Local Presbytaries Can Keep The Caste System, Shun The Untouchables.

Our newspaper, the Fargo Forum, published a letter today from a local Presbyterian pastor.  I read his letter as a chilling endorsement of Christian right’s version of the caste system.

Those who oppose ordaining gays, such as he himself and the majority of Presbyterian churches in this area, he wrote, come from a “…broad spectrum of theological and political beliefs within the church.”  It’s hard to believe this is so.  He believes the measure passed by the national Presbyterian Church allowing local units to ordain gays should not be met with rejoicing, but with “…a request for God’s… forgiveness.”

He also reiterated the usual disclaimer that the opposition to gay pastors does not reflect a dislike for gay people. It has to do “…with whether or not Scripture is the church’s one and only rule of faith and life.”  He went on to say that giving humans the right to make up their own minds about what the Scriptures mean is a form of “idolatry”.

A long time ago I served a few years as a deacon in our local Presbyterian church.  The only siginificant task we performed was to chat with church members in nursing homes.

The great anti-sin axe has fallen here as well. Since one is “ordained” to be a deacon, no gays in relationships are allowed to perform this kind act.

I can’t help but feel a little guilty that I was an active member of a denomination that, in some locations, still considers gay people as the untouchables.

12 Responses

  1. doubtful

    Considering this situation I think it is important to notice that this person is responding to a push for reformation from a national organization. This situation seems to be quite common right now. You have mentioned a few times that you think Christians do not do enough to correct some of the more outrageous practices of other Christians and yet I think the conversations are happening. In fact they are being pushed to the point where many people feel threatened and are on the verge of backing into defensiveness and ending the conversation. Is this not evidence that Christianity is changing and attempting to help people through personal transformations?

    1. doubtful 4:03 If I understand you post correctly you are saying that when the national Presbyterian church voted to allow local Presbyteries to decide to allow gay to be pastors it was an act of social responsibility. Yes, that could be said. But, it was 20 years late and the local Presbytery voted not to allow it. In general, Christian denominations come around eventually kicking and resisting.

      1. doubtful

        I think that had the national Presbyterian church made this move twenty years ago it would not have succeeded even as well as it has now. Christians are people. Many of them do not like change and all of them hate people trying to force them to change. Only time and discussion will bring about change.

        1. doubtful 4:42 I agree that the Pres. church did not adopt it because it could not, given public opinion. Now it, along with ELCA, find support for gay pastors on the national level. That is my point, actually. It’s my observation so much of “street level theology” is based on public opinion. This includes the views of literalists who are able to find a “literal” way of making the Bible agree with what they belived before the read it, or, what they would believe if they had never heard of it.

          I had a little first hand experience with this the church politics of the gay issue. I was on the “Outreach Committee” of a downtown Presbyterian church in the 70’s, nearly 40 years ago. A downtown Lutheran church, St. John’s Lutheran, was hosting monthly gatherings of gays. They started getting criticism from some members for doing this and ask our church and a couple others if our church could host the group every 3 or 4 months so the annomosity could be spread around.

          Our Outreach Committee quickly reccommended that our church should do this. The reccommendation went up to the Session (board of directors). They returned to us with a memo stating that this was a problem St. John’s got itself into and it would have to solve their problem themselves.

          I suppose there have always been many views on homosexuality within all Christian denominations.

  2. I agree with a recent comment by Shane Mercer; it is getting tiresome to hear your constant drumbeat of criticism of Christianity or aspects of it that you find so heinous…..Mercer is right. You do the same thing on a daily basis that you criticize in Christian churches. And you become a hypocrite…look in the mirror please.
    Apparently you are convinced that an Athiest is always correct in all thinking…and nobody else is. I am not impressed by such arrogance.

    1. Buffalo Gal 1:57 Thanks, BG, for your frankness. A lot of what I write about are part of the historical and public record, or, my interpretation of that record. Much of it is critical of the most conservative branches of Christianity and by implication that the conservative branches of other religions. Non believers and people in the social justice part of the faith have common goals and, it seems to me, get along just fine. The parts of the faith that are creating social INjustices and purposfully ignore science that has been widely adjudicated are what I’m most critical of.

    1. Buffalo Gal 4:25 Thanks–people who give me critical “shots” are trying to help me improve my opinions. If you ever see some improvement, you can take some credit. 🙂

  3. Surprisingly, I do support the West Fargo’s right to choose what they believe is best for them. The question no one ever is able to answer is which tactics they employ for choosing which biblical directives to adhere to and which not.

    Women serving in leadership roles would be a very basic example.

    I suspect at this moment in time the percentage of Christian denominations who forbid women to serve is probably equal to the percentage of Christian denominations who welcome gay individuals, no strings attached.

    I’m confident that toward the end of my lifetime the percentage of Christian denominations who shun gays will drop to the same number as those who continue to deny women roles of equality in their church. Which is their choice.

  4. You occasionally mention something to the effect of kicking and screaming before modifying position on sacred text. I suspect moving beyond the obsession with sexuality will force most religions to re-evaluate.

    Or perish.

    1. Mac 4:34 “…moving beyond the obession with sexuality will force most religions to re-evaluate.” Yesss, that’s funny! Leaving sex out of religion would leave many pages of sacred texts blank.

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