpretation on the other” (Indian Biblical Hermeneutics, 113).
While I was studying the Bible, a passage that I had read many times before in my life, I saw a new angle of interpretation. In the past, many had come to me with a historical-critical method explaining what is commonly known as the 6 “clobber” passages not to mean loving, committed, same sex relationships, as a means for justifying same sex relationships, but this was not sufficiently convincing to me, because I also did not rely on those six passages as my framework for understanding God’s intention for human sexuality and marriage but the rest of the Bible.
I do, and have always believed, that because scripture is “god breathed” and living, that we need the help of the Holy Spirit to interpret and understand the Bible, and that our ability to find and discover new things in the same text is partially because of the animation of the Holy Spirit, the source of faith. I had learned through my years of commitment to lifelong celibacy the deep importance of the Holy Spirit and of faith in my walk. It was not sufficient for me to rely upon my intellectual or theological knowledge to live such an ascetic life, it required deep reliance on the Holy Spirit and of the faith supplied to me by the Holy Spirit to live in obedience believing that God would, against all evidence of the world, provide for me all that I needed.
So that day when I turned to the well-worn pages of my Bible to read a passage I regularly sought for comfort, the Holy Spirit connected many dots for me about how the Bible and Jesus talk about marriage and sexuality and how these values and ideas are lived out amongst Christians and the church. I was terrified that I was being led astray by my own desires or deceitful heart, and I prayed that God would strike down these ideas and thoughts immediately and show me that they were wrong if they were. I was also filled with dread, considering, even if this was not a wrong interpretation or belief, where could I ever find a community or a church that would hold evangelical, reformed, “orthodox” beliefs about Christianity but allow for same sex relationships? How was I to live and practice my faith with a community that would never be able to accept me or this?
Instead of experiencing the conviction and refutation of this biblical interpretation, within twenty-four hours, news was coming out online about how City Church of San Francisco (a church planted and founded on the same values, ideas, and principals as my own PCA church, City Church of East Nashville) was no longer requiring their LGBTQ members to be celibate in their church. Not only had God not struck me or these thoughts down, but had answered the question I was asking, showing me that I was not alone, that God was working in others the same way that God was working in me. What happened in the weeks, months, and years that followed took a lot of faith in God’s guidance to speak truthfully and honestly with other Christians around me. It would have been easy to hide that this shift had taken place inside my heart and mind and continued to pass in my faith community, knowing that sharing this evolution of conviction would result in being cast out or thrown out of participating and serving in my church and college ministry. I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit both in my theological position on homosexuality but also to accept the harsh consequences of that shift in being totally transparent and upfront about that with the spiritual and pastoral leadership in my life.
My old RUF minister used to say to us that the difficulty in life is not discerning what God’s will is but doing it. We make a big fuss about “discerning Gods will” is, but much of it is written quite clearly in the Bible. What is difficult is obeying it because that requires faith, and that was what was being asked of me by the Holy Spirit, and I jumped. In those acts of faith, lead by the Holy Spirit, I have learned new and deeper meanings of many passages of the Bible, and resonated with much of what Sam Matthew explored in the paper of Indian Biblical Hermeneutics.