Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The 'honesty' of John Shelby Spong

[...] Here's the difference. When gays were closeted in the church, no one was forced to choose between them and the Bible. Tolerance was possible even if morally it was not exactly commendable. Those who personally disapproved of the gay lifestyle could keep it to themselves and not make waves. Those who lived the gay lifestyle, while wishing they could be open, could at least practice their preferred lifestyle. In spite of the several facets of moral compromise, this may have been as close as we would ever get to a "win win" situation. Live and let live.

What would have been more honest would have been for the church to practice its own discipline, with the hope that those living a self-destructive lifestyle would be motivated to change and restored to a renewed fellowship in the church. As it happens, no one practices discipline without an agenda. There are too many other hypocrisies in the church for discipline to have any other purpose than as a random expression of vindictiveness. Besides that, the church lives in a time and place where religious competition is the norm. Any Christian who objects to his church's discipline can simply choose to buy another brand. Again there were many reasons why "live and let live" became an expedient solution to the latent contradictions of Christian sexual practice and the church's pastoral response.

Live and let live is very different when it becomes ideology. When homosexuality became politicized, people were forced to choose between the Bible and the demands of a political agenda. People were no longer permitted to be honestly confused, undecided, or ambivalent. The church had been cornered by a carefully orchestrated lobbying effort, just as the American Psychiatric Association had been a few decades earlier when, in response to disruptions to their national meetings, it voted to amend the diagnosis of homosexuality in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Read more
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