Saturday, May 24, 2014

Not in my Bible...

A.Hanson, Central Lutheran
Minneapolis, 2014
I spent the last week at the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis.  I heard so many wonderful preachers.  One preacher that made a huge impact on me is the Rev Otis Moss III.  In his sermon, he referenced a talk that was given by Howard Thurman.  Howard Thurman's grandmother (who was a slave in the deep South) was once asked how she could keep reading the Bible knowing that it permitted slavery.  She said, "That's not in my Bible."  She was pressed to explain and she finally said, "I ripped that page out.  So it's not in my Bible anymore.  I know that God is a God of love and a God of freedom."

I turned to my friend Scott and said, "I wish I could rip out Romans 1."  This is one of the clobber passages used to perpetuate hate and intolerance against me and others who identify as LGBTQ. And as I got to thinking more about it, I realized, Why can't I rip out that page from my Bible? (This is not literally going to happen, I sort of like my Bible intact. It has a beautiful purple soft leather cover.  But I digress, the God revealed in these eight verses is not the God that I know.)

Howard Thurman's grandmother was right on.  She knew that God is a God of love and of freedom from her own experience. I know that God is a God of love and freedom from my own experience.  This is made abundantly clear to me every single day. So I am done trying to justify my existence in this world to those who would hate me.  God is so much more a God of love and justice. I am loved no matter who I love. 

I could probably be accused of blasphemy by those who believe in biblical inerrancy.  But this is not between me and them, it is between me and God.  And my God is a God of love. I have agonized for many years about trying to make it all fit together.  To ignore or rationalize away the anti-gay passages in scripture.  But instead I am going with the revealed God of scripture instead of the literal scripture itself.  A God of love, a God of reform, a God of new creations.  A God that is continually revealing Godself in new places.  God is not static and not contained within a dusty tome.

And I think that when the God that we know from God's Word AND the lived experience of the Body of Christ differs from isolated passages in the Bible, we have a responsibility to share that God.

And that is the Gospel of our Lord.

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