The Huffington Post is my new source for all things religiously controversial. Folks keep sending me links to articles they find there and I will say that after reading some of the stuff I’m left feeling challenged. This is also the case with the recent bit featuring Rob Bell. As I wrote at the beginning of the year, one of the things I plan to talk about here is my view of sexuality and more specifically, homosexuality.
After spending some time with folks in the gay community, hearing their stories, and trying as hard as I can to love them as Christ first loved me, I have a confession to make. When I allow myself to be shaped by many of the prevailing conservative evangelical voices on the issue of homosexuality, I find myself thinking about gay people as if they aren’t….people. Much of the rhetoric leads one to think of homosexuals as if they are non-human, perhaps even alien (so to speak). This is a problem, and in as much as we are guilty of de-humanizing the gay community we should, as Bell suggests, repent.
That being said, evangelicals are in a tough spot on the issue, and could use a little re-write with their prevailing script. What I mean is this, the prevailing discussion must leave an ideological conversation and relocate to a biblical conversation. Ideologies are almost always volatile and divisive from the get-go. because they are personal to the individual supporting them. With the conversation relocating to a biblical framework, the evangelical is forced to think and speak biblically on the matter at hand. For me, my stance on homosexual activity is directly connected to exegetical conclusions following a close reading of the Scriptures. My feelings about the topic and my related ideologies are not to be what shape my conversation, instead I want to speak biblically about the issue. In doing this I relocate the argument, which doesn’t mean this will get everyone to agree, but it does clarify the issues that are really at-stake while not confusing people with personal attacks and inflated rhetoric.
I think Bell falls into the “ideology trap” all to often. He does not speak about the textual issues, but rather about matters of “love, fidelity, etc.” as if to say that those who differ from him are against those values. When the conversation is framed this way, how can any helpful dialogue follow?