My Illustrated Life: day 361: “george”-

I got to see one of my best pals in the entire world today- George was a fellow YAAD (young adult advisory delegate) at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Summer of 2010, and we were paired as roommates. We became instant friends. He was in New York City for Christmas break, and t was only a three hour bus ride from Massachusetts (as opposed to 8 from Buffalo), so I spent the day in Manhattan with him. Also, it was my first time going inside the Macy’s at Herald Square, even though I’ve been to New York hundreds of times!

One of the best days I’ve had in a while. I love this kid. I’m going to see him in Florida in March (over St. Patrick’s day weekend, I’d like to add.) Three months and counting!

What it means to be faithful

If you hadn’t noticed, I believe faithful Christians should affirm the call to ministry of people who are gay or lesbian. I believe this because I have studied and wrestled with scripture and what it demands of our lives. (And SDS, this post may come off a bit strong. You’ve accused my church and me of willfully abandonning what we hold most dear. Fine. But can you back that claim up with anything other than vague assertions about orthodoxy and stereotypes about mainsline Christians?)

SDS reads scripture differently–and he’s so confident in his interpretation that he is presumably comfortable telling those who have heard a calling that they are not needed. Our views differ. So, why is SDS so confident that his views are orthodox while mine are heretical that he is willing to reject the gifts of those who want to serve? As far as I can tell, he believes his views are more traditional. He may be right (though our awareness and understanding of homosexuality is a relatively recent phenomenon–so these “traditions” are neither as long nor as reliable as some pretend.) As far as I can tell, this is SDS’s primary criteria for scriptural interpretation.

But church tradition is not scripture. So SDS, despite his professed love of the Bible, has rejected sola scriptura. He’s got it wrong. In the reformed tradition, we interpret scripture not through the lens of our flawed history, but through scripture itself. When we see some confusing, contested passages, we interpret them in light of other passages. And we interpret them in light of the surrounding passages rather than selecting other, disjointed passages to reinforce our preconceptions

If we’re still struggling or still in disagreement, there are a few other sources we might turn to. First, we might turn to historic principles of interpretation to make sure that we’re at least using a consistent standard in our interpretation. We might also look atwhat we know of the world and see if one particular interpretation flies against reason and observation. We might also try to consider the historic context a particular passage was written to address. What concerned Paul when he wrote a particular text? How good is our translation?

Alternatively, we might turn to somebody else who is better at this sort of thing. Faithfulness need not require a lot of scholarly brilliance. Trusting somebody you trust to discern better than yourself is a perfectly legitimate epistimalogical tool. Of course, “my pastor says so, ergo your pastor is wrong” is as audacious as it is preposterous. It’s a terrible reason to tell a seminarian that they’re in the wrong profession–or possibly the wrong faith.

Ultimately, we may get to a point where we simply disagree. And if it helps SDS to question the faithfulness or sincerity of those who disagree with him, I suppose it’s allowed–but it’s as obnoxious as heck. (“This faith ain’t big enough for the two of us, partner.”) I suspect we share the belief that 50 years from now we’ll get past this issue. One of us will be repentant–though we probably don’t agree on who. I’m patient.