Being raised heathen has some enormous spiritual advantages, but you do miss many important little details of Christian doctrine that would otherwise seep in through cultural osmosis.
Sometimes when one of these little doctrinal nuggets finally slips into place, it’s an ‘Aha!’ moment, as half a dozen nagging little confusions become clear all at once.
Other times it’s an ’Um… what?’ moment, leaving me vastly more confused.
One of the biggest shocks of my early adult life was the phrase ‘Guns, Gays, and Abortion’ in connection with American Christianity.
Most of the Christians I knew growing up were afraid of guns, opposed to abortion, and ambivalent at best on gays, while my wholly irreverent
atheist non-believer father (1) was an avid shooter who favoured anything related to decreased population, and considered other people’s sex lives none of his business.
I naturally assumed, therefore, that the ‘Guns, Gays and Abortion’ refrain referred to What Christians Stand Against.
I hadn’t picked up, from a fairly thorough acquaintance with the Bible, that God particularly wanted his church to be known for what we were against, so this was a little confusing.
Imagine my surprise, and even deeper confusion, when I later learned that ‘we’ were against gays and abortion, but for guns!
As a religious identity! Naturally, this was not to be my last shock with regard to Politico-Christian doctrine, but it was quite an introduction.
Unfortunately, Guns, Gays and Abortion left me with a few gaps in regard to how the Church’s mission in this world is best defined.
Firstly, there is no mention of guns in the Bible.
This isn’t unusual of course, there is no mention of rutabagas or telephones in the Bible either.
But that something not mentioned once in the Bible should be one of three top things the Church was supposed to be known for struck me as odd.
And, frankly, there is a heck of a lot in the Bible that would indicate that if God HAD expressed an opinion on guns he’d be pretty supportive of moderation in our passion for them.
Then, to further complicate my contemplation, there is no mention of abortion in the Bible!
Now, no, I do not think the lack of reference to abortion in the Bible means that God supports it. I doubt very much that this is God’s preferred path for any woman or girl, or for her child.
However, I eventually had to consider the implications of this curious silence.
If abortion was never once mentioned in the Bible, what were the odds that this was one of the keynote points God wanted me, as a representative of his Body, to focus on?
Then finally GAYS.
PAY DIRT! On this one the Bible did, in fact, actually have something to say!
And, it is absolutely true that what the Bible says is not favourable! (2)
I’m not going to argue that here. Justifying God’s words is far beyond my capacity or authority.
Many of God’s words are hard to take, and if you are gay and and a follower of God, I have to assume that there is a lot of soul searching and confusion, possibly even some painful sacrifice involved at many points in that walk. I don’t know how to respond to that. I wish I had something better than that, but I don’t. God bless and keep you.
HOWEVER, for this discussion, for my trying to wrap my head around the church’s supposed primary concerns, was the fact that the Bible mentions homosexuality, and that God’s words about it are not supportive, the answer to my quest?
Not so much.
For, while the Bible does, as far as I can understand it, tell me that I can’t practice homosexuality without being out of God’s will for my life, it seems to prioritise a whole lot of things a lot more highly.
What then, HAS God prioritised?
I’m sure my title gives a strong hint in that direction, but as I see this post is in danger of becoming a Russian novel, and I am really out of time anyway, I’ll have to chatter about that piece next time.
NOT, of course, that you have to wait for MY two cents on it!! Grab a Bible and give it a scan! Until next time….
(1) Although I am not a fan of cross outs, this is one place I will employ them, as my dear father has corrected my facts thusly:
“I’m not sure if I would call myself an atheist as opposed to “born again non-believer” I don’t necessarily deny the existence of a god but haven’t found any evidence to support my own belief in one.”
As is probably evident, he remains wholly irreverent, dare I say sacrilegious, even blasphemous, once he gets warmed up.
(2) Yes, I am aware that numerous people have reinterpreted the passages dealing with homosexuality questioning their intended meaning, and interpreted other passages to show support for homosexuality. Becoming a scholar of ancient Greek and Hebrew is definitely not within my little time-and-energy allotment, so I’ll not engage that argument either. I have no desire to make life, or Christianity, harder for any image bearer of God, this just isn’t an area which my aptitudes suggest as a logical focus. If you sincerely believe other interpretations to be more correct, God bless you, and it’s not my business.