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Lots of Interest in What the Bible Says in Kalamazoo

Timothy Kincaid

September 29th, 2009

bibleforum LOC-1.jpg

On November 3, Kalamazoo residents will vote on whether to ban discrimination against LGBT residents. On June 8, the city council unanimously passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation for employment, housing and access to public accommodations. Anti-gay activists collected enough signatures to force a vote of the populace.

Republican activists Lorence and Nancy Wenke decided that residents needed to know just what the Bible had to say about homosexuality. Lorence Wenke is a former Republican Michigan House member who is running for the state Senate in 2010.

So the Wenkes sponsored a forum with ministers discussing scripture. But you probably have made some false assumptions about Wenke’s motivation. (Mlive.com)

“The more that you talk about this issue and the more you get to know families struggling with this issue, the more you know the Bible doesn’t condemn them,” Wenke said.

So Wenke’s forum was not limited to anti-gay messages. Rather, he presented three ministers who find scripture to condemn homosexuality and three that do not.

“It’s only .002 percent of the entire Bible, an incredibly small slice,” Laney said. “Sexual orientation is not a choice; it’s not a disorder. It’s part of God’s diverse creation.”

The Rev. Dr. Douglas Vernon, senior pastor of Kalamazoo’s First United Methodist Church, agreed, saying the Bible may be taken “very seriously” but not always literally.

“We believe there is no one right way to interpret Scripture,” Vernon said.

The Rev. John Byl, pastor of Immanuel Fellowship Church, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Naumann, of St. Michael Lutheran Church, disagreed, saying the literal words are relevant and timeless.

But the most interesting thing about the forum is that it drew a lot of interest. Close to 800 people showed up.

The large turnout surprised Lorence Wenke, who said he was expecting about 300 people.

Wenke figures he’ll lose some conservative votes because of his sponsorship. But at least he’ll know that he was a good citizen, a good neighbor, and a valued ally.

Comments

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Jim
September 29th, 2009 | LINK

This reminds me of why I am not active in my Presbytrian church.

Why should I bother going to a church that doesn’t accept me?

I grew up with this church. It is a fine institution. Lots of people I know and love.

But I am a second class member.

I demand acceptance of my love for Terry. If it is not given freely, I will find my own way to express my love.

I also demand the same benefits my father, mother and step-mother received from social security.

Thank you.

Burr
September 29th, 2009 | LINK

Well that’s nice and maybe it’ll convince some people which is what matters most I suppose.

But how about the facts that 1) it doesn’t matter what any religious text says about this issue and 2) ALL religions should agree on treating everyone fairly without prejudice.

Penguinsaur
September 29th, 2009 | LINK

“Rev. Dr. Paul Naumann, of St. Michael Lutheran Church, disagreed, saying the literal words are relevant and timeless.”

Until it interferes with his life, then its a rich tapestry of metaphor and symbolism that must be put in its proper context…

TerenceWeldon
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

This is encouraging, but not surprising. It is easy to demonstrate that, as noted, the supposedly anti-gay texts are only a very tiny slice of the entire Scripture. Those who have gone into it more carefully have observed (i)that this in itself is surprising, in a Graeco-Roman cultural context where homoerotic relationships where commonplace; (ii) that the supposedly hostile texts have misinterpreted, mistranslated, or misapplied; (iii)and there are far more supportive texts than hostile ones.

Wherever the churches have approached the issue with careful reflection and study, there have been movements at least towards greater acceptance. This will continue.

We as the lesbigaytrans community can help this process by setting aside our own anti-religious prejudice, and seeking to better understand and support the religious arguments in favour of queer relationships.

See Queering the Church (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com) for more on these observations.

Scripture Discussion in Kalamazoo « Queering the Church
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

[...] in Kalamazoo 09/30/2009 — queeringthechurch There is an instructive story at Box Turtle Bulletin (which has become my favourite site for general LGBT news and comment) on a Kalamazoo discussion [...]

Craig L. Adams
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks for this story. This is happening right near me & I didn’t even know it.

Piper
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

“Rev. Dr. Paul Naumann, of St. Michael Lutheran Church, disagreed, saying the literal words are relevant and timeless.”

Wow, I hope this guy is Missouri Synod or Wisconsin Synod and not ELCA. He’d fit in there much better. I suspect he is, since we don’t call our pastors Reverend, and if he were an ELCA Pastor he would have gone through a whole lot of classes in seminary discussing the ways the bible is interpreted, (it’s hard to find a literalist in my church, you can find them, but you have to go out of your way).

Timothy (TRiG)
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

This sort of thing matters, unfortunately. I’d rather focus on the Bible verses which say “My Kingdom is no part of this world” and “What have I to do with judging those outside?”

Actually, I’d rather I could forget about that book altogether when talking about civil liberties.

TRiG.

JimInMa
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

I still don’t understand what this “bible” has anything to do with anything. I can pick my own bible, and it doesn’t say anything against gay people. Their bible does not apply to me, nor will I ever let it affect me. You can always ask them which “bible” they mean when they start quoting “scripture”. Then you can always say that’s not the true bible, because my bible is different from theirs. Simple enough.

Timothy Kincaid
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

Piper, yes St. Michael’s website says it is “Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.”

Piper
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks Timothy, that clears up a lot for me, I didn’t think to go to his churches website ( doh!). Missouri synod is MUCH more conservative than ELCA.

(which is interesting, since when I worked at a LCMS Church’s day care one, their pastor made some really creepy comments about the pomegranates I brought to a work potluck, If I remember correctly he started quoting something from Song of Solomon, which has been called the “porn of the bible” [by my boss at a church camp], yeah, creepy much?)

Marlene
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

We’re having the same problem here in my town of Bowling Green, Ohio.

On August 17, the city council enacted two ordinances which banned discrimination based on veteran and military status, pregnancy and some other conditions…. and oh yes — gender identity and expression and sexual orientation.

At that meeting, the bigots were clearly outnumbered, but they had city law on their side — it only took 800 signatures, and they were able to put the ordinance on hold, because they filed a petition to put the ordinance up for a vote.

Thankfully, the vote won’t be until November of *2010*, so that gives our side lots of time to get the word out that BG doesn’t abide bigotry!

Nelson Smith
September 30th, 2009 | LINK

A 16 year old girl and her lesbian friend tried to burn themselves to death. Her parents and I met at Denny’s. We talked and I mentioned they needed to love their daughter unconditionally. They replied they could not, said their daughter would burn in eternal hell fire; and then the father shoved his Bible towards me and said, “WE believe this”.
I have prevented gay kids, most are Christians, as young as 12 from committing suicide because they can no longer stand the hate, bullying, and humiliation they suffer at school, in public, and some at home. One youth lay under his covers at night with his dad’s loaded shotgun in ins mouth for two weeks. Another dried on my shoulder fro several minutes. I have been told by Christians, “If it were legal I would stone you and your gay kids to death”, “You should have let those kids commit suicide so they wouldn’t grow up and contaminate society”.
As a side note I heard the same Bible used to justify segregation and call it a plot of communist and the devil. After I trusted the Lord as my personal savior I worked with the Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords and Latin Kings in the cities/areas of Little Rock, AR; Chicago, IL; Tacoma, WA; Milwaukee, Wis; Elkhart, Ind.
Later I was asked to go to Russia where I talked to the Mafia and Youth Gangs there [Moscow] about God’s love for them. Strange thing is that no Christians in the states would ever go with me into these gang hoods saying “it is not my ministry”.
I walked into gang fights and watched the youth put away their weapons etc. A Mafia chieftain offered me his houseboat for helping his troubled son, of course I said no because I never wanted money to interfere with the gospel message.
To all you scripture spouting Christians who want to save the world get rid of your bigotry and love God’s creation. For those of you with gay scripture hate the blood of these youth who take their lives is on your hands. Unfortunately I was not able to prevent a 11 year old from taking his life.
I might add that when the non-gay brother of the sister I prevented from taking her life was told by his teacher in the 6th grade, in front of his entire class, “You must be gay like your sister” The teacher said this because the youth was wearing an earring.
Kids don’t choose to be gay and then kill themselves because they are. The actions of God cannot contradict His character and you have to make up your mind if God condones, rape, murder, ethnic cleansing, theft and the like. Read the OT and if you check out the verb stems you will notice that many of them are active and in the intensive stem which is used to intensify the meaning of the action being performed.
Nelson, former Baptist pastor, AG teacher, Seminary instructor [Bible Language degree], and mentor to other pastors.
You Are Significant Because God Doesn’t Make Mistakes or Junk

» Scripture Discussion in Kalamazoo Queering the Church
December 22nd, 2010 | LINK

[...] is an instructive story at Box Turtle Bulletin (which has become my favourite site for general LGBT news and comment) on a Kalamazoo discussion [...]

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