My duty to the Bible’s living interpretive tradition

bibleI had a good discussion yesterday with my pastor covenant group about our discernment process as a church in the wake of the Frank Schaefer trial and controversy. I know that I got a little hot-headed in the debate online so I wanted to offer more circumspect reflections. I believe that each disciple of Jesus Christ not only has the right but actually the duty to contribute to the ongoing living interpretive tradition of our faith. Some Christians think that the Bible doesn’t require any interpretation, but I contend that the way we interpret it is by living it and sharing our testimony with each other. Continue reading

Justice of the heart and Frank Schaefer

frank schaeferThis week, the United Methodist Church put a pastor on trial named Frank Schaefer for officiating at the wedding of his gay son. The judge, retired bishop Al Gwinn, ruled out as inadmissible any defense arguments based on scripture or other sections of the Book of Discipline, reasoning that only “the facts” of what Schaefer did were relevant to determining the verdict. While I understand the rationale and practical limitations that necessitate this approach to justice, I do not think it does justice to justice. The promise that we receive in scripture is that God judges according to the heart. Hebrews 4:12-13 says: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” Continue reading

Why James K.A. Smith should stay off of twitter

rhe vs jkasThere are few things that make my blood boil more than to see someone take a mean-spirited, unfair swipe against someone else in a public forum like twitter. When this happens, it needs to be named and addressed, especially when the instigator is a popular Christian writer who I’ve promoted on my blog. Rachel Held Evans had expressed support for the student newspaper at Calvin College running a feature piece on LGBT students, which is pretty bold for an evangelical college. And James K.A. Smith, a professor at Calvin and writer of many books that I’ve blogged about, decided that he needed to “humble” Rachel for voicing her support when it’s none of her damn business. Continue reading

The United Methodist gay wedding crisis

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Richard Taylor and William Gatewood who got married by 50 UMC pastors this past weekend (UMNS: Mike DuBose)

Thomas Frank, the guy who wrote our textbook on United Methodist polity, has made a plea for UMC bishops not to put pastors on trial who conduct same-sex marriages (like the 50 who did so last weekend). I had been trying to lay low on this issue for a while. My position has been to honor what the Discipline says for me to do while being obediently prophetic regarding God’s truth as I have encountered it. I was actually going to write a post stating that if pastors engage in civil disobedience, then the consequences are part of the witness. However, I realized as I read Frank’s plea that the paradigm I was applying to our gay wedding crisis is to presume that United Methodism is appropriately analogous to our broken secular democracy: a two party majoritarian system with lobbyists, caucuses, and hyperventilating pundits.

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Testimony of a happily married intersex eunuch (Lianne Simon’s story)

ls4[This guest post comes from Lianne Simon, a woman who was born with sexual ambiguity and raised as a boy until she was 18. She has offered to answer any questions you have in a follow-up post. I trust that you will be respectful and appropriate.]

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Can God make people who don’t fit our boxes? (The #transgender question)

jazz jenningsWhen I was in my early twenties, I went through a David Bowie phase. I dabbled in androgyny which involved some cross-dressing, sexual experimentation, and even giving myself a Ziggy Stardust-like alter-ego. I called myself Agent Starchild, named after a character in George Clinton’s P-Funk ensemble. I told people I was “bi-curious” because I was fascinated with queer people, who were sort of an exotic hobby to me at the time. I suspect that what I did in my early twenties is what conservative evangelicals like Russell Moore presume that transgender people are actually doing themselves. Though I’ve never been close friends with a transgender person, when I look at the story of someone like 12 year old transgender girl Jazz Jennings [pictured here], who was born anatomically male, it’s obvious that her experience is completely different than my David Bowie phase. Continue reading