The All-New Hampshire Gathering
The keynote speaker was Gene Robinson, the bishop of the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire. He discussed the difficulties that the Anglican communion is having over issues surrounding acceptance of gays and lesbians. He, of course, has been a lightning rod for this controversy since he is the first openly gay bishop. Even though he was discussing the Episcopal Church, it sounded very much like the situation among Friends.
In the afternoon I led a discussion on homosexuality and the Bible. (You can find my posts on the subject here) There were questions about the so-called “terrible texts” or the clobber verses. These are the 6 passages in the Bible that are the basis of the Biblical case against accepting gays and lesbians. I explained how the context for most of them is not homosexuality as it is practiced in today's society but male temple prostitution in Canaanite religion. I also presented material on the places in the Bible where same sex relationships are portrayed in a positive light.
Another set of questions people had revolved around how to talk about these issues with people who seem them so differently. I stressed that there is nothing in any of these verses that have changed anyone's mind on the issue, in either direction. My beliefs in equality for gays and lesbians are deeply held and would not be easily changed. People who don't agree with me on this are also expressing deeply held beliefs. In any discussion like this we need to assume an equal level of sincerity, conviction and desire to be faithful on all sides. The problem is, what to do when you have sincere, faithful and deeply convicted people who disagree. I wish I knew the answer.. At the workshop I said, this is where miracles happen. On Thursday night I am flying out to Richmond, Indiana, for the FUM General Board meeting. The sexual ethics issue will come up as part of a larger consideration of the entire personnel manual. I am hoping and praying for a miracle.
Blessings to all,