I don’t quite shun you…

Posted on August 24, 2012

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My cousins told me that because of my views on homosexuality and evolution, she has to break fellowship with me. “I’m not shunning you,” she said, “I will still say hi, we just can’t have that friendship and camaraderie that we had.”

I went to Mennonite camp with my parents, siblings, their spouses, some of my mom’s conservative Mennonite relatives, and some families from my old church. It happened to be Homeschooler Week, but apparently there weren’t enough homeschooler to fill up that camp so they let our groups come too. Usually there is a speaker who does a spiritual message for the week, but this week they had a creationist/anti-science speaker.

I recently came out to my family, and things have been tense with my parents. My sister and I have agreed not to talk about politics, LGBT issues, or pacifism while we’re with my mom, since a mention of any of these issues always degrades into an ugly argument. When I saw the dinosaur models I was a bit worried. Then we sat in on the first session.

The man up front claimed that the session was about the Bible being the Final Authority, but to be accurate he should’ve said “my interpretation of the Bible” should be everyone’s authority. My aunt, uncle, and cousins seemed to be eating up everything he said. He talked about evolution, conspiracy theories about news media/scientists, geocentrism (he believes the sun revolves around the earth), magnetic water that can regrow teeth/grow plants in the dark, and a lot of other stuff. He used verses from poetic passages, and passages out of context, to say that these things are taught by the Bible.

He showed that he had three degrees of higher education, but dismissed them as worthless. He proceeded to use quotes from scientists, alternatively telling the audience that science is a conspiracy against God and religion, or that we should trust these scientists because they support his view and what he’s trying to make the Bible say.

He would tell us an outrageous anecdote, then say, “Now I’m not saying –    whatever he said    – is true, but just think about it.” Think about it. Imagine that. As I listened to his phrasing, I realized it had a lot in common with what I’ve heard about conversational hypnosis. Those phrases mean- believe what I’m saying. And he does that without ever taking responsibility for believing it himself. Whenever someone questioned him, he would say, “Well that’s not my area of expertise, you should call so and so.” He actually displayed lots of sources for his claims, but never encouraged anyone to take notes, nor handed out any. My brother in law looked up a lot of stuff on his iPhone and told my parents what was true and false.

 

That was a bit of venting. The real reason I wanted to write this post was to give an update on the personal conversations I had this week with my uncle and his daughter.

My uncle was compassionate, passionate, and pretty respectful considering his context. While he does believe that homosexuality is a sin, and believes that I am deceived, he listened to my arguments about the scriptures and was able to consider them.
The first time we talked he had this idea he was presenting, based on Hebrews 11:1, that faith is believing in something we have not seen. He wanted me to believe that I had “victory” over my attractions- to believe that I was heterosexual, even though my experience is being homosexual. I thought about it and, the next time we talked, told him that to believe I was heterosexual would be not believing in something not seen, but to believe that what I saw was not there. It would be to purposefully believe a lie and that goes against the spirit of scriptures, which puts a great value on truth.

My cousin and I had a greatly ranging discussion of scriptures, interpretation, authority, history, and context. I think it boils down to this: my cousins believes that we should not look to outside sources to interpret scripture (especially not science, and not even history). She disregards previous teachings of the church, or how scripture has been interpreted in the past. She says that anyone can pick up the Bible, read it and understand what it says.

I believe that everyone reads the Bible through the filter of their own experience. I believe that historical context can help us realize where our experiences influence our thinking. I believe that the Bible has some tension- clearly seen- between the spirit of the Old and New Testament. I believe in living according to the words of Scripture that to obey the law we need to love God and to treat others as we would like to be treated. I did not quote that passage to her, and I wish I would have.

What it boiled down to was that we disagreed, and she felt that, regardless of my actions, she felt that just because of my viewpoint, she needed to break fellowship with me. I’m not clear on what that means, other than that she considers me “lost”, not a Christian, in spite of my openness to God, and my desire to live in submission to him.

What I’ve recounted to you may make it seem like I had a bad week, but that would be false. I greatly enjoyed exploring nature with my family, climbing, hiking, kayaking, throwing frisbee with my brother and playing Monopoly Deal with my sister. I had a wonderful week and I was glad to resolve some tension, and get the air cleared.

I had been planning on being open on Facebook- changing my “interested in” section, but I haven’t worked up the courage to do it. I think I’m going to wait until after the election and hope that I won’t be caught up in the heat of political discussion.

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