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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spong - Time for Debate is Over

At "Straight, Not Narrow" I came across a post with an excerpt from recent comments by the former Episcopal Bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong where he says that he is no longer prepared to debate the age-old arguments with conservative Christians about homosexuality.

Here are the excerpted comments:

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is “high-sounding, pious rhetoric.” The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to “Roll on over or we’ll roll on over you!” Time waits for no one.

There is much, much more posted on the blog A piece of my mind.


Tidbits of Torah said...

He is a special edition

Kendall said...


Please SHUT THIS SITE DOWN! and STOP WRITING IN PUBLIC FORUMS! I say this as your dear friend. Right now, you are being self destructive! You are currently burning every professional bridge you had established all these years, as well as your credibility. My door has always been open, if you want to talk.

With much prayer,

One of Freedom said...

Yikes Kendall, your answer to your discomfort is silence? If the cost of credibility in the evangelical church is compromising your own values then that cost is simply too high. Not that I'm a big Spong fan, but I get the frustration over this issue. The vast majority of outspoken advocates against homosexual inclusion in the Church are fearful and ignorant. I think there is a debate that needs to be had - but the way that everyone is going about it is not helpful. As for Les, I support his stand for the rights of homosexual Christians.

MysticalJase said...

I love the bit where spong say "The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance."

And as for Kendalls comment towards Les "... burning every professional bridge you had established ..." maybe professional doesn't have much to do with life, but finding onesself, your real friends, our place in the world and your God is a tad more important. Sure our actions have consequences but life has many seasons. Some people remain with us through all of them, some are just for a moment. Les I admire your honesty, keep on keeping on :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am from Melbourne.

Please check out these references which effectively support what Spong has to say.