Hello, my name is Lionel. I've joined Soulforce for several reasons. Prior to my divorce I attended a very conservative Christian Baptist church. At that time I believed in the inerrancy of scripture but the primary focus of our pastor tended to be personal evangelism not larger social issues. Our congregation existed as an isolated subculture, mainly cut off from and unaware of things outside our small community. Most of the negative rhetoric I heard regarding the LGBT community came from Christian talk radio.
Regardless of my conservative life in the church I was more socially aware than that isolated subculture because I work for a very large forward-thinking international Fortune 500 company that embraces diversity. So whether at work or for drinks afterward, I regularly socialized with openly gay/lesbian coworkers who I accepted as friends. The contradiction I was living first became apparent to me when a lesbian coworker asked if I would be a reference for her as she was trying to adopt a child. Even though in my heart I wanted to help her, in my mind was all the anti-LGBT rhetoric I heard from the Christian right-wing, so I regretfully declined even though I was hounded by doubts after my decision. It was the first of several incidents that made me conscience of the fact that my personal views weren't really in line with those of my church. In spite of this, I glossed over the incident and rationalized my situation with placating thoughts while keeping my church friends separate from my work friends in order to avoid criticism.
I lived two separate lives up until my divorce in 2003, during which I went through a deep crisis of faith. It was then that I finally confronted the fact that the conservative church standpoint just was not in line with my own personal-faith-of-the-heart. I left the church and over the ensuing months, continued to struggle deeply with my faith. Having lived in a vacuum of information, I just didn't know how to reconcile a genuine Christian perspective with a liberal social viewpoint. So I rejected Biblical inerrancy, but then found it difficult to find a rational basis for my belief in God. Angry with myself and with my so-called Christian friends that were so quick to reject me as a heretic, I became angry with God, and tried being an atheist for awhile, all to no avail. I just cannot reject what I know to be true in my heart, even though I cannot always explain it rationally.
I finally found hope when I discovered St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and became acquainted with Dr. Jim Rigby. He introduced me to a very different and better Christian perspective. I’m still doing research and trying to understand this new perspective. I'm also educating myself to LGBT social issues and injustice. Although I considered myself a "liberal" "open-minded" guy, I'm often surprised at how completely ignorant I was about a lot of social topics like transgenderism, to which I was only first introduced after seeing a Discovery Channel program. It is because of my own very confused and indifferent past and my newly renewed and active faith that I feel a profound need to educate other “religionists” that may still be in the position I once was, whether they are Christian or otherwise. No, I cannot yet answer every objection from my former right-wing religious community using a strict "inerrancy" perspective, but I still know rationally as well as in my heart, that many of them are engaged in discrimination, bigotry, or indifference that naturally begets only hatred and violence and this just is not at all in line with the type of world Jesus truly envisioned. So I feel a profound responsibility as a Christian and as a moral citizen to do everything I can not only to educate myself and others, but to stem this tide of abuse begotten by my so-called Christian brethren and ultimately, by my own past of indifference.
I believe that all in the LGBT community should be able to enjoy the same rights and protections under law as the rest of us. I'm looking for people that want to talk and exchange ideas and I want to take an active role in LGBT activism and education in Austin so I can begin to live on the outside the kind of Christian I believe I should have been from the beginning.
What a great journey! A post as thoughtful as yours probably deserves a more considered response than that, but that's all I can say right now: what a great journey.
Welcome to the forum. You'll meet many intelligent and kind people here, and I hope you will enjoy the discussions.
Austin? Great town. You know that's where Soulforce is headquartered, right? Also Atticus Circle, an organization founded by and for straight persons who want to work towards social justice. You might be interested in looking them up.
Anyway - Austin is the best part of Texas. Except for the allergies and the traffic on the 35. (We have family in Austin/Round Rock, and so we're often visiting. Loathesome allergies there, I can't believe it. But if you can breathe, it's a great place.) :p
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I was raised Missionary Baptist, and like you was taught that the Bible was the literal "word of God", PERIOD. It wasn't until the Spirit showed me that She has been with us much,much longer and it is Her guidance I am led by today, not a book.
There are many good things that come from the Bible, but it is only a tool. A tool which can be used to create or destroy, depending upon the person using it. My parents, and many others, seem to place their entire belief more in a book than they do in the Spirit.
I have found no way to have a reasonable discussion with those who are so completely led by the Bible; I can pray that one day they may find the same Spirit that we have found.
Hey, Austin (I know that's not your name, but it's all I've got),
Welcome to the Soulforce forums.
The trick with the Bible is that God didn't/doesn't make any mistakes. God's message remains inerrant. It's human beings who have made the mistakes ... many of them over the centuries. So, as Labguy has suggested, it's the Spirit of Scripture that we need to heed.
Near as I can tell, that Spirit is Love, and it permeates the Bible. That Spirit is one of inclusion, not exclusion. Over and over again, the prophets reminded Israel that God is the God of the whole of creation, not just of the chosen people. And time and time again, we have all at times set ourselves apart from "them." That's always a mistake, and it's one of the biggest mistakes that the Bible gets misused for.
No one has to give up his or her reverance for the inerrant Word of God. Instead, we have to start listening more carefully, more prayerfully, keeping in mind that we're just as capable of making mistakes in our understanding of it as anyone. You seem well on your way to hearing God's Word afresh, with new understanding. What an exciting time it must be for you.
Welcome to SF, Lionel. I'm happy that you made your way back. There's a difference between churchianity and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. You are open to God working inside of you and I admire that very much.
I am a transgender individual and God loved regardless. The venom spewed by 'Christians' against LGBT people is very unChrist like and I have spoken out against it. I'm so happy that you are being educated about LGBT issues. God is doing a new work in you.
Welcome, we're glad to have you here! :wave:
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