I originally posted this at Homebrewed Christianity but wanted to move it over here to keep the conversation going.
The news is wild these days! Its almost as if there is a cultural shift underway!
Let me just highlight 4 news stories from the past weeks:
2) Pastor Joel Osteen to Oprah: Homosexuality Is Sin — But Gay People Will Get Into Heaven
4) Pastor Mark Driscoll’s book on Marriage hits the shelves
It is interesting that all four of these stories have come to my attention within a week. What most people will focus on is whether there is a Bible verse to back up what they are saying or not.
What needs to be stated before we get there is two-fold:
- All four are white males. Somebody may ask “are you implying that their gender or race somehow diminishes their right to speak with authority?” and I would answer “No – I just think that it is worth pointing it out in case later we wanted to examine how people come to power and in what ways authority is constructed, bestowed, or recognized.”
- When you have the leader of all the world’s catholics, a guy who is renowned for not speaking up about anything or coming down on anyone, a presidential candidate, and one of the most influential evangelical pastors in America saying the same thing… one of a couple of things has to cross your mind.
a) they are all sticking up for the truth or
b) they are all sticking up for an antiquated perspective of the past
The reason that this issue has grabbed my attention is that many are calling it “The Last Taboo”. In the past 2 centuries, the issues of race (civil rights) and gender (women’s lib) have advanced to the point the if anyone held an opinion from a century ago about either issue – the people around them would say “what is wrong with you?” or “wake up man, its the 21st century.”
I asked Tony Jones, Lauren Winner and Phyllis Tickle about this issues last year. Only Phyllis was willing to tackle it.
No matter which side of this thing you are on, it is worth noting that the ‘last taboo’ is predicted to be the worst and most vicious. The problem with the last of anything is that when it is over … it is really over. We tackled the race issue, we overcame the gender barrier, and now the sexuality issue is front and center. We can’t go back. This is the last taboo. Once we have dealt with this, there are no more big ones to fall. This is kinda it.*
I just think that it is worth noting A) who is framing the conversation and B) who is charge of the information and how the process is to be handled. There might be more going on here than simply the rightness or the wrongness of any given issue or the interpretation of 6 bible verses.
This will most likely be decided in our lifetime. Denominations will split over it. The future of the faith will be challenged because of it. Like race and gender before it, history will evaluate how we participate in it.
* somebody might say ‘economics’ or some form of disparity, but that is not really in the same category as it is not inherently value laden .