A Response to Michael Brown (Part 2)

Very recently, Pentecostal bible scholar Michael Brown published some “honest questions” for GLBT Christians in an article on Christian Post. His full remarks are here: Some Honest Questions for Professing ‘Gay Christians’. As most of my readers may be aware, my PhD work is in dialogue between Queer and Pentecostal theologians. This is the first post of a multi-part response to Dr Brown’s work. I will reproduce the online text in manageable chunks so that the posts are not too long.

Part Two

It is for those of you who identify as both gay and Christian that I’d like to ask some honest questions. You may take them as adversarial,[1] but in reality, I ask these questions in the love of God[2] and the fear of God,[3] being jealous for[4] your wellbeing[5] in the Lord.

In this post, I will comment on the bold text. “In the Lord” will be the next post, as it gave rise to the longest response yet.

[1] I fully endorse authorial intention when it comes to a living author, and I acknowledge that you intend to be open-hearted: thank you. I don’t think you can de-legitimate a sense of being attacked by both supportive straight people and LGBT Christians, though. The way you frame your arguments (for example, putting quotes around ‘gay Christians’ in your article title) makes it sound like you are only capable of recognizing the Christian testimonies of those who share virtually all of your underlying assumptions. I’ll explain what I mean throughout my responses.

[2] What does this mean in your heart, biblical interpretation, and living interactions with GLBT folks and Christians? How do we know you love us? Are you willing to let us tell you what we find loving and unloving?

[3] “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I take fear in this verse to centre more on “awe, deep reverence, respect,” than on “being afraid of”—and this accent is crucial to how I answer your questions and look at my own life. I also take wisdom as something like, “Practical know-how that honours the heart of God and promotes shalom.” Several of my friends, perhaps unable to suspend the hermeneutic of suspicion, conclude that the net effect of your questions is to stir up fear—not the kind in Proverbs, but the kind in 1 John 4. And if this is the way you are received, despite your intentions it will be very difficult to convince them that you really believe and live: “Perfect love drives out fear…fear has to do with punishment.”

[4] I learned the distinction between “jealous of” and “jealous for” from Bible teacher Beth Moore, in her study A Heart Like His about David. I understand this phrase to mean that you believe you are asking these questions because God wants to gather in and make faithful the hearts of LGBT people. Do you risk, by your rhetoric, being the one who sets the parameters for what is faithful, in spite of your understandable affirmation that you teach the truth of what Scripture says, the correct interpretation?

[5] Thank you! Again, this connects with wisdom…I take this as your genuine affirmation that you hope for—and are working for—my shalom. Since you have said your questions are “honest,” I will be equally candid in return: are you expecting to be able to tell me what my wellbeing is, (especially connected to “in the Lord”), or are you prepared to let me/us witness to what shalom would look like for my people?

I am asking you to check your privilege here, and to realise that in order to have a dialogue that GLBT people can engage, the conversation will have to expand beyond British theologian Oliver O’Donovan’s phrase: “Sin does not have the dignity of a point of view.” Do you regard us (LGBT Christians in or open to same-sex relationships) as people who can bear something wonderful about God’s good news in Christ for you, a “straight” married man?

Again, dear readers: all respectful comments are welcome!

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One comment

  1. ghartwell2014

    I find it strangely jarring to have someone require 100% certainty about one’s interpretation of scripture.
    I do not agree that anything less than 100% certainty is lack of faith. Faith is not required if we have 100% certainty – which, in my opinion, is never. No one is ever 100% certain. Such a one would be in pride at one’s certainty and not in faith.
    Faith is required in uncertainty – and that, my friends, is 100% of life.
    On the contrary, I would expect that GLBT Christians are moving ahead in ‘fear and trepidation’ as one explores the new landscape in which God’s huge grace and unimaginable love might well be extended to you too.
    To be clear the ‘faith’ that pleases God is the heart that listens for the still small voice. Evangelical Christians raising honest questions likely diminish your ability to tune to what God is saying to you. Their questions diminish faith and the certainty of God’s love for you.
    Do not feel you need to read or respond to such. Let Robert and others called to the task do so. Tunnel into God and experience His love for you. Listen in whatever way is best for you. Be nurtured by those who are doing the theological work. But do not be ‘bothered’ or unsettled by this type of discussion.
    God loves you. Jesus died for you. Christ dwells in you. Let such be your reality.

    Like

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