MORE ON THE 'EMERGING CHURCH'
The other day here on the blog I wrote about Brian McLaren, a leader of the "emerging curch" movement, after hearing him speak in Kansas City. Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press has done this interesting interview with him that I think will be a good follow-up to what I wrote. I'm not sure just where this movement is going, but I think it's good for Christianity to have upstart groups within it to continue challenging people to think through how to live out their faith now.
* * *
STRUGGLING WITH SEXUALITY ISSUES
The issue of how religious communities treat matters of human sexuality never seems to go away, and probably never will.
But I sometimes think that all the energy that goes into this complicated matter could be better spent meeting the needs of people who are in various kinds of trouble. That is not to deny the importance of these sexuality questions. Rather, it's to express my frustration that we seem unable to settle things enough to move on.
A new example of the energy being put into this is an effort called "Clergy Call 2009" being launched by the Human Rights Campaign. The idea is to train clergy to be leaders in the struggle for equality in faith communities for gays and lesbians as well as people who are bisexual or transgender.
I certainly support that idea because, as my regular readers know, I believe, from a Christian perspective, that people of all sexual orientations should be welcome into the church and, when otherwise qualified, be eligible to be ordained to ministry. Yes, yes, I know that many people disagree with me, including, officially, my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). But I am persuaded, after considerable exegetical work, that the Bible should not be used as a weapon in this debate because it essentially has nothing to say about what, today, we are coming to understand as sexual orientation.
Still, as I say, I wish we could get past this and focus on ministry.
Just to see a larger picture, let me also say that a great deal of energy has been expended in trying to get gays and lesbians to change their sexual orientation and be straight. The idea is that homosexuality is a syndrome, a choice, a sin, a disorder that can be healed or changed through "reparative therapy," as it's sometimes known. This book deals with it, as does this one. And there are ministries aimed at making people ex-gays. The American Psychological Associaton more than 10 years ago adopted a resolution affirming that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and expressing ethical concerns about such therapy.
My instinct and call is to stand with people experiencing discrimination and religious oppression, and I try to do that. I just wish all of this weren't such an issue.
* * *
P.S.: Sen. Barack Obama's church, Trinity UCC in Chicago, has started a blog to give the world a view of the congregation from the inside. Click here to read it. And tell us what you think.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow will be about interfaith heroes.)