Friday, June 12, 2009

Simplicity Makes a Powerful Weapon.

Someone was telling me about a conversation she had with someone about the emerging church. At one point in the conversation one of the women said something like, "well, if nothing else, you know they're [the emerging church] wrong because they say they're not sure about homosexuality. And how can you argue that one? The Bible's crystal clear there." When I heard about this response it made me angry and it made me laugh at the same time. Part of me was angry that somewhere along the road someone, probably her pastor, argued that the homosexuality issue was simple and easy to argue. She believed it to the point that she could use it as a weapon, a way of telling if people are faithful or not. If they have reservations about homosexuality, well, you can tell that they've got real problems with their theology.

The problem is, it isn't so simple. I'm yet to meet one scholar who doesn't admit to the complexity of the issue, or at least to the possible complexity. We're talking about 2000+ year old texts, written during different times and in different cultures. Whatever you do with that, you have to admit that it's never clear right away if we're talking about, for example, the same kind of homosexuality that Paul is when we talk about the homosexuality we see in our culture. That argument must still be made and can't simply be known from reading one or two verses. The historical, contextual, and cultural complexity of the issue is deep. Paul could be referring to strange pagan worship practices or simply to the kind of homosexuality bred from promiscuity (couldn't, "men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another" suggest as much?). Either way, it's complex. To be unsure about the issue is not only ok due to the complexity, but as of now it might be the best place for a Christian to be--to continue the conversation with openness, uncertainty, humility, and a listening ear.

It's dangerous for pastors to make things out to be more simple than they really are because people in the congregation can take that false simplicity and run miles with it. This kind of simplicity makes an awful weapon.

2 comments:

Mark said...

Are you more offended by the homosexual issue or the fact that she criticized the emergent church? Just kidding, haha.

WES ELLIS said...

haha... Not sure. I guess that I'm equally bothered by both these days.