To Love or Not to Love

What is it that you desire?
To love without condemnation.
Why should this be granted to you?
Because to love is to live.

But what of the design of the grand architect?
The architect is love divine.
Yet, do you not betray his design?
Love's design is love divine.

You may think you understand this brief poem but you may be wrong. Anyone familiar with my current pain would grant the reference here to same-gendered attraction, love, and relationship versus the background of a conservative evangelical interpretation of God and the same. But there are other perspectives to consider.

Only fifty years ago in this country, an interracial couple was denied the right to loving one another and be wed in holy matrimony, the act even being criminalized. Conservative evangelical religious folk believed that those within a certain race should mate and breed only within that race and they used (abused) certain passages of Scripture for support of their (racist) claim. Other religious folk, who believed that people of other races and different cultures could love, wed and have children, were considered liberal, unbiblical, godless.

The parents in the picture below are Richard and Mildred Loving -- their last name being quite ironic. They were newlyweds in 1958 when three armed policemen invaded their home, while they were asleep, arrested them and put them in jail. Their crime was love. The judge informed Mildred: "as long as you live you will be known as a felon." (link) Finally, in June of 1967, laws prohibiting interracial marriage were deemed unconstitutional. Incidentally, the "last law officially prohibiting interracial marriage was repealed in Alabama in 2000." (link) Some people refuse to allow others to love the person of their choosing.


But perspectives changed -- biblical and otherwise. Over time, after rethinking and restudying and reconsidering the passages of Scripture in question, conservative evangelicals (to a great degree) changed their minds. The old segregated sentiment still remains within some old-timers. But evangelical culture for the most part adopted the liberal, unbiblical, godless perspective. (Yes, I am being quite facetious.)

Christian folk in the States have maintained quite the checkered past with racism. Many of them were taught that being black was a sign of the curse of God -- the "mark of Cain" was the name for this condition, and Christian folk used (abused) the scriptures for support of this claim, cf. Gen. 4:11-16. Black people were perceived as cursed by God and treated as mere objects, less than human, and as wicked slaves to subdue. So, of course a white man or a white woman (naturally considered "Christian" ipso facto) should not intermingle with a black man or a black woman, since black people were cursed. Worse, those so-called Christians used the Bible to support their racism, their objectifying and demonizing people of color and nationalities.

But they have used the Bible to treat LGBTQ people in the exact same vein. If being black was a sign of being cursed, and in sin, then being LGBTQ was considered being the incarnation of abomination; and, of course, they have seven passages of Scripture to support that claim. Never mind the scriptures that emphasize the abomination of greed and coveting (Deut. 7:25), worshiping an idol (Deut. 27:15), the abomination of envy (Prov. 3:32), as well as the abomination of pride, lying, murder, a devious heart, a disposition eager to sin, and a divisive person (Prov. 6:17, 18, 19). Now, your evangelical preacher may not focus on these latter abominations, but you can be certain that he will focus on the so-called abomination of homosexuality.

Perspectives are still changing, however, and LGBTQ people are finding a place within Christianity -- some even finding a place within the branch of conservative evangelical Christianity -- while loving their same-gendered partners. Like fifty years ago, people are taking a second glance at the seven passages seemingly proscribing "homosexuality" (of some description), and asking the hard question as to whether what was being referred to thousands of years ago is the same reference we know today. This is exciting! Because for many people, myself included, the deep desire to love and to be loved is a basic component to being human. So, yes, I do identify with the nature of the above poem: "Because to love is to live."


My photo

My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.