By Donna Buckbee
First of all, I wish to thank Pastor Bobbie Horning for taking a stand against violence against gays and lesbians. I’m grateful, too, for similar assurances from my Christian friends. Non-violence is one of the many things I respect and love about the Biblical Jesus.
There were other Biblical teachings embedded in my letter of December 2017, which, if you cared to see it, showed my respect for: Jesus’ concern for the poor, Biblical admonishments to be stewards of the Earth, and God’s rage in the Book of Revelation over “wicked angels” poisoning the water and the land. “I will destroy those who destroy the Earth,” is the prophecy. I think we, with our addiction to fossil fuels, are the wicked angels but that’s for another letter.
My letter from early December was not written in a vacuum but rather was a response to someone else’s letter two weeks prior, in which the writer stated his belief in Bible literalism — that every single word in the Bible is the inerrant word of God. I would not have responded to that but then he selected one Biblically proscribed behavior — not greed, not murder, not lies, not poisoning the water and land. No, he singled out homosexuality. When someone mentions Bible literalism and homosexuality in the same breath, that is a red flag, especially in a time of increased hate crimes toward the gay community. Surely, I thought, someone like a Pastor Bobbie would repudiate any implied call to violence. When that didn’t happen, only then did I write about how everyone engages — even literalists — in the process of Biblical selectivity — what to believe, prioritize, respect, ignore and disregard.
Christians have been criticizing and disagreeing with each other over this selectivity process for nearly 2,000 years. If this were not true then how to explain all the various denominations? And, over the centuries, Christians have gone beyond mere criticism of each other and done some actual — not metaphorical — bashing. If this were not true then how to explain the Inquisition, the wars and the burning of women?
I think I have more love in my heart for members of the various denominations than a lot of Christians seem to have. There are things I love and respect about Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Amish, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists. I am especially grateful for the excellent teachers in my Baptist upbringing. And while I disagree with many of the things Pope Francis says, I love this Pope for his compassion and especially for his papal encyclical on protecting the environment. I recommend everyone read it.
What I continue to disrespect are the glaring omissions from the Ten Commandments of any condemnation of slavery or wife-beating. This selectivity can only have been inspired by men, not by any God I worship. And, Pastor, the Biblical passages you include about slavery are thin gruel. There is stronger language barring women from the pulpit. “It is a shame for women to speak in the Church.” I heartily disagree with that too. There are a number of women pastors in the area who know — because I have told them — how much I respect and honor them.