I Am A Christian Pastor
I have been celebrating love and marriage since the Supreme Court released their ruling allowing same-sex couples to marry last Friday. These last several days I have heard numerous stories in the news saying that Christian pastors are against this decision. I have heard snippets of sermons where others who wear the label “Christian Pastor” have urged their congregants to fight this decision, some going as far as whipping up their congregations in a frenzy, stomping on the pages of the Supreme Court decision while waving the Bible. As I listened to these news stories I began to wonder about the de-evangelization of the church. I imagined all of the people in my community who might define themselves as “Spiritual not Religious” concluding that they don’t want to go anywhere near “Christian Pastors” who vow to “lead the charge” against this decision. Threats of constitutional amendments to come, counties in Texas that refuse to grant marriage licenses and Christian pastors who ask congregants to choose between God and this “godless decision” break my heart.
What is with all of this hype about sex anyway? Are Christian pastors pretending that unmarried people aren’t having sex? Are Christian pastors pretending that this idea of “one man and one woman” is found somewhere in the Bible? When I read the Bible I see a practice of polygamy assumed throughout much of the Old Testament. Polygamy is in fact protected in Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 21:15-17.) This passage follows on taking a wife from one of the women you have captured in battle: she must shave her head, cut her nails, remove her prisoners clothing and mourn her parents for a month. Then the captor husband may have sex with her. But if the husband isn’t pleased, he can still send her away. I hope everyone invested in “Biblical Marriage” will spend a good deal of time in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
Appreciating the richness and diversity of scripture is as important as recognizing how scripture is used and misused. Misuse occurs when the Bible is used tangentially and only as the final arbiter, especially when we find ourselves unable to persuade others of the rightness of our convictions. Here the Bible is misused to close off debate rather than for informing critical thinking and challenging our own limited views. We have used the Bible to chattel slavery and subjugate women.
I am a CHRISTIAN PASTOR and I have been for 25 years. I am not the Christian Pastor featured in this weeks news stories and they do not speak for me. I feel safe in saying that they do not speak for my congregation. We have a vision of inclusive wholeness, of the well being of all people in full community with others. We are sustained by the Biblical witness of Jesus of Nazareth who restated the divine mandate to “preach the good news to the poor and set at liberty those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18)