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November 2, 2010 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Bishop Jim Swilley of Conyers, Georgia's megachurch Church In The Now has announced to his congregation that he is gay. He was moved to make the announcement after the recent national coverage of gay suicides. Queerty has more details and video reports, including video of the sermon where he made the announcement.

"I know all the hateful stuff that has been written about me online. To think about saving a teenager? Yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that."
posted by hippybear (109 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hope this is the start of a trend. Bishop Swilley's story stands in sharp contrast to how this sort of thing usually plays out. I say, "Good on ya!"
posted by treyka at 12:57 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


“I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever,” Swilley said. “To think about saving a teenager yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.”


Good on him.
posted by notsnot at 12:59 PM on November 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


He's pastor at a Megachurch... kind of like the CEO of MacDonalds coming out. Also, I'm slightly dubious about his motivations.
posted by sswiller at 1:02 PM on November 2, 2010


Heads must be asploding. Good on him!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:03 PM on November 2, 2010


Also, I'm slightly dubious about his motivations.

Can you elucidate? This seems unequivocally a Good Thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Forgive me for a moment while I wax all pretentious...

We throw the word "hero" around alot.
Often it doesnt fit, often it fits superficially.
For that reason, I try not to use the term all that much, if ever.

This is what heroic looks like.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2010 [24 favorites]


As long as you make it to the party, I won't criticize you for showing up late. Good for him, and for everyone else.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Thanks for indulging me.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2010


"I know all the hateful stuff that has been written about me online. To think about saving a teenager? Yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that."

That made me smile involuntarily. Top-notch!
posted by Turkey Glue at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2010


He's pastor at a Megachurch... kind of like the CEO of MacDonalds coming out

...as vegan?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on November 2, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm confused. I thought God hated these guys.
posted by punkfloyd at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great. Good for him.
posted by brundlefly at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2010


One of the issues with fundamentalist clergy and teh gay is that they frequently make derogatory or hurtful comments or make anti-homosexual comments in their sermons. Is there any of this in Bishop Swilley's past?
posted by Billiken at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2010


One of the issues with fundamentalist clergy and teh gay is that they frequently make derogatory or hurtful comments or make anti-homosexual comments in their sermons. Is there any of this in Bishop Swilley's past?

What makes you think Church of the Now is fundamentalist?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:16 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I spent four decades vilifying homosexuality to get money, while being homosexual myself. Now that it's possible I can continue getting money without some of that hypocrisy, I'm coming out. Aren't I such a hero?"
posted by kafziel at 1:21 PM on November 2, 2010


[citation needed]
posted by brundlefly at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2010 [13 favorites]


Bishop Swilley has a blog, and the comments there are overwhelmingly supportive and positive.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:23 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there any of this in Bishop Swilley's past?

Not according to the article linked in the FPP. He's always preached a message of inclusivity apparently.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:23 PM on November 2, 2010


What makes you think Church of the Now is fundamentalist?

I'm not able to click the link for the Church or the sermon while at work, so I assumed that since this was a "megachurch" that it was fundie. I guess we know what happens when we assume.

Then again, you haven't said whether it is, or whether he did. Just asking.
posted by Billiken at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the third link:
'For those of you familiar with Church In the Now, while never discussing his own sexuality, you know that Swilley has always preached a message of inclusion, love and abundance for all God's children.'
Can everyone stop being so fucking cynical about this for a second and be glad that someone is doing something good?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2010 [51 favorites]


He's pastor at a Megachurch... kind of like the CEO of MacDonalds coming out

...as vegan?


Wouldn't be an issue if it was the CEO of Doublemeat Palace.
posted by kmz at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


“To think about saving a teenager yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.”

more's the pity that his reputation might ever be at stake for being gay. and that he'd put his reputation above his faith.

shakespherian: Can everyone stop being so fucking cynical about this for a second and be glad that someone is doing something good?

um, no; not me. if you can't expect the people who are supposed to be the good guys to do something good, then who should the good deeds be left to? this should have happened 20-odd years ago & maybe a few less teens would have died along the way.
posted by msconduct at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


My guess is someone in his organization wanted him out, or he was being blackmailed. I have a fairly low regard for moneymega-churches.
posted by sswiller at 1:35 PM on November 2, 2010


Well, apparently he came out after the gay suicide coverage from a couple of weeks ago and his ex-wife approached him telling him that it was time for him to come out. I don't think this was a blackmail situation, and while he's been asked to step down from his status as bishop, he will continue to work as pastor within the organization.

As far as the "this should have happened years ago" comment, that was also the reaction when Ricky Martin came out. But everyone has their own path, and there has been a lot of discussion here already about whether it's good or fair to out people against their will.

I'm nearly done watching the sermon. It's long -- 1h15m. And he covers a LOT of ground. And the support of his congregation throughout it is astounding and has brought tears to my eyes.

Not really meaning to steer the thread, but sometimes RTFA helps clarify a few things.
posted by hippybear at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


People who dont arrive fully-formed, wise and Christlike directly from the womb on Day One are fucking assholes, amirite?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:42 PM on November 2, 2010 [40 favorites]


This is great. Usually, when I see these kinds of posts, I cluck about the religious right's hypocrisy--railing against the horrible homosexual menace, but deeply closeted themselves.

As far as I can tell, though, this is a man talking the talk and walking the walk. It's a courageous revelation to make, and I hope he receives support from his flock and the public at large. Good for him, I say!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2010


Way to go, pastor man!
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2010


Interesting; the first line of the Queerty article makes a point similar to what some here have said:

Is it terrible that my first instinct, upon learning Georgia megapastor Jim Swilley has come out, is thinking he must have a secret gay sex scandal that he's trying to get in front of? Eddie Long and Ted Haggard have ruined it for everyone!

I drive past that church whenever I drive to Atlanta or points west (it is just off I-20) and have just assumed it was another fundamentalist megachurch. I am glad that it seems not to be.
posted by TedW at 1:47 PM on November 2, 2010


I can't wait until coming out as gay is more like a Quinceañera, and that it's coming out as a homophobe that draws snarky criticism.
posted by klangklangston at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was going to snark about my hatred of all things megachurch, but I decided that, in light of him doing something honestly good, I'll refrain.

Hopefully his congregation supports and embraces his revelation.
posted by quin at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2010


"if you can't expect the people who are supposed to be the good guys to do something good, then who should the good deeds be left to?"

How about... all of us?

Every person is capable of good things, bad things, mistakes, heroic deeds, sins, repentance, whatever. That's the whole point of Christianity: that EVERYONE has sinned, currently sins and will sin again -- and that through belief in God's grace/Christ's sacrifice/just plain old living in a Christly manner, we have the ability to start over and do things right, no matter what we've done before. I'm not even really big on the whole God and Jesus thing, but knowing that I always have the chance to start over is an awfully comforting thought that anyone can believe in.

Defining people as "good guys" and "bad guys" is exactly the kind of reductionist thinking that got us in this pickle in the first place.
posted by Madamina at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2010 [18 favorites]


The city is Conyers. Not Conyer.
Nice place, home to a Monastic Order.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:54 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks. I've asked the mods to correct the FPP with the right name of the city.
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2010


Fixed!
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2010


The video of his sermon is long - I think it's an hour and fifteen minutes. I started to watch it and it's quite hard to stop. It's pretty moving.

Here it is.
posted by kbanas at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


um, no; not me. if you can't expect the people who are supposed to be the good guys to do something good, then who should the good deeds be left to? this should have happened 20-odd years ago & maybe a few less teens would have died along the way.

But he is doing a good deed. Yeah, it probably should have happened a long time ago, and maybe things would have been better -- both for him and the people around him. But it didn't, so he's doing now. Is never better than late? I certainly don't think so.

I'm not going to waste my time trying to demonize this guy for doing the right thing. While he preaches inclusion, others preach hate. While he sets a positive and hopeful example for young homosexuals, others bully them literally to death. It is those others who are the problem, not Swilley.
posted by Commander Rachek at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2010


In Finland, his congregation would double in size overnight.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2010


Around the 37 minute mark -- right after Bishop Swilley says, "It's on now." -- he takes on DADT. And it is awesome.
posted by grabbingsand at 2:20 PM on November 2, 2010


Every once in a while I am reminded why churches should have a place in modern society. Stuff like this. It gives me hope for the future. Yay, tolerance!
posted by caution live frogs at 2:29 PM on November 2, 2010


During the sermon, he calls up two openly gay members of his congregation to make statements about his coming out. I don't think this is a church where homosexuals were vilified. They seem to have always preached inclusiveness. That whole thing is worth watching, IMO.
posted by hippybear at 2:34 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well good for him and all that, but put me solidly in the camp that feels that there is something else to this story that made it a "why do it now, not before" issue. People in positions of power generally want to stay in power, and doing something that lessens that... usually only if that path is the lesser of two choices.
But if, it turns out that no, there was no gay lover that was about to nail him to the cross a-la blackmail, and this turns out to be really positive, lasting change in regards to how religious people treat gays, then I will be the first to suggest that Jim Swilley be recognized for his leadership.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:35 PM on November 2, 2010


This is what heroic looks like.

In Georgia? Yeah that would make you a hero, and he is a hero.
posted by nola at 2:38 PM on November 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


I find this confusing. If he is the pastor of a church, then I would assume that he is familiar with the Bible. 1st Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 9-11 (in the New Testament) comes to mind which states: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be decieved. neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will iherit the kingdom of god. and such were some of you. but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

So, how can one be a homosexual, but yet still be the pastor of a church? I have nothing against homosexuals or pastors, but IMHO, they are mutually exclusive. I don't think you can be both; it's either one or the other. And I'm not trying to pass judgement on him either; I'ts a good thing that he came out, stopped living a lie, and decided to be true to himself. But I guess my biggest question is how do they reconcile homosexuality with what the bible says?
posted by KillaSeal at 2:41 PM on November 2, 2010


But I guess my biggest question is how do they reconcile homosexuality with what the bible says?

We just had a long conversation about this.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on November 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


He also covers a lot of that in his sermon, which is lengthy but worth watching. It covers many of the questions which have been raised in this thread re: blackmail, boyfriends, and scriptural prejudice against homosexuals. Not to mention DADT, church members with gay family, his future role in the organization, and even briefly on the Uganda situation.
posted by hippybear at 2:48 PM on November 2, 2010


That was truly beautiful and I hope they prosper in their mission to be an inclusive church for all people. Thank you so much for posting this, hippybear.
posted by melissa may at 2:52 PM on November 2, 2010


this should have happened 20-odd years ago & maybe a few less teens would have died along the way.

Justice Lewis Powell was an old-fashioned Virginian, and he was a swing vote on the Supreme Court. Powell found all of the arguments in favor of privacy between consenting adults in Bowers v. Hardwick "repellent." Powell also had an unusually large number of closeted clerks. Powell voted for Bowers and wrote a concurring opinion in which he stated that "I cannot say that conduct condemned for hundreds of years has now become a fundamental right."

Maybe all of his clerks coming out would have made a difference in Bowers v. Hardwick. Maybe his longtime secretary coming out to him as a lesbian would have made an even bigger difference -- in my life, in the lives of countless gays and lesbians in the United States. At least one of Powell's clerks agonized over whether he should have come out to Powell during the deliberations over Bowers.

I'm not convinced that this megachurch bishop's coming out decades ago would have had as much of an impact as that would have.

Anyway, all meaningless speculation aside, whatever the bishop's motives, I'm glad he's doing this.
posted by blucevalo at 2:53 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm always amazed at how good straight people are at telling people when and how to come out. You have no idea. None. The act of telling my parents - two whole people! - that I was gay seemed impossible to me, and I had so little to lose by doing so. Bishop Swilley is telling the whole world, and he has a lot more on the line than I ever did. His bravery is a fantastic example to gay youth everywhere, and I am stunned at how many people want to take that away from the community. Your criticism does nothing but confirm to the world that coming out of the closet earns you scorn and mockery. Congratulations: you're part of the problem.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 2:56 PM on November 2, 2010 [90 favorites]


I hope his coming out made a few people vote for more progressive candidates today. Who knows, maybe he timed it to affect elections.
posted by mareli at 2:56 PM on November 2, 2010


But I guess my biggest question is how do they reconcile homosexuality with what the bible says?

They same way they reconcile large portions of scripture which aren't really applicable to modern culture and society.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:01 PM on November 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


I remember discussing the rise of rightist Christianity with an atheist neo-con who made a career of egging it on with anti-homosexual screed. I said, "Maybe, one day, these guys will actually become Christian in the true sense." The guy just gave me a wry look.
posted by No Robots at 3:10 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm always amazed at how good straight people are at telling people when and how to come out. You have no idea. None. The act of telling my parents - two whole people! - that I was gay seemed impossible to me, and I had so little to lose by doing so. Bishop Swilley is telling the whole world, and he has a lot more on the line than I ever did. His bravery is a fantastic example to gay youth everywhere, and I am stunned at how many people want to take that away from the community. Your criticism does nothing but confirm to the world that coming out of the closet earns you scorn and mockery. Congratulations: you're part of the problem.


FUCKING THIS.

My kid brother had a hell of a time coming out to my Mom and I, and neither of us are in any way, shape, or form anti-gay. It's a huge deal.

This man is doing a very brave and kind thing.
posted by stenseng at 3:15 PM on November 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


It sounds like this guy was never really anti-gay to begin with, and neither was his congregation, so I don't think this is going to change many minds that have already been made up.

If there isn't enough schadenfreude in this thread for you, noted anti-Gay Megachurch Pastor Eddie Long denies having gay affairs with at least four young men.
posted by Avenger at 3:17 PM on November 2, 2010


Watched the whole thing. First time I've watched a sermon in it's entirety since I left the Church (and god, cough).

It was pretty awesome to see. Not just for what the Pastor did, but because of the congregation's response. A few times, I kind of zoned out for a minute and actually forgot he was preaching (talking) about being gay— but the crowd kept on with their PREACH IT, BISHOP and applause.

The Pastor's motive aside, I am so incredibly happy to see this attitude. In the Church. In the South. Really, really refreshing. I'd stop by, next time I'm in Conyers.
posted by functionequalsform at 3:22 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good for him. It is deeply touching to see him do this in an effort to save more young men from suicide. And I really admire his courage.
posted by bearwife at 3:25 PM on November 2, 2010


If you can handle another "It gets better" video, you might like this one by Gene Robinson who is out and also the bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church.
posted by jessamyn at 3:27 PM on November 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


I've just been talking about this with some of my friends who attend megachurches in the greater Atlanta area. Some attend Church of the Now, and some attend New Birth Missionary (Bishop Eddie Long's church). Eddie Long is shady; he's refusing to answer questions and casting doubts on the kids who were willing to speak up.

Jim Swilley's not shady. He's done a brave thing - especially in this place, this culture, this political climate. Go ahead and question his timing, his reasons, or his character if you're suspicious; just know that, today in Rockdale County, Jim Swilley's announcement has probably already saved a life or kept a kid from running away or being thrown out of the house. We don't have a lot of resources for LGBT youth, even in Atlanta. It's hard to explain how much this matters.
posted by catlet at 3:46 PM on November 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I have watched this about a dozen times in the past week. We posted it on the Key West Gay & Lesbian Community Center's FB page with the description, "Attention gay religious leaders: This is how it is done."

And it is how it is done. This is how religion and religious belief gets moved forward.

Who knows what happens next. But one things for sure, and that's that this is a church I want to visit.

And though I am down in Key West, I just may.

Great post, hippybear.
posted by Mike Mongo at 4:04 PM on November 2, 2010


Oh man. Thanks for that Gene Robinson link. I never cry on the internet, and every It Gets Better video I've seen has made me tear up like a wuss.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:11 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Re: Church orientation (fundamental, whatnot): the church is listed under non-denominational churches on a church-finder website, and the FAQ page of the church's website clarifies why Swilley is Bishop of the church (the biblical term Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1, 2; Titus 1:7) simply means "overseer" or "pastor to pastors"). If he steps down as Bishop of the church, that would probably just mean he is stepping down from the role as the over-all leader of the church. The church's website still lists him as the Bishop on the front page (though his profile is [still?] empty), so it doesn't seem like they're in a hurry to distance themselves from him.

And the (former?) Bishop's twitter feed is full of replies to people wishing him the best, which makes me pretty happy. If you really want to get ramped up on GRAR, you can find religious condemnations of the Swilley pretty easily. Then again, some religiously minded people can ruin the positive and uplifting elements of anything (see: why your daughters shouldn't read Little House on the Prarie - hint: Laura is a feminist).
posted by filthy light thief at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


But I guess my biggest question is how do they reconcile homosexuality with what the bible says?

He starts covering this at about 28:50. (Cool, I didn't know about a meteor shower possibly accounting for Sodom and Gomorrah.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:46 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Cool, I didn't know about a meteor shower possibly accounting for Sodom and Gomorrah.)

Technically, that would have to be a meteorite shower, I think.

posted by hippybear at 4:50 PM on November 2, 2010


I've talked about being queer in a fundie church before and what a difference Knapp coming out made to me. Here I am again, crying because some teenager isn't going to go what I went through. Being alone and gay in the church is a terrible heartrending thing. This man, without a doubt, saved someone's life today. Bless him.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:05 PM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Never expected for my hometown to make it on the blue. But if it had to be of all things, I'm certainly glad it's this (as opposed to that other thing we were known for). I'll be curious when I head back home this weekend to hear if it's a topic anyone has been discussing.
posted by Hesychia at 5:47 PM on November 2, 2010


Other trivia: His son is the vocalist for the Black Lips.
posted by schmod at 5:59 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I spent four decades vilifying homosexuality to get money, while being homosexual myself. Now that it's possible I can continue getting money without some of that hypocrisy, I'm coming out. Aren't I such a hero?"

kafziel, shut your snarkhole, unless and until you can back up your claims with citations. The evidence presented so far pretty strongly demonstrate how wrong your accusations against the good Bishop are.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2010


I watched all 1 hour and 15 minutes of that video. The thing that most struck me was how real, how human he was. You could see that he was a man that had faults and failings, and that these were probably things he knew he should work on. But he was also a man who had a physicality from God, a feeling of absolute pride and humility both in that he was called and that it was not his voice that people were truly listening to. And that he knew himself, he knew both his faith and his orientation from the beginning and had been spending most of his life trying to make two things that to him were solid and real meet. And I think he did that tonight after fifty years on this earth.

I always sneered at non-Denominational, Pentecostal, and Baptist services as being set in the living room with no sense of numina. It wasn't until I saw that that I saw the sheer power of that though. Of a man, having a conversation with his followers, a man talking about his experiences with people that he considered both his charge and his closest friends. A man proud that he could lead these people forward and give them hope and truth. He didn't get sanctimonious. He just poured everything that had lead him to that point all out for everyone (including us) to see. He knew that people would leave, but he also knew that some would stay, and that the people that would stay would matter, and that what he did that night mattered.

I loved it when he was talking about Leviticus and how people had told him what it said and all he could say with a voice that conveyed a lifetime of exasperation that he was aware of all those verses more than anyone. I loved it when he conveyed that Jimmy Swaggart was not being chased by gay men. And I most of all I loved it when he stepped up and tried to explain that it wasn't about sex and the desire to run off with some man for some fun (though there's nothing wrong with that). He wanted to be true to himself, and even though he has been mostly celibate for most of his life, he wanted his identity acknowledged and understood so that others who looked upon their orientation as unnatural lust would know that what they were dealing with was something good, something natural, something right. He wasn't a boogeyman and neither are your children. That God had made these children that way and that we as God's children must accept the handiwork of God.

I'm not really a believer, but the Bishop certainly is, now more than ever. And I think he saved some lives tonight. I hope we can join him in making it a few more.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:12 PM on November 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


I went to a Georgia megachurch as a teenager. When I got outed, the minister prayed the devil would leave my soul. There are scared gay kids in Georgia megachurches now. And maybe now, through word of mouth about this guy, they're a little less scared. This guy is awesome, and if I was still a scared Georgia teenager, I would be making a road trip to his church.

(Also, that being like Christ thing the bible talks about? He's doing it right.)
posted by honeydew at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was reading the Church in the Now website, and found this on the Our Vision page under Goals:

7. To fulfill the prophecy spoken over CITN many years ago that this church would do something that has never been done before, for which there is no model or precedent, and to continue to discover every day what that is and what it can be.

I'm not really the type that goes in for prophecy, but I thought it was interesting.

It is clear from the information on the church's website that it is not a fundamentalist church. Like many here, I assumed that megachurch=fundamentalist, but apparently that isn't always true. Cheers for this man and his work.
posted by jeoc at 6:56 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't wait until coming out as gay is more like a Quinceañera,

a Queerceañera?

Anyway, this guy is in a position to do a lot of good right now and I hope he takes advantage of it. He can maybe turn around a lot of otherwise decent megachurch pew fillers who've been poisoned by bigoted ministers and maybe teach people that Christianity and being gay-friendly are not irreconcilable.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 PM on November 2, 2010


I don't believe in God, but I can understand what people get out of it, so thank God this man stood up and said his peace. The world needs more tolerance and understanding and a hell of a lot lesst hatred and prejudice.
posted by d1rge at 7:47 PM on November 2, 2010


I have nothing against homosexuals or pastors, but IMHO, they are mutually exclusive.

Then you are woefully misinformed. And yes, I know we did just have a long conversation about this, but I found something cool today.

Four of the theology professors at my seminary released their own "It Gets Better" videos.

Including the current Academic Dean and the former President.

We are winning this thing, piece by piece. Almost makes the election sting a little less.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:59 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw hell, you know what? It makes the election sting a lot less. Politics is transient - we're witnessing a shift in religious consciousness, another reformation. This isn't once in a lifetime stuff - when it comes to the church, this is once in ten lifetimes kind of stuff.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:01 PM on November 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


My family moved to Conyers in 1976, I currently live 20 minutes away. I'm reading all of these comments and I'm very conflicted. Jim Swilley and CITN have been considered a typical money hungry, fundy-factory for YEARS now. On one hand, I've heard the rumors about his being gay since CITN opened and feel like his coming out should be celebrated but on the other hand, I've heard about so many other "goings on" at CITN, that I can't help but feeling like it's false advertising. Almost like he is taking advantage of his gay escapades in order to gain favor and be the national 'talk of the town'.

I'm a huge proponent of gay rights, my mefi and personal histories will bear that out but my life time of Swilley's shenanigan's just makes me wary. I have no cites other than hearsay and just being a member of the community since the age of 7, and I know that responsible, real opposition to an opinion calls for sources. I can't offer anything other than my experiences with being in a close, deep South community with Swilley. The knowledge that I have mostly comes from first hand resources and 20 years of living 3 miles from CITN headquarters. Nothing on paper, nothing concrete, just stuff that everyone "knew", beyond the usual town gossip. I hope and pray that Pastor Swilley's reasons and motivations are real, Lord knows that no place needs an awaking to the true pain that can come from growing up gay and closeted in place like Conyers, Ga. But I want to tread carefully..those same souls that need a champion can also be too quick to trust and follow a charleton. They deserve the former and I hope that Pastor Swilley will be that champion that they deserve and that small, Southern towns desperately need.
posted by pearlybob at 8:12 PM on November 2, 2010


the good Bishop

Not sure there is such a thing.
posted by layceepee at 8:43 PM on November 2, 2010


Thanks for the input.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2010


Not sure there is such a thing.

I suppose the question is, what standard would you place on someone to be a good bishop and what would convince you that they are? Is Gene Robinson one?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:07 PM on November 2, 2010


Gays have equal right to be megachurch millionaires. If Pat can have a Lear for flying to distant missions, so can Swilley. If Jim can fuck groupies, so can Swilley. Equal Rights for Megachurch Pastors of all Sexualities!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:19 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


these pretzels are makin' me thirsty
posted by ReeMonster at 12:24 AM on November 3, 2010


pearlybob, I'd be interested to know if listening to the sermon confirms your opinion or changes your mind. Obviously it won't address specific rumours, but the overall vibe might support or contradict the 'false advertising' impression.
posted by harriet vane at 12:32 AM on November 3, 2010


I assumed that since this was a "megachurch" that it was fundie

"Megachurch" and "Fundamentalist" are pretty much contradictions in terms.* Most fundamentalist churches are a couple of hundred people at the absolute most. Less than two hundred is far, far more common.

Thing is, for someone who's tuned in to Christian culture, the website communicates pretty effectively that Church In the Now isn't even theologically conservative, let alone fundamentalist.

1) They use the TNIV, a translation noted mostly for its decision to use "gender neutral" language, wherever possible. The list of supporters and critics there is basically a "who's who" of bland evangelical moderates or outright liberals in support and theological conservatives in opposition. Any church that uses that version is telegraphing a lot about the way it does theology.

2) From the same link above, where they say what they believe they limit that to the Apostle's Creed. Don't get me wrong: the Creed is an appropriate expression of the Christian faith. But churches who are trying to be rigorous about their theological commitments--even non-denominational ones!--pretty much unfailingly make or link to some sort of broader doctrinal statement. (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Not doing that says almost as much as doing that.

3) Similar to 1, they use The Message. This isn't even a translation: it's a paraphrase. I am unaware of any church which even tries to do something approaching rigorous theology--liberal or conservative--that uses The Message. Just look at the version comparisons on that page to see what I mean.

4) Swilley did his training and served as president of New Life Bible College, which as far as I can tell is a tiny pentecostal place in Virginia. This says two things. First, he's basically pentecostal, which means that his theology is going to be kinda squishy to begin with. Second, he isn't even coming from some kind of mainstream pentecostal tradition either. So there's no reason to believe that he's connected to any kind of broader faith tradition, even something as loosely organized as the non-denominational movement.

So those who want to take encouragement from this should take this with a grain of salt. Church In the Now is not your typical megachurch, nor does it really appear to be part of the broader tradition in which most megachurches are situated, i.e. broadly evangelical and broadly conservative. Rather, this is a left-leaning pentacostal-ish place without much in the way of developed theology and which never really had any inherent, internal reason to maintain the traditional Christian position on homosexuality in the first place.

tl;dr: This isn't the first domino to fall on the right, it's more like the last one to fall on the left.

*If we're talking about capital-F Fundamentalism of Bible-thumping sort which is stereotyped in the media and the culture anyway. There's a lot of those guys around, but they tend to be prickly enough to make large groupings of them unmanageable for any length of time beyond a couple of hours. Small-f fundamentalism is a far broader term and includes pretty much the entire non-liberal Protestant church, from conservative Presbyterians and Lutherans to mainstream Pentecostals and non-denominational types. Most megachurches count as fundamentalist in this broader sense, but Church In the Now may not count under either use of the word. I'd have to spend a little more time to figure that out.
posted by valkyryn at 4:27 AM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I respect what pearlybob is saying. I'm deeply skeptical of non-denominational and mega-churches (we've got some pretty big ones in my town, too). And, there's definitely something to knowing the area, the community, the history, the people. But I choose to believe this man is sincere, because I really need to believe that (what I think of as) real Christians still exist, and still stand up and try to lead others humbly, honestly, and with a real emphasis on compassion and acceptance.

When people say, "All Christians [are hateful in some way]," and follow that up with "Well, then they should specifically say they are not, in media that has come to my attention," it would be nice to be able to point to a few examples of just that. If it turns out that this is a play for attention or money, I'll be sorely disappointed. But for now, I choose to be proud of him.
posted by Houstonian at 4:32 AM on November 3, 2010


Rather, this is a left-leaning pentacostal-ish place without much in the way of developed theology and which never really had any inherent, internal reason to maintain the traditional Christian position on homosexuality in the first place.

Please don't start this up here, too.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:48 AM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Please don't start this up here, too.

Not trying to. Just trying to point out that Church In the Now is not exactly in the same category as most other megachurches like Saddleback, Willow Creek, etc.
posted by valkyryn at 5:26 AM on November 3, 2010


Well, but given that people were apparently getting up and walking out during the linked sermon, it seems reasonable to guess that Church In the Now is not viewed by its congregants as occupying Leftist Territory. This isn't the same as Mark Driscoll coming out, sure, but it's not Marcus Borg, either.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2010


This isn't the same as Mark Driscoll coming out, sure, but it's not Marcus Borg, either.

Granted. I think location matters here. We're talking about what is essentially a suburb of Atlanta. You can't really run a church as a self-described liberal in those parts and wind up with a couple of thousand adherents. The congregation is probably a lot more instinctively conservative--both theologically and politically--than the leadership seems to be.

But we're still talking about a megachurch being run by a man who has been divorced for twenty-one years. That alone should indicate that something is different there than in most of your run-of-the-mill megachurches, most of which won't even appoint a pastor who isn't married, let alone one who has been divorced. That, combined with a pretty good list of things which most evangelical churches don't like, still convinces me that the organization was still a good bit left of center, at least by evangelical standards.
posted by valkyryn at 5:59 AM on November 3, 2010


As a contrast, one of my favorite episodes of This American Life focused on Carlton Pearson, an Oral Roberts protege, whose struggles with the doctrine of hell led to the loss of his megachurch.

But while many liberal denominations have been quietly accepting of LGBT clergy, I don't think it's so open as to be routine and Swilley is arguably the highest-profile example so far.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:15 AM on November 3, 2010


The thing is, I think this will do a lot of good regardless of whether CITN is a 'real church' or whatever it is valkyryn is hoping to communicate and regardless of whatever hazily hinted-at shenanigans pearlybob may or may not be obliquely referring to (I mean, gosh... "goings on"! Golly!).

Because we're talking, at least right now, about kids. And kids, in a very general sense, aren't known for their overdeveloped habit of questioning things and digging deep. So I suspect there will be a lot of gay religious kids who will hear about this and be comforted in some small or perhaps large way, and will then carry on with whatever catches their kid attention two minutes later.

So, A Good Thing.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 8:02 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good for him.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:08 AM on November 3, 2010


I suppose the question is, what standard would you place on someone to be a good bishop and what would convince you that they are? Is Gene Robinson one?

I guess "the good bishop" could mean "someone who's good at being a bishop" and "someone who does good by being a bishop." It's the latter that I suspect may be a contradiction in terms, something like "a good torturer" or "a good prison guard."

I don't know much about Gene Robinson, but the question about a specific individual reminds me to say that I think a good person might be a become a bishop (or a prison guard and perhaps even a torturer) but I'm still doubtful that a bishop could be something it is good to be.
posted by layceepee at 8:30 AM on November 3, 2010


"a good prison guard."

Well, it would be really bad if there was no way to be a good person becoming a prison guard and good at being a prison guard. Is the profession of guarding prisoners intrinsically evil? Should we appoint robots in their place? I can understand the "good torturer" one because torture is in itself wrong, but are prisons—no matter how well and humanely they're run—the same? Certainly society has to have a place to put dangerous transgressors (or I suppose we could kill them instead), so it being done by good people that are good at their job seems to be ideal.

I feel similarly about the bishop part. And what do you consider the job description of a bishop? I've known plenty of wonderful people in clergy that have done their jobs as well as could be wished. I'm sorry that you have not encountered the same in your life.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:41 AM on November 3, 2010


the question about a specific individual reminds me to say that I think a good person might be a become a bishop (or a prison guard and perhaps even a torturer) but I'm still doubtful that a bishop could be something it is good to be.

I personally feel that way about being a CEO or being president.

However, and fortunately, the rest of the world has differing opinions and so people who decide that people in those roles fulfill a societal purpose that has utility for them can interact with them. You don't like religion, fine. However commenting that there's no way to be a good bishop, to be good at your job of being a bishop, for the people who feel the need for someone in that role in your life, ignores the fact that it's a giant world, full of people who are different from you. how have different needs and desires.

Helping confused teens feel that they might have a reason to go on living and speaking your personal truth to a fairly overwhelming and critical power structure has value in my book, even if it is by doing something like being a better prison guard or a more humane pet euthanizer or a Walmart exec who fights for giving employees health insurance instead of against it.
posted by jessamyn at 9:04 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


layceepee: I guess your stance is, then, that it is impossible to be involved in leadership in a church hierarchy and still be "good", simply by participating in that religious structure.

While I have my own arguments with churches and don't participate in them anymore because of them, I certainly know of plenty men and women who work hard toward the humble tasks set upon the church (feed the poor, care for the sick), and who do them very well, and exhibit love toward their fellow man, believer and non-believer alike. I consider those to be good people, even if I don't agree with their motivation for doing the work.

You can disagree with the man's belief system all you want, but having a church leader take a stance toward inclusion and acceptance of a group which is typically rejected and vilified, identifying as a member of that group at risk of personal and professional loss... I classify that as "good".

Have you watched the 1h15m sermon linked in which he revealed his sexual orientation to the congregation?
posted by hippybear at 9:10 AM on November 3, 2010


Funny that you mention being a good prison guard.

A friend of mine, whom I jokingly refer to as my token right-wing friend (with whom I value our discussions), has been working as a teacher for several years but wants to become a sheriff's deputy in a rural county. Specifically, he'd like to start by working at the jail. His rationale is that he would much rather know that someone with his background is working in that position than know that the guards are power-hungry jerkwads. (Not mutually exclusive categories, but still.)

A lot of things about his approaches to politics and social issues are still hypocritical (e.g. deep love for now-deceased gay uncle(s), to whom he wouldn't extend the ability to marry or form a union), but I will continue to remember the discussion we had about the base motivations behind liberalism and conservatism. Conservatives are motivated by fear. So when we (lib'ruls) try to say, "Look how it could be!" that's exactly the kind of thing that makes them retreat back into their homes and behind their computers.

Funny how he's not afraid of prisons or imminent, volatile crisis situations, but he's desperately afraid of everyone else. And yet somehow I, someone so afraid of snakes that I shudder to see a rolled-up belt, can manage my blissful ignorance in a way that somehow still allows for hope.
posted by Madamina at 9:18 AM on November 3, 2010


Evidently I'm not being clear, as several people have taken from my post a message I didn't intend and that I thought I specifically rejected. I didn't say “it is impossible to be involved in leadership in a church hierarchy and still be good.” I meant it when I said that a good person can become a bishop. I do believe that one can do WHILE while being a bishop, and even that some of the things one would need to do to be good AT being a bishop are worthy, respectable things. I am doubtful, however, that one can do good BY being a bishop, because I think, on balance, being a bishop is a bad thing. I think it's similar to jessamyn's belief that being a CEO or a president is a good thing to be, and I meant to offer it as my opinion rather that assert it as a fact. (I tried to make that clear, and I think that responses that claim otherwise are not giving my post a fair reading.)

Lord Chamberlain, I do believe that prisons are wrong in the same way that torture is wrong. I'm in a weak position here, because I don't think I could articulate a set of policies that would completely obviate the need for prisons. I think that's a difficult and complex problem, and because it's so hard to solve I don't think it's likely we'll collectively find a solution until a significant number of individuals come to believe that prisons are untenable and that we must discover an alternative. Until that time, speaking as a former inmate, I do hope that good people do become prison guards, as I benefited from the efforts of such individuals myself. That wasn't enough to convince me, however, that being a prison guard was a good thing to be.
posted by layceepee at 9:46 AM on November 3, 2010


I think location matters here. We're talking about what is essentially a suburb of Atlanta. You can't really run a church as a self-described liberal in those parts and wind up with a couple of thousand adherents.

There is Georgia, and then there is Atlanta. Although there are plenty of conservatives there, The Advocate did label Atlanta the gayest city in America.
posted by TedW at 10:14 AM on November 3, 2010


I understand your point now, though I disagree with both your view of bishops, CEO's, Presidents, and prison guards (though I certainly understand your intensely personal view). As far as prisons go, they exist, and the do exist for a reason that has not been replaced by some other institution of society. But that was used as a metaphor, so I shall cease debating it to get back on to the topic at hand.

I believe that certain professions are callings to people. I think there are those that become scientists that aren't only good people that became scientists and good at being scientists, but those who have answered a call to serve Science in all it's glory, to joyfully embrace a chance to forward it and be a part of it, who in a way are "anointed" like the bishop feels he is in his field. Science becomes not only their job, but their vocation. I feel the same for some teachers. This isn't true of all people in all jobs, even jobs filled by good people who are good at their jobs.

I do believe that Jim Swilley was called at some level to be what he is, which is a bishop or a pastor. I believe that Gene Robinson is the same way. Being a bishop to them isn't merely a job, but a calling and an affirmation of all they believe. They would be no other place, and that flourishing is intensely positive for themselves and those around them. They do good BY being bishops because it's their ultimate fulfillment of self that serves others. Gene Robinson might have done good wherever he went, but I think he is happiest where he is and he does the most good where he is. He's a good bishop.

I understand that you may feel differently and not agree with the idea of callings, vocations, or public flourishings like I do though.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:31 AM on November 3, 2010


Granted. I think location matters here. We're talking about what is essentially a suburb of Atlanta. You can't really run a church as a self-described liberal in those parts and wind up with a couple of thousand adherents.

@valkyryn: Drop by, say, Saint Marks Methodist or All Saints Epsicopal, not to mention the large Quaker and the Unitarian Universalists congregations, and tell me there are no liberal churches in Atlanta with large congregations. There are dozens, if not hundreds. Hell, my neighbor is a Prespy minister, fiercely liberal, and they fill the pews every Sunday.

If you don't know what your talking about, it's generally best to keep quite rather than trot out a stereotype that is in no way representative. Just a thought.
posted by kjs3 at 1:28 PM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seconding kjs3, as well as your bit about megachurches and divorced pastors. Plenty of megachurches have divorced pastors.

Valkyryn, I'm starting to suspect that you fell through some bizarre pre-reformation wormhole. Are you commenting with a quill?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:56 PM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Then you are woefully misinformed. And yes, I know we did just have a long conversation about this, but I found something cool today.

Baby_Balrog, I watched the first video by Dr. Ken Stone; thanks for posting. I agree that LGBT bullying and youth sucides is a serious problem and is definitely unacceptable, but I'll have to disagree on the homosexual pastors issue.

I still don't understand how people think that in the Christian Church, homosexuality gets a pass. 1st Cor 6:9 includes fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, sodomites, drunkards, etc., in the same category as homosexuals. So now, it's OK to be gay and call oneself a Christian? By that logic, does that mean that one can be an adulterer, and be a Christian? or be a thief, and be a Christian?

IMHO, being a Christian means that certain behaviors or lifestyles are unacceptable. to me, homosexuality is one of them. I can understand (and certainly see) that many people feel differently about the issue, and I find it eye-opening that people in such christian academic positions as Dr. Stone are openly gay. That wasn't something that I really didn't know about.

Last thing, I hope that I don't come across as homophobic or a gay-basher. I don't hate homosexuals, and they should definitely not be harrassed, bullied, or anything like that. IHMO, it's the same as any other sinful act or behavior against God: What they are doing is contrary to what the bible says. And that is why I find this whole issue confusing.
posted by KillaSeal at 1:29 PM on November 5, 2010


I don't hate homosexuals, and they should definitely not be harrassed, bullied, or anything like that. IHMO, it's the same as any other sinful act or behavior against God: What they are doing is contrary to what the bible says. And that is why I find this whole issue confusing.

Well, part of the problem is that it's widely known that gay men and women are not simply behaving or acting. They were born homosexual -- that is, their makeup is such that they simply ARE gay or lesbian. They didn't wake up one day and decide to be gay, anymore than a heterosexual wakes up one day and decides to be straight. (There are ex-gay ministries, which claim to be able to cure Teh Gay, but research shows they're nearly entirely unsuccessful.)

Now, under most Christian theology, the concept of Jesus' atonement is one which reaches ALL people, not just those who happen to be born straight. So, either God has actually created a group of people who are abominations from birth and never have any hope of full human expression as is their birthright while still being able to claim grace from God, or else there are deeper thoughts to be had about the Bible and its strictures on behavior.

Most less-than-fundamentalist people who have any thoughts at all about homosexuality beyond "it's wrong and they should just stop it because it makes the baby Jesus cry" acknowledge that it's unlikely that the Christian God would actually create an entire class of people who are doomed in his sight, as He claims love and forgiveness and grace is open to all humans. (Interestingly, this was exactly the viewpoint of the Mormon Church toward black people up until 1978. Subsequent prophesy has rescinded those policies for the LDS church.)

Ultimately, it comes down to scriptural literalism, and exactly where you draw the lines on that. Does your church check whether women are menstruating before allowing them in for worship? Do you enjoy cheeseburgers? How about shrimp? Have you checked the labels of all your clothing and made sure NEVER to wear two different kinds of cloth together, and thrown away anything woven of mixed fibers? All these are put on equal footing in the Bible as being contrary to God's wishes, but who in a modern society actually pays any attention to those laws?

If you find the issue confusing, it's probably because you haven't done any real thought about the issues. Either you believe that gay men and women are fully human, should be allowed full human expression (including sexuality) and still fall under the grace of Jesus, or don't. Not believing that leads to a mass of problematic attitudes about GLBT persons and whether they have full standing as humans in the context of the Church.
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


KillaSeal, have you ever done anything contrary to what the Bible says? Knowing the ins and outs of Leviticus, I'm pretty sure you have. Does that make you not a Christian, or less of a Christian? Does that make you less worthy of being saved, or of sharing the earth peaceably with the rest of the world?

We are all sinners. We are all disciples. We are all directed to share and give freely within the faith, and I am not about to give up everything that a person may offer because of something that they do in their own homes that involves love, not harm, for others. We are still filled with the divine nature of Jesus Christ.

Whether you say the Bible is the literal word of God or was written down by prophets/others, we can agree that the world was a very different place when the Bible first came into play. The survival of families and even cultures depended upon massive amounts of procreation. That's pretty much the only reason I can see for opposing homosexuality.

Yet today, the world is so overpopulated that we struggle to provide for even the smallest families. We pray to God for guidance on so many matters that those who compiled the Bible could never have foreseen. God answers in very different ways.

Homosexuality is not in the Ten Commandments. Homosexuality is not in the Golden Rule. Homosexuality is not in the Lord's Prayer, nor the Apostles' Creed, nor the 23rd Psalm. Homosexuality has always been a part of the world, and always will be. And God made it that way.
posted by Madamina at 2:59 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, it comes down to scriptural literalism, and exactly where you draw the lines on that. Does your church check whether women are menstruating before allowing them in for worship? Do you enjoy cheeseburgers? How about shrimp? Have you checked the labels of all your clothing and made sure NEVER to wear two different kinds of cloth together, and thrown away anything woven of mixed fibers? All these are put on equal footing in the Bible as being contrary to God's wishes, but who in a modern society actually pays any attention to those laws?

What's more, the bible that's being "literally" interpreted has been transcribed from memory, poorly copied, translated, re-translated, mistranslated, deliberately mistranslated, and paraphrased, without accounting for whatever metaphors or idioms may have popped in and out along the way.

Take that oft-cited Leviticus line, for example, cleverly tucked away amongst all the silly shellfish talk. "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." First of all, does ol' Levi mean lie as in lie down, or lie to? Secondly, that comma preceding as is problematic: the second clause could be taken to mean either as thou lieth with womankind or and thou shalt treat womankind in the same manner. In either case, if thou liest not with womankind, it would seem that mankind is fair game, or you can lie with both just so long as you change up your technique for each sex. And what is this it referring to? Lying with mankind, or just mankind itself? Perhaps womankind?

Might as well be called Leviticus As She Is Spoke.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:57 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, either God has actually created a group of people who are abominations from birth and never have any hope of full human expression

Oh hi John Calvin.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:48 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


IMHO, being a Christian means that certain behaviors or lifestyles are unacceptable.

To me, being a Christian means I find salvation in Christ. I need that salvation because of my lifestyle, which is a state of imperfection and separateness-from-God. Now, I don't agree that homosexuality is a sin, but let's say I'm wrong and it is a sin. It's not my sin, and maybe it's not your sin. But is our sin somehow less than someone else's sin? Are we, as humans, in a position to judge? Or is it pride that makes us believe we are the Judge? Aren't we each supposed to do our best, acknowledge that we can't be perfect, and let God judge (James 4:11)?

Who is in need of salvation more -- the perfect person, or the thief, the adulterer, the drunkard? Would you withhold the title of "Christian" to those who need it? Would God be as stingy?

As a Christian, you've read about the mote in your eye (Matthew 7:3) and casting the first stone (John 8:7). Consider them when you can't bear another person -- a sinner, just like you are a sinner -- calling themselves a Christian.
posted by Houstonian at 5:00 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


To be fair, Sys Rq, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that the Leviticus and various Pauline prohibitions really did mean that gay sex was a no-no, and that attempts to parse that out are more than a little strained.

However, I don't think it's any great stretch to say that we've discarded plenty of other baggage and left-over nonsense from spiritual practices, and that practicing Christians certainly pick and choose the faith that fits them best. I also think that, while it's a little rude, pointing out that Leviticus was written by a tiny tribe of illiterate stone-age wise men trying to make sense of a weird world through the superstitious tools available to them, and that while they certainly hit on some timeless wisdom, they also were just plain full of shit on plenty of other issues.

I tend to think that the modern theology of understanding a lot of the Bible as metaphoric would be totally alien to a lot of the original authors (even as it's important to remember that the original interpretations of the Bible would have been entirely ahistoric, as we tend to underestimate the conceptual shifts that took place after the advent of writing and especially the Enlightenment).

I think that there's a lot of value to be found in parts of the Bible, but that answers that the Bible says one thing or another should always be treated as of incredibly limited value for making any type of statement that can be externalized into something beyond subjective faith.

(I think I understand valkyryn's positions pretty well because I'm pretty much opposite on a lot of them, and he gets hung up on the idea of eternal truth corrupted by man, whereas I don't think there's anything particularly special about the faith as transmitted except that it provides a common reference point.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2010


So now, it's OK to be gay and call oneself a Christian? By that logic, does that mean that one can be an adulterer, and be a Christian? or be a thief, and be a Christian?

Isn't the correct answer "yes"? You can be those things and be a Christian. One that needs to ask forgiveness, but a Christian nonetheless.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


So now, it's OK to be gay and call oneself a Christian? By that logic, does that mean that one can be an adulterer, and be a Christian? or be a thief, and be a Christian?

Oh, hey, Jesus called while you were out hating. He said something about forgiveness or whatever, but I forgot to write it down. You might want to call him back to see what he was on about.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:39 AM on November 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


NPR story: Out Of The Closet ... In The Pulpit Of A Megachurch
posted by Mike Mongo at 2:18 PM on November 15, 2010


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