Jackie Bruchi has posted an article about ‘The Bible as hate speech’ on Stand Firm http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24534 commenting on my blog.
Jackie says I condemned the Bible as hate speech. I did not. I condemn those who use particular verses to preach in a hostile way against homosexuality. Her first paragraph is more accurate: “Colin Coward … has taken the position that the Bible is hate speech when used to preach the passages that are not on point with the GLBT agenda.”
Her prime concern seems to be the hate crime laws proposed by the Obama administration. She refers to the debate on the Coroners and Justice Bill in the UK and the amendment guaranteeing a defence of free speech (which was lost). Conservative Christians were concerned that the law would impose serious restrictions on the right of free speech and in particular on those who oppose homosexuality.
The comments on Stand Firm highlight key conservative arguments:
The Bible is “hate speech” because it speaks of hatred of sin.
There are people who love sin more than they love Jesus. They condemn what Holy Scripture says about sin.
Anyone disagreeing with homosexuality as normative is accused of hating LGBT people.
The 3-year Lectionary cycle omits the “clobber verses” and has been selectively edited to advance the pro-gay agenda.
The word ‘hate’ has been redefined to mean anything that disagrees with and opposes the LGBT agenda.
Christian ethics are being questioned while the Muslims are allowed to preach real hate from the pulpit – it’s unfair.
One more thoughtful comment notes that there are countless street preachers who proclaim a message which is little more than hate. In doing so they become the greatest allies the liberals could ever hope for. This is true, and not helpful to the moderate conservative position.
Another comment says that it is wrong, unbiblical, and neglectful of our duty to preach the gospel in its entirety. I’m not sure whether he didn’t mean the opposite: ‘not to preach the gospel in its entirety’.
No-one preaches from the Bible in its entirety – there just isn’t the time! Much of the Old Testament is ignored by conservatives and liberals alike when it comes to preaching.
We ALL choose the passages we preach on. Even when preaching from the lectionary, I choose which lesson or verses I am going to focus on.
Street preachers choose verses from which they can proclaim hell and damnation as a way to persuade people to turn to God. It doesn’t work for me. Conservatives preach about (or want the freedom to preach about) homosexuality and sin.
I choose to preach about love, forgiveness, reconciliation, hope, the reality of our lives, the reality of creation and my lived experience of God in dialogue with my understanding of scripture.
We are dealing with the church’s dilemma about human sexuality by polarising arguments and positions. This is not the Christian way. It does not achieve reconciliation and does not give people hope. It satisfies egos and confirms prejudice.
The church is learning about homosexuality with great difficulty and resistance. It doesn’t want, corporately, to change its mind-set (yet), its traditional teaching and attitudes towards homosexuals and homosexuality. Changing Attitude and other liberal groups represent a challenge to the church, a challenge presented by people who believe we are orthodox ourselves and are certainly speaking as Anglicans from within the church. We refuse to be marginalised or excluded from the life of the church. We want to be integrated in a church which embraces both us and those who disagree with us.
The language of Christians at the more extreme end of the conservative spectrum is hateful to us. They use the “clobber passages” against LGBT people because in their own integrity, they believe they are right. Tragically, they reinforce or encourage continuing prejudice against LGBT people, prejudice which at the extremes, results in hatred, violence and murder.
To satisfy those of us who are gay Anglicans, the church needs to engage with us without prejudging or condemning us. That means the conservatives have to relinquish their more extreme arguments, which I experience as hatred.