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Letters to the Editor: March 17, 2012

Exposing distortions in theological lecture

I want to applaud Pastor Donald Main, who recently had the courage in his March 10, 2012 editorial "A Talent for Misleading" to expose distortions in David Weiss' lecture in Morris about homosexuality and Christianity. Weiss argues that Christians can support gay and lesbian relationships, and they can do so as Christians. But as Pastor Main notes, Weiss' approach undermines "the Law" and ultimately distorts "the Gospel."

Implicitly, Pastor Main encourages all of us to read the Bible closely and carefully and to let It govern our moral values. This stands in stark contrast to the liberal approach to the Bible, and especially Weiss', which re-interprets the Bible through the lens of contemporary values.

I would like to add to Pastor Main's argument by noting how we are witnessing today an identical situation that occurred in the nineteenth century. In the middle of the nineteenth century, so-called Christians, mainly in the North, were continually arguing that slavery is inconsistent with Christianity, and specifically the Bible. But in 1851, Josiah Priest published the book Bible Defence of Slavery, which uses the exact same approach as Pastor Main. Priest challenges abolitionist "Christians" to identify "the Scriptures having abolished negro slavery" (320). After arguing for a principle of consistency between the Old and New Testaments, Priest then goes on to cite numerous Bible passages (320-49) from both the Old and New Testaments that clearly sanction slavery. To bolster his position, he notes that there are no passages in the Bible that clearly condemn or reject slavery.

But did American "Christians" listen to Priest? Did they read and obey the Bible's passages regarding slavery? The answer is no. And what happened? After 1865 there were slaves all over the United States running free in total defiance of the New Testament claims that slaves should be obedient to their masters. Moreover, many of the slaves completely ignored Leviticus 25:46, a Bible passage that clearly supports perpetual slavery.

Just as Christianity was distorted and watered down in the nineteenth century when the country's pseudo-Christians rejected the Bible's pro-slavery passages, so too today there is the danger that Christianity will be distorted and watered down by pseudo-Christians who are making the case for homosexual Love.

If true Christians do not come together soon by basing Christian faith on the one and only true interpretation of the Bible, there will be no stopping gays and lesbians from running around the country loving each other. In the name of faith, it is time to put a stop to this Love.

Michael Lackey; Morris, Minn.

Culture, theology, understanding and healing

When I read a commentary in the March 10 Sun Tribune, "A talent for misleading," which was a response by a local Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastor to the visit of Lutheran theologian David Weiss to our community, I was unsure if we attended the same presentation.

Weiss was invited by several community groups to discuss the Christian basis for welcoming gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into the Christian community. Weiss is a lifelong Lutheran and attended Wartburg seminary, University of Notre Dame and has taught several religious colleges in the region.

One of Weiss's main points was the following: If you want to understand what Biblical authors wrote, it is important to understand what was going on in the culture around them. This idea seems fairly plain, maybe obvious. Weiss explained that cultures in the Biblical past led different lives than we do today. One of these cultural norms was that of pederasty, or sexual relations between men and boys. Child rape was normal. This isn't mentioned in Sunday school, understandably. Sadly, this should not be surprising, as these practices take place in cultures today, like modern warlord-torn Afghanistan, or in other past cultures, like the Japanese Samurai. In Biblical times, they also crucified people and fed them to lions. Weiss explained that Christian writers were telling their congregations that pederasty was wrong, even if it was culturally practiced. In the modern culture we live in, the idea of non-consensual sexual relations is obviously wrong.

I think it is also important for us to recognize that the Christian church continues to change and grow in forgiveness and love. For example, many Christians today have decided that slavery always violates Jesus' moral principles and do not agree with St. Paul's live-and-let-live tolerance of it. Not to mention today's modern attitudes about divorce, despite Jesus' words that remarriage was adultery.

We have seen three recent civil rights movements in our own culture: a women's suffrage movement, a civil rights movement and now a movement around equity for all. It is important to note that in some modern Christian denominations today, women are not encouraged to "vote" either in church matters or in the larger political sphere. So, culture is not uniform, but things are changing in ways that many of us appreciate. We all need to have the humility that all of us can be judged by others as being too "liberal" or too "conservative"... I think it is better to seek understanding and drop the labels.

I was moved by this civil gathering, where people were authentically trying to wrestle with their convictions. I saw a lot of tears and frustration. I heard courageous stories from people who were trying to lead peaceful and loving lives. Given the vote we will all need to make in November, it is good we are taking the time to examine our consciences now. Already, several States in our country have marriage laws that include same-sex couples. Fortunately, each generation of the young seems to advance human rights in our country. I hope to someday have the opportunity to support my friends who want to honor their love and commitment to each other.

Troy Goodnough; Morris, Minn.