Film Review: For The Bible Tells Me So

Film poster for For the Bible Tells Me So - Co...

Film poster for For the Bible Tells Me So – Copyright 2007, First Run Features (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most divisive topics that is dividing the Church today is the issue of homosexuality.  For decades (if not longer) this has been an issue (whether we like it or not) on the forefront of Church. Recently some denominations have had decisions and votes on whether or not to ordain open homosexuals; it has caused dissension, grief, hurt feelings and in some cases it has cost ministers their job. Many churches and even denominations have decided that in the interest of keeping everyone happy, they have not or will not broach the discussion at all.

In matters of church conflict or even church doctrine, the normal question to ask is “What does the Bible says regarding this issue?” It is a natural place to start.  However, there are varying ways on which the Bible can be interpreted and thus a problem can emerge.

The film, For The Bible Tells Me So, explores the issue of homosexuality as it relates to the Church and Christianity. This film tries to demystify the stigmas that have been placed on a certain group of people and tries to look at the issue from different angles.

Film Synopsis from forthebibletellsmeso.org:

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

This film dives into the Biblical text from a number of different perspectives trying to encapsulate the essence of the text as the original authors intended.  Scholars from many different denominations and faiths weigh in on this issue.

This film is presented in a way that brings in new ideas and understandings about homosexuality and how the Bible has been used and mis-used to subjugate a particular group of people. The interviewees do not hold back with their position and thought process when it comes to the controversial issue.  They are open about their feelings and in some cases have regret for the way that they treated their child when their child came out.

One of the positives of the film is that it does try to show different view points with regards to how different families  react to their children telling them they are homosexual– not all families reacted the same way then or even now.  For many it has been a journey that they have to take one day at a time.

I believe that this film is an excellent conversation starter no matter what side of the issue you are on; the key (as with many controversial topics) is that those watching must do so with open eyes, hearts and minds.  For many Christians this has become a hallmark issue; it has become the benchmark of righteousness and orthodoxy.  It is easy to hear something counter to your belief system and immediately get defensive and stop listening.  It is in those moments of struggle where we can learn and grow.  It is through difficult situations and conversations when we are able to open up to the possibilities of seeing a particular issue in a new light.

The website for the film also has two discussion guides (here and here) for further study and dialogue.

Overall, this film is well done and thought provoking.

I highly recommend it.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars
Film Website

Watch this film on Netflix

In Christ,

Rev. Evan
(Trailer Below)


Trailer

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6 Objections of the Church from “They Like Jesus But Not The Church”

I am currently reading “They Like Jesus But Not The Church” by Dan Kimball.  It is an interesting book on how the church is seen by those in the “emerging generations.”  The author does not hold back in calling out followers of Christ on both sides of the theological spectrum. In the book he list six objections people have to the church (they are listed below)

What do you think about these six?  Would you add or take any way?


Objection #1: The church is an “organized religion” with a political agenda;
Objection #2: The church is judgmental and negative
Objection #3: The church is male dominated and oppresses females
Objection #4: The church is homophobic
Objection #5: The church feels Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong
Objection #6: The church is full of “fundamentalists” who take the Bible too literally.

Russell Brand Interviews Members of Westboro Baptist Church

Russell Brand has a show on FX (not sure why but I thank him for this).  On a recent episode he interviewed two members of Westboro Baptist Church.  This is the first time I have seen an interview of members on national TV in which they articulate their stance on love and homosexuality.  While I complete disagree with them I applaud Brand for having them on.

Of course a 10 minute segment is too short to have a meaningful conversation about this issue, but maybe it will get the ball rolling.

Below is the video of the interview.
(Content Warning: There is some language and name calling, you have been warned.  Somewhat SFW)

 

When Intolerance/Difference of Theological Belief Leads To Unemployment

For starters, this post is not about me. I am not losing my job, but it is about a fellow minister who is currently in this unfortunate boat.

A minister colleague of mine posted on Facebook that his church had made the decision that they were going to withdraw from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. On top of that, the governing body of the church had the right to terminate the minister, no congregational vote or anything.

The beginning of all of this started when the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at their last assembly voted to remove the restriction that stated that open homosexuals could not be ordained in the Region.  The measure passed by a wide margin and even church in the region had an opportunity to cast a vote and speak on the issue.   For my colleague’s church this was not enough.  They disagreed with the measure and thus have taken action.

The thing that I do not understand is that in the Disciples of Christ denomination, one our main tenets is the freedom of belief and the priesthood of all believers.  Under the notion of the freedom of belief, there are not hard and fast interpretations of the Bible broad casted from on high at some national office.  Each person is supposed to be lead by the Spirit to come up with an interpretation of themselves.  Now this does not mean that they are devoid of conversation with others or that they can not draw upon the knowledge of ministers and leaders, but it does mean that the conversation can not be had.  The Disciples are big proponents of local church authority and autonomy.  It is so the church can find an expression of faith that fits the congregation at hand.  No two Disciples churches look a like and that is a great thing.  The Bible is meant to expressed in a different ways to different people.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter religion and hello a place where questions are welcomed and discussions can be had.

Does this mean you can believe whatever you want?  In a sense yes and no… I mean you believed God was a water buffalo, you have missed the point of the gospel.  But for the most part, theologies are constantly in flux, they are growing and shaping over a course of a life time.  This does not mean that once you chose one particular way of believing or understanding the Bible that you are stuck with it forever.  This is where I believe this congregation might have jumped the gun.  What is wrong with having differing theological opinions   What is wrong with having a good discussion based on and around the notion that in the end we are still welcome and able to come around the Table of Grace under the common bond of Jesus Christ.  I hate to tell this congregation but even though they differ on this issue, there are still people within the remnant that do not see eye to eye on every piece of theology, its quite impossible for that to happen.

I am saddened for my friend and colleague and pray that he will find a church that will accept him and his understanding of the gospel.

 

May it be so.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate

My latest article for the Orange Leader regarding the on going Chick-Fil-A Debate


It has been all over the news; talking heads from both sides of the aisle have taken to airwaves to voice their opinion  Argument have started between friends, feelings have been hurt, names have been called.   Hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook posts and Tweets have flown through the internet regarding a particular chicken sandwich company– Chick-Fil-A.

Recently, as you may recall, the owner of the national restaurant chain stated on a Atlanta radio show that his company was “guilty as charged” amid reports that he did not support same-sex marriage.  He further explained that he is running his company on Biblical principles and that society has no business trying to refine “traditional” marriage.

Reports have come out that support this; Chick-Fil-A has given millions to organizations who actively oppose same-sex marriages.  With all of these things combined, a firestorm broke out.  Some people are now boycotting the restaurant because they do not want their money to go to causes that discriminate against a certain group of people. Others however  are actually eating there more believing that the more they eat there, the larger the profit, which then in turn will cause Chic-Fil-A to give more money to anti same-sex marriage organizations.

Jim Henson has pulled their toys from kid’s meals at the restaurant. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have spoken publicly about this issue.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee has even started a “National Chick-Fil-A Day” to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to run their company how they want.  All of this is a gigantic mess.

The problem with the Chick-Fil-A debate is that it is just that, a debate.  People once again are choosing sides and are drawing metaphoric lines in the sand and people are hurling their “points of view” back and forth and back and forth.  No one is actually speaking to one another.  The anonymity of the internet and social media is one of the greatest tools that people have in this or any debate.  Someone can post something online with no regard to another person.  It is much easier to speak your mind when there is a monitor between you and the one you are speaking about.  Since no one is speaking to one another how then will a decent, intelligent conversation ever be had regarding the multitude of issues in this particular story?  The answer- it will not happen.

The hot button issue obviously here is same sex marriage.  This is something that people have been debating for years and still each side is getting angrier and angrier.  Where are the civic leaders calling for a forum?  Where are the church leaders calling for a discussion on this topic?  The answer lies deep within our own hearts, minds and souls.  The answer is most people do not want to hear the other side.  This side believes they are correct while this side believes they are correct.

Some churches recently have taken up the task of having faithful discussion about homosexuality and same sex marriage.  I applaud them for at least having the discussion.  Many more churches and Christians need to have this same discussion.  Too often when people tell me their view about this issue the answer generally is “well I am against it because it is wrong.”  No explanation, no interjection of scripture, no nothing.  It is just “their personal belief.”  Well it is time to have the conversation. I call on all Christians from all walks of life and backgrounds to have faithful conversations about this issue that is dividing the church.

By faithful I mean being open minded, wanting to be challenged, wanting to learn more, wanting to grow.  Not just espousing what you have been taught or what you think the Bible is directing Christians to do and become.  Christians today need to stop telling people what the Bible “says” and focus more on what Bible is calling the followers of Christ to become; let’s stop as Brian McLaren says going to the Bible to support want we already know about God.

The reason why people are not doing this is because to have this conversation means that one has to be vulnerable and accept the fact that what you might have been taught or always believed could be incorrect.  Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts Comics, once drew a comic that speaks to this notion.  Snoopy informs Charlie Brown that he is writing a book of theology; Charlie Brown asks Snoopy what the book will be titled and Snoopy replies, “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Wrong?”  For many people this thought of being “wrong” has never crossed their mind.

In this Chick-Fil-A debate the key here is discussion.  Not rhetoric, not partisan politics, not conservative Christians against liberal Christians.  It is time that the church stops placing people on the periphery, speaking about them like they are outcast in society or that they have a mental illness.  Let’s talk about it.  Let’s actually have a discussion on why homosexuality is or is not a big deal in the church today.  Let’s talk about a loving God creating people and then turning around and hating them.  Let’s throw away the things that we were taught as children and come to an understanding of the love of God in a new and exciting way.

So let’s put down the chicken sandwich, stop the protesting and debating and come together.  You might be surprised what will happen.

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part III

I didn’t think I would be writing another one of these post for while.  But Christians are giving Christians a bad name… again…

For some reason unknown to any one but him, Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina took to the pulpit to speak on President Obama’s recent statements affirming same-sex marriage. Now North Carolina was in a big debate regarding this issue and in a statewide vote denied same sex couples the right to marry; no doubt that was fresh on his mind when he came to service.

A little over a week ago I posted an audio clip from Pastor Sean Harris who advocated to hit your children if they “acted gay.” You can read (or re-read it here).  While Pastor Harris’ comments were out of line, Pastor Worley’s comments leaves Pastor Harris’ comments in the dust… Why?  Worley advocates murder.

In the video posted below, Pastor Worley goes on a two-minute rant about homosexuals, the President and what his solution to the “gay problem.”  In the video he says,

“I had a way I figured a way out…a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. Build a great big, large fence 150 or 100 mile long – put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified until they can’t get out. Feed them and you know what in a few years – they’ll die out. You know why – they can’t reproduce.”

On a personal note, the video was extremely hard to listen to.  Not only does he advocate for a group of people to be killed he is doing it from the pulpit in a church which is supposed to be a holy place AND has the audacity to say this comes from God.  At one point he says that the Bible is “again” it and that God is “again” it.  Also, what is disheartening is that fact that members of his congregation were “amening” and agreeing with what he had to say.  Glad they are practicing that love of Christ… glad they love all people just like God loved them dispite their faults.  If (as some say) all sins are equal in the eyes of God then why are they stratifying this particular sin?  Which is it Pastor Worley and the members who agree of Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina?  Are all sins equal or does God have a “Top Ten” list of the sins one is not to commit with homosexuality at the top?  Why are you trying to make disciples in your image of God?

Pastor Worley I believe you and I (and millions of other people) are reading different Bibles.  Jesus Christ (the one you are supposed to be following) never called for the murder of a group of people just because they were different and didn’t think the say way he did.  History lesson: Hitler did that… so… think about that…

Christ being the compassionate person that he was sought out the ‘other’ to be in relationship with him/her to tell them that God still LOVES them for WHO THEY ARE.  Don’t believe me?  Check out your Bible… there are more passages about loving your neighbor and being the hands and feet of God than there are about homosexuality being wrong.

Trust me… actually don’t… look it up for yourself, you might learn something. 🙂

You can watch the video below… if you want… as well as a member trying to defend her pastor’s position on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part II

Last week I posted a video about a minister in Florida who burned the Koran as an act of protest and I stated that this was one reason why people were not Christians.  (Read about it here)

Here is another example.

One question that I am asked at least twice a month (if not more) is “what do you think about homosexuals?” More often than not people ask me these deep theological questions I am usually getting my haircut and I can’t move.   Generally I have to bite my tongue and give them a smart alec answer.  Knowing this is a particularly sensitive subject for some people and one that elicits strong reactions I generally have to tread lightly.  I get a wide range of beliefs from people, some people are totally for the inclusion of homosexuals without questions, some are completely and utterly against it and some are of ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ mentality.  Due to other Christian’s reaction and somewhat fascination with homosexuality (I’m talking to you Westboro Baptist) many members of the homosexual community do not feel welcomed or loved in church.  This is a travesty.

Enter, Pastor Sean Harris the minister of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC.  Harris made national headlines when in a sermon he advocated to basically ‘beat the gay’ out of your children (on the heals of a state-wide election on same-sex marriage, which the state ultimately voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman).  During his sermon he said,

“Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist… Man up, give them a good punch, OK. ‘You’re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male.”

He continues and says that girls should be girls and wear dresses and smell good.

Hear part of the sermon here

On his blog, Pastor Harris tries to explain himself and says he was taken out of context, but he really doesnt explain himself fully.  You can read the entire post here.

He writes:

I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended. I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community. My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage. My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate. I can understand how these words could be misunderstood without the context of years of ministering to the people of God at Berean Baptist Church… I have learned from this and will seek to be more articulate and deliberate with my words in the future.However, I do not apologize for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination to God.

So did he apologize or not? Basically he said, “I am sorry for what I said not that I dont believe I was right to begin with but that you took it offensively.”   Not really the greatest of apologies.

According to the CNN Belief Blog, Harris stated, “No, I don’t think that I need to apologize for preaching to my people what the word of God says. That’s my responsibility.”

Did God really say that?  Should the basis of your understanding of homosexuality based on a couple of scriptures?  Where is the acceptance that was shown to all people even the outcast and the despised by Jesus Christ himself?  Has Pastor Harris taken the gospel of love and made it into the Gospel of proper sexual orientation?  Of some people would argue that if it was that important to Jesus why didn’t he ever say anything about it?

Whether or not you believe homosexuality is sin, the fact of the matter is that love has to be at heart of all conversations and ministries.  Not many Christians ministers aren’t preaching about obesity being a sin or that women aren’t covering their head during worship or people arent greeting each other with holy kisses.  Why not the same fervor with these?

The issue here that because these Christians are not ‘preach the word of God’ they have missed the word of God.  Too many things have been done in the name of Christianity and that is why many people have left.  The homosexual debate is one that is not going away anytime soon but it can if Christians who are called to be followers of Christ put into practice what Christ advocated for.

People can interpret the Bible based on their own understandings and upbringing but when does it cross the line?  Pastor Harris’ comments out of context or not crossed that line.  It made every Christian look like they disliked other homosexuals, you could not be a homosexual and a Christian and that one of the charges of Christians is enforce predetermined gender roles on our children.

When my wife was in college she had to take education courses for her teacher certification.  One day the class was on teaching Kindergarteners and some said in the class that they did not stop boys from playing with Barbie dolls and did not stop girls from playing with Tonka trucks.  My wife told me she heard someone behind her say “I’m not letting my son play with dolls.  I dont want him to be queer.”  Odds are Pastor Harris would agree.

Christ came to restore all people back to wholeness and completeness with God.  Christ did not come so all homosexuals would get released from their “egregious sin.”

The church is called to bring wholeness to all NOT advocate for people hit their children because of the preception they are giving off.

Christians should not stand for a “man of God” who is charged to profess the gospel to speak just vile words in the name of their risen savior.

Would Pastor Harris say we should hit our children if they are getting fat and want another cookie?  I mean, gluttony is a sin right?

This debate is far from over and because of the actions of North Carolina and of the President I believe it just getting started.

Hopefully we wont have any more sermons like this one… here’s hoping.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan