07 November 2009

You Can't Go Halfway (Part One)

John Shelby Spong

My dearest friend, Dr. Lester Earl Blue, Jr, recently emailed me an essay he came across while Web surfing. It was penned by noted theologian John Shelby Spong, no doubt in response to the ongoing turmoil over Gay issues in his Episcopal denomination. Reading it, I got the impression that a volcano of emotion has long been stirring inside Dr. Spong. I think he let it simmer below the surface for years, but the time came when only expressing a portion of that rage wasn't enough! Now he's finally let the top blow off, and the lava that's gushing out has taken the form of searing, incisive words. Blazing hot words, hot enough to burn away ambiguity and confusion!

That's the kind of natural phenomenon I both love to see and love to share with my blog patrons! Have you ever seen an exploding Christian? Are you ready to witness an eruption to rival Mount Saint-Helens? Then dare to approach the smoke-filled crater of a soul aflame with fury! Peer over the edge, and train your eyes on these key excerpts from Dr. Spong's Manifesto: The Time Has Come! It was originally posted to the Web on 15 October 2009, and the entire document can be viewed here.

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the Biblical ignorance that emanates from so many Right Wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how, through prayer and "spiritual counseling", homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.

I stopped spending time and energy on them many years ago! During the height of Anita Bryant-fueled anti-Gay hysteria, I quit my church in protest of the heterosexist sermons my pastor had begun preaching. Believe me, I've never regretted that decision!

I will no longer (listen) to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the Church can or should be achieved . . . at the expense of Gay and Lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."

I wonder if the reparative therapy-tolerant staff of exgaywatch.com will take these words to heart? They should.

I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase . . . "We love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is . . . nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons . . . but (they) know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

How long I've waited for someone of Dr. Spong's stature to make this all-too-true observation! He phrased it just right, too.

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles . . . the Church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against Blacks (sic), Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer.

The stench of perfumed prejudice and pious rhetoric is truly revolting! Millions of people refuse to tolerate it anymore, and it's obvious from the way many if not most LGBT folk view the mainstream Church as anathema!

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings . . . to form a community in which they can continue to hate Gay people, distort Gay people with their hopeless rhetoric, and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

It is, in fact, a false virtue! Jesus Christ said: Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Luke 12: 51-53). It was always inevitable that the Church would be divided against itself!

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these (TV) stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men, or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end, the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for Gay and Lesbian people.

Are you listening, network and cable network news producers? Stop "balancing" LGBT issues with on-air rebuttal from the likes of James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher! What you're creating isn't balance, it's distortion!

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.

"Embarrassing ineptitude" is too mild a description for Pope Ratzinger's hateful broadsides against LGBT humanity! I prefer to call what comes out of his wicked mouth "verbal genocide"! When he claimed that Transgender life threatens the Earth's ecology, that's when I knew he hadn't truly renounced his Hitler Youth past!

I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance, and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from Third World religious leaders, who . . . reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population.

Now, this is what I call bonafide fire-and-brimstone preaching . . . Dr. Spong is truly kickin' ass and takin' names!

"You Can't Go Halfway" concludes with Part Two.

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