Sunday, October 23, 2005

Entering The Hot Zone

I've referenced the "Hot Zone" before as "the place where conversation about homosexuality and faith and God are no longer the unspeakable topic". I've also called it "the forbidden territory of questioning church, interpretations, and paradigms". It's refreshing to me because challenging my own previously held (or even current) beliefs hasn't weakened what I believe, but rather it's revealed and even shaped them. I find that most people are unwilling to do that for themselves and they are the one's who have the hardest time engaging in dialogue about being gay and Christian.

However, I think that the dialogue is important. How can people who disagree about these things enter the "Hot Zone" productively? How can a straight person who doesn't agree with the "gay lifestyle" connect with a gay person in a way that doesn't portray the kind of judgmental condemnation that scares them away from the Church? How can a gay Christian who believes that monogamous same sex relationships are acceptable connect with another gay Christian who believes that we should be celibate? How can an "ex-gay" Christian connect with a gay Christian without an eruption of hostility?

I had the honor of being asked by my friend Justin Lee to write a paper on any topic I wanted to serve as a resource over at GayChristian.Net. I decided to write about this "Hot Zone" and all of us mixed together with differing opinions. I'd love to get any feedback from anyone.

Click here to read my paper entitled "Building Relationships That Matter: A Framework For Entering The Hot Zone".

6 comments:

rahian2k said...

Interesting views on homosexuality...
Yeh... its a weird conflict...

*Christopher said...

Eric,

There is much to value in this thoughtful essay. Two things I will point out as one of those "out" folks. We are subject to regular political degradation by fellows believers and as such conflict sometimes is where the Spirit is working. It is good to dialogue and love one another, and your rules for respectful engagement are helpful, but only if at the end of the day we can live in disagreement and still not legislate harm.

Second, your points upon which we can agree are very Evangelical and Protestant. As a more catholic Christian of the Anglican variety, I have trouble speaking of Holy Writ as the inspired Word of G-d. The Word of G-d is Christ to whom Holy Writ points, and yes, Holy Writ is inspired to the degree it points to Him, no less and no more. Also, your understanding of atonement is the Substitutionary Atonement model, a model that the Church catholic has never adopted as the only model of Atonement, indeed the Church catholic has never adopted any model as THE model of Atonement. Moreover, the Creeds of the Church are founded on Incarnation and Theosis, not Atonement. Atonement is a matter of the 9th century on.

Kelly said...

*Christopher,

Just a thought--The book of 2 Timothy explains that *all* Scripture is given by inspiration of God (it is "God-breathed") and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.

I find it interesting that not one of those things directly points to Jesus Christ or the incarnation. I respect the creeds, but I would not depart from God's Word (as interpreted by His Holy Spirit) for anything. Everything else contains *some* truth, but only His Word *is* truth, whether in written form or in the Person of Jesus Christ.

*Christopher said...

Kelly,

I know the passage. We disagree. Unlike the Koran, Holy Writ is not the Living Word in Christianity. G-d's Logos is Jesus Christ, a person, to whom Scripture points, not the other way around. To the degree that Scripture points to and participates in the Living Word of G-d, Christ Jesus, it is so. But not all is equally inspired as the Church has long recognized. The Church is the interpreter of the Scripture, i.e., as in the Creeds and Liturgy and Councils, not the other way around. After all, there was a time when the NT didn't exist, but the Church did. See this is a real difference between Evangelical Protestants and more catholic sorts and one we cannot and will not agree upon.

If it doesn't point to Jesus Christ, it isn't Christian. After all the Incarnation is doctrine of the highest variety, what is traditionally termed dogma, one of two--the other being the Trinity--which are central to orthodox understandings of the faith.

And how do you reconcile the rape and chopping up of the woman in Judges as G-d breathed, except perhaps in the negative to show how we shouldn't be?

Do you depart from G-d's Word by eating shellfish? If so, how do you reconcile the easy putting away of that departure by the early Church? Who decides the Holy Spirit and the correct interpretation? The traditional answer the Church in its liturgy.

Holy Writ is not on par with Christ Jesus. To suggest so is what has been traditionally termed bibliolatry.

Eric said...

Christopher,

I just wanted to post a note to you to thank you for your contributions to this site. I appreciate you because you stretch me. I won't go so far as saying that I disagree with you, but rather that you have me consider things I had not known before, had not been exposed to before, or had not thought about before.

I appreciate your background and I am appreciating the diversity of God's people in the way we each express and live out our faith with one another.

Bless you!
Eric

Kelly said...

*Christopher,

I was just answering someone who asked me to explain what I meant by something and stumbled across the beginning of an answer for your question: "Who decides the Holy Spirit and the correct interpretation?"

I am occasionally a writer. I am beginning to realize that when I write, my readers will understand what I write in whatever manner they can relate to. For instance, the Bible has been interpreted and re-interpreted for thousands of years. Readers will always ask, “what is the author really saying here?” And depending upon their knowledge of the author, they make differing assumptions as to the meaning of the writing.

You seem to hold that liturgy is the only writing that can hold the truth. Does that then mean that no one can know the God who authored the Scriptures?

I fully believe that the story of the chopped-up woman you referenced in Judges was God-breathed. The history books in the Old Testament paint a picture of Israel without God, their desperate need for a savior, and tell the story that explains the anguished God of the Old Testament prophets.

But the question doesn't come down to Protestant/Anglican. The question is whether or not we know the God of the Scriptures, the God of the Incarnation. Eric talks a lot about it on here--the concept of Jesus Christ being the point. Jesus Christ Himself prays for us, "that we may know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."

Ultimately, who is *right* in their interpretation of God's Word or Christianity isn't going to matter. What matters is that we know Him.

The Holy Spirit speaks from what the is Christ's. He says what He is told to say by the Father and the Son. And He speaks through the Word of God--perhaps not through the exact translations or the various interpretations, but teaching us about the heart of God. The more we see His heart, the more clear Scripture becomes.

I think this is called walking in the Spirit.