The Good Book
Peter Gomes is minister of The Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. He is also a black Republican who is openly gay. In his new book on Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart entitled The Good Book, Gomes writes on the use and abuse of the Bible in a wide range of topics including race, homosexuality, anti-Semitism, women, wealth, science, evil, and suffering as well as other subjects. He credits a Christianity Today essay by the late Yale church historian and Luther scholar Roland Bainton with an insight that guides his discussion in these matters. He relates that Bainton’s position for total abstinence of alcoholic drinks was, as the historian wrote, based “on biblical principles” and “not based on biblical precepts or biblical practice.” Gomes points out that Bainton derived his principles from the writings of Paul. Gomes extrapolates: “In addressing a moral issue with both public and personal implications on the basis of Christian principles derived from a reading of the Bible, rather than simply on the basis of biblical practice and precedent, Bainton liberates us from a simple-minded bondage to texts whose context may be unrelated and unhelpful to our own.” He asserts that “in the case of the Bible and homosexuality in contemporary American culture, the tragic dimensions of this biblically sanctioned prejudice among the most devout and sincere people of religious conviction are all the greater because no credible case against homosexuality or homosexuals can be made from the Bible unless one chooses to read scripture in a way that simply sustains the existing prejudice against homosexuality and homosexuals … Given the appeal to the Bible in the case against homosexuality, one would assume that the Bible has much to say on the subject. It has not.” Gomes goes on in his book to give a brief review of the significant scholarship on the Bible verses that anti-gay preachers use today against homosexuals.
Gay and Christian Not An Oxymoron
“Before we learned our son was gay, we believed ‘gay Christian’ was an oxymoron. We also assumed homosexuality would not affect our Christian family. We were wrong on both counts.”
This what Carmen Bergman writes in a “Soapbox” column in the Christian Reformed Church magazine, The Banner (October 28, 1996). She comments on the very poor preparation Christians generally have for dealing with homosexuality: “Our theology placed him in a box with no way out. Fortunately, he was not abandoned by God, and neither has he abandoned God or the church.”
In the meantime, the young man’s father, Don Bergman, has been kicked off the CRC Homosexuality Study Committee by the CRC Board of Trustees. His support of his son’s desire to find a life partner of the same gender did not sit well with the CRC general secretary David Englehard and the other church officials. The Bergmans had encouraged their son to remain celibate but when he told them that he did not have the gift of celibacy, Bergman told his son to find one man and settle down with him: “commitment first, then passion.” but the Board objected. Earlier, the Board had refused a Committee seat to a celibate gay minister, Jim Lucas.
California Baptist Church Ordains Gay Man
The Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church of Oakland, California was the venue for the ordination of a man who had waited almost a quarter century. Rick Mixon, (profiled along with his church in Issue 3 of Whosoever) who has long been involved in the gay/lesbian caucus in the American Baptist Churches, was finally ordained to the Gospel ministry as an openly gay man. Several American Baptist officials were present to show their support, though they did so as individuals and not as representatives of the denomination. The Lakeshore Church had been ousted by the American Baptist Churches of the West for welcoming homosexuals into membership.
The Record is a publication of Evangelicals Concerned.