My focus has been largely negative, but I have to say, this article (published on Friday, and which slid across my desk this afternoon) really made me optimistic for the future.
The job title “Christian Ethicist” has in my mind many (sadly) negative connotations. The amount of suffering the LGBT community has suffered in the name of traditional ethics and morality cannot possibly be overstated, and those that grew up in the American Bible Belt have it bad in a way that I cannot even describe. The ostracism they face, from friends and family, if they come out of the closet to those closest to them has prompted many harrowing stories, documentaries, and nightmares.
The article speaks about David Gushee, a Christian Ethicist who has taught at many prestigious Bible Universities and Colleges (but he has not, ironically enough, been a Liberty University Professor at Liberty University. Liberty University.). While an interview with some of his former colleagues led to the rather discouraging comments such as “He’s now placed himself outside of employability at the previous institutions where he taught,” I still leave with hope. A man who grew up and was trained in Southern Traditional Christianity managed, through soul (and Bible) searching to come to the conclusion that LGBT people are not, in fact, the embodiment of Satan. Not a young one, either (the next generation of Southern Christians is proving far more liberal than their forebears), but Mr Gushee is 52 years old.
His coming out as being pro-LGBT (the word choice must be intentional) seems to have been prompted not by spontaneous soul-searching, mind you–his younger sister came out as lesbian. She is a single mother, a story that is too sad to possibly capture; she may have never wanted the sex that led to her pregnancy, and yet massive pressure from those closest to her (having an older brother who was a staunch traditional Christian Ethicist and all…) likely pushed her into it. I acknowledge that the previous statement is pure conjecture, but it is a story that has been told before, and will be told again.
Further, the same person who said he’d ruined his employability showed an almost stunning lack of empathy with the further statement that “David is not saying anything new. When you look at the figures who are making arguments for same-sex marriage and relationships, there is an expanding literature that is as much as 20 years old.”
You are right, he is practically rehashing old ideas. I mean, 20 is practically ANCIENT when you look at the tradition that dates back to the earliest pieces of human legend of hating the LGBT community! Why, compared to Sodom (after which the act of primary male homosexual intercourse was NAMED), 20 years is practically pre-history!
In any case, flippant marks aside, science and progressive thinking are coming to the fore in this debate, and it is getting harder and harder to ignore the consensus; being gay is not always a choice; it is often something you are born with (I won’t argue that every person who has ever shown homosexual tendency was born that way, but science is starting to see a picture that is difficult to ignore).
Thank you, David Gushee. While I won’t belittle the struggle of the LGBT community by comparing your upcoming trials with their ongoing history, I will say that standing up and speaking out in their favor, knowing that almost all of your prior colleagues will disown you… Well, that almost sounds like something Jesus said in the Bible.
“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” John 16:2