Shuck and Jive

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Tract or Treat?

I remember one Halloween when we lived in Northern New York. We sent the kids out Trick or Treating. One of the neighbors didn't like Halloween for religious reasons. Instead of giving out candy they gave out religious tracts. I think it was this one.

Our friend from across the street was very upset and gave the neighbor a piece of her mind for it. I amused myself by suggesting that the neighbors who handed out the tracts were truly in the Halloween spirit. They scared the hell of out the children with their perverse religion.

I was reminded of this by a recent post from Jadedjabber. All of the tracts are disturbing but The Birds and the Bees is particularly insidious.

Bruce Reyes-Chow asked if we can agree to disagree about homosexuality. How do we agree to disagree about that?

Granted, the tract is white trash theology, the kind you find near my mountain. But, substantively, what is the difference between that and the following statements in the Authoritative Interpretation of the PC(USA)?

“…that homosexuality is not God’s wish for humanity. This we affirm, despite the fact that some of its forms may be deeply rooted in an individual’s personality structure.” [7]

“In many cases homosexuality is more a sign of the brokenness of God’s world than of willful rebellion. In other cases homosexual behavior is freely chosen or learned in environments where normal development is thwarted.” [8]

“Even where the homosexual orientation has not been consciously sought or chosen, it is neither a gift from God nor a state nor a condition like race; it is a result of our living in a fallen world.” [9]

“As we examine the whole framework of teaching bearing upon our sexuality from Genesis onward, we find that homosexuality is a contradiction of God’s wise and beautiful pattern for human sexual relationships revealed in Scripture and affirmed in God’s ongoing will for our life in the Spirit of Christ.” [10]

“Homosexual persons who will strive toward God’s revealed will in this area of their lives, and make use of all the resources of grace, can receive God’s power to transform their desires or arrest their active expression.” [11]

“…the New Testament declares that all homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian faith and life.” [12]

“On the basis of our understanding that the practice of homosexuality is sin, we are concerned that homosexual believers and the observing world should not be left in doubt about the church’s mind on this issue during any further period of study.” [13]

Not Justice, Not Progress
  • [7] (Minutes, UPCUSA, 1979, Part I, p. 262; Minutes, PCUS, 1979, Part I, p. 203, lines 108-110).
  • [8] (Minutes, UPCUSA, p. 262; Minutes, PCUS, p. 203, lines 111-114).
  • [9] (Minutes, UPCUSA, p. 262; Minutes, PUCS, p. 203, lines 114-116).
  • [10] (Minutes, UPCUSA, p. 262; Minutes, PCUS, p. 204, lines 174-178).
  • [11] (Minutes, UPCUSA, p. 263; Minutes, PCUS, p. 205, lines 197-200).
  • [12] (Minutes, UPCUSA, p. 263; Minutes, PCUS, p. 206, lines 239-240).
  • [13] (Minutes, UPCUSA, p. 264; Minutes, PCUS, p. 207, lines 324-328).


  1. We can agree to disagree in the same way that equally committed, even orthodox Christians can agree to disagree concerning the ordination of women, divorce and remarriage, even things like the interpretation of Genesis.

    How someone feels relating to this whole sexuality issue has nothing at all to do with the essential tenets of Christian faith.

    I mean it's not as if folks are being asked to agree to disagree concerning the incarnation, the divinity of Jesus Christ, or the nature of God.

    Why this should be such a huge issue to even cause permanent schism in the churches is beyond my understanding.

    I mean no one is advocating sexual immorality, promiscuity, bathhouse sex...No, we are talking about committed, life-long, loving relationships.

    Somehow we have folks that have come to an interpretation of the Scripture that actually equates this with murder and idolotry.

    Spiritual discernment, and just plain ole common sense has just flown out the window.

    I think there are far more serious matters that are central to the Christian faith that we could be discussing together..Not to mention focusing our attention in the spread of the gospel, justice issues, and corporate works of mercy.

  2. My understanding, limited as it is, is that any sexual act that does not stem from the desire and lead to the result of procreation is a sin. Religion needs to get over that before it can make any real progress toward recognizing homosexuality as simply another form of sexual expression.

  3. In response to Snad's words "My understanding, limited as it is, is that any sexual act that does not stem from the desire and lead to the result of procreation is a sin."

    So right sister the result of years of bad teaching in almost every denomination got us here. It can't be righted overnight, but righted it must be.

    To me there is really but one sin and one sin alone - a closed and hardened heart.

    All else is pure grace.

    Thanks for giving me a comment to comment on. As if my flapjaw needs any further help!!

    Peace people. So glad to have found this oasis of healthy and free thought.

  4. You know Snad, I've heard this before, too. But, where does the Scripture actually teach this? I don't know. It doesn't come out of the Song of Solomon, that's for sure?

    And, again, this is where common sense comes into play again..What about folks who are infertile, or are past their child-bearing years?

    Are they supposed to give up sexual intimacy, since there's supposedly no point to it?? It's craziness.

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  6. Well, Grace, I don't know. I'm not well versed in the Bible. I do know that in some countries marriages can be anulled if it is found the wife is unable to bear children. I understand it may still be done in Mexico. Infertility was certainly a source of anguish in the OT (Isaac & Rebecca, Jacob & Rachel), and marriage to a barren woman is discouraged, if not outright forbidden, in Hindu and Muslim teachings (although I have no idea how they would know a woman was barren - or man for that fact - until AFTER marriage).

    One can reasonably assert that some of the OT admonishments against sex for the sake of sex and/or homosexual acts were given because the leaders of the time wanted to increase their country's population. I would certainly say that is the basis for the RC Church's strong stance against birth control.

  7. Ummm.... actually denominations do tend to split over issues like the ordination of women and of divorcees. For the southern Presbys, it was the reason for the PCA's departure from the PCUS, because they didn't want ordained women "ruling" over them. Similarly, it's a irreconcilable difference between the ELCA and the LCMS. The Misery Synod will not accept ordained women as ministers period full stop end of story. The ELCA will not fire all of its women ministers (and shouldn't). There ain't going to be any reunion.

    I think an important distinction to be made is that with fundamentalists of any stripe the question isn't so much

    I've heard this before, too. But, where does the Scripture actually teach this?

    but "where does some forgotten church leader teach us that this is what the Scripture actually teaches us?"

    And yes, "common sense" is a big part of the problem (a phenomenon known as Scottish Common Sense, dating back to the 17th century, still pervades American thought). Does the Bible prevent people unable to bear children to marry? No. But, the common sense approach is that a monogamous marriage is the "best" way to ensure the proper rearing of children (at least in 17th century Scotland). The natural function of sex seems to be (again, to 17th century Scottish intellectuals) procreation. Ergo, any sexual activity that doesn't lead to procreation is against the natural order. Since God created said natural order and declared it good, therefore any sexual activity that doesn't lead to procreation is evil. QED. It's just common sense.

  8. And John, I love the term "White Trash Theology". I'll work my nefarious liberal connections at Columbia to try to get this into the lexicon... bwa ha ha ha!