Someone said something like, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’
It’s easy to think that being loving is just about having loving thoughts or feelings toward someone else – even if we’re in conflict, if we try we might be able to conjure up positive feelings toward each other. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to do that. I’ve sometimes found it helpful to be able to do that.
However, I think there are problems when we just think of love just about how you feel toward someone or how you think about them. This idea of love has often allowed people to say that they love their neighbour while at the same time trying to restrict their freedom. This idea of love has meant that people have not listened to their neighbours feedback about the harm caused by their behaviour, because they believe that they’re still loving their neighbour from the depths of their emotions. I’m thinking specifically here about how people from my religious tradition, the tradition that believes in ‘loving your neighbour’ have treated members of the queer communities in particular, but also other groups.
A lot of people think that because they’re directing nice feelings toward a person they’re not acting hatefully. If our neighbour feeds back to us that our behaviour or beliefs are harming them, we need to reassess how we behave and what we believe. Otherwise we are are turning our back on our neighbour, treating our neighbour hatefully.
One Wednesdays I’ve been gradually been reading and reflecting on the book of Genesis.
Today I’ve been reading about Elohim making an agreement with humanity and all the creatures of the earth. The covenant says that Elohim will never again send a flood to destroy the earth. I find this intersting in light of people of faith who have claimed that the rainbow flag used by LGBTIQ communities is a hijacking of the rainbow symbol. Doesn’t the rainbow flag also call for mercy and an end to judgement, particularly from folks who claim to be God’s representatives?
For the sake of transparency I thought I should post here the statement that I provided at the labyrinth. If anyone has suggestions about how I can imporve this, please let me know. (My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d prefer to contact me privately.)
LGBTIQ Acknowledgement Labyrinth
We’re coming here with different perspectives. The unity of Christians is in Christ, not in the perspectives we hold.
One thing I think we should all be able to agree on is that Jesus loves and accepts us all as we are – but it is something that has often been forgotten by the church in our treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer people.
Whatever our perspective, we should all be able to agree that the church should be sorry for the harm it has caused to people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. this is a space for the church to acknowledge the presence of LGBTIQ people in the church.
to acknowledge without reservation that the church has often caused harm in its response to LGBTIQ people
to acknowledge that LGBTIQ people have often been pushed out of church communities
to acknowledge that many LGBTIQ people who have been able to stay part of the church have faced restrictions on their involvement
to acknowledge that there are things we have struggled to understand about human sexuality and identity
to mourn the loss of LGBTIQ people who have taken their own lives as a result of hateful treatment
to celebrate the contributions that LGBTIQ people have made to the church in spite of opposition
to acknowledge that the church needs to begin listening to LGBTIQ people and to commit to doing this in our own contexts
If there is something you’d like to acknowledge, please feel free to take a ribbon, walk the labyrinth with it, and tie it onto the cross. (If you like, you can write your acknowledgement on the ribbon.)
As we walk the labyrinth, we often have to make space for people coming from the opposite direction. In these situations it’s often someone who is travelling in the direction that we were previously taking. We have to work out how we’ll share the space and pass each other. I think this can show us something about sharing space with people we don’t agree with.
If this space has brought up anything that you would like to talk about, I’m more than happy to discuss this and share how my own limited perspective on this has developed over the years. – Chris Booth 04– — —
I’m often asked by more conservative Christians about how I can be affirming GLBTIQ+ folks when the Bible says that God’s intention was for human beings to be heterosexual. To back this up they will normally cite a small piece of teaching from Jesus about marriage – but they normally look at it without also looking at Jesus acknowledgement of eunuchs in the same teaching session.
The other text they often cite is one of the two creation narratives from Genesis. They’ll say that since God made the woman to be the man’s companion, all women should have male partners and all men should have female partners, or be celibate.
As I’ve been reading Genesis today I’ve been reminded that this isn’t actually what happens in the story. The way this version of the story is told, God doesn’t design the man’s companion – if the first human should even be understood as a man. God thinks the first human should have a companion, but God presumes this companion will be chosen from among the animals.
The first person doesn’t find a suitable companion from among the other creatures, and that’s where God’s idea to make another human – but a different kind of human – comes from.
I think this story suggests a really different idea of God from the idea that says God doesn’t allow same-sex relationships. This story shows a kind of God who doesn’t stick bloody-mindedly to their own plan but listens to the preference of one of their creatures. In my opinion the idea of a god who can change their mind and collaborate with others sounds more like good news that a god who is unable to change their mind.
(Just to be clear, I don’t think this story is historical. I think it’s a folktale, and that its authority depends on the authority we assign to it as individuals and within our communities.)