This three-part post is about God and gays. If you’re someone who likes to cut to the chase, let me spoil the ending: The church should welcome LGBTQ folks. If that idea makes steam come out your ears, well maybe you shouldn’t read this post. Then again . . . you might learn something. Stick with me, even when I say things that push your buttons. Keep telling yourself, “Something this unpleasant has to be good for me, like kale.”
Really, this post is about more than God and gays. It’s about how God interacts with us, or doesn’t.
Stick with me. You might learn something.
Okay, here we go. As promised, let me start by saying something that might get your ears steaming: The idea of covenant as an agreement God enters into with humans is flawed. I know what Christian dogma says. But I think if you poke around, really scrutinize the data—be honest with yourself about how God acts in our world—you will find the most likely explanation, the Occam’s Razor solution, is that it’s people who make the covenants with God, not the other way around.
God does nothing, as usual.
People created the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. More broadly, we created religion.
“Get someone to write that down”
Still with me? Okay.
I think I have the facts on my side. We all know God doesn’t talk to us. I mean, we get “impressions” or we “feel God is leading us in that direction,” at best, but never any specifics.
That’s not how God acts—certainly no “if you do such and such, I promise to do such and such.”
He just does the best He can to encourage us to make good decisions, which isn’t much, frankly. We’re so distracted.
Consider what Christians call the Old Covenant: God telling the Jews, “You are my chosen people. If you follow my law, things will go great for you.”
Let’s be honest. God didn’t talk audibly to Abraham and tell him he would father a chosen nation. Israel’s perception of themselves as God’s Chosen People was a conclusion/conceit/delusion arrived at over the centuries. The Jews created their religion bit by bit, as they were building their kingdom. Once Jerusalem was built, the Jews looked around and said, “Wow, we rock. Let’s say we’re God’s chosen people. Get someone to write that down.”
The reason the Hebrew scriptures show God speaking audibly to Abraham and telling him his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the night sky is that it makes for a better tale, something to tell around the campfire. You’d lose your audience if you went on and on describing the plodding process of how God actually “spoke” to Abraham. It’s a patriotic myth meant to explain the status quo.
Bit by bit by humans
Okay, I can see the steam hissing out your ears. Hear me out, though.
Say you’re walking along the beach. You find a shell and marvel at the nautilus design and say to yourself, “This must have been specifically created by an Almighty Being. How else can you explain it?” That’s the way the Jews had to explain the existence of their religion. God must have made it. But the truth is Judaism was pieced together over centuries bit by bit. By humans. That’s how God “works.” That is to say He doesn’t. He lets processes go on their own, thanks to the laws He’s imbued in creation.
God is incremental, subtle, imperceptible. Maybe up in heaven He snaps His fingers and things happen instantly, people do His will perfectly—but not down here.
Inching forward in the dark
Think about it. Isn’t it more likely that the way God interacts with us is probably the way He’s always interacted with people? Look at your church. Certainly some of you are on the board for your church. How do decisions get made in your church? Does God speak specifically, audibly, and unmistakably, or do you just inch forward in the dark as best as you can, two steps forward, one step back?
So God didn’t audibly tell the patriarchs: “You are my chosen people. Follow this law, and you’ll be golden.” Rather, the Jews developed the law over several centuries, along with their conceit of being God’s Chosen People.
God didn’t make a covenant with the Jews. They made a covenant with Him. He didn’t have anything to say about it, one way or the other.
So to the extent there was an Old Covenant, it was a covenant the Jews made with God, not the other way around. God didn’t have a choice in the matter.
God just sat there, as He is wont. He let the Jews use their brains, for better or worse. That’s how He works, for better or worse.
That’s the way God works in your church, in your family, in your life, isn’t it? C’mon. It’s an argument that can’t be undone—except by shouting Bible verses at me. My argument matches our reality, seems to me at least.
Which brings me to the New Covenant
Photo: May 2015 B251 by Lord Jim CC BY 2.0