A Reflection during Lockdown on Good Friday, 10 April 2020:
It’s the hope that nearly killed me…
That’s a line from the amazing documentary, “Touching the Void”. Joe Simpson and his mountaineering partner Simon Yates were caught in a snowstorm on the Siula Grande in Peru. Joe broke his leg and in a failed attempt at a self rescue, was then left for dead on the mountain. He managed to get himself down the mountain, only to discover he was far away from any civilisation and had to drag himself across glaciers and rocks for a few days becoming dehydrated and frost bitten, before finally being rescued.
A Community of Radical Inclusion is a sermon preached by Graeme Codrington at the Melrose Campus of Gracepoint Methodist church in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. It lays out both a Biblical and historical case for including LGBTQI in our churches, and affirming them as made in God’s image.
Sport is about finding the fastest and strongest human. Almost always, this turns out to be a man. In order to allow women to compete in elite sports, we created a category for “women”, and have excluded men from competing in this category. But for over 100 years, we’ve battled to define who a woman is in sport. Back in 1936, for example, both the gold and silver winners of the 100m accused each other of being men. A “nude parade” was required for all elite women athletes – to literally stand naked in front of a panel of judges to prove they were women. This was changed in the 1960s and 70s to a “female passport”. It then shifted to chromosome testing, and today a court has confirmed it relates to hormone levels. But none of these are adequate, and all have been flawed.
This bonus episode of the ALLin podcast looks at the fascinating history of how sport has tried to define who a woman is, and what it means for us that they have essentially failed to do so in over a century.
Of course, sport is merely an example. This also applies to how we might define who can go to a girls school, or who gets counted as a woman on your Board or Executive leadership team if your country requires a specific quota of women in those positions.
This bonus episode concludes the mini-series on “Are there only two genders?”. The answer, it is clear, is NO.
The ALLin podcast provides resources and insights for Christians who affirm the LGBTQI community. In this episode we look at the two Old Testament Laws that talk about male gay sexual activity. We look at the context, the Holiness Code and ancient Israel’s sexual ethics.
Summary: The commands against gay sex in Leviticus 18 and 20 were given to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land, and they were about the people who already lived there. Look at the first few verses of Lev 18 and 20 and you’ll see clearly that these Laws were about what the pagan nations did in their temples. These temple rituals included tattooing your body, shaving your head and having gay sex with teenage boys. They also included child sacrifice. And God said to the Israelites: don’t do any of these things in MY temple. These chapters in Leviticus are not meant to be a code of sexual ethics for all time, but a specific set of restrictions related to temple Worship in the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. They do NOT apply to gay people today. And they have nothing to say about gay marriage.
The reason for the interest in this video is that James presents a compelling theory of why we need LGBTQI people in the world.
James presents his theory from the basis of evolution. As a Christian, if you prefer to refer to Creation and God’s choice rather than nature’s choice, it doesn’t change James’ theory. He suggests that at first glance it might seem strange that LGBTQI people exist – they don’t appear to make sense for evolution (or creation and God’s command to reproduce).
The Bible is not meant to be used as a legal textbook. On many issues, we are required to look for principles in the Bible, rather than direct instructions. This includes issues such as slavery, women leaders, and democracy. On these issues, we need to identify principles from the Bible that help us understand how God would have us live. In this episode of the ALLin podcast, we look at ten passages in the Bible that provide principles for affirming gay marriage and LGBTQI people.
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Justin Lee wrote a very important book on the issue of the Bible and homosexuality. It’s called “Torn” (or in the UK, “Unconditional”).
His main thesis is that as Christians dealing with the issue of homosexuality we have fixated on sex – and he means those both for and against LGBTQI inclusion in the church. He has a point. Most of the debate is about who can have sex with whom. His book, and his work, is a request to go further than this – to talk about more than sex. We should talk about what it means to be an LGBTQI Christian, because there is a lot more to life than sex.
Justin has a really good online presence with great resources. This video is a good introduction to his thinking, and I think you’ll find it valuable. I don’t agree completely with his approach to interpreting the Bible, but I think its worth considering and talking about, and his overall point of the conversations we should be having are vital.
Later this year, I will be spending a few days with a group of Conservative Christians. It’s meant to be a social event, and the organisers have asked me not to be provocative. This is a group of people who largely think that “social justice Christian” is an insult, so it is going to be tough. I think there is a plan to do daily devotions, and I am starting to prepare something in case I am asked to lead one. But I am struggling to find something to share from the Bible which doesn’t get me in trouble for talking about politics and the state of the world.
Here’s a summary of the Bible you might not hear in your church, but you should:
Genesis: God gets mad over and over at humanity for being cruel to foreigners, for being uncaring to the poor, for war and for being nationalistic.
Exodus: God frees captives and guides refugees to new lands.
Leviticus: Jubilee is explained: redistribute all wealth every 49 years.
Numbers/Deuteronomy: Take care of widows and orphans, and don’t oppress foreigners.
Judges: Don’t get trapped in cycles of abuse and neglect.
Ruth: We discover that Jesus is descended from a poor immigrant who worked in the fields (and did sexual favours with Boaz to get his attention).
Last Saturday, I joined a group of Christians who attended the Johannesburg Pride Parade. We didn’t protest against it – in fact, we did the opposite. We held signs showing our support of the LGBTQI community, and apologising for the way the church has treated them in the past.
The responses we received were overwhelming and amazing. Many people were in tears as they saw us, and understood that we were bringing a message of love and grace. For those are into signs and wonders, there was a beautiful double rainbow over the whole event.
Many Christians who are against affirming gay marriage and LGBTQI people reference the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to show that God is angry with homosexuality and will judge it. But this is not what these stories are about. In this episode we get into the Bible, and look at why God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, and what these stories mean for us today.
Or search for ALLin pod by Graeme Codrington on your favourite podcast platform.
Graeme Codrington's musings on a new kind of Christianity