Showing posts with label Religion Acceptance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion Acceptance. Show all posts

July 24, 2018

Leviticus Chapter 18 is Not as Anti Gay As Many Have Wrongly Interpreted It

In Leviticus 18:22 and especially in Leviticus 20:13 we are no longer faced with “small” but obvious errors of translation where the sacred prostitutes or the inhabitants of a small village on the shores of the Dead Sea were converted into homosexuals and rejected by the god of Israel. Here we are faced, or rather, believers (Christians, Jews and Muslims) are faced with a moral dilemma of the first order. Should gays die? Should they be executed as outlined in God’s law?


Leviticus 18:22. The text.

Although no original texts are available, regardless of whether we take the Septuagint version of the Bible translated into Greek (III BC), or the Jewish Masoretic (X century AD), which are the oldest available texts, we can find a Similar construction in them that would literally translate as:
“With man you will not sleep bed woman is detestable.”
Leviticus 18:22 in Greek:
“ka i meta arsenosou (male) koimethese (lie down) koiten (bed) gunaikein (woman) bdelygma(detestable) gar esti”
Leviticus 18:22 in Hebrew:
“hî   tō·w·‘ê·ḇāh (detestable) ’iš·šāh (women); miš·kə·ḇê (bed) tiš·kaḇ (lie down) lō   zā·ḵār (man) wə·’eṯ-”
It is obvious that the phrase “with man you will not sleep bed woman” has no explicit meaning, and that we must make sense out of it.
The most “modern” Christian tradition wanted to see a general condemnation of both behavior and homosexual orientation in this text, although current theologians, such as the Protestant R. Lings, tell us that there are at least 12 possible interpretations of this text, none of them related to homosexuality.

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When trying to interpret any chapter from the bible you just can't take a single text. Just like a conversation. Also you need to know if not who wrote it but how many people had input into it. Lastly you most interpret the bible from the greek or early hebrew. Languages change and what a puzzy in the US is not the same as in England.  A 'bicho' in Puerto rico is not the same as in Cuba or the Americas. You call someone a "bicho' in Puerto rico and you got a fight on your hands but in other places is just a mosquito. We use the word "cool" a lot, at least I do. In 1905 they would have brought me a cold drink or beer to get cool. But people that want to feel superior to others and want to do damaged to others try to find an excuse in the bible. What better excuse! except is not. We live in an era of enlightment because we have technology to takes forward but also takes us back to our roots. For instance we have known the Earth was round long before the Apollo flights into space in the 1960's but still there are thousand of people that say the earth is not round. So we can't go for a minority of idiots because they are everywhere but by the "propondence of the evidence."
🦊Adam (3 yrs Seminary graduate with 2 yrs post)



By Idan Dershowitz
Dr. Dershowitz is a biblical scholar.


No text has had a greater influence on attitudes toward gay people than the biblical book of Leviticus, which prohibits sex between men. Before Leviticus was composed, outright prohibitions against homosexual sex — whether between men or women — were practically unheard-of in the ancient world.

Chapter 18 of Leviticus contains a list of forbidden incestuous acts, followed by prohibitions against sex with a menstruating woman, bestiality, and various other sexual acts. In Verse 22, we find its most famous injunction: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 20:13 repeats this law, along with a punishment for those who violate it: “They shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”)

Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer. Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed. An earlier edition of Leviticus, then, may have been silent on the matter of sex between men.

But I think a stronger claim is warranted. As I argue in an article published in the latest issue of the journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, there is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men. In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible. 

The chapter’s original character, however, can be uncovered with a little detective work.

The core of Leviticus 18 is the list of incest laws, each of which includes the memorable phrase “uncover nakedness.” This is typically understood as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, so “you shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister” would mean something like “do not have sex with your father’s sister.”

Most of the incest laws are presented in a straightforward manner, but two are not. The first exception is: “The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness” (emphasis mine). At first, this verse appears to outlaw sex between a man and either of his parents. However, the italicized explanation, or gloss, suggests that the law actually addresses only one parent: the mother. It is difficult to reconcile the two parts of this sentence.

The same thing happens again a few verses later: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother.” Simple enough, right? The following gloss, however, may give you whiplash: “you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt.” By the time we’ve finished reading the gloss, a prohibition against intercourse between a man and his paternal uncle has transformed into a law about sex between a man and that uncle’s wife.

Each verse in Leviticus 18’s series of incest laws contains a similar gloss, but the others are merely emphatic, driving home the point. (For example, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.”) Only in these two cases — the father and mother, and the father’s brother — do the glosses alter our understanding of what is prohibited. A law prohibiting sex with one’s father fades away, and a law against sex with one’s uncle is reinterpreted as a ban on sex with one’s aunt.

What we have here is strong evidence of editorial intervention.

It is worth noting that these new glosses render the idiom “uncover nakedness” incoherent. The phrase can no longer denote sex if uncovering the nakedness of one’s father is an act that also involves one’s mother — as the gloss implies. 

But more strikingly, the two exceptional verses are the only ones that address incest between men — all the others involve women. Once the new glosses were added to the text, the prohibitions in Leviticus against incest no longer outlawed any same-sex couplings; only heterosexual pairs were forbidden.

If a later editor of Leviticus opposed homosexual intercourse, you might wonder, wouldn’t it have made more sense for him (and it was probably him) to leave the original bans on homosexual incest intact?

No. The key to understanding this editorial decision is the concept of “the exception proves the rule.” According to this principle, the presence of an exception indicates the existence of a broader rule. For example, a sign declaring an office to be closed on Sundays suggests that the office is open on all other days of the week.

Now, apply this principle to Leviticus 18: A law declaring that homosexual incest is prohibited could reasonably be taken to indicate that non-incestuous homosexual intercourse is permitted.

A lawmaker is unlikely to specify that murdering one’s father is against the law if there is already a blanket injunction against murder. By the same token, it’s not necessary to stipulate that sex between two specific men is forbidden if a categorical prohibition against sex between men is already on the books.

It seems that with the later introduction in Leviticus of a law banning all male homosexual intercourse, it became expedient to bring the earlier material up-to-date by doing away with two now-superfluous injunctions against homosexual incest — injunctions that made sense when sex between men was otherwise allowed. 

This editor’s decision to neutralize old laws by writing new glosses, instead of deleting the laws altogether, is serendipitous: He left behind just enough clues for his handiwork to be perceptible.

One can only imagine how different the history of civilization might have been had the earlier version of Leviticus 18’s laws entered the biblical canon.

Idan Dershowitz (@IdanDershowitz) is a biblical scholar and junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter. 
A version of this article appears in print on July 22, 2018






July 16, 2018

Episcopal Church Removes All Restrictions for Same Sex Marriage




, Nashville Tennessean
The Episcopal Church removed restrictions on same-sex marriage Friday, making it so all couples can wed where they worship. 
While they are already permitted across much of the Episcopal Church, the bishops in Middle Tennessee and seven other U.S. dioceses had not permitted religious wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples in their regions of the church. The decision made Friday by the denomination's governing body overrides those local decisions.
The General Convention, which wrapped up its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday, passed a resolution with overwhelming support that makes it so all couples can marry in their local congregations. They now do so under the direction of their priest, instead of their bishop.
"I am thrilled," said Connally Davies Penley, a member of All Sacraments for All People. 
The local grassroots group has been advocating for equal access to marriage within the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee since Bishop John Bauerschmidt announced his ban on same-sex weddings in 2015.  
Under the resolution passed Friday, clergy still can decline to bless or solemnize any marriage. But if the couples live in a diocese where the bishop theologically objects to same-sex marriages, that bishop will tap, if necessary, another willing one to provide pastoral support to all involved.
"I think it's a wonderful compromise, which respects the dignity of the bishop and his position, but still allows marriage for all in their home congregations," said Davies Penley as she prepared to leave Texas on Friday afternoon. 
The final amended version of the resolution had broad support in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.  
Bauerschmidt supported the original language of the resolution prior to the July 5 start of the General Convention. On Saturday he said in an email that he would be writing to the diocese about it next week.
“The Resolution allows access to the liturgies for same sex marriage in the Diocese of Tennessee while preserving the rights and responsibilities of the parish clergy for the use of their buildings for any liturgy. In other words, there is much to work out. It also preserves the ministry of bishops as chief pastors and teachers in our dioceses,” Bauerschmidt said.
“We will be working out what it means for our diocese with clergy and congregations in the coming days.”
This resolution builds on the General Convention's 2015 decision to approve the trial-use liturgies for marriage that made way for same-sex couples to wed in the Episcopal Church. At the time, they left it up to each bishop to decide whether or not the liturgies could be used in their diocese. 
The inconsistent rules prompted couples and advocates locally and nationally to push to no longer have bishops decide the matter. They wanted all those who desire to marry in their home dioceses to be able to do so.
After the 2015 General Convention decision, 93 bishops authorized same-sex weddings, but eight did not. Bauerschmidt, who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, is one of the eight. 
In addition to not authorizing them, Bauerschmidt declined to allow clergy within his diocese to officiate the religious ceremonies or permit the weddings on church property. Same-sex couples wanting to marry were referred to the Diocese of Kentucky. 
As a result of the bishop's ban, Indie Pereira and her wife Pari Bhatt opted for a civil ceremony instead of the church wedding they wanted.
Given the policy change on Friday, they are hopeful that they will be able to have their church wedding at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Nashville, which is where they worship on Sundays. 
"We're definitely pleased that it passed," said Pereira, who was sitting in a dentist chair when her wife rushed in the room to tell her the news.
The next step, Pereira says, is to have a discussion with her priest and parish to discern a path forward, but she is hopeful that she and her wife will be able to have their church wedding next summer.
She knows work will need to be done to make sure those who disagree still feel included in the diocese. She anticipates that Bauerschmidt will continue to emphasize unity within the diocese moving forward just as he has in the past.
"I feel like we can do that and we can stick together," Pereira said. "I feel like we can get through this." 
The resolution does not change the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer by making the trial-use liturgies permanent, which some church members had hoped would happen. Instead, the resolution extends their trial use until the next comprehensive revision of the prayer book.
Some Episcopalians did not want the prayer book altered, including Bauerschmidt, who worried it would threaten the unity of the church. 
The resolution that passed Friday will not go into effect until the first Sunday of Advent, the liturgical season leading up to Christmas that starts in the fall.
Reach Holly Meyer at hmeyer@tennessean.com or 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.   

June 14, 2018

Catholic Church of Ireland Says Anti Gay Language from The Church Must Stop




DUBLIN — An Irish group campaigning for reform in the Catholic Church has launched a petition ahead of Pope Francis' papal visit in August to Ireland calling on the Vatican to change its "theological language that is gravely insulting to LGBTQI people." (The initials stand for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.")  
We Are Church Ireland is encouraging anyone offended or angered by the church's use of terms such as "objectively disordered" and "intrinsically evil" in relation to LGBTQI people to sign their petition.
Spokesman for the group, Brendan Butler, said the petition demands an end to the Vatican's "un-Christian language to describe our LGBTQI sisters and brothers."
"For an institution like the Catholic Church to teach that these words are an expression of the mind of God to describe her image in LGBTQI persons is not alone scandalous but blasphemous," he criticized.
The petition is being spearheaded by former political correspondent at TV3 in Ireland, Ursula Halligan, along with Irish Senator David Norris and Pádraig Ó Tuama, leader of the Corrymeela peace community. 
Explaining their involvement, the trio have said that the church's formal language makes the institutional church complicit in the marginalization of LGBTQI people.
"Under the guise of religion and faith, the church models intolerance, breeds prejudices, and attempts to justify discrimination," they criticized in a statement.
Senator David Norris, a member of the Anglican community, has for decades campaigned for the decriminalization of homosexuality which was achieved in 1993. He is highly critical of the Christian churches' treatment of LGBTQI people.
"As a believing and church-going Christian I have to say that the history of the Christian churches in relation to gay people is a shocking record of criminality and brutality," he said. "At the instigation of the churches, gay people have been routinely ostracized, tortured and murdered. It is unacceptable that there should be any continuation of the savage and insensitive language employed by some of the churches in dealing with gay people. It is salutary to remember that Jesus Christ not once mentions or condemns homosexuality."
Norris, Halligan and Ó Tuama feel it is "imperative" for them to "boldly speak out" against the church's "continued insistence on calling the LGBTQI community's 'inclinations' as 'objectively disordered' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358), or even worse, 'ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil' (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Person, 1986)." The group has called on the church to formally change its language about the countless LGBTQI people "whose lives benefit the church and who are impacted by such diminishing language."
"As a gay Catholic, I do not recognize myself in the language used about me in the church's documents or teachings," said Ó Tuama, who acts as leader of the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation organization. "The Gospels depict the dignity of humanity, especially those who were castigated or marginalized. The church would be more faithful to its witness to use language that builds bridges rather than diminishes dignity."
"If a business or company were to use such language, they would be publicly reprimanded and penalized by the state. The hierarchical church needs to wash its mouth out before speaking about LGBTQI people," Halligan, journalist in residence at Dublin City University, criticized.
The petition was launched June 7, and members of We Are Church's international network have been signing up. Representatives of We Are Church Ireland have brought it to the attention of the fourth conference of the International Church Reform Network which is taking place June 11-15 in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is hoped that the representatives from these other church reform groups will support the petition and bring it to their membership around the world.
According to Butler, the petition is only the first step in a much more far-reaching campaign for a rethink of the church's theology of human sexuality. "There has to be a change in culture within the institutional church first of all," he told NCR. But with the majority of bishops having been appointed under Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, he doesn't see that happening any time soon. Nor does he see LGBTQI Catholics leading change as "most of them have given up" and have left the church.
"It is only a few who remain," he said. "So many have walked away because they believe it is a waste of time. They fought for years but eventually gave up."
Butler detects a backlash within the Catholic Church against a more compassionate approach on LGBTQI people led by traditional Catholics in the U.S. promoting an Old Testament view of homosexuality as wrong and evil.
"It needs leadership from the top while we're pushing from the bottom," Butler said. "Pope Francis has asked people to bring the ideas to him, so that is what we are trying to do. I know he is under pressure, but at the end of the day he has to leave his mark on the church and he has to show leadership too and give direction by saying that this kind of language should no longer be used in connection with any gay person."

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Pádraig Ó Tuama, Ursula Halligan and Sen. David Norris in front of the papal cross in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. (Colm Homes/Courtesy of We Are Church Ireland) 
Halligan believes the "hierarchical Catholic Church needs to get to know Catholic LGBTQI people. We are part of God's creation too and we're not going away. Deep, mutual listening can bring about deep, mutual healing and open up new ways of seeing things."
She described Pope Francis as "a wizard at the spontaneous symbolic gesture that captures world attention" and added that before any more theology is done the pope needs to call a global meeting of Catholic LGBTQI people in Rome and start a dialogue.
"I am confident that out of such dialogue the seeds of a new theology on human sexuality will emerge; one based on flesh and blood human persons and not on the theoretical abstractions of a tiny elite in the church," she said.
As a gay woman, Halligan recalled her hurt at the language the church uses to describe her sexuality. "I felt physically sick the first time I read the official church's position on homosexuality," she said. "I felt diminished and wounded as a person. Deep in my heart I knew God didn't see me like that and it made me wonder why the Catholic Church did?"
"Abuse isn't just a physical thing. Words, used negatively, can be equally abusive. If school yard bullies used the language of the Catholic Church, they'd be disciplined, sent home or away on a rehabilitation program," she continued.
One of the groups at the conference in Bratislava likely to support the petition is New Ways Ministry, led by Loretto Sr. Jeannine Gramick. This group has its own statement for which it is seeking an endorsement from the reform conference in Bratislava, concerning the World Meeting of Families — scheduled for Aug. 21-26 in Dublin — and the exclusion of LGBT families. The issue has dogged the World Meeting of Families since the controversy surrounding an image of a lesbian couple being removed from a resource booklet and a comment made by Los Angeles Bishop David O'Connell that the existence of gay couples was edited out of a resource video.
In their statement, New Ways Ministry notes that Francis has been meeting regularly with survivors of sexual abuse to listen to their stories, and calls on the pope to meet LGBT families, who they say, "have long suffered from another form of clerical abuse."
The group believes LGBT families should be invited to make presentations as part of the official program of World Meeting of Families so that the participants, and the whole church, can hear their stories.
"What arrangements are being made to guarantee that at least one of the five families who will give witness at WMF will be an LGBT family? Will the program include any parents who have LGBT children? Will a same-gender couple testify about the joys and difficulties of raising children? Will participants hear from a transgender person about their experience of family? Will even one such event happen?" New Ways Ministry challenges in its statement.
Perhaps one chink of light is the invitation to Jesuit Fr. James Martin to give a keynote presentation at the World Meeting of Families Congress in Dublin on how parishes can welcome LGBT Catholics, as well as their parents and families.
Speaking to America magazine, Martin said of the invitation, "The message to LGBT Catholics seems straightforward: you're an important part of the church."
"I'm tremendously grateful for this invitation, not so much for what it says about my own ministry or writing but what it says to LGBT Catholics, a group of people who have for so long felt excluded," added Martin, who has been targeted by conservatives over his outreach to the LGBT community. "I hope they see this invitation, which had to be approved by the Vatican, as an unmistakable sign of welcome from the church."
[Sarah Mac Donald is a freelance journalist based in Dublin.]
National Catholic Reporter

June 4, 2018

This is Why Christians Should Celebrate Gay Pride

Image result for rainbow and the cross




Every June, the LGBTQ+ community, and allies celebrate Pride Month, an opportunity to center and celebrate LGBTQ+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equity, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception. For many Christians, however, Pride Month is looked upon with judgment and reproach and is seen as an opportunity to preach vitriol against LGBTQ people.

Pride is an opportunity, not just for the LBGTQ community to celebrate, but for non-LGBTQ people to repent and to enter into a more holistically Christ-like way of being. 

In many ways, Pride Month became necessary because of homophobic Christians. As a collective (though there are denominations such as the UCC and Episcopal traditions that have long worked toward greater inclusion), Christians, particularly conservative evangelicals, have created much of the context for the historic exclusion, abuse, victimizing and othering of LGBTQ people.  

Jesus’ cross is one of love and inclusion; yet the church has made across that forces LGBTQ people to carry the weight of exclusion, bullying, and rejection.

From instituting the inherently homophobic pseudoscience of reparative “therapy,” to disowning and rejecting LGBTQ family members, friends and congregants when they come out, Christians have historically punished and ostracized the very people whom God told us to love unconditionally. By normalizing homophobic language from the pulpit and justifying mistreatment in the name of theological “purity,” the church has contributed to the political, relational and spiritual dehumanizing of LGBTQ people. 

Through this normalization, the church has manufactured across that it forces LGBTQ people to bear. Jesus’ cross is one of love, self-sacrifice, and radical inclusion; yet the church has made across that forces LGBTQ people to carry the weight of exclusion, bullying, rejection, depression, isolation, suicidal inclination, repression and judgment. The church is guilty of, and complicit in, creating a culture of death, homelessness and isolation that in no way reflects the character of God.

Scripture and the image of Jesus have been weaponized against people made in the image of God. The church has chosen to elevate a perceived theological issue over the humanizing and healing of an entire community. It has pitted a judgmental caricature of Jesus against people and has called it the real Jesus, the will of God. At the end of the day, we should not need a systematic theology degree to decide and act as though all people are made in the image of God and that God accepts them ― the answer is always yes.

Now, before Christian Cathy comes barreling in with, “But what about the Bible, what does it say?” I am not interested in a proof-text argument for the sake of seeing who is “right.” To do so is to miss the point completely. The ultrareligious Pharisees reflected in the gospels constantly weaponized the text against people morally while not caring about their humanity. Jesus’ sentiment to them was always the same ― he invited them to give life instead of moralizing people out of it and to lighten the load of religiously oppressive practices that they created. Jesus’ litmus test was not a hermeneutic interpretation, but compassion and inviting people on the margins to the center. This posture of God is the same today. 

The fruit of most Western Christian theology is death, depression, homelessness and exclusion. The church limits access points for LGBTQ people to safely engage in the Christian community and attempts to convince them that the image of God in LGBTQ congregants is somehow less present than in other people. 

We should not need a theology degree to decide whether all people are made in the image of God and if God accepts them ― the answer is always yes.

Christians have an opportunity this month, and in each day forward, to repent, to look at the ways that Christianity at large has harmed LGBTQ people and to turn to a better way. That was is one led by queer voices, one that takes us closer to Jesus. This month is an opportunity to see our role as oppressors clearly, to make reparations where necessary, to elevate voices that we have silenced, to work against discriminatory legislation, to uproot our own homophobia, and to celebrate the gift of the resilient, dynamic and diverse LGBTQ community. 

At the most basic level, the church should allow Pride Month to expose our homophobia. And, instead of hiding behind theology or tradition, it should ask what repentance really looks like. This is a time to learn from LGBTQ people and to create communities that create radical love, acceptance, centering and defense of LGBTQ people instead of falling into the historic trend of anti-LGBTQ sentiments, policy and action. 

The church must give space for LGBTQ voices at the pulpit and must refuse to theorize and theologize about people if they are not in the room. It can do this by intentionally offering leadership at the highest levels of churches and organizations. The LGBTQ community has always had a voice, but, historically, the church has simply plugged its ears while yelling the same flat proof texts. LGBTQ Christians have already been leading the way in this religion and have done so in the face of animosity, the question of their faith, and the rejection by faith communities. We must follow them for our collective liberation. As a collective, the church can do better. It must do better. The stakes are too high to maintain lines in the sand. 

As Christians, we give up a piece of our full humanity when we forgo compassion and treat people as objects worthy of scorn or violence. Pride gives us an opportunity to end oppressive practices and ideology while also becoming more fully human ourselves. We get to learn from the image of God that is in LGBTQ people, the image that teaches the diversity of how God relates to gender and sex, that teaches how to celebrate and remain resilient in the name of pursuing love, and how to fight for our own collective humanity. It is necessary that in this month and beyond, Christians choose to return the things that we have taken from LBGTQ people: voice, space, dignity, safety and an affirmation of their full humanity. 

The gift of Pride for Christians is an opportunity to see ourselves clearly in all of our oppressive histories and to follow the celebration of this month into a better way.  

By Brandi Miller  Who is a campus minister and justice program director from the Pacific Northwest. 

These Editorial was published on Huff. Post’s 

MORE BY BRANDI MILLER
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May 22, 2018

When The Pope Said to A Gay man "God Made You and Loves U As You Are" Indicated A New Level on The Church and Gays



 The Pope Visit to NYC, No Limos for the head of the church

 Pope Francis has reportedly told a gay man that "God made you that way and loves you as you are," apparently pushing the pontiff's acceptance of homosexuality to a new level.
Francis made the comments to Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of priestly sexual abuse who recently spent days with the pope at the Vatican to discuss his ordeal as the pontiff moves to tackle decades of coverups and ostracism of victims in the Chilean church, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Cruz was quoted as having discussed his homosexuality with Francis. "He told me: 'Juan Carlos, I don't care about you being gay.

 God made you that way and loves you as you are and I don't mind. The pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are.' " 
A spokesman at the Vatican on Sunday declined to confirm or deny Francis' comments, stating, "We don't normally comment on the pope's private conversations." 

In 2013, Francis famously said, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with goodwill, who am I to judge?" when asked for his views on homosexuality, signaling a sea change in Catholic views on sexual orientation. 

That year he also told an interviewer, "A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality," adding, "I replied with another question: 'Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?' " 

His reported remarks based on Cruz's account go further, however, by suggesting he believes people are created gay by God — a position likely to anger Catholic conservatives.
"This is a big deal, I cannot remember the pope making a comment about gay people being born that way," said Father James Martin, an American Jesuit priest, whose 2017 book "Building a Bridge" urged greater ties between the church and the LGBTQ community.
"Pope Francis has repeated what all reputable biologists and psychologists say — you don't choose your sexual orientation. And that is a great comfort to many gay and lesbian Catholics who have been told by priests that they have chosen their orientation and are therefore guilty," he said.
The comments do not suggest a change to church teaching, Martin said.
The Catholic Church's catechism currently states the "psychological genesis" of homosexuality "remains largely unexplained."
"Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,' " it states, but adds that gay people "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" in the church.
Martin stressed that the pope's comments were reported, not announced. "We have to distinguish between something the pope said on the record and a conversation," he said.
Cruz endured sexual abuse as a youth in Chile by prelate Fernando Karadima, who was sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a lifetime of penance.
The Vatican did not, however, believe his claim that the abuse was witnessed and covered up by Chilean Bishop Juan Barros. Francis appointed Barros bishop of the town of Osorno in 2015, hugged him publicly during his visit to Chile in January and dismissed accounts by Cruz and other victims as "slander."
But as public fury in Chile grew, Francis in February dispatched an abuse investigator to interview the victims, inviting them to Rome, admitting he had made "serious mistakes."
Summoning Chile's bishops to Rome, he accused them of destroying evidence of abuse and putting pressure on church investigators to downplay accusations.
On Friday, all 33 bishops in Chile offered to resign.
In his interview with El Pais, Cruz said Francis had been told that Cruz was "deranged" by his detractors before the meeting at Casa Santa Marta, the residence used by the pope at the Vatican.
"The pope treated us like kings in Santa Marta and the bishops as children," Cruz was quoted as saying. "It is clear that he believed us."

 



March 6, 2018

When A Practicing Jesuit Loves a 20 yrs+ Gay Relationship of 2 Married Men









Since the first edition of my book Building a Bridge, about L.G.B.T. Catholics, was published last June, I have been privileged to speak at many parishes, colleges, retreat houses and conferences. At each venue, L.G.B.T. people and their families and friends have shared their experiences with me. Some were so powerful that they have become almost like parables for me. In the revised and expanded edition of the book, published this month, I share six of these stories.
In his now-famous definition, the biblical scholar C. H. Dodd said that a parable was a story designed to “tease the mind into active thought.” Stories have the capacity to open our minds in a way definitions cannot. This is one reason Jesus used parables extensively in his public ministry, as a way of inviting his listeners to see life from a new perspective.
I hope these few stories about L.G.B.T. Catholics tease your mind into active thought. Stories have the capacity to open our minds in a way definitions cannot. 

1. One of my oldest friends is a gay man named Mark, who was once a member of a Catholic religious order. About 20 years ago, after Mark left the order, he came out as a gay man and began living with his partner, with whom he is now legally married. His partner has a serious, long-term illness, and Mark has cared for him for many years with great devotion and loving-kindness.
What can we learn from Mark about love?
2. An elderly man told me that his grandson recently came out to him as a gay man. I asked what he had said in response. He said that he had suspected for some time that his grandson was gay, and so when his grandson sat down to tell him, before a word was even on the young man’s lips, the grandfather said, “I love you no matter what you’re about to say.”  
What can we learn from this grandfather about compassion? 
3. After a talk I gave at a Catholic college in Philadelphia, a young man told me that the first person to whom he came out as a gay man was a Catholic priest. During a high school retreat, he decided to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, but he was so nervous that he was “literally shaking.” The first thing the priest said to him was “Jesus loves you. And your church accepts you.” The young man told me, “It saved my life.”
What can we learn from this priest about acceptance? 
“I have a grandchild who is transgender, and I love her so much. All I want is for her to feel welcome in the church.” 


4. A woman in her 80s, with snowy white hair and apple cheeks, came to my book-signing table after a talk I had given in Connecticut and said, “Father, I have something to tell you.” The focus of the talk had been on Jesus, not on L.G.B.T. issues specifically. I thought she might share an insight about Jesus or tell me that she had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Instead she said, “Father, I have a grandchild who is transgender, and I love her so much. All I want is for her to feel welcome in the church.”
What can we learn from this grandmother about faith?
5. At a parish in Boston, a gay man and a lesbian woman were invited to respond to my lecture on L.G.B.T. Catholics, in the spirit of fostering a real conversation. In her response, the lesbian woman, named Maggie, chose to discuss a reflection question that appears at the end of my book: “When you think about your sexual orientation or gender identity, what word do you use?” My intention was to invite readers to reflect on biblical passages about names and naming and encourage them to “name” their sexuality.
So I had expected words like “gay,” “lesbian” and “bisexual.” But that night in the parish, Maggie said that when she read that question and thought of her sexuality, she thought of the word “joy.” It was such a surprise!
What can we learn from Maggie about sexuality? 
What can we learn from these stories? What does God want to teach us? 


6. And perhaps the biggest surprise: On that same evening in Boston, a couple stayed afterward to have their book signed. One was a transgender woman—that is, a woman who had begun her life as a man. The other was a cisgender woman—that is, someone born a woman who is still a woman. (I have tried to be mindful of contemporary terminology, though I recognize that these terms get dated quickly.) 
The cisgender woman told me that the two had been married for many years, which confused me, since same-sex marriage had not been legal for that long in Massachusetts. She sensed my confusion, smiled and said, “I married her when she was still a man.”
I was reduced to stunned silence. Here was an apparently straight woman who had married a straight man who was now a woman. How had she done it? “Love is love,” she said.
Here is a marriage that almost every church official would probably consider “irregular,” to use the official ecclesiastical term. Yet it was a model of faithfulness. Even after one partner had “transitioned,” the marriage was still intact.
What can we learn from them about fidelity?
Overall, what can we learn from these stories? Where are we invited to see life in a new way? What does God want to teach us? 

June 30, 2017

Why Are Many Evangelicals Changing About Gay Rights





  
 Modern Evangelicals are Having a Change of Hearts. After all, the same freedom that allows them to worship whomever they want is the same Gays asked to be who they are.




A recent Pew survey reported that gay marriage support among white evangelicals has more than doubled, from 14 percent to 35 percent, over the last 10 years, plus, about half, 47 percent, of young white evangelicals, support gay marriage. 

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. said in an interview with The Christian Post Wednesday that he thinks the specific wording was geared to produce results showcasing greater support for redefining marriage. Respondents were asked if they favor or oppose "allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally."
"The use of the word 'allowing' appeals to a libertarian streak which is strong in many Americans," Sprigg said.
"Most Americans believe people should be 'allowed' to live their lives as they see fit — even if those choices fall short of a social or moral ideal. The opposite of 'allowing' is 'forbidding,' and most people do not want the law to 'forbid' people from making choices about their private relationships."
Same-sex marriage has been framed in civil liberties terms. The language used in the survey is based on and reinforces what Sprigg calls the "gay identity paradigm."  This model considers homosexuality as a fixed trait like skin color and ties the gay rights struggle to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, a connection he believes rests on faulty premises.
Some evangelicals say they support gay marriage "legally" but not necessarily theologically, but the poll questions do not explore that dimension, he added.
Alex McFarland, an apologist and a director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, said in a phone interview with The Christian Post Wednesday that the growing Christian support for gay marriage is multi-faceted.
"Several things are coalescing in our culture," McFarland said.
 "We've got a public school system and a public university system that for decades now, 50 years at least, has been trending away from belief in morality and belief in God."
And in the public square for approximately 25 to 30 years "militant secularists have controlled the narrative," he continued, adding that Darwinism and moral relativism are now firmly established as givens in the minds of many people.
The concept of "separation of church and state" has also been misappropriated by many atheists, who consider the voice of the Church as irrelevant in the realm of government or in the academy, the apologist argued.
And with regard to marriage law, Sprigg added, many young evangelicals operate with the secularist thinking that "separation of church and state" means "that one-man-one-woman marriage is a uniquely Christian viewpoint — it isn't — which cannot be 'forced' upon the secular world," even if they think churches ought to be free to maintain their religious standards. 
"We have certainly reached the point in our culture where it takes far more courage to oppose the redefinition of marriage than to support it," he added. "Some [evangelicals] who secretly oppose such a redefinition may fear to say so publicly — even to a pollster — for fear that it will jeopardize their educational and professional prospects and public reputation."
Yet McFarland maintains that abandonment of Christian sexual ethics and warped ideas about marriage is also due in part to other spiritual developments in recent decades, including Mainline Protestantism's rejection of the Jesus Movement in the 1960s–1970s and unfortunate divisions within evangelicalism.
"From 1967–1977 God came by," McFarland said, adding that he's convinced the Jesus movement was America's Third Great Awakening.
But the Mainline denominations turned a hard left, forsaking the authority of the Bible and stopped emphasizing evangelism, he explained. And evangelical denominations and movements underwent a twofold split: hard, legalistic orthodoxy and touchy-feely, seeker friendliness.
"But there's got to be a third way," he said. "Truth in love thoroughly prayed over ... we need a revival."
To curtail this decline he reiterated comments he made in a previous CP interview about his book, Abandoned Faith, that Christians have to invest in people with no expectation of return, while also sharing the Gospel.
Just as the breakdown of the family has contributed to millennials leaving the faith, he said, that has distorted their ideas about marriage. With four decades of legalized no-fault divorce and rampant fatherlessness, American social life is a breeding ground for warped attitudes toward marriage in general, he said.

Christian Post



June 9, 2017

Scottish Episcopal Church Comes Out For Gay Marriage






The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church.
It makes it the first major Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.
The vote to amend canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman, was carried by the Synod in Edinburgh.
It means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Episcopal Church.
Clergy who wish to officiate at gay marriages will have to "opt-in".
The church said this meant that those who disagreed with gay marriage would be protected and not have to act against their conscience.
The Episcopal Church's Bishop of Edinburgh, The Right Reverend Dr John Armes, said: "I am very pleased for the couples who can now have their relationships recognised by the church and blessed by God.
"I'm also pleased for what this means about our church and the way we have been able to do this. But obviously any change like this creates pain and hurt in some as well, so as a bishop of the church I feel for them."

Passionate debate

The vote to allow same-sex marriage - which required the backing of at least two thirds of each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity - has left the church at odds with most of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
A group of global Anglican traditionalists have now announced that they will appoint a missionary bishop "to serve the needs of those who oppose gay marriage". 
A senior figure in the group, Archbishop Foley Beach, said: "Today's decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalised by their leaders.
"The attempt to redefine marriage is not one that a faithful Christian can support."
At last year's Synod, members of the Church agreed to send the issue for discussion to its seven dioceses.
Six of them voted in favour of amending the law. Only Aberdeen and Orkney voted against the proposal.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
 Image copyrightGETTY                    




Image captionThe Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is the Anglican Communion's spiritual head

Analysis by BBC Scotland correspondent John McManus

This vote to change canon law, opening marriage to same sex couples, isn't just the latest skirmish in the religious war between traditionalist Christians and those of a more liberal leaning.
It will have profound consequences, because the issue of gay relationships has become a touchstone for those who believe that the Anglican Church has lost its way, and needs to be renewed.
Many Christians who live in the global south, where the 80-plus million Anglican Communion is at its strongest, look with horror at what they see as moves to legitimise gay relationships and lifestyles.

'Ignoring the will of God'

They not only disapprove of those lifestyles, but they see moves such as the ordination of gay clergy as evidence that the church is ignoring the will of God.
The head of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury and he's come under enormous pressure from bishops in Africa and Asia to stand firm on this issue.
Those bishops are growing in influence and have formed an organisation - Gafcon - which is directly challenging the more liberal Christians of the global north.
They will be emboldened by this vote, even if they disapprove of it - and it may hasten a split in the communion, with power moving south to the churches of Africa.

Same sex marriage became legal in Scotland at the end of 2014 but the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the move.
The issue has provoked passionate debate within the Anglican Communion. 
In January last year, the communion sanctioned the US Episcopal Churchwhen it decided to allow gay marriage in church. 
However, last month the Church of Scotland voted to approve a report which could allow ministers to conduct same-sex weddings in the future. 
And in February, a report opposing gay marriage was opposed by the Church of England's Synod.

'Departure from faith'

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion described the Episcopal Church's decision as "a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage".
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said: "The churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law. The Scottish Episcopal Church is one of 38, soon to be 39, provinces covering more than 165 countries around the world. 
"As Secretary General, I want the churches within the Anglican Communion to remain committed to walking together in the love of Christ and to working out how we can maintain our unity and uphold the value of every individual in spite of deeply-held differences. It is important to stress the Communion's strong opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.
"The primates of the Communion will be meeting in Canterbury in October. I am sure today's decision will be among the topics which will be prayerfully discussed. There will be no formal response to the SEC's vote until the primates have met." 

'Really positive message'

The equality campaign group Stonewall Scotland said it was "delighted" with the outcome of the vote.
The groups's director Colin Macfarlane said: "This step allows couples to celebrate their love within their faith and sends a really positive message to other LGBT people, both here and around the world.
"It signals that members of the church welcome, recognise and respect LGBT people as part of the faith community."
The Student Christian Movement UK said: "We hope this is a watershed for LGBT inclusion in UK churches.
"Our prayers go out to all LGBT Christians who have been hurt by the Episcopal Church, and we hope this may be a turning point for healing and reconciliation."

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