As our hearts break for the people of Moore, Oklahoma, many of us are looking for ways to respond. One of the best organizations that we partner with is Week of Compassion, which is our denomination’s disaster relief ministry. You can donate through their website knowing that the full amount of your donation will go directly to the people affected. Simply designate “Moore, Oklahoma Tornado Relief.”
I recently read the following reflections about Mother’s Day and thought they were worth sharing…
An Open Letter to Pastors about Mother’s Day
Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.
You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.
I set my can down and this is what I’d say.
A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful. I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.
Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day. A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again…
UPDATE (5/9/13): Phil has written an extended letter to Dr. George Wood, who responded to the letter below. To read it, please visit Phil’s blog.
The following letter in support of Springfield’s LGBT community was signed by 23 Christian leaders and pastors, including Phil, Emily and Charlie, who recognize that their role as pastors in the Disciples of Christ denomination is to speak to the church, not for the church. This letter was published by the News-Leader on May 2, 2013.
In the wake of Pastor John Lindell’s comments to Springfield’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Task Force, our hearts continue to break for the LGBT community of Springfield. As pastors and Christian leaders, we are deeply sorry for the ways Christianity is frequently used to hurt rather than heal, and we want you to know there are many of us in support of you.
In Pastor Lindell’s remarks (available at johnlindell.net), he states, “it is not my purpose to give an exhaustive listing of Bible verses that speak of homosexuality,” yet he manages to mention four of the five in Scripture (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9), providing the illusion that homosexuality is a major theme in the Bible when even the most conservative scholars can only point to eight verses at most – out of over 30,000.
He quotes Leviticus 20:13, “If a man has sex with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is abhorrent.” Yet the conclusion of this verse states that both men “shall be put to death.” If Christians wish to use these passages as an authority for ethical behavior, then by extension they are claiming that men who have sex together should be executed. To Pastor Lindell’s credit, he doesn’t think we should “persecute practicing homosexuals.” Yet, the Bible tells him to do precisely that. Furthermore, if this is the measuring stick Christian leaders use, then shouldn’t they also interpret the Bible with a bit more consistency? Shouldn’t they also condemn those with tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), execute their sons who consistently disobey (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), make women marry their rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)? Or are we allowed to pick and choose which Bible verses carry authority, only giving weight to those that support our preconceived biases?
Pastor Lindell also quotes the New Testament, but here things are far more complicated than we often think. St. Paul argued that homosexuality is against the natural order (Romans 1:26). Yet as a product of his times, Paul also viewed patriarchy and slavery as part of the natural order. If Christians agree with Pastor Lindell that their “1st Amendment rights of free exercise of religion and free speech” are violated by the proposed non-discrimination ordinance, then it must be fair game to repeal statutes that make it okay for women to have authority over men in the workplace (1 Timothy 2:12). We can quote St. Paul and a long history of Christian tradition as our authority!
In his most misguided statement, Pastor Lindell equates homosexual orientation and practice with “anger, chemical addiction, gambling, slander, stealing, pride, lying, etc.” While the behaviors he names hurt individuals and communities, what actually hurts individuals who are LGBT (and our communities) is repression of their sexuality. Just ask the American Psychiatric Association or the American Medical Association. Elsewhere he cites Scripture to demarcate marital gender roles between men and women, yet he doesn’t take into consideration those who are born with ambiguous genitals (intersex), which effectively makes one out of every 2000 people unable to fit into his far too neatly constructed (not to mention unscientific) gender identity boxes.
We are aware that Pastor Lindell and some members of his community may fear that recognizing the integrity of LGBT people may threaten their understanding of biblical values. While we also support the wisdom of Scripture, we believe that the Bible is honored most when it is read in context. After all, most of us would not see God’s love as consistent with slavery, yet slave owners in the 1800s had more specific biblical texts to use discussing slavery than did abolitionists. We believe a more thematic view of the Bible can reveal the divine intent where justice, love, and compassion are honored over violence, hatred, and insensitivity. We encourage Pastor Lindell and his congregation to consider affirming the deepest and most authentic biblical values. As 1 Cor. 13:13 proclaims, “Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
Rev. John Andrews
Rev. Charlie Bahn
Rev. Emily Bowen
Rev. Ellen Brantley
Rev. Peter Browning
Rev. Ken Chumbley
Rev. Conni Ess
Rev. Jonathan E. Frazier
Rev. Laura Fregin
Rev. Janice Fulbright
Mr. Matt Gallion
Rev. Janet Given
Rev. Cory Goode
Rev. Becky Hebert
Rev. David Hockensmith
Rev. Paul Hunt
Mr. Keith Jaspers
Rev. Caleb Lines
Rev. Gary Metcalf
Rev. Kim Polchow
Rev. Diana Smith
Rev. Phil Snider
Mr. Geoff Weinman
Join us Wednesday evenings in April and May (6:30-7:30pm) as we reflect on what we talk about when we talk about God.
On Sunday, April 7, as part of our Center for Diversity and Reconciliation Focus Sunday, we welcome the Rev. Dr. Christena Cleveland as guest preacher in both of our worship services. Christena is a social psychologist with a hopeful passion for overcoming cultural divisions in groups. Drawing from a vast body of research, she uncovers the underlying processes that affect relationships within and between groups and helps leaders understand how to promote an appreciation for diversity and build effective collaborations with diverse groups.
Christena earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from the University of California. An award-winning researcher and gifted teacher, she has published numerous scholarly articles and held academic appointments at the University of California, Westmont College, St. Catherine University and Bethel Seminary. In addition to academic experience, Christena brings organizational experience to her efforts to build unity. She consults with pastors and organizational leaders on multicultural issues and speaks regularly at organizations, churches, conferences, universities and schools.
March 28 – Maundy Thursday Worship Service, 7pm
March 29 – Good Friday Ecumenical Service at South Street Christian Church, 7:30pm
Easter Sunday, March 31 – Worship Services at 9:00 & 11:00am, Children’s Easter Egg Hunt at 10:15am
Join us Sunday, February 24, as Dr. Todd Payne, Associate Professor of Music at Missouri State University, participates in both worship services to share his moving performance of “Amazing Grace” and his uplifting rendition of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. Payne will also lead a Sunday School class on African American Spirituals in the Fellowship Hall between services.