Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Stumbling Block of Fundamentalism

Over at the excellent (but now defunct) Queer Faith blogsite, David Cornwell has published an insightful commentary on the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Church, South Denver, who is the latest evangelical pastor in the United States to confess to having “homosexual encounters”.

The part of David’s commentary which resonated most with me, and which in many ways is applicable to the Catholic Church, is as follows:

“The legalistic theology of fundamentalism [both biblical and doctrinal] only feeds the fear, loathing, self hatred, and sense of never-ending inner strife that tears at the heart of [gay] men and women.

“Being ‘born again’ will never cure a gay man. Engaging in spiritual struggle all one’s life will not bring a cure. True, one may be able to stay away from overt acts of sex. But the true nature of the gay man or woman cannot and will not be touched by a ‘new birth’ experience. It would be like praying to God that one’s handedness be changed through prayer. Or that one be delivered from having green eyes to having blue eyes. Many other examples could be given. But it boils down to this: one’s sexuality is a given, just as many other parts of one’s makeup come with birth, not new birth.

“This is difficult for a conservative Christian to swallow. His/her beliefs are based on a certain literalistic interpretation of scripture
[and in the case of Catholic conservatives, a fundamentalist interpretation of doctrine]. However many other bad beliefs were condoned by appealing to scripture [and doctrine] for many years – centuries in the case of slavery. Almost exactly the same kind of mistake is taking place today in regard to sexuality.”

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