Thursday, December 29, 2011


A much-cited text in the New Testament has frequently been misinterpreted in a pernicious way. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus is reported as saying: "You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect." The passage is sometimes interpreted as demanding a kind of moral perfection that is impossible for humans to achieve. Gays and lesbians are particularly susceptible to being caught up in the pursuit of an unobtainable perfection as a way of compensating for their difference.

But the Greek word used in the original text, teleios, does not imply moral perfection. The term, as used by Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, derives from biology and describes an organism that has come to its full potential; for example, an oak tree that has reached maturity is the teleios of an acorn.

What we are being told then, is that we must become what God intended us to be. We must become self-realized, as God is. Paul uses the same word when he exhorts us to come to the same fullness of mature humanity which was to be found in Jesus. The healthy implication of this text for gay people is that God wants them to become precisely what they are: healthy, mature lesbian women and gay men.
-John J. McNeill, Taking a Chance on God

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Little Drummer Boy, by Jars of Clay

Truth be told, I wasn't a fan of this song until Jars released their version in 1995. As a kid, I was that six-year-old who got hung up on the logical improbability of a boy with a drum showing up at the birth of Christ - and of an infant (and his mother) appreciating said boy's loud banging noises, however rhythmic.

But the message conveyed by the song is a positive one, artistic licenses aside...

Sunday, December 18, 2011


These days, it seems like there's a new scandal involving a social conservative nearly every week. From Ted Haggard and Larry Craig to George Rekers and Herman Cain, to the most recent revelations in Mississippi and Minnesota, it's got to be an embarrassing time to be a member of the religious right.

It's hard not to feel a certain amount of vindication when stories like this break, but a far more appropriate emotion is sadness. At the very least, sadness for the families of these public figures, for the spouses and children and other relatives whose lives are turned upside down due to the double lives being lived by these public figures. Sadness for the individuals in question isn't out of place, either; behind the hypocrisy and dishonesty lies a wounded human being who, at the very least, is a victim of the mind job that fear-based, legalistic religion does on its adherents.

For the rest of us who still identify as followers of Christ, there's also sadness for the damage that such spectacles do to the reputation of the faith that in so many ways defines our own lives. Granted, the ugliness that the religious right displays on a daily basis has already tarnished that reputation even without all the scandals, but the blatant displays of hypocrisy only drive the dagger further in.

Still, whatever emotions we may feel when these incidents come to light, one can still appreciate the irony. For a group of people that spends so much time proclaiming the imminence of God's judgment with a solemn glee, the religious right seems quite blind to the possibility that these scandals are, in fact, proof that the judgment they seek has indeed arrived - just not on the 'sinners' they believe to be the ones deserving of punishment.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Life Soundtrack 28

Mysterious Ways, by Kim Hill

One of my favorite songs back in the mid-90s, and a reminder that even in my days as a card-carrying evangelical I allowed myself the luxury of admitting that I didn't have it all figured out. Only on certain topics, of course, and even then I ran the risk of getting funny looks from some of my peers - but intellectual honesty and conservative religion don't always have to be mutually exclusive...