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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Series: Essential Resources for the Struggle Pt. 1

In this new series, I will share with you many of the sources that I have found most helpful in learning about and helping others to learn about the issues surrounding LGBT and same-sex marriage  issues.  Scholars in the field are very familiar with the literature, but the average person is often bewildered, not only with the questions, but by how to go about getting the right answers.  So, I share these resources with you and hope that you will share them with others.

I know Margaret Mead spoke the truth when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  It's happening before our eyes as the march for LGBT equality is growing larger every day.  False stereotypes are being exposed, pseudo-scientific efforts to distort gay normalcy are being discredited, and people with no agenda except good will toward all are joining this struggle every day.

Mel White is fond of saying that the enemy is not homophobia, it is misinformation. So I offer these resources to aid you in your journey of self-discovery.

One of the most common questions I get is, "Can you recommend a good book that explains how the biblical evidence is misused to condemn LGBTs?"  There are many of them, ranging from scholarly (Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, by John Boswell) to basic (Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? by Virginia Mollenkott).  I have read almost all the pertinent books and highly recommend one that does a fine job for most people not trained in biblical studies.  It's The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley.  
This slim volume (91 pages) covers all the usual passages and one in particular that most ignore, but shouldn't.  And it does so with easy to follow explanations and good biblical support.  Most importantly, it offers a solid theology of inclusion that goes beyond mere biblical exposition.  This is a book you can learn from and then share with anyone without hesitation.

The authors’ goal is to offer an intermediate sized book that is a comprehensive and well-documented analysis of current biblical scholarship on the Bible and homosexuality, treating both the negative and positive passages. They especially wanted it to be accessible to the general reader.

I believe they succeeded in both efforts. This book was so fresh and inviting that l read it in one sitting. What impressed me most is the original and vivid manner in which they reproduced the best scholarly conclusions. Perhaps it is because of Minor’s training as an attorney that accounts for such fresh angles of inquiry, as the book has a knack for turning arguments on their heads, as in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. They provide a very helpful way of understanding how important context is to proper biblical interpretation, and offer a very helpful way to understand the role of contextualization based on an analogy to case law.

They are not afraid of controversy, as they examine the biblical stories of Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, the centurion and his “boy”, and the queerness of eunuchs. lt may very well be that there is not enough evidence to claim "proof" of same-sex erotic love involved here, but the leap from evidence to conviction is reduced to a mere hop.

The finest part of the book is the chapter on how Jesus interpreted scripture.  lt begins by positing the very real situation that one may remain unconvinced by arguments intended to neutralize the negative passages.  ls there nowhere else to turn? Well, yes; that is, if one is willing to take Jesus’ attitude toward scripture as one's own.  That attitude is summarized as, “Human need is more important than rules - even rules found in the Bible.” How the authors make this clear is worth the price of the book.

The entire focus of the book is to answer this single question: “Can two people of the same sex live in a committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God?”  Thanks to Miner and Connolley, many more people will be compelled to say “Yes!”

The next is a booklet published by the Liberty Education Forum.  It asks and answers what they and I believe to be the single most important question in the struggle for gay rights: "Do people choose their sexual orientation?"

In In The Only Question That Matters, Chandler Burr, a contributing journalist to the NY Times and The Atlantic, summarizes the results of his research in his book, A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation.  He offers 14 summary results that point to the conclusion that one does not choose one's sexual orientation; that it is imposed upon a person biologically, not environmentally. The "nature or nurture" question falls decidedly on nature.

When people are convinced that it is not a choice, their support for gay rights increases dramatically.  Fair-minded people, when exposed to this information, will come to the side of LGBTs.  Having these resources on hand will impact for good everyone you share them with.

This is a free book if downloaded from the LEF at  Or you can get a bound copy from me for a $2.00 donation (free shipping).  The Children Are Free can be ordered from me for $12.95 (free shipping).  Make checks payable to Clergy United and mail to PO Box 7461, Stockton, CA 95267.  Or you can place an order online at through the Contact page and pay through the Donate button.

TOMORROW: Resources for understanding the need for and benefits of same-sex marriage

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