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How would you respond to Mikah Meyer (who wrote today at the Huffington Post): Having lived in Memphis, Tenn., for much of my adult life, I’ve come across many straight peers who say, “I love the sinner, I just hate the sin.” I believe deciding whether homosexuality is a sin or not is the biggest factor when it comes to swinging conservative Christians, those often most against gay marriage, to becoming supporters. I say “conservative Christians” not to indicate political preference, but as an indicator of biblical understanding. As a self-professing “biblical non-literalist” (someone who believes the Word of God should be interpreted within context and historical practices when appropriate), I have found it impossible to have theological discussions with “biblical literalists” (those who believe the Bible is the direct, unchanged Word of God). I won’t go deeper into this argument other than to say that I have a soft spot in my heart for biblical literalists because 1) if you’re reading an English version of the Bible you’re already reading a translation made by man, and 2) you are literally reading a language nuanced 2,000 years ago. If the game of baseball does not exist 1,000 years from now, all historical documents referencing “being out in left field” are going to mean something completely different. The statement I tell my biblical literalist friends is, “We can’t use Scripture to prove our points, because we are reading the same book through completely different lenses.” That’s the problem with non-gays laying judgment on homosexuality: they are viewing it through completely different lenses — heterosexual ones. It is so frustrating to hear any straight person purport that they understand what the Bible says about being gay better than any actual gay person — especially gay Christians who have often spent large chunks of their lives praying for God to make them straight. That would be like a white person saying they understand what it’s like being black better than an African-American. In discussions about homosexuality with many of my conservative Christian friends, they often tell me that I chose to be gay. Yep, no matter how many times or in what ways I describe to them that I did not choose to be gay in the same way they did not choose to be black, left-handed or ADHD, they still insist that I chose to be gay. Assuming you know what is going on in my head, heart and gut is a huge slap in the face to someone who has spent 26 years — my entire life — reconciling my sexuality and my faith. As someone who has been influenced by a number of faith traditions (growing up the pastor’s son at America’s largest Lutheran campus ministry, living among Baptists for four years in Memphis, and having worked for two Methodist, two Presbyterian, two Episcopal and one Catholic church) I believe that a faith in Christ is one discovered through study of the Scriptures, along with a prayerful, “personal relationship with Christ” (the quoted section being learned largely from the Baptist/Evangelical tradition). I also believe that one’s life experience is crucial. As someone who has first-hand experience with being gay, I can attest that I did not choose it, and from that background, along with a scriptural and prayerful relationship with Christ, I have come to the understanding that being gay is not a sin. It is not a sin to be black, or left-handed, or schizophrenic (traits you don’t choose), and being gay (something you don’t choose) is no different. While many of my Christian peers disagree with me, I am OK with that, because I would never try to tell them that their own lives of studying Scripture and a prayerful relationship with Christ are wrong. When someone tells me that I don’t recognize rightfully that being gay is a sin, what they are essentially saying to me (and others who believe the same) is, “Your scriptural study and prayerful relationship with Christ are not valid.” It is a very hurtful and offensive thing to have your entire faith life attacked and called false. // read more here… Your response?

… featuring my friend Mark DeYmaz: The number of multicultural churches — those in which at least one in five people is from a different ethnic group — is still relatively tiny. Even within diverse denominations such as the Assemblies of God, where about a third of the churches have minority congregations, or the Southern Baptists, where 20% of churches have minority congregations, only a small percentage meet that one-in-five criteria. Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic Church, a diverse non-denominational church based in Little Rock, says he believes the number is going to grow. DeYmaz said his congregation of 600 is about 40% white, 33% African-American, 15% Hispanic, with the rest from a variety of backgrounds. When Mosaic opened in 2001, DeYmaz said he knew of few diverse churches. Now he knows of several hundred. “When we get to heaven, the kingdom of God isn’t going to be segregated,” he said. “So why should the local church be segregated?” Efrem Smith, author of The Post-Black and Post-White Church, agrees. Smith, who founded a multiracial church of 1,000 in Minneapolis called Sanctuary Covenant Church, said the election of President Obama and the success of such African Americans as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Oprah Winfrey are signs that America is ready for multiracial churches. “You saw black people who weren’t just leaders of other black people,” he said. “They are leaders of all people.” You can read more here…