Part II: To the Conservative Christians Fighting for the Integrity of the Church

The views expressed here are my own, and are not necessarily those of my family or friends.  This is part two of a two-part series in response to the ongoing conversations at Eastern Mennonite University and Mennonite Church USA about how to live with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

Dear Conservative Christians,

I am speaking as someone who understands that you see changes in the church’s acceptance of homosexuality and believe that they reflect a weakening of regard for the authority of God’s Word. I know how important this is to you, and I know you are trying to do the right thing.

I am speaking as someone who believed, until a few short years ago, that the practice of homosexuality was wrong.  I am speaking as someone who changed my mind. Let me be clear: I am not trying to persuade you of anything.  I only want you to understand me.

I’ve moved! Read the full post here.

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4 responses to “Part II: To the Conservative Christians Fighting for the Integrity of the Church

  • Troy Miller

    Hi Esther,

    While I don’t know you, I have known your family for a number of years.
    I appreciate your honest vulnerability in putting your thoughts in the public arena. As I read this I think of a faith crisis I have walked through in the last several years. I was struck with how God could be mad and kill people (Nadab and Abihu) who were likely earnestly worshiping God, even if it was in their own, independent way. What struck me through this time is that I want to place my conscience on a higher level of authority than what God has revealed. Nadad and Abihu followed their hearts and God punished them for it. Our consciences are so easily warped. You seem to have grasped the side of God that yearns (and died) for the ability to accept us messed-up people. I would ask you to ponder what it means that God is pure, holy, and righteous. Imagine what it would be like to be completely clean! How horrifyingly repulsive Hitler’s cruelties must have been to God. How disgusting my unkind thought at my coworker today! He surely can’t stand either. That is how I understand the cruelty God commanded in the Old Testament, the merciless judge who throws people into Hell, and the loving Savior who has died to make a path to Himself that was open for Hitler, myself, and the Canaanites of the Old Testament.

    I also appreciate that you are not trying to rewrite the Bible but just struggling with its authenticity. To further the struggle, if the Bible is more a mirror of people than a revelation of God, then one must view Christ very differently than the incarnate God. He accepted the Old Testament as the revelation of God, quoting it with authority when tempted by the devil or questioned by the Pharisees. One must disregard the literary, archaeological, and prophetic witness to its divine inspiration.

    The issue is not one of earnestly seeking the truth, in my perspective. Rather, it is seeing God through a dark glass. God has given us His word and His Son to live on this side of the glass. We look at these and squint through the glass with fallen hearts. Which will we trust more?

    • Esther

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I realize that there is a certain level of arrogance (for lack of a better word) in giving authority to conscience over scripture. That being said, it wasn’t so much a conscious choice as it was a realization that my position had changed: I found myself unwilling to give unbridled moral authority to a scripture that depicts genocide, among other things, as the will of God. This isn’t to say that I believe the Bible is patently untrue. But I believe it was written by men, and men often confuse their own agenda for the will of God.

      • Troy

        I can appreciate the moral struggle regarding a God who condones genocide. More than that, the Bible presents God as one who committed mass genocide in the flood. I struggled with the word “genocide” but the definition fits when I looked it up. When genocide originates in the hearts of people it is generally racially motivated. When genocide comes from the heart of God it is from His holiness and justice. The biggest genocide in history (the flood) was judgment. Judgment against the Canaanites was postponed 400 years for their sin to be complete (Gen 15), while the Israelites were in slavery. Later, God used the Babylonians to judge Israel. So the question to grapple with is, did God sin against the people He killed in the flood or that He told the Israelites to kill? What about the babies? (Ezekiel 18 tells us that a child is not spiritually held responsible for the parents’ sin, though we see every day how sin effects them. So while the Canaanite babies were killed, I understand that they are with Jesus today, unlike their parents.) Does it make a difference if He commanded to clouds and springs to destroy the world, or command the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites? Does He have the right to take life in an unnatural violent way? Anyway, I feel like this is coming across preachy, when I think working through this deeply is a good thing. May God guide you as you seek Him.

      • Esther

        You make some good points, especially in terms of how we view natural disasters. Thanks for sharing.

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