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u/CJoshuaV · 4 pointsr/OpenChristian

There's an awful lot to unpack in your post. I'll try to hit the key points, but please let me know if I miss something. To be clear, I am speaking to you explicitly in my capacity as a member of the clergy, ordained and out of seminary over twenty years.

  1. This is not a punishment for sex. Clearly he's a jerk, and not worthy of your time, affection or intimacy - but that doesn't mean that it was a mistake to be sexually intimate with someone you loved and trusted.
  2. You did not make a "marital commitment" to him. There is no magical boundary of emotional or physical intimacy that - once crossed - goes from "romantic affection" to "sex and marriage." It's your body, and you get to decide what touching you or not touching you means.
  3. Consensual sex does not damage or soil us as people. We aren't ruined or reduced in value by it. The question isn't, "Would a Christian man still want you?" The question is, "Why would you want a man who still has a medieval understanding of sexual intimacy?"
  4. You are not broken. This hurts right now, in a way nearly all of us have experienced at one time or another. But the breaking you feel is the pain of growing, and growing stronger. You will learn from this, and - in every way - be a healthier person.
  5. You don't need to know if, or what, you believe in God right now. Scripture, the Church, and the love of God are all here for you, in whatever way you can receive them, just as you are. We sing and talk about grace all the time in church, but somehow it's hardest to believe it is real when we need it the most. But I assure you, the same beautiful grace that made you want to open a Bible and study it, is still here. God loves you, and knows you, and sees you - and whatever shape your faith takes, God will still love and know you.
  6. "Sin" is a very complicated concept, and never as clearly delineated as fundamentalists want it to be. Many people take advantage of Scripture to cram their own fear and biases into eternal commands that don't hold up to scrutiny or scholarship. There are countless mainline and progressive Christian books that can help you work out a sexual ethic that is faithful both to your values and to the tradition. Don't let this bad experience cause you to fall back into dangerous and damaging "purity culture."
  7. This is the most important one. You are a good and worthy person. You deserve to be loved by someone who respects you enough to always be honest with you. Never settle for less.

    For your own reading, or others looking for an understanding of Christians sexual ethics that goes beyond fundamentalism, here are some resources:

    - Good Christian Sex - Bromleigh McCleneghan

    - Unprotected Texts - Jennifer Wright Knust

    - Shameless: A Sexual Reformation: - Nadia Bolz-Webber

    - Shameless: How I Lost My Virginity and Kept My Faith - Dani Frankhauser

    - Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics - Margaret Farley (this one leans toward the academic)

    - God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says - Michael Coogan

    and, for a wonderful critique of the devastating impact of "purity" culture...

    - Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation - Linda Kay Klein
u/daredeviline · 2 pointsr/OpenChristian

I've enclosed a few links that I have saved in my bookmarks. It isn't a huge about but it will give you a good start. If you are really interested I highly recommend checking out The Bible Now by Elliot Friedman, it does a much better job at explaining biblical interpretations much better than I ever will.
Some of these sites are obviously bias but, again, its a great place to start. I would love to give you more links but I have to dig though my USB for my notes and its all the way down in college (3 hours away). Here's what I can give you right now.

  • The Daily Banter did a pretty good article on it and it can be found Here
  • This site is probably my favorite. It does a really great job at looking at translation issues that arise with biblical versus. Obviously, none of these articles are subject only to versus about homosexuality but can be applied to basically everything in the bible. here's the link to that
    *I also really enjoyed reading this link. Mostly because of the external sources they have at the bottom of the page that I'm pretty sure helped me dig deeper into others areas to better understand the subject. Not to mention, its very great at showcasing all the belief systems that Christians have about homosexuality and why they have them. That link is here
    EDIT: I hope I did the formatting correctly. I'm a new user to reddit via laptop.
u/shnooqichoons · 1 pointr/OpenChristian

Sounds like faith to me! ;) Whilst it's an uncomfortable journey it seems like a very necessary one. There's no rush to sort all of this out and it's not something that can happen quickly. You're not stupid and it's ok to grapple with things and be a bit obsessed with things for a while!

I was sitting in church this morning (charismatic, non-denom church), listening to the sermon and thinking- why does this stuff feel so difficult to connect with? The guy was talking in absolutes that would have felt to me 15 years ago like something I could jam with, but right now all that rises up out of me is counterarguments and questions. I didn't really know why I was there. I felt like he was talking from a place that I couldn't go back to- that I didn't even want to go back to, even though I couldn't fully explain to myself why that might be.

Have you ever tried crystalising a list of questions out of these doubts and questions that arise? Then perhaps prioritising them in terms of what feels most foundational, studying and reading around the areas that seem most important to you?

Something I've found quite helpful is the Liturgists' list of axioms of faith as it kind of gives me some boundaries to bounce off of when I'm pinging around in my doubts and thoughts. Their podcast is also great for people who are questioning and hoping to reconstruct their faith. It's possible to deconstruct and reconfigure your faith, but as you've identified, it may end up looking a bit different.

Whilst these are personal questions of faith to figure out for yourself, I think it's really important to not be alone in it- to find people to dialogue with who are unshockable if you say 'hey, I'm not really sure if I believe in God today'. To be cynical and spiky with whilst you work things out.

It can be frightening to wonder whether or not God exists, particularly if you come from a denomination which emphasises experience and relationship. Something I've found myself doing as my 'quiet times' (pah- what are they?!) have diminished completely over the years is to pay attention to the times when I feel driven to voice my thanks to God, and also when I've felt driven to ask God for things. I'm not sure where these impulses would go to if my faith disappeared entirely. A book by Brian McLaren called Naked Spirituality deals with this, along with different stages of faith- the black and white/in out stage, the desire for knowledge and information stage, the disorientation, doubt and wilderness stage and then the stage where everything just comes together in a beautiful way and you attain transcendence and direct access to absolute truth. (Just joking, it's not quite like that! Would be nice though hey?!)

It's helped me to realise that no-one has their shit entirely together. (And the people that think they do probably just haven't realised this yet- I should know, I was one of them!)

Happy to dialogue with you if you have any questions- all the best with your journey either way!

TL;DR It's messy. Life is complicated, Faith is complicated, Epistemological questions are complicated, Christianity is complicated. And that's ok. (if a bit uncomfortable at times.)

u/bobo_brizinski · 2 pointsr/OpenChristian

Maybe a secondary introduction to the Bible would be good, like The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction or the IVP Introduction to the Bible. The Access Bible (NRSV) is an excellent introductory study Bible.

There are lots of introductions to Christianity I really like - by pure coincidence they are all Church of England figures but I don't find their approach very partisan here:

  • Simply Christian by NT Wright - pairs well with another book of his, Simply Jesus. Wright is a New Testament scholar and has a knack for explaining the broader vision of the biblical story in compelling ways.

  • Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer by Rowan Williams - Williams is a profound theologian and in general I think his writing style is gripping and eye-opening. This book introduces Christianity through four central practices of the faith, which is a unique approach that I really enjoy. Simply written, but deceptively deep!

  • Tokens of Trust by Rowan Williams - a walkthrough of the Apostles' Creed. This complements Being Christian well because it introduces Christianity through its central credal beliefs.

  • Basic Christianity by John Stott - This classic is several decades old but still packs a punch. Stott in general is a great author, very prolific.

    Wright and Stott aren't gay-affirming, but that doesn't influence the content of these works. I still think they're excellent authors for the curious.
u/themsc190 · 3 pointsr/OpenChristian

The Inclusive Bible is probably the best bet for a translation like that. The toughest thing about "expansive language" projects for scripture or liturgy is that it's really difficult. They often get critiqued for inelegant renderings or theological faux pas.

For my own prayer time, I use the St. Helena Breviary, which uses inclusive language, and I love it. It has its own inclusive translation of the Psalms, which is also great. (I actually want to pick up a Bible translation like the one I mentioned above, because it's so jarring to be praying in gender neutral language and get thrown back into gendered language for God for other Scripture readings.)

For gender neutral trinitarian formulations, I've seen "Creator, Redeemer (or Liberator) and Sustainer (or Sanctifier)," "Source of all being, Incarnate Word and Holy Spirit."

The Episcopal Church's Enriching Our Worship has a few blessings which get at this idea too:

>Holy eternal Majesty,
>Holy incarnate Word,
>Holy abiding Spirit,
>Bless you for evermore. Amen.

>May the blessing of the God of Abraham and Sarah, and of Jesus Christ born of our sister Mary, and of the Holy Spirit, who broods over the world as a mother over her children, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

>God’s Blessing be with you,
>Christ’s peace be with you,
>the Spirit’s outpouring be with you, now and always. Amen.

Some of these get accused of modalism, which I think is a fair critique.

u/GCNJustin · 13 pointsr/OpenChristian

Oh hey, that's me! :)

I just want to say that I think all the books posted so far are worth a read. I second the recommendation of Vines' and Brownson's books for their thoughtful, in-depth biblical analysis from folks who love the Bible and have a very high view of Scripture. (They're also great people.) And Jeff Chu's book is a fascinating look at the different ways people wrestle with their faith and sexuality. (He's also great people.)

Since I lurk here, I guess I should say something about my own book, huh?

Torn is aimed squarely at an evangelical audience, especially for those who aren't yet affirming; it walks them through the human side of the issue, what it's like to grow up gay and evangelical, why people are gay, where the church has missed the mark, etc. It also gets into the biblical questions (again, with a high view of Scripture) though that's not the sole focus of the book like it is with Vines and Brownson. It's designed to be more accessible for folks who haven't gone very deep on this yet, to help them understand why it matters so much and what they can do about it. I like to think it complements the other books well.

u/frankev · 2 pointsr/OpenChristian

This is the link to buy the NOAB on Amazon:

New Oxford Annotated Bible

It’s offered in a variety of formats, but I think the hardcover (which is akin to a textbook binding) is the best value.

The paperback binding makes the physical book too flimsy in my opinion. I have a similar Bible, the HarperCollins Study Bible (edited by scholars of the Society of Biblical Literature), in paperback and its “floppiness” drives me batty.

NOAB is in its fifth edition, but it is not substantially different from the fourth edition, so you can buy a used copy of the latter for under $20 USD. The third edition is also a good buy—it still incorporates the NRSV as the base text and can be had for $11 USD used. There were substantial changes between the third and fourth editions, including formatting and layout. (Some folks actually like the font used for the biblical text in the third edition over the one used in subsequent editions.)

As for reading strategies, you might like the brisk pacing of Mark (usually considered the first Gospel to be written and used as a literary source for Matthew and Luke, both of which include other material such as the birth narratives not covered by Mark). The Gospel of John, thought to be composed much later, is structured quite differently for various theological and rhetorical purposes.

The NOAB study notes will prove helpful as you read the biblical text, as well as the book introductions and a number of essays that are found in the appendices. Keep in mind that the individual biblical scholars who were engaged to write the notes are working against space limitations (lest a 2400-page book become a 4800-page book), so some of their annotations will be brief as a result. If you have more questions concerning the text there are other specialized resources available (e.g., individual commentaries) in which scholars have more space to address various questions one may pose of the text.

u/gnurdette · 2 pointsr/OpenChristian

Two well-argued pieces by gay Christians at One believes in marriage, one in mandatory celibacy, but the important thing is that they're both sincere gay Christians.

And hopefully you'll read God and the Gay Christian.

But don't stick to reading webpages and books. Get into an a supportive church of flesh-and-blood Christians.

Then give yourself time to process the thoughts and pray. You'll be OK. God bless you!

u/semi__colon · 3 pointsr/OpenChristian

Like yourself, I am an ally. I, too, found it to be a huge weight in my attempt to "be a good Christian" and also recognize that homosexuality is not a sin. I'm a feminist as well, but because I haven't done my Bible research yet regarding feminism, I'm going to keep to my own experience with homosexuality and the like.

From my own my own experiences, I feel that you have two major options in order to reconcile your faith and your convictions - two options in which God will support you and guide you in whatever you choose.

The first might be to find another church, another denomination, or both. Some churches still oppose homosexuality, but are much less aggressive, meaning that you get the occasional "homosexuality is a sin," but who are much more respectful of it. This is the type of church I attend. And while their stance is annoying, they actually manage to discuss it in a loving manner so that I can tolerate it. There are also churches who are completely open to the LGBT community. Times are changing, albeit slowly.

Your second option, and probably the most terrifying one, would be to "come out" to your community. One of the problems (IMO) with the "homosexuality is a sin" stance is that they don't know any better! Some people have lived in this bubble all their life. They don't know any differently, and haven't heard the Biblically sound evidence that it isn't wrong. You don't have to start protesting sermons or get a soapbox. But it could start with "I don't agree with that, can we please stop talking about it?" A simple phrase like this almost sounds like you aren't helping by not talking about it, but it can begin to open their hearts and minds to the idea of questions and discussion. In this scenario, knowledge is power; I've suggested this book before, and I'll suggest it again. By knowing and confirming your own beliefs on a very fundamental and Biblical level, I think it will help you navigate any discussion regarding the LGBT community and their place in the church.

u/peckrob · 5 pointsr/OpenChristian

You are created by God in his image and loved just the way you are. He created everything about you: your thoughts, your doubts, and your feelings on who you love. :)

This book really helped me when I was younger, and I highly recommend it.

u/_sacrosanct · 2 pointsr/OpenChristian

It's a big question you're asking. Lots of people have dedicated their lives to studying it and unfortunately the answer won't ever be known unless God decides to break His silence or the mystery is revealed after we die. The simplified answer though is what you say, the split between Judaism and Christianity is the interpretation of Jesus. A central theme of the Old Testament is a prophesy of a redeeming king to lead the Jewish people. The debate is whether or not Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophesy or just another teacher. The Christian faith requires one coming to the conclusion that Jesus is the messiah the Old Testament prophets spoke of and accepting Him as such. Rob Bell is great but if you're looking for a more academic approach to the Christian faith and its interpretation of Jesus, I would recommend reading NT Wright. He has a book on Jesus that has been very fundamental to my understanding of Him and I think would serve a good way to understand what the Christian religion says claims about Him.

u/VexedCoffee · 3 pointsr/OpenChristian

That is a perfectly normal reaction. A lot of times there are physical, biological, or practical issues in our lives that can hamper our ability to pray and connect with God. Unlike periods of spiritual desolation (which are typically addressed by simply sticking with your Rule and waiting it out) the underlying issues typically need to be addressed. It sounds like you are doing that and I commend you on continuing!

Gerald May might be someone you want to look into more. He was a psychiatrist and spiritual director. I know he talks about depression in Care of Mind/Care of Spirit and in Dark Night of the Soul (where he points out the dark night is not the same thing as depression!)

u/Jackimust · 1 pointr/OpenChristian

So there are multiple ways you can look at any problem. In relation to beliefs, there are also multiple ways you can arrive at a reason for believing something.

It seems like one of your biggest issues currently is believing God exists, which to me translates to having difficulty finding a reason to believe in God. Additionally, it seems as if you've been looking at the whole issue of God's existence, atheism, etc. from a perspective of truth value.

However, what I'm suggesting is try to look at them from a perspective of cost/benefit in the actions they generate.

Example belief to run a cost benefit analysis on: I should go to church every week

  • Cons: I lose about an hour a week

  • Pros: I find that I behave more morally throughout the week if I do go. Actually, there are studies (specifically dishonesty in this case actually) demonstrating an increased moral conduct upon being reminded to be more moral

  • Conclusion: I will go to church weekly to increase my moral behavior.
u/nonesuch42 · 1 pointr/OpenChristian

As far as progressive translations that already exist, my pastor recommends The Inclusive Bible. I haven't read it myself, but it looks like it shares many of the goals of a translation as you do, if in a fixed rather than updatable form.

u/legallynerd · 1 pointr/OpenChristian

Greta Vosper is a pastor in the United Church of Canada. She's a self-identified atheist, and has very left-wing ideas.

The United Chaplain at my school pointed me towards her. The chaplain said that she doesn't agree with everything Vosper says, but it offers interesting ideas.

u/likeasalmon · 1 pointr/OpenChristian

I have three books on my shelves at the moment that I'd gladly recommend:

Torn by Justin Lee. Outside of the US the book is called Unconditional.

Bible Gender Sexuality by James V. Brownson.

God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines.

u/Waksss · 5 pointsr/OpenChristian

The first moment, I remember was like my third day of greek class when my professor mentioned how the greek word translated homosexuality doesn't necessarily represent the concept writers, such as Paul, would have been conveying. He talked about a couple of the passages.

I read a book some time later by Mark Achtemeier called The Bible's Yes to Same Sex Marriage. He was a conservative theologian who used to travel around speaking against homosexuality. He had a pretty big change of heart, which gives me hope, and now he goes around speaking against what he used to do and advocating for those in same sex relationships and their full inclusion in the church. Another book, titled What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality is another book I recommend. It's pretty similar to the other book.

There is another book, I can't remember the name right now. But, it is a history of the concept of sexuality. It was based of Foucault's book on the subject. In short, they do a more expansive survey of the development of sexuality. Saying that homosexuality, as we understand it, is an 18th century development. So it would be difficult to maintain truly, that biblical writers would have been disapproving of same sex relationships as they exist today.

Lastly, there is a book called Struggling with Scripture. They write a book about wrestling with interpretation of scripture and use homosexuality as an application point. They kind of, in my mind, synthesize the material between the first three books I mentioned to think about how do we understand biblical texts in light of a changing culture. And give a good balance about how to see the scripture as authoritative texts but also how to think of them in our cultural context.

So, that's a small bit of what I have read. I've shown and told these arguments to many who have asked me. I know a number of people, mostly younger, who have had a similar change as I have. I've had many conversations where we are just talking past each other or who think I'm twisting the Bible. Those are always unfortunate.

u/Captain_Assler · 1 pointr/OpenChristian

Yes! This is a personal account by a trans-Christian writer and seminarian.

u/invisiblecows · 2 pointsr/OpenChristian

When I was first asking these questions, this book helped a lot.

u/ErrantThought · 5 pointsr/OpenChristian

I recommend Rob Bell's Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. He reexamines the descriptions of hell in the bible (in context, in the original languages) and presents a fresh (and much more compassionate) view of hell.