Notes From "The Record"
A Publication of
The Good Book
Peter Gomes is minister of The Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of
Christian Morals at Harvard. He is also a black Republican who is openly
gay. In his new book on "Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart"
entitled "The Good Book", Gomes writes on the use and abuse of
the Bible in a wide range of topics including race, homosexuality, anti-Semitism,
women, wealth, science, evil, and suffering as well as other subjects. He
credits a Christianity Today essay by the late Yale church historian and
Luther scholar Roland Bainton with an insight that guides his discussion
in these matters. He relates that Bainton's position for total abstinence
of alchoholic drinks was, as the historian wrote, based "on biblical
principles" and "not based on biblical precepts or biblical practice."
Gomes points out that Bainton derived his principles from the writings of
Paul. Gomes extrapolates: "In addressing a moral issue with both public
and personal implications on the basis of Christian principles derived from
a reading of the Bible, rather than simply on the basis of biblical practice
and precedent, Bainton liberates us from a simple-minded bondage to texts
whose context may be unrelated and unhelpful to our own." He asserts
that "in the case of the Bible and homosexuality in contemporary American
culture, the tragic dimensions of this biblically sanctioned prejudice among
the most devout and sincere people of religious conviction are all the greater
because no credible case against homosexuality or homosexuals can be made
from the Bible unless one chooses to read scripture in a way that simply
sustains the existing prejudice against homosexuality and homosexuals ...
Given the appeal to the Bible in the case against homosexuality, one would
assume that the Bible has much to say on the subject. It has not."
Gomes goes on in his book to give a brief review of the significant scholarship
on the Bible verses that anti-gay preachers use today against homosexuals.
Gay and Christian Not An Oxymoron
"Before we learned our son was gay, we believed 'gay Christian'
was an oxymoron. We also assumed homosexuality would not affect our Christian
family. We were wrong on both counts."
This what Carmen Bergman writes in a "Soapbox" column in the Christian
Reformed Church magazine, "The Banner" (October 28, 1996). She
comments on the very poor preparation Christians generally have for dealing
with homosexuality: "Our theology placed him in a box with no way out.
Fortunately, he was not abandoned by God, and neither has he abandoned God
or the church."
In the meantime, the young man's father, Don Bergman, has been kicked off
the CRC Homosexuality Study Committee by the CRC Board of Trustees. His
support of his son's desire to find a life partner of the same gender did
not sit well with the CRC general secretary David Englehard and the other
church officials. The Bergmans had encouraged their son to remain celebate
but when he told them that he did not have the gift of celebacy, Bergman
told his son to find one man an settle down with him: "commitment first,
then passion." but the Board objected. Earlier, the Board had refused
a Committee seat to a celebate gay minister, Jim Lucas.
California Baptist Church Ordains Gay Man
The Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church of Oakland, California was the venue
for the ordination of a man who had waited almost a quarter century. Rick
Mixon, (profiled along with his church in Issue
3 of Whosoever) who has long been involved in the gay/lesbian caucus
in the American Baptist Churches, was finally ordained to the Gospel ministry
as an openly gay man. Several American Baptist officials were present to
show their support, though they did so as individuals and not as representatives
of the denomination. The Lakeshore Church had been ousted by the American
Baptist Churches of the West for welcoming homosexuals into membership.
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