Observations on a chord/nerve struck

Well, yesterday’s blog was widely read. I’m not used to that. My audience is typically fairly narrow, consisting mostly of family members. In fact, yesterday was so unusual that wordpress actually sent me a message alerting me that people were actually reading my blog! I kid you not.

So, evidently, the post struck a chord, or perhaps a nerve. And I feel like today I need to say a few things by way of response or  clarification.

First, I was overwhelmed and moved by those of you who shared parts of your story with me. Some were stories of staying with varying degrees of change in women’s roles. Some were stories of leaving, which were sad and wrenching to me. It was important that I hear again the stories of pain. On the other side of the issue, I heard stories of loss. With all the changes, people have lost their church. And those stories need to be given attention. But they don’t carry the same weight as the stories of pain. The stories of pain in this case are largely the stories of women, and it was good for me to hear them again. I was grateful for them all. I am convinced that God works in human lives, and so the stories we tell each other are important in knowing God.

Second, it occurred to me at several points during the day that I needed to clarify some things. I want to be clear that when I say that things are happening at Rochester College, ACU, and Pepperdine (and other places I’m sure), that this doesn’t mean that there is some big agenda that each has for women in Churches of Christ. I do know that Rochester and Pepperdine practice full inclusion in the life of the institution. Women and men can do the same things in the life of the University. But these institutions are also respectful of congregations and their varying practices. I know, having directed ACU’s lectureship for seven years, that this is a tough balance to maintain. My point here is that decisions have been made at a practical level for the life of the institution that do not represent an active agenda for changing churches.

Third, I want to be clear that in my own practice of ministry, its not my goal to have everyone think like me or to have churches do what I think is right. My goal is to create an environment in congregations where the Spirit of God can move and the congregation can discern together what it is that God is calling them to. None of the congregations that I have served fully embody my doctrinal preferences and that shouldn’t be my standard for success. The ability to talk about things in open, careful, and honest ways, however, is a goal of mine. If it is not even possible to talk about issues related to gender, and other topics, then I can’t in good conscience serve there.

Along those lines, I was particularly touched by those who said they couldn’t go as far as me in their views, but wanted to know how I dealt with the places where they got stuck. I like these better than the responses of those who flung Bible verses at me. Actually, these responses amuse me. What are they thinking? Poor Mark. Just doesn’t know his Bible very well. I’ll help him out. These verses are so simple that they will clear things right up and he’ll see the error of his way. I am tempted to respond, “thank you. I was unaware of those verses. Never mind.”

Actually, the point many of them seem to be making is that I don’t take the Bible seriously enough, or that I am satisfying myself and not God. Clearly, I don’t think that’s what is going on. I care just as much as they do about doing God’s will and just as much about taking the Bible seriously. In fact, in practice, I think I take the Bible more seriously because I try to take it on its own terms. I try to let the actual phenomenon of Scripture dictate how I read Scripture. Most of my auditors who felt I’m not taking the Bible seriously start with assumptions that the Bible itself doesn’t support, e.g. that the Bible’s message is simple, univocal, flat, without diversity, not subject to interpretation.

This leads to another observation. The changes in my views came less because I discovered some novel way of exegeting a text. My hunch is that I would largely agree on the substance of individual texts with people who hold a different view from me (though not all). The difference lies in the questions and concerns I bring to the text which are more properly theological than they are exegetical. In other words, the question “how is God related to texts?”, not just “what does this text say?” is the difference maker for me. So, those who disagree with me are right to point out that our differences lie in what we think of Scripture. The fact, however, that they hurl passages at me with which I am very familiar expecting that this bare act alone should suffice in turning me from the error of my ways suggests they don’t understand how Scripture is important to me.

So, it occurs to me that the most helpful thing for me to do in helping others understand my position is not to unpack specific verses, but to talk about the shifts that I have made regarding how I read Scripture. I think a lot of people have an intuitive position on the role of women, but don’t really know how to deal with Scripture texts that don’t support their views. I think I can help with that. (By the way, those who hold a restrictive view on women also have intuitive views that can’t be supported by certain Scripture texts). My posting frequency has been way down lately and is bound to remain that way for awhile. So, be patient with me (it is a fruit of the Spirit, which is somewhere in the Bible), and hopefully I’ll trace the journey in ways that will be helpful.

 

About Mark Love

I am the Dean for the School of Theology and Ministry and Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. Part of my job includes directing a master's degree in missional leadership, a situated learning degree. I am married to Donna and have a son, Josh Love, who is a practicing new monastic in Abilene, TX. With Donna, I have also inherited three great daughters and two amazing granddaughters.
This entry was posted in Christian practice, hermeneutics, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Observations on a chord/nerve struck

  1. Dawn says:

    I most resonated with your statement “The ability to talk about things in open, careful, and honest ways, however, is a goal of mine.” Thank you for your willingness to dialogue. It was a lack of willingness to dialogue (irregardless of some inclusive practices) at my own church that caused me to consider leaving. God opened a door to enter the academic arena, and that has been a tremendous blessing to me.

    As one of the women who has lived through this change (and conflict) firsthand, let me say again THANK YOU for putting your story into words. You are one of our heroes for honestly speaking up on behalf of women everywhere who are “called to serve and gifted to lead”…but struggling to find a safe place to do so.

  2. happytheman says:

    Great response and another example of your love for people. Even when you throw down the gauntlet you do it with love. Great example my friend.

  3. Laura Gerard says:

    Mark, I too am thankful for the tenor of your words, in both blog entries. I have just recently felt “released” to begin conversations about this issue (after years of having the Holy Spirit tell me, personally, just to keep my eyes fixed on the crucified Jesus, deeply unappreciated and misunderstood). I want to believe I have wisdom and self-control as I now begin to raise the question of what it practically means that we are all equal, but I often feel unsure, being so unpracticed. I need models, and you are providing that for me. Thank you, and I will – patiently – keep reading and listening as you feel led to share.

  4. Shannon says:

    Mark – the theological vs exegetical language is very helpful to me. Many in my life have been making this move in our questions and searches and now I have words of description. Peace friend.

  5. Great post(s) Mark – both of them. And like Craig expressed above, you conveyed your points with grace and compassion. That’s a great example to me and others. Thank you.

  6. calvin groen says:

    Mark, the passage on the fruit of the Spirit is in Gal. 5:22 ff. How can you not know that? And from what I read, nowhere did you address the issue of men wearing women’s clothing in the pulpit? And can a woman lead singing if she sings lower than most men? And can an older woman lead a prayer in the presence of baptized males if none of them have started puberty yet? Your sweeping generalizations have missed the specific applications most of us are interested in.

    I probably need to apologise in advance for this reply, but blessings on you and yours and the good works you have been called to, from an old student in Tanzania.

  7. Margaret-Ann says:

    Having been raised in a very traditional coC, I have struggled for years with this subject. I have ‘left the church’ if you ask my parents, since I now attend a “Christian church” instead of a “church of Christ”. I do not attend a wholly inclusive congregation but i do teach adult classes and i have been part of praise teams. I have also led communion, as a drama I presented led right into it. You have hit upon the key barrier to productive conversation. The fact that you can write me a scripture doesn’t mean you have found God’s presence in said scripture. I can not really discuss this with most of my family because they believe that scripture is not open to interpretation. Culturally, this is impossible. Scripturally, God says otherwise. Thank you for saying clearly and concisely what many cannot.

  8. Tim Shea says:

    I was HOWLING when you said, “Thank you, I was unaware of those verses. Never mind.” I used to giggle when somebody would come up to either me or someone near me after church, and ask one of those leading types of questions, while holding their closed bible in their hands with their index finger inserted to the page that they were about to whip out on you!
    Half the time, I didn’t know if I was in church or law school. Keep asking the tough questions and follow the evidence wherever it takes you.

    • Mark Love says:

      Glad someone other than me thought that line was funny.

      • Kathy says:

        I enjoyed the sarcasm throughout. I love that you write just as you talk.

      • Mark Love says:

        Sarcasm is a misunderstood spiritual gift.

      • Cathy Hooper says:

        I did. 🙂

      • Glynnis Fleming says:

        The act of getting out the scripture to duel and prove (duel-and-prove theology?) speaks to time in society when there were just a few learned ones who were the keepers of and tellers of the truth. In this century, should we believe everyone who acts and speaks with authority? We hear so many voices who speak that way in this world in which the technologies that spread forceful ideas abound! What are the guiding principles that we can use in order to make reasoned choices about the direction our lives should take? How are we helping people to make decisions in the midst of their swirling lives?

    • Mark says:

      If you have a church of legalists, is there much of a difference? It is like a court where the judge already has his mind made up and no argument will sway it.

  9. CJK says:

    I was pleased to find this post and your previous one shared in my newsfeed by an old college friend. I was pleased because I believe you know my mother-in-law Paula, and because it is always exciting to see c of C men over the age of 35 who are thinking and speaking differently about women’s roles. I grew up in a particularly conservative c of C , and accepted the traditional teachings about women. Largely, I felt comfortable with the idea of being complementarian. It was not until I married Barrett that I began to wonder about scriptures that talked about prophetesses and deconesses. My most eye opening experience happened when Barrett was preparing to teach a class that was going to cover women’s roles as one of several topics pertaining to the modern church. I attended the prep meeting with him, not because I planned to teach, but because I tend to go places with my husband on Sundays, as we drive together and eat together. I was surprised when no other wives were at the meeting. More than surprised, I felt embarrassed and out of place . During 30 years of church attendance , I had somehow missed the unwritten code that said that women could sit with their husbands in classes and at church, but if there was a leadership meeting after church and before lunch, we should find somewhere else to be. It was the first time I felt out of place anywhere in a church building, but it was an eye-opening experience that has since made me aware of a variety of places I, as a women, am implicitly uninvited. And it was that experience that led me to question what I had been taught about where God invites women to be involved in our churches. I still have a lot of questions on the subject, but I am finding freedoms that I did not know I had abandonedfor the sake of tradition.

    • Mark Love says:

      CJK, I’m glad you found the blog and shared your story. It’s a great story about how we arrange things in ways that are exclusive and never question them. We simply fall into unspoken rhythms that over time demean the gifts and contributions of women. I love your mom-in-law and I know how much she enjoys trips to Denver.

      • Glynnis Fleming says:

        And this comfortability may work fine for those who have been nurtured and grown up in it. But for anyone who is new to our fellowship, it is weird! And aren’t we all about bringing others into our midst? And how do we explain to a young single professional that she is uninvited because… ???

      • Mark says:

        Glynnis, does the cofC really want new people if they are going to be opinionated and push for change? As a single male young professional, I am only one rung of the ladder above the single females. You should read some of the other websites calling for change. I am glad it found this one but there are now lots more.

    • Mark says:

      I am a male over 35 and I never understood nor agreed with the denial of equality to women. Of course, I would never be allowed into church leadership because I am too much of an egalitarian and too open to thinking and/or rethinking old positions.

  10. Murray says:

    Thanks for this Mark. I’m a man in my 50s and have spent my life in conservative churches of Christ. And I’m one of those who had never read a post of yours until yesterday!: I’m really conflicted on this issue. I WANT to come down on the side of inclusiveness but so far just can’t get past some of the passages. In fact, I feel like whichever side you come down on, there are ‘difficult’ passages that are fairly impossible to explain away. I look forward to your upcoming posts in the hopes that they may hold the key to the seeming ambiguity.

    Thanks so much for your urging us all to grace through this process. And, I also was greatly amused as you recounted your instinctive responses to those who ‘hurled’ Bible passages at you! And some of these responses have been equally enjoyable!

    • Mark Love says:

      Murray, you are right about both sides having difficult passages. That was part of the way forward for me. I fear I won’t clear up the ambiguity as much as help you live with it.

  11. Susan B. says:

    Mark and Calvin . . . you two should take the show on the road. I’m chuckling out loud.

    Thanks to you, Mark, for your willingness to talk openly and honestly but, most of all, thoughtfully about an issue that will continue to harm our churches until more decide to wrestle with the issue in the same way. As a woman who worked hard to raise strong, thoughtful daughters who have struggled to find church homes, I am studying and praying and trying not to be silent when I know i can help make a difference. Discussions like these on your blog are helping me in my search.

  12. Jason Locke says:

    Thanks, Mark. I REALLY appreciate you in many, many ways.

  13. Tom says:

    I grew up in CofC, went to ACU (Bible degree), and worked in a CofC for about a decade.

    I was recently applying for a job, and like CJK observed, my wife (who also has a M.Div) was tacitly uninvited from the most basic of meetings. To a point, I understand: they were interviewing me for the job. But my wife felt very uncomfortable and unwelcome in such a strange male-dominated culture, and I’m wise enough to listen to her gut. I did not take that job.

    My observation about the CofC is that while many people are willing and able to do the exegetical work and uncover the truths behind the prima facie readings, few are willing to deal with the headache of spearheading an initiative to bring more-Biblical gender roles into their church. This can be from intense push back from within their congregation, from push back and condemnation from peers, from fear for future opportunities lost (once word gets out that you’re a liberal), from fear of being disfellowshipped (I’m not precisely sure of what this means in a non-denominational basis, but our church did receive more than one letter disfellowshipping us for our progressive women’s roles)…unfortunately there is a lot of fear-based domination that prevents honest discovery and implementation. I think most ministers would admit that the Bible’s presentation of women and women’s roles is much more progressive than where we are, but few are willing to be the catalysts for change. I think in many cases, this is cowardice. And this is even more heinous because it is cowing to human pressure over God’s Truth. Shame on us.

    I was part of a group of CofC youth ministers that volunteered on a team to put on a regular summer camp for junior high and high school students. We had breakout seminars, and one guy was scheduled to speak on what the Bible says about women’s roles. His talk was very Bible-centric. But he had to be prepared to lose his job after he gave his talk, based upon the ultra-conservative check-writers back at his church (pardon my cynicism, but I knew his predecessor as well). I counciled him to write a script, read from it, and be comfortable handing it over to his elders for their permission (for the inevitable moment when he would get called before them to explain himself).

    I recently left the CofC, and have no regrets thus far. The area in which I live and work has a tremendous partnership of various denominations of Christian churches who rightly see themselves as playing equal roles in the Kingdom of God. There is community, support, prayer, and love together, and I’m excited to have joined one of these denominational churches that is able to build the kingdom of God AND “play nicely with others” (which is NOT a CofC hallmark).

    For me, my tipping point was a few weeks ago as we were sitting around a camp planning meeting, spending way too much time debating how the women’s role issue should be taught (in fairness, this was an important thing to discuss). But I just got fed up. There are people dying both literally and spiritually all around us. There are (pardon my judgment) way more relevant and important topics for us to be discussing, researching, and praying about, than when women are allowed to pass communion plates! (Important note: it is generally okay for a woman to pass a communion tray if she’s seated in a pew, but not if she’s standing beside it. Give me a break!) I love that my current church is discussing things that the Rest Of The World actually cares about and sees as an issue. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that women’s roles isn’t something that we should get right–I’m saying we all know the answer but are choosing not to implement it, or at least implement it at a glacier’s pace. I’m moving on.

    In closing, I’m proud of the 1Voice4Change people, and think they are part of a CofC fundamental civil rights movement. I’m proud of whatever changes are going on at ACU/Pepperdine/Rochester. We have this: http://1voice4change.com/#e26/custom_plain –why are we still dragging our feet? We are surrounded by hurt and dying people, and we’re all just sitting here picking nits.

    • Mark Love says:

      Tom, I’m proud of one voice. Ben Ries and Jenn Christy are students of mine and very good friends.

    • Glynnis Fleming says:

      I am very grateful for your thinking and work, Tom! I have the privilege of working with a minister who is teaching me to temper my thinking, which aligns with yours naturally, with cultivating a deep and abiding love for those in our coC tribe who are, in my view, stuck. I am learning how divergent thinking is valuable, and am learning a patience that I think is also needed. We all have our places and functions in this wonderful church that Christ is forming! Thank you, Tom, Mark, and every single person who has posted – we are talking!!!!

  14. Mark, I REALLY enjoyed your last two blogs for all kinds of reasons. For starters, it reminded me of a dialogue Randy Harris had with someone several years ago about why he didn’t just up and become a priest (or something on that… order) after yet another one of his lectures delivered in black garb and a cross and references to some of his patron heroes of faith. I think he countered something like, “Why would I want to exchange one deeply flawed religious tradition for another deeply flawed religious tradition?” I’ve never forgotten that. It’s a great answer and productive of much reflection. But (different contexts notwithstanding) if Randy’s answer was a fair catch, you took the same ball and ran it back the length of the field for a touchdown. I’m not surprised your blogspark caught fire. It’s a struggle and question so many of us have wrestled with. Can we… dare we… change our minds on a central or even ‘jugular’ issue (and who decides which is which btw?) without jeopardizing or even destroying our relationship with God and each other? And when would a move to a different fellowship be justified or even mandated vs. the all virtue there is in keeping a family together (warts and all).

    One of the many things I have always appreciated about your blogs is that you don’t just open a can of worms for the sake of controversy, you actually try and find a fish for each of one them (well, most of them! In detailing reasons why you haven’t changed or what would be problematic about changing to a different tradition, you provide a framework for us lesser students/theologians to begin thinking about some of this stuff in helpful directions). Thank-you for taking the time to discuss the ramifications of some of these difficult issues you raise.

    I grew up in the Mojave Desert in a mobile home between Lockheed’s legendary ‘Skunk Works’ and Edward’s Air Force Base where the local television stations all signed off at night with fighter plane footage and a recitation of John Gillespie Magee Jr.’s ‘High Flight’… “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings…” Chuck Yeager was a household word.

    I think of you and teachers like you as theological test pilots! Always pushing boundaries, testing limits, taking tremendous chances, but not just for kicks! For a real purpose. We didn’t go from Kitty Hawk to the Space Shuttle in less than a hundred years by playing it safe! (The human family never makes real progress by existing to play it safe!) Someone has to strap on the parachutes for Pete’s sake and we should thank God for them. Some of the most important lessons that were learned in aviation that enabled the biggest advances came from the most spectacular failures and/or crashes! A few lessons here I think. I don’t think the Holy Spirit wants the church to be forever puddle-jumping around the county in a Piper Cub, giving ‘airplane rides’ to our neighbors at a local church carnival thinking this is as good as it gets… I think the children of the Almighty would be more suited for things like, “To infinity and beyond!” Test pilots aren’t always right about everything, but they help us fly higher and farther and faster and better because they’re extraordinarily gifted at pushing the boundaries and learning from all that time they spend, “…reaching out their hand to touch the face of God”.

    Well, I think I may have gotten carried away with the whole metaphor there… sorry. Just remember, “Any blogpost you can walk away from…”

    (I’ll try not to waste too much time trying to figure out what kind of ‘call sign’ would suit you! Maverick’s already taken… maybe some of your students could help out here…)

  15. Marcia says:

    As a 54-year-old female raised in a small northern Ontario cofc I know what I do not want to result from the ongoing necessary biblical studies and conversations and that is token equality meant to silence the need for ongoing discussion. For woman to be “allowed” to pass communion plates is not what this issue is about. The depth of the culture shift that is required regarding gender equality has little to do with the tangibles that so many want answers for. If we limit our study and conversation to whether women should pass communion plates, lead study groups that include males or lead prayer – we will fall short of addressing some critical cultural issues within churches related to woman, their skills and overall equality. If we achieve a level of gender equality that raises the level of respect and regard for females young and old, I will care very little about whether I am “allowed” to pass the collection plate because I will feel valued and respected in so many other ways for who I am and the skills and knowledge I bring to the community.

  16. Tom says:

    You are entitled to interpret scripture any way you’d like. But the name on the building means something. If you have a view different than what the name on the building represents, don’t call yourself a member of the Church of Christ. If enough of the people inside the building feel the same way you do, then change the name of the building so as not to confuse others. If most people inside the building don’t feel the way you do, then perhaps it is time to leave so as not to be divisive.

    • Mark Love says:

      I guess Tom, I’ll let God decide, and in the shorter term, my elders. And I think if you checked around, you’d find out I’m not a divider.

    • Tom says:

      Good point. And this is part of what makes it so hard to be a CofC’er trying to have this conversation when there is no overseeing body. Two CofC next door to one another can be completely different, yet have equal claims to the name. And which one is right? We have certainly come a long way from where we started ~200 years ago in the ARM.

      (Of course I take exception to the notion that you can interpret scripture any way you’d like. There are right ways and wrong ways and there are probably self-serving ways in both those categories.)

      Personally, I put the value of [Discipleship and Helping People Follow God as rightly as possible] over [Allowing people to just be content and do what they’ve always done], and as such I would keep pushing. At some churches they would appreciate this, and at some churches they would run me out of town on a rail.

      I can only speak for myself, but I will choose to pursue God’s calling and righteousness for myself and my congregation 10 times out of 10, over acquiescing to what some people want. [Can you imagine where we’d be if we had followed your suggestion (“if most people don’t feel the way you do, then leave”) to the exclusion of the civil rights movement?] Isn’t that what it means to be a shepherd and a minister? I mean, who’s running this flock, the shepherd or the sheep?

      • Tom says:

        This Tom (this reply and the one above) are different from Tom “You are entitled to interpret scripture any way you’d like.” Sorry for confusion.

  17. Cathy Hooper says:

    Mark,
    I was one of those who read your blog post yesterday. I have to admit it is often over my heard or out of my line of interest and I skim at best.
    I left the CoC fellowship quite a few years ago and attend a denomination that has full inclusion of women. I have not joined this church because of other differences I cannot reconcile, but they still let me participate. Actually that is the beauty of this fellowship. I don’t have to believe just like “they” do to play an active part in the life of the congregation. I cannot imagine now going back to a place where I cannot serve communion, pray aloud in front of the congregation, teach a Sunday school class that includes adult males or even read a scripture to the entire congregation.
    Cathy

  18. ZBZ says:

    I’m biased towards Kathy’s comment in the previous post (she’s my beautiful wife!). But she brings something up that maybe needs to be reiterated here as well. Ultimately the issue Mark brings up isn’t about women’s roles any more than it’s about musical instruments, necessity of full-immersion water baptism, Sunday schools, small groups, orphanages, or church building kitchens. These, I believe, are simply all symptoms of a deeper CofC disease – a lack of willingness to have open, honest, difficult dialogue about Scripture. My experience has been that some congregations make merely questioning CofC conclusions of the Bible just as much a sin as any possible sinful conclusions we may come to! Simply questioning long held opinions is considered the liberal trait of a change agent!

    So if the CofC disease really is our unwillingness to continuously and vulnerably wrestle with Scripture, as I believe it is, how did the CofC contract it, and what’s the antidote? Shame. And grace. Unfortunately I have been a member of some extremely shame-based congregations. In these congregations, as in any shame-based culture, the fear of being wrong and therefore losing its long-perceived CofC identity prevents it’s members from pursuing an ever-deepening understanding of Scripture and relationship with Jesus Christ. Better to be blissfully ignorant than face the possibility of having misunderstood some things. And, like any other shame-based culture, out of it’s desire to protect it’s blissful ignorance, a diseased CofC will black-sheep anyone who might try to bring up differing opinions. Those folks will be shamed either into silence or leaving. So the close-mindedness is perpetuated.

    I believe the antidote to this mentality is grace! Understanding that God made us and loves us and rescued us simply because he’s our Father, and not because of anything we’ve done. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, therefore we don’t have to be right! We can misunderstand and misapply scripture and still have a secure relationship with God. A holy reflection of Jesus in this broken world, and ultimately the source of our eternal salvation, isn’t a correct biblical knowledge, but an acceptance and proclamation that God loves us even in the midst of our incorrect biblical knowledge! There’s no fear in love, thus we no longer have to be afraid to question our long-held CofC biblical beliefs, because even if we discover we’ve been wrong all these years, we’re still loved! Nothing’s changed! So understanding that God’s grace is sufficient even for our misunderstandings of the Bible now sets us free to continuously and vulnerably wrestle with Scripture. Misunderstanding grace keeps us petrified that if we’re wrong, we’re damned, so we’re not willing to reexamine Scripture on a continual basis. We can’t take that risk!

    Mark is an awesome guy! I’m blessed by his past two blog posts and as I’m sure I will be by the ones to follow. I can say this because as Mark has hinted at already, he’s not going to show us the “right answers” to the women’s role discussion (remember a progressive can be just as close-minded and willing to twist Scripture as a conservative!), but instead Mark will show us a heart of humility and a willingness to be vulnerable enough to allow Scripture to take him wherever it leads. He’s not shame-based but grace-led. Looking forward to it Mark!

  19. Susie says:

    Thanks so much Mark. I cannot begin to tell you how your bravery has given me the courage to leave the church of Christ and disown my family so that I can be and elder. I am a 22 year old lesbian in a stable relationship with my partner. I feel because of my unique experiences as a gay recovering from substance abuse that I have much to offer in leadership of God’s people. I submitted my name to the church to be an elder and was chastised by family, church and the so called “elders”. This particular statement of yours was most encouraging:

    “…the most helpful thing for me to do in helping others understand my position is not to unpack specific verses, but to talk about the shifts that I have made regarding how I read Scripture.”

    I found a Unitarian church near my home that is filled with loving people of all walks of life, reads the Bible like I do and who let me be an elder the first day I came in. It is important for people like you to stay in the church of Christ and its educational institutions until you have completely destroyed them and their narrow, Bible quoting ways. Please don’t ever leave until your work is done.

  20. Cathy Moore says:

    Hang in there Dr. Love. I did not read the comments from the original post, and now I’m very glad not to have seen them. Thanks for what you wrote, though. Hope we see you next time you are in town. Cathy Moore

  21. Mark says:

    Let me tell you all that Naomi Walters, minister in residence in the cofC in Stamford, CT now has some sermons under her belt and they are online. It is possible to have a woman in the pulpit.

    Thanks for your work on this topic, Dr. Love.

  22. Travis says:

    “Actually, the point many of them seem to be making is that I don’t take the Bible seriously enough, or that I am satisfying myself and not God. Clearly, I don’t think that’s what is going on. I care just as much as they do about doing God’s will and just as much about taking the Bible seriously. In fact, in practice, I think I take the Bible more seriously because I try to take it on its own terms. I try to let the actual phenomenon of Scripture dictate how I read Scripture. Most of my auditors who felt I’m not taking the Bible seriously start with assumptions that the Bible itself doesn’t support, e.g. that the Bible’s message is simple, univocal, flat, without diversity, not subject to interpretation.”

    Mark, glad to have found your blog! I was raised hardline NICoC but finally broke from that tradition a few years ago. It wasn’t pretty, but it has been liberating, and you’re right, it does take a change in attitude toward the Scripture, and that very phrase scares the, well, you know, out of hardliners. One of my sick hobbies is engaging in those groups on Facebook, where I get the same accusations as you. That’s why I’m so thankful for this blog, but the paragraph above really stuck out – one that echoes the message I’ve stated over and over again in these groups in the hope that one day perhaps God will open their hearts as he did mine and they will find the joy and freedom that Christ promised. I’ve yet to convince any of the active participants, but I have had dialogues initiated by several of the silent lurkers who check out those sites who want to know more, so that’s encouraging to me. Thanks again for the thoughts.

  23. Johnd786 says:

    location within my public complexes! ddabddbeccdb

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