Today I also edited my CAUMC (unconditional) love post with additional thought from fandom.
This morning I dreamt that someone hooked me up with a girl. Was somewhat bizarre but mmm, making out.
I went to biversity brunch with Layna at Johnny D's. Must ask Nicole if she and Laura have done brunch there. I got multigrain pancakes with banana compote (and a virgin mimosa). One of the women was a '99 Smith grad :)
Layna was talking recently about how God is good and wants us to be happy (contra the anti-gay stance of some Christians). Reflecting on this, I kept thinking about how it seems to me entirely consistent for God to say, "I know you want this thing, and you think it'll make you happy, but really I have better things in store for you, believe me." Personally I think the spectrum of sexual orientation is a gift from God (and even more than that, that the Bible does not in fact condemn consensual mutual same-sex romantic/sexual relationships), but I think that people can with integrity believe that God wants us to be happy and also that certain things certain people want (in this case, non-heterosexual relationships) are not really good for them in the long-run. I think I'm just particularly pinged by the "God wants us to be happy" tack because it seems so easy to use it to justify doing whatever one wants, molding God to our own comfort zone.
I went to Arlington Street Church (UU) for "The Greater Boston PFLAG chapter and the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry present Homosexuality and the Bible. The forum seeks to re-examine the biblical evidence on same-sex relationships."
I just wasn't impressed. The two speakers (Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley) presented passages they read as affirming gay people (rather than dealing with the "clobber passages," since there are a million books etc. dealing with those -- including their own -- and the affirming passages are less talked about. [I found myself a little annoyed at the phrasing "clobber passages," though. I understand that that's how lots of queer people experience them, but it elides the fact that lots of people -- queer and no -- struggle with those passages.] ) I was really glad that during the Q&A someone suggested that they're oversexualizing emotional intimacy, that we're looking at stories like that of Ruth and Naomi and saying they have to have a romantic/sexual component to them. I just also wasn't that convinced by some of their queer readings of Biblical stories. Both men come from evangelical backgrounds and say they have great respect for the Bible (and I believe them) but hey, people of intelligence and integrity have been disagreeing about texts (religious and otherwise) since time immemorial.
Jeff opened with talking about Matthew 8:5-13 (and the parallel passage, Luke 7:1-10), which I had occasionally heard posited as a gay story.
He said that the Gospel miracles are always requests for healing of self, family, or dear friend, so it would be really remarkable if the centurion were crossing all sorts of lines to ask this Jewish teacher to heal just any old slave. This makes me uncomfortable since part of the point of the Gospels is how radical Jesus was and how radical some of the stuff he inspired was. Plus, he kept referring to one of the definitions of "pais" [the word translated servant] as "same-sex partner," and it seems to me that back in ancient times very few people saw their servants (whether they were fucking them or not) as "partners." He said that when a man married a woman she became his property, and similarly if there was a young man that he wanted he could purchase him as a servant. I validate the parallelism, but the idea of "partner" still makes me uncomfortable.
More on the language: Matthew uses "doulos" (which only means servant/slave, unlike "pais" which could mean boy/son or regular servant or sexual partner servant -- and was the term of choice in ancient Greek poetry when expressing affection to another male) when the centurion talks about his other servants, and Luke uses "doulos" with the adjective "entimes" (honored or special) when talking about the dying servant.
Jeff also pointed out that not only does Jesus say the centurion had more faith than anyone he had found in Israel, but he says he will sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Heaven. The whole story is very powerful whether the Roman centurion is gay or not, and while the text allows for the possibility that he is (insomuch as anyone was back in that time millennia before the idea of sexual orientation was invented) I think it's far from definitive.
Tyler said that one thing he loves is that in Catholic masses before the Eucharist, the congregants say, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed" -- a variant on the centurion's statement.
Tyler talked about Genesis 2, saying it's one of his favorite Bible story in part because God is so funny in it -- saying that the adam needs a corresponding helper and proceeding to create the entire animal kingdom. (Sidenote: He said that "side" is probably a better translation than the KJV "rib" and in talking about how "the adam" is non-gendered, as an aside suggested a connection to the Platonic idea.) He said that to him the moral of that story is that humans need human companionship and that it's so sad that people say, "Because of this story, you don't deserve (my) human companionship."
Jeff said that the word translated "cleave" or "cling" (Genesis 2:24) is "dabaq," which is the same word used of Ruth and Naomi in Ruth 1:14.
He read Ruth 1:16-17, and in the Q&A they said that it wasn't so much important if Ruth and Naomi had a sexual relationship (and even said that the text suggests that Naomi didn't reciprocate Ruth's feelings) but that it's problematic that this oath is the most used passage in Christian marriage ceremonies over the past two thousand years but there are very few churches that would allow a woman to get up in front of the congregation and swear that oath to another woman.
Jeff did say that the three great love stories in the Bible are Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, and Song of Solomon (Solomon and a concubine) -- none of which are nowadays considered traditional marriages.
Tyler talked about the Philip and the eunuch story.
He said that the eunuch was reading Isaiah and pointed to Isaiah 56 specifically: "And let not any eunuch complain, 'I am only a dry tree.' 4 For this is what the LORD says: 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant- 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.' " He said that Deuteronomy 23:1 states that eunuchs may not enter the Assembly of God and wove a story in which the eunuch is told about the Isaiah passage and goes to check out this religion and is rejected. (Tyler mentioned the "despised and rejected" portion of Handel's Messiah which comes from Isaiah.) This is a really nice story, but in pulling up the passages to link to, I found myself troubled by how much Tyler was stretching things, because the passage we see the eunuch actually reading is Isaiah 53:7-8 -- which yes, is only a few verses after the "despised and rejected" verse, though three chapters away from the eunuch passage.
I went to the reception and had some food, but didn't stick around. There were some women about my age, but the obvious conversation starter would be the talk, and I just wasn't feeling up for that.