In Solidarity

 

I haven’t really told this part of my story before, but I think now is the right time to tell it. I lost my job in 2009 primarily over my stance on … “the gay issue.”

I was working for a large evangelical mission organization at the time, and I was imagining I could have a long and satisfying career there, doing the “kingdom journalism” work I had been doing. But I had a co-worker who was fiercely anti-Emergent, and I was told one day that he’d lodged a formal complaint against me with the organization. He’d printed off what seemed like a ream of paper’s worth of things I’d posted on the Internet to make his case that I was a “heretic,” not an “evangelical” (as I should be) and that I should no longer work for the organization.

When all was said and done, it came down to one issue: homosexuality. I had left a positive comment on the very first blog post at Queermergent.com, and that comment was printed out in co-worker’s ream of evidence against me. It led to several months of “theological accountability” where I was forced to finally declare where I really stood on “the issue.”

Before that, I hadn’t spoken up much at all about my theological journey into being “open and affirming.” I had certainly shifted in my views, which had earlier included supporting the work of ex-gay friends such as Joe Hallett (Outpost Ministries in Minneapolis), Sy Rogers, and Eric Elder. (None of whom would support my position on homosexuality today, I suspect.)

As I told my “theological accountability” partner at the time, the driving question for me — and the one I’ve yet to find a satisfactory answer for — is this:

In the kingdom of God, is everyone heterosexual? Because, in my weak attempt at describing and holding onto a theology of the future (inspired, in part, by Jurgen Moltmann), I believe we should be living here and now as if the kingdom of God is already present in our midst and seeking to be a sign and foretaste of that kingdom in its fullness.

So, in the kingdom of God, is everyone heterosexual? Are there gendered bodies (male and female) having heterosexual sex in Heaven? Is that what you really believe? Because I think you’d have to believe that in order to continue to believe that the only way to live in this life is to be straight.

Or is Galatians 3:28 true? “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. [Heterosexual or homosexual.] For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So I made the decision in the fall of 2009 to stand in solidarity with my growing number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer friends. It cost me my career, at the time. My evangelical street credibility was shattered. You’ll never work in this town again, kind of thing. But the Spirit has moved me on to other things. I’m very happy doing the work that I’m doing now. So it didn’t really cost me that much. And it freed me up to finally be who I really am, find my more authentic voice, speak up for the things I truly believe in.

The silence of many of my friends from those days (and earlier), who I know disagree with me on this subject — and a whole host of other theological and political issues — is probably what hurts the most. I miss those friendships more dearly than any paycheck. But my pain is nothing compared to the oppression and injustice the LGBTQ community has suffered and continues to suffer. The fight for equality for LGBTQ folks is the primary civil rights cause of my generation. I firmly believe that. And we’ll be judged by future generations (and ultimately by the Creator) in how we respond today, in this moment, to this question: Will we stand in solidarity and fight for equal rights for all people? Or will we sit on the sidelines and allow inequality and injustice to continue? (Or worse, actively fight against equality and on the side of the oppressor?) Regardless of what you believe morally and spiritually about homosexuality, I hope every person of faith will choose to stand for human rights, the dignity of all people to live and to love and to work without discrimination.

This blog post is part of today’s Queer Theology Synchroblog. Here are the list of other participants:

Shay writes Queer Theology Synchroblog home.

Brian writes “Why Queer Liberation Must Be Queer Led”

Cindi writes Queer Theology From a Reluctantly Queer Theologian

Gabe writes The Queerness of Christ: And over Or

Christians for Justice Action write “Imagine the Possibilities Four Years From Now”.

Darrel writes “Queer Theology: Outside the Box” at the Blog of the Grateful Bear.

Ken writes Queer Theology.

Peterson writes Lazarus Come Out!

Mike writes Queer Theology Synchroblog #SCEP.

Cindy writes Creative Differences in the Image of God (this link opens a PDF)

Jules writes Being Queerly Forward

Vince writes Loving Promiscuously: A Queer Theology of Doing It

Alison writes Why I’m Queer Too

Sonnie writes God Made Me Queer

Ellen writes Through A Glass Queerly

 

 

 

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Posted on 08-10-2011

Comments

  1. Anarchist Reverend » Queer Theology Synchroblog says:

    August 10th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    [...] writes In Solidarity Share [...]

  2. malakhgabriel» Blog Archive » The Queerness of Christ: And over Or says:

    August 10th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    [...] Steve writes In Solidarity [...]

  3. John O'Keefe says:

    August 24th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    steve –

    i know the feeling – back in 2009 i also lost my position for being a supported of the GLBTQ community – and to be honest, i have not been able to find work in the church since that time – but, it was something i needed to stand by, because i believe it is what God is calling us to be – inclusive – and if that means i never work in a church again, so be it – God leads and i follow :)

    standing for what we believe is right, i believe, is far more important than just doing what others are doing because they have always done it.

  4. Jeremy Bouma says:

    August 25th, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Hi Steve,

    You asked me to comment on your post from Dan’s Facebook wall, so here you go:

    1) It is exegetically and theologically reckless—not to mention simply wrong—of you to insert “heterosexual and homosexual” language into Gal 3. Unity in faith in Jesus Christ over against the legal requirements the Judaiszers were hoisting on Gentiles is what’s in focus here, not the ontology of humans! I’ve certainly heard this argument made from my LGBTQ friends, but you know you’re on incredibly shaky ground Scripturally when you have to read into the Text something that simply isn’t there. You’re on even shakier ground when you actually, on your own through your own volition, insert words into the Text. That’s doing violence to the Holy Scriptures. Plain and simple.

    2) I’ll ask the question I asked Zach which I think you and others who are open and affirming should answer: “Had the Fall (and from what I’ve read around the blogosphere from you at various times, I’m sure you don’t believe in a literal Fall. But for the sake of argument, considering the Church does, grant me this pre-supposition…) not happened would there be same-sex attractions/behaviors/relationships? Or do you believe that this is part of Creation, part of what God originally intended when he created the universe? If so, how do we know this is the case?” This question drives at the heart of your seeming insistence there will be homosexual sex on the New Earth (you use the term Heaven). If that’s what you believe, where is it in the Text?

    3) Exegetically unpacking Romans 1:18-32 will show 2 things: 1) Idolatry and homosexual behavior are used by Paul to show the extent to which Creation has ruptured; and 2) In Jewish theology leading up to and around the 1st century homosexual practice and idolatry were inextricably linked—meaning it was impossible to practice homosexuality and worship the one true God YHWH, the Creator of the universe. By the very nature of engaging in such practices homosexuals are worshiping the Creation rather than the Creator.

    4) There has to be a way to hold both the reality of same-sex sexual attraction and the revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures regarding same-sex sexual practice without 1) being jerks and 2) being heretics. From my perspective both sides of the spectrum hold incredibly tightly to either reality or revelation, while denying the others (Fundies hold tightly to revelation while denying the reality of LGBTQ peeps stories; Rainbow Churches hold tightly to the reality of LGBTQ peeps stories while denying the revelation of God). The 21st century Church needs to hold both in tension, me thinks.

    5) As an American citizen who is also a Christian, (who also has a BA in Political Science and happened to work in the US Senate) I can join you in affirming the need in a democratic society to guard against discrimination in any form, including the LGBTQ community. I do think, however, conflating the issue with the 1960′s Civil Rights Movement certainly packs a highly rhetorical punch, but isn’t helpful.

    Well, there you have it…you asked :)

    -jeremy

  5. Steve K. says:

    August 25th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Jeremy, thanks for replying! I really appreciate you taking the time.

    I wish I had time right now to respond to all your points (hopefully I can later tonight), but you didn’t answer my theological question directly, so I’ll repeat it again here (because it’s pretty simple and straightforward, Yes or No answer will suffice, or you can expand further). Here’s my fundamental theological question for you (and anyone else who still holds to the “traditional” view of Scripture on homoexuality):

    In the kingdom of God, is everyone heterosexual? Are there gendered bodies (male and female) having heterosexual sex in Heaven? Is that what you really believe?

    And, I would add (if you have time): Why? What do you base that on?

    Thanks again.

  6. Jeremy Bouma says:

    August 25th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Steve. Sorry about that. I didn’t realize there was a core theological question you were asking.

    Short answer: Yes.

  7. Steve K. says:

    August 25th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Jeremy, you’re saying, “Yes, there are gendered bodies having heterosexual sex in Heaven”? That’s a very short answer. Can you expand on that at all? What’s your reasoning/Scriptural basis? And how does Galatians 3 fit into that? Or, if Galatians 3 doesn’t fit into that, why not?

  8. rob says:

    August 31st, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m sorry that you were the subject of a witch hunt. I don’t know if we completely align in our views, but no matter, I’m saddened by the aggressive behavior against you. I’d like to learn more from your viewpoint. Live strong, Steve.

  9. Steve K. says:

    August 31st, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Thanks, Rob! I don’t expect everyone to agree, of course, but I hope others will be challenged to really think about the assumptions we’ve been handed about how we should view homosexuality from a Christian perspective — just as I was challenged and finally forced to “land” on what I already knew in my head and my heart.

  10. What If Progressive Evangelicals Were Better Networked? | knightopia.com | the online home of Steve Knight says:

    March 22nd, 2012 at 8:16 am

    [...] explaining why I’ve felt I could no longer call myself an evangelical — mostly because the “gatekeepers” had cast me out into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of [...]

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