I went to my church's Maundy Thursday service last night. We had a guest speaker, who was from another church, and she was preaching to us about Exodus 12. She delivered her sermon in a rather mainline Protestant manner (since, well, she is mainline Protestant): demure, thoughtful, measured, etc. But some of what she was saying sounded pretty evangelical, or at least conservative! She was saying that we focus a lot on the grace of God, but we should also remember that God has rules that we should follow. She also said that, if she were an Israelite living in the days of the Exodus, she wouldn't want to test God: she would follow God's instructions on how to preserve the lives of the Israelite firstborn while the death angel was killing the firstborn in Egypt. She'd put blood on her door, blood that foreshadows the blood of Christ, which delivers people from God's wrath.
She made God sound real, tough, like the sort of God whom Marshall Hogan wanted to hear about in Frank Peretti's novel, This Present Darkness (which was why he was discontent with his liberal church).
What she was saying also reminded me of the evangelical cliche, "God is
loving, but God is also JUST!", or "God is loving, but God is also
I suppose that it shouldn't be a
surprise to me that a mainline Protestant would believe that there is a
God who wants for us to live in a certain way. As the pastor noted, the
bad things that we do hurt ourselves and others. It would be a
wonderful thing if Jesus Christ came to earth to deliver us from the
prison of sin. I can use that! I question whether I can truly be free
from my imperfections----or whether I should instead just cope with them
and try to keep them from doing damage. But I can see why people long
for deliverance from sin, and why they would feel limited and thus look
to a higher power to bring that deliverance about.
I did an
Internet search on the pastor who spoke to us last night. In our
denomination's conflicts over homosexuality, she appears to be on the
side of allowing homosexuals to be pastors without demanding that they
be celibate. Moreover, she is a proponent of marriage equality. Do I
believe that this conflicts with her sermon? Well, yeah, part of me
does, and the reason is this: I myself believe that it's unfair to
demand that homosexuals live in celibacy for the rest of their natural
lives, but I think that way despite the Bible, which I believe
is pretty clear in its opposition to same-sex sexual activity.
Therefore, I have a hard time conceiving of a position that takes the
Bible seriously, while also believing that homosexuals should be allowed
to have a life partner of their own sex. Are there people who do
manage to arrive at a position that they think contains the best of
both worlds? Yes. That's why it shouldn't be a surprise to me that the
pastor who spoke to us last night can believe in a real God, have faith
that Jesus Christ provides hope, and see the Bible as God's word
(though not necessarily as a fundamentalist might), while believing that
God is okay with homosexuality. I'm just saying that I
haven't arrived at a position that makes sense to me, that preserves the
best of both worlds. I myself am not gay, but I can somewhat empathize
with those who are gay.