Holland, MI — My Nov. 8 letter claimed that the Christian response to LGBT individuals in Holland is insane and ignorant. While I am thankful for Lewis Dekker’s thoughtful response, his words still call to mind that familiar thump.
Mr. Dekker cites theologian John Piper on Romans 1. The 1998 sermons rely heavily on the words “against nature” – para physin in the Greek – and assume a moral implication. However, the same Greek phrase is used elsewhere to describe both God’s act of Gentile inclusion (Rom. 11:24) and men who grow long hair (1 Cor. 11:14). It is synonymous with “unusual,” not “against God.” A single good book on the subject is sufficient to expunge ignorance of such well-known facts, but most Hollanders appear not to have invested the time. Withholding civil rights in the workplace, however, seems to them a worthy investment.
As usual, one can make a strong case for several understandings of a text that doesn’t speak for itself, in English or in Greek. That is why the myopic view must be superseded by a Spirit-based view. This same Spirit has, despite tradition, accepted interracial marriage and women like Beth Moore (who does, in fact, speak in church). Thus, while Piper’s sermons call LGBT individuals to change or else celibacy, lifelong loneliness and suicide are well-documented phenomena on this path, and hardly represent God’s Spirit. Beyond the audacity of a married man extolling celibacy, it is obvious that it is “not good for man to be alone” (words that God uttered even before the Fall). Gay Christian role models are now what is sorely needed, yet it is Christians who withhold them from this generation.
Finally, the tone of my letter is hardly anti-Biblical. “Turn from your ways before it’s too late” represents a major portion of the Hebrew text, and Jesus’ intolerance of his own Biblical authorities resulted in throwing things. Yes, it is difficult to shed a lifetime of indoctrination and anti-LGBT propaganda – but Christians are running out of excuses. It has come time to heed Gamaliel’s advice, “lest you be found to fight against God.”
Chase W. Nelson
LETTER published as “Spirit calls us to acceptance” in The Holland Sentinel on 21 November 2013.