A Response to Michael Brown (Part 4)

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 Four

And while it’s easy for some people to throw around the “hate” word, you will not find a syllable of hate in these words, because there’s not an ounce of hate in my heart.[1]

[1] My brother: I believe you. But for myself, I try to be always a little cautious with absolute statements–even if they are meant as hyperbole–when they apply to me. After all, Paul believed, even in the middle of really important conversations, that though “my conscience is clear, I am not by that means acquitted.”

Hatred, or perhaps better, oppression, can have many subtle systemic and systematic forms, as well. I believe you when you say you do not hate me, and in fact you love me. But I would invite you to consider that the solution to which you want your questions to point (reorientation, it seems to me!) has caused genuine harm to GLBT people. Any theology which tends to deal death for most people who encounter it should make us wonder if we have missed the heart of Christ.

Though it is very difficult for Evangelical and Pentecostal (E/P) Christians to understand, as a people we E/P folks need to look very closely at all the fruit of the view you propose, and not just the fruit that comes from the success stories.

There are also GLBT Christians who feel, understandably I should think, that your questions have a patronizing, inappropriately parental tone. You are the expert, the one who even looks fatherly, and youruestions seem phrased as though you are talking to (rebellious-but-calm-for-the-moment) teenagers. When we actually grow up “in the Lord,” I hear you implying, we will agree with you.

I would like to step around that sense of paternalism to respond to you as a friend (someone who can be argued with, convinced, wrestled with, or–as a last resort–cheerfully ignored) and as a junior scholar who is coming to know the ins and outs of the emerging conversation quite well indeed. (My PhD studies are about assessing dialogue between Queer and Evangelical/Pentecostal theologians.)

What I am trying to say is this: As you have no doubt noticed in the activity surrounding these questions, LGBT believers have been considering them–and others like them–these questions for years. Many of us have moved far beyond apologetics, and are just simply singing what we hear of the song of the Lord in our lives. Though many of us, including me, would like your understanding, I’m not sure we are looking to justify ourselves to you. Personally, I do not expect to convince you that my answers are sound, but I do hope that people who may see our interchange will sense something that smells like Jesus in my approach, too.

And now, to your questions!

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