|Opinion: Bishop Long and What's Long Overdue for Christians
By Michael Arceneaux
September 24, 2010
In the eyes of Bishop Eddie Long, "homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man."
Given Long's history of vitriolic criticism of gays, it's easy to revel in the idea of him turning out to be another self-hating hypocrite who had to turn to teenage boys to deal with the man he truly is. Unfortunately, I worry that even if the "sexual coercion" charges leveled against Long by three young men are proven true, churchgoers may still use this lawsuit to further deepen their mistrust of homosexuals.
If so, it will be another missed opportunity for many Christians to wake up and question a prejudice they've been conditioned to accept and perpetuate for far too long.
Slavery, segregation, apartheid and second-class citizenship for women were all justified biblically at one time or another. But today, who would agree that the Curse of Ham justifies enslavement of blacks, or that it's in poor taste to ask a women who is menstruating to not touch you, because, per Leviticus, she's unclean?
The predominant attitudes toward gays can easily join the ranks of these antiquated prejudices if people begin to analyze Scripture and sexual identity for themselves, rather depending on their agenda-driven pastors.
This week a German archbishop, Robert Zollitsch, urged bishops, priests and laypeople to begin a "broad process of reflection" concerning the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal and evaluate their understanding of family, partnership and sexuality.
Clergymen of various sects of Christianity and Judaism did just that in the 2007 documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So." In that film, Desmond Tutu explains, "The Bible is the word of God through the words of human beings speaking in the idiom of their time."
Once you take that into account, you're reminded of silly little tidbits -- like words that sometimes change meaning over time, as is the case with homophobia's favorite word, "abomination."
I'd personally love to hear the viewpoint of both Long and his newfound defender, Ted Haggard, on the notion of a shrimper and Ellen DeGeneres being of equal sin according to the Bible.
A more committed understanding of context can also lead one to share Tutu's sentiment that "the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don't take it as literally so that is dictated by God."
Long, like many others, is a Bible literalist of convenience. He once said that "cloning, homosexuality and lesbianism are spiritual abortions." This from someone who he chooses to espouse a prosperity theology that can be easily deemed as Christianity for the capitalist -- which is completely antithetical to the life Jesus led on Earth.
His admirable charitable work notwithstanding, I have a hard time being convinced that Jesus would smile at the idea of Long even owning the Bentley one of his accusers claimed he allowed him to drive as a teenager.
It's one of many inconsistencies found in Long and other pastors who don't follow everything by the "good book" but pimp a philosophy that dehumanizes a large group of people, making it difficult for many to live freely and openly without encountering rampant intolerance.
These sex scandals will continue so long as people nurture these beliefs and continue to ignore increasing evidence that God's people -- yes, gays -- are simply being who they are. It's time we stop empowering those who distort God's words for use against them.
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