Tuesday, January 18, 2011

PresbyMEME: Why I Am Voting Yes on 10A

Name, City, State
Douglas Hagler, Dalton, OH

Twitter and Facebook profiles
Twitter: @robosnake
Facebook: Douglas Hagler, Two Friars and A Fool, Dalton Presbyterian Church, Robosnake Games, The Stand-Up Comedian Party

Presbytery and 10a voting date
Muskingum Valley Presbytery; March 12, 2011

Reason ONE that you are voting "yes" on 10a is...
Instead of merely ONE reason, I offer...over two dozen good reasons why everyone should vote "yes" on 10a.  After writing and expanding upon each of those, it's actually kind of hard to come up with more.  Let's see.

Reason TWO that you are voting "yes" on 10a is...
The arguments against 10a are founded in theology and modes of interpretation I reject, including but not limited to: complementarianism, literalism, fundamentalism, and what I want to call "hypocriticalism", or "the hypoCritical method", whereby some conservative Biblical interpreters pretend they are not preferencing some parts of scripture over others, but rather pretend there is a singular "Biblical position" that we need only align ourselves with.

Reason THREE that you are voting "yes" on 10a is...
My mom is queer, and an ordained PC(USA) pastor.  You talkin' about my momma?  I'm-a slap you. [1]

What are your greatest hopes for the 10a debate that will take place on the floor of your Presbytery?
I am a coward, so I simply hope that no one yells at me, or at each other for that matter.  I hope that the justice and equality viewpoint, which is a minority viewpoint in my presbytery, will not lead people who know nothing else about me to think ill of me, or glare at me, or that kind of thing.  Basically, pessimism, cowardice and selfishness guide my hopes, such as they are.  I would like to see some movement from 30% in favor of justice and equality to some higher proportion when the vote finally comes down.  I hope not to hear anyone compare LGBTQ persons to pedophiles, drug addicts, people who have sex with animals, or people who are incestuous.

I hope I don't blow my lid, particularly in the event that people actually make those false and obnoxious comparisons, in public where I can hear them.

How would you respond to those that say that if we pass 10a individuals and congregations will leave the PC(USA)?
To put it bluntly - no one is forcing any congregation to stay.  If justice for LGBTQ persons is too much to stomach for some congregations, then so be it.  I'd rather they stayed and saw our LGBTQ sisters and brothers as human beings worthy of dignity and called by God to serve in ministry.  Failing that, if they simply must leave, then they'll leave.  I'm sure congregations left when we started ordaining women as well.  I'm sure congregations got angry when we stopped speaking out against interracial marriages.  Remember when some Presbyteries said it wasn't ok to own slaves?  A lot of congregations left over that too.  If this is the deal-breaker for some congregations, then that's what it is.  That has no bearing whatsoever on whether this is the right thing to do - and it is the right thing.  In 50 years when the culture has sea-changed on this issue, we'll be hearing about evangelical mega-churches with burgeoning pro-LGBTQ outreach programs, just like we're suddenly hearing more about environmentalism and social justice from them now.

What should the Presbyterian Church focus on after Amendment 10a passes?
Becoming a committed peace church and regularly engaging in active, participatory nonviolent direct action.  While Jesus is silent on homosexuality, he is very clear that his disciples must never, under any circumstances, use violence.  Before it was co-opted by Empire, the Church was a peace Church.  We will always be the slaves of Empire until we return to Jesus' original way of (among other things) radical nonviolence.

How does your understanding of Scripture frame your position on 10a?
Scripture is an ancient collection of human documents, written by people who were inspired by their faith and experiences to write a wide variety of things.  It didn't descend on a cloud in King James English; it wasn't beamed into the writers' brains; God wasn't working them like puppets.  Human beings wrote it, and whatever anyone says, human beings are left to interpret it.  We pray and hope for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our own interpretation and thinking.

It is a messy process, and it leads to a situation where the Church has been on the wrong side almost as much as on the right side, and the church has often had to be corrected by the culture rather than successfully correcting the culture.  This is to be expected when human beings are interpreting human writings which touch upon the deepest topics of human life and experience of the divine.

Scripture is also just one of many things which we rightly take into account when discussing theology and church life, including philosophy and reason, science, history, our own personal and collective experiences, God's ongoing inspiration, what the various Christian traditions have to say on the matter, and so on.  This is right and good and necessary, and I believe, precisely what God intends for us to do.  To use our whole minds, our whole bodies, and our whole collective wisdom, to bring all of that to bear, to the best of our abilities.

Bible-thumpers need not apply. [2]


1. No, I won't literally slap you.  I'll just want to.  Nonviolence is for the violent, after all.

2. If you want to read it and talk about it, I'm with you.  If you want to thump it or use it as a weapon, see above.

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