Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I didn't have as many issues as usual with today's chapel, largely because my friend ran it and he and I pretty much have the same view on things so he ran a great one. Also I got to read in it which is always fun. Although I am really getting into the throes of a cold now, so my voice was not all that.

I noticed one of our songs was very androcentric: it was all "Lord, lord" and "he" and "his". But it was balanced by a song that just used the generic "God" and another referring to Jesus (which didn't even use "he" I don't think).

It's so weird how I'm noticing this everywhere now. Thanks, Gail Ramshaw. You know, I didn't even consider the word "Lord" to be male until I read her work. It was just God's title to me. But I suppose if you grew up not Christian, it would possibly mean other things to you. Certainly if you were from a country that still has the title for people. Then it would be a male thing. But for average jane in the pews, I wonder if that's really a word we should get up in arms about. It kills a lot of the Bible and great songs. "Father" is a little more obvious and troublesome.

But speaking of Gail I have to get going on my presentation about her, so I can't write much more. I will tell you that we just had a very interesting discussion in Ethics class about the big homosexuality topic. My prof read to us Lew Smedes' essay from Walter Wink's book (something like Christianity and Homosexuality?). Wow. I loved that essay. Check it out. I wish Smedes were still here. If I were a creepy voodoo Christian I might think God or Satan silenced him (depending how I felt about the issue).

Smedes gives such a great defense of GLBT persons and especially of their having covenant relationships. I was amazed Stassen read it in class. After all the notes I wrote in my margins in the book, I was all ready to write an impassioned defense for my final paper. But Smedes did it so much better than I could. Maybe I could write on something else after all. We'll see.

Anyway, of course the class had to give a big fat NO to the whole thing. "What about the children?" "In Africa they don't even know what homosexuality is." "They want to have homosexual counselors on high school campuses!" "If we bless unions we're condoning sin!" "How can you say genetics, orientation, trumps the Bible?"

People don't get it. And it's not fair to them, to start them from a place of saying the Bible says it's wrong, but...first you HAVE to meet a gay Christian. Then you realize, like Peter in Acts, that God is actually producing fruit in someone God has no right to work with. And you think, if this person who I thought was "living in sin" is actually quite obviously closer to God than I am, hmmm, maybe God's doing something new. And then you relook at all the Biblical passages and you see where they may be vague or troublesome. And then you are ready to rethink whether it's a sin.

But you can't start from genetics or even from the Bible. I firmly believe that you have to start, for this issue, with your personal experience of God's Spirit working in a person's life. Because you know what trumps everything? God's action.

Stassen's text even says that God is always ahead of society. We should be looking for God's changes in the world. God could very well be behind all the human rights glbt persons have gained over the last 50 years. And someday, someday, the church will catch up to what God's doing.

There's a very exciting thesis that was done by a woman in Norway about Jesus and eunichs in Mat 19:12. She proposes the word means homosexual in that cultural context. What a can of worms that opens. And conservative scholars agree with her (although not about what it implies). Can you imagine? What if we can prove Jesus did say something about people being born gay??? Wow!

Now I really do have to go. Hope there's enough there to think about.


My Daily Struggles said...

Science doesn't trump the Bible. They're two separate realms.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the term Father is "troublesome." What the heck was Jesus thinking using it all the time. And people say he was perfect...

Stasi said...

Well, here's the thing - Jesus used Abba, not Father. So there's a whole other wrinkle to throw in.

Mark Baker-Wright said...

Just a quickie. "Abba" actually doesn't (as is often reported) translate as "Daddy." However, to the extent that "Abba" is a word from another language, it is of course not the same as our English word "Father" and can never mean quite the same thing.

Very interesting thoughts, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to say that you can find an article by Walter Wink on this topic at

I've also come to radically change my view on abortion, homosexuality, etc. by meeting Christians who have gone or are going through such issues. My heart aches with those who suffer. I chose love over hate.

Stasi said...

Abba actually is closer to "papa" than anything. It is, yes, a term of respect, but scholars debate how familiar it is. What's important is that when Jesus called God "Abba", he was using infant babble talk - which can be a lovely reminder that we are all helpless children waiting on God's mercy. According to Ramshaw, the church changed "Abba" to "Father" because Father was deemed more appropriate for God.

Thanks also to Paul for that article - I've been searching for a good resource for debunking the "clobber passages."

Mark Baker-Wright said...

You're quite correct in that the exact meaning/translation of "abba" is a subject of some scholarly debate, and I should apologize and clarify that you had not said anything that I was *correcting,* so much as it seemed important to state (for the benefit of those who may not have our seminary background) that the common understanding of "abba" as "daddy" is now disputed.

As to the "baby-talk" concept, you may wish to see (if you don't have it already) Dr. Marianne Meye Thompson's discussion of the issue in The Promise of the Father (2000, Westminster John Knox Press) where she notes that Joachim Jeremias once advanced this idea, but later retracted it (p. 27). Although I certainly agree that "abba" sounds like baby-talk, it would seem clear that Dr. Thompson, at the very least, does not believe that "abba" reflects "the language of very small children or infants." (p. 28) I'm sure that opinions differ on this count.

Anonymous said...

Your professors read essays to you in class? I thought seminary was considered graduate level work?