I really wish more churches would preach this: there are no walls.
The attached Naked Pastor cartoon is one of the most powerful he’s ever done (and he even managed a touch of poetry too).
Over and over and over again in his ministry, Jesus demonstrated that those people the religious leaders were excluding and judging were actually accepted and welcomed by Jesus. The only people Jesus ever warned about being “outside” were those religious leaders themselves.
Am I saying “everyone will be saved”? No. Some people don’t want to be saved. What I am saying is that it is mainly the people who want to close the doors for others who are choosing to not be saved. They’re choosing instead to build something that is the opposite of the Kingdom of God: they’re choosing to build an exclusive, exclusionary club, and so – by their own approach – they will be allowed to choose a future where live in a space as small as they wanted it to be, as excluded as they were exclusionary, as rejected as they were rejecting and as sad as they made many seekers of love and truth. Their hell has already started.
This is not what God wants. The story of the history of God is a story of ever expanding inclusion and acceptance (or more accurately, of our ever improving understanding of God’s inherent inclusionary character). From one man and his family, to his tribe and a nation, to their neighbours and eventually to the ends of the earth, and all peoples, nations, tribes and tongues. The story starts in an empty garden and ends in a limitless, sustainable city, open to everyone and capable of accommodating us all.
And, yes: it specifically includes all genders as well.
I am doing a short mini-series for our faith community on “new beginnings”. We’ve gone back to Genesis, and I have done two 25 minute talks on how to interpret Genesis 1, and then what the meaning of the passage is for us today. Here are those two videos:
Continue reading You are enough (two sermons on Genesis 1)
We are gearing up to start Season 2 of the ALLin podcast. Season 2 will focus on what the Bible teaches and shows us about marriage, and why we are wrong to limit it to “a natural born man and natural born woman” as conservatives now frame it. We will also look at LGBTQI-positive interpretations of Scripture.
It would be really beneficial for you to listen to Season 1 before you dive into Season 2. Season 1 consists of 20 episodes that look at the seven “clobber verses” in the Bible that are typically used to argue that LGBTQI people are somehow breaking God’s natural order and are “abomination” to God. Season 1 also looks at some key issues around definitions of gender, sexual orientation and sexual biology.
To listen to Season 1, please subscribe to ALLin on your podcast player of choice:
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Around 2,000 years ago a young, 33 year old, well-known teacher who had gathered quite a following and reputation was brutally beaten and then crucified on a Roman cross outside of Roman-occupied Jerusalem, while being jeered by crowds of Jewish religious leaders and their accolytes (who left their Passover preparations specifically to come and do that). What’s good about that?
You might not hear this in your church, but the answer is “nothing”. In the Christian faith, we don’t celebrate Friday (we commemorate it). We wait for Sunday.
The only thing “good” about this day is WHY Jesus was killed. The first actual Easter Friday was a complete horror show for everyone who supported Jesus. Their dreams were shattered, their hopes destroyed, their futures dark. They didn’t know that Sunday was coming.
So why was Jesus killed?
Continue reading Easter Friday: Why do Christians call it “Good Friday”?
Keith Giles has written a fantastic article on the Patheos blog site titled “How Evangelicals Changed The Bible To Support Their Beliefs”. In it, he gives specific examples of the ways in which conservative evangelicals have chosen to change the meaning of words in newer English translations to fit into their theological frameworks, rather than more accurately reflect the original Biblical meaning.
You can read the article in full at the Patheos website, or an extract of it below:
Continue reading How Evangelicals Changed The Bible To Support Their Beliefs (by Keith Giles)
A look back at the key Bible verses that talk about homosexuality and why they don’t apply to loving LGBTQI relationships today, with a positive reading of the book of Romans.
This ends season 1 of the ALLin Pod. Season 2 will focus on what the Bible says about marriage, and whether LGBTQI people can get married.
Yes, we are still in the book of Romans. For many Christians, Romans 1 is the key passage against same gender sexual activity, so we need to cover it thoroughly. In this episode of the ALLin Podcast, we look at seven additional interpretative options for Romans 1.
If you’re satisfied with my explanations so far, you might want to just skip the rest of this episode. This one has a lot of detail and further options for interpreting Romans 1, for sake of completeness. While I have sympathy for these seven views, I do not endorse them all, and find some more compelling than others. I present them for two reasons. Firstly, for the sake of completeness – these are views held by committed Christians and qualified theologians alike. Secondly, and more importantly, so that those who might still be clinging to a traditional interpretation of Romans 1, despite the detail I have supplied about context and about the meanings of key words, can see that there are significant additional problems with the traditional reading of Romans 1.
There is a danger that by presenting a variety of alternative suggestions for interpretation I will bring confusion rather than insight. I hope not. I think it’s clear to see that the weight of evidence is actually pretty much overwhelming: Romans 1 does not condemn same-gender couples wishing to enter loving, lifelong, covenantal marriages.
Continue reading ALLin Pod: Episode 19: Other Interpretations of Romans
Whether you agree with my analysis of the so-called Biblical “clobber verses” in previous blog entries or not, the discussion about LGBTQI issues in the church is really centred on the issue of marriage (and sex). The next few entries in this series will be focused on what the Bible says – and doesn’t say – about marriage.
Since I began my work on this issue over a decade ago, most Christians have shifted from being totally opposed to LGBTQI people to now welcoming them into their churches – even if only as “sinners” who need be “healed”. But they believe and teach that LGBTQI people should be celibate, and they believe that marriage can only be between a “natural man” and a “natural woman”. For them, the actual “sin” of homosexuality is same-sex sexual activity, and since they also believe that sexual activity is confined to marriage, LGBTQI people should neither marry nor have sex.
Most countries that have legalised gay marriage have actually created a new category called “civil unions” rather than including LGBTQI people in laws about marriage – this is largely been done to placate conservative religious groups. Churches are enabled to hide behind this legal distinction, by acknowledging civil unions as legal entities but continuing to deny gay “marriages” in their churches.
Continue reading Part 19: The Importance of Marriage in the Bible and Christian Faith
We are spending a lot of time in Romans 1, because this is the passage that most people point to when they want to exclude LGBTQI people from the church and Christian faith. This is the fourth part of our mini-series in Romans, and looks in even more detail at the original text and specifically at Romans 1:26-27, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
What were the women, and men, actually doing? And what did Paul condemn in these verses?
We will discover that Paul’s issue is temple prostitution and pederistic relationships. And that he is not actually condemning same gender sexual activity in these verses. That’s right: the verses don’t say what you’ve been told they say. And once you see what they do say, you won’t be able to unsee it.
In Romans 1, Paul says that women and men were “given over by God” to their “shameful lusts” and did what is “against nature”. What did he mean by this? And does that apply to LGBTQI people today who want to get married to their lifelong, loving partner?
In this episode of the ALLin Pod we do detailed word studies of what it means for something to be shameful and unnatural. Neither of them are what you might expect: they’re related to things that are socially unacceptable, rather than something that is morally wrong or evil.
This changes completely how we should understand this passage.