In the movie, “The Matrix”, the lead character, Neo, discovered that his world was the product of his perspective and belief. If he wanted to change the world, he did so by changing himself.
This is not a new concept but one that has been retold for millennia throughout various cultures. Generally speaking, it is not a concept completely accepted by Christians; their history of changing the world has relied on eliminating other cultures and religions through indoctrination, abuse, torture, murder and war (i.e., LOVE). Christianity’s historical tradition is not to change themselves, but to change everyone else.
So, it is odd that a non-violent, Christain movement called Soul Force is perceived as a threat by Christian Leadership. Who are Soul Force?
The gay advocacy group Soulforce presents itself as a faith-based, civil rights organization, promoting justice for homosexuals by confronting churches and Christian leaders who promote the traditional biblical view of homosexuality. Soulforce has adopted teachings from both Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and views itself as a modern civil rights movement following the traditions of nonviolent protest. Founded by Mel White, a former ghost writer for Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell, Soulforce believes the traditional Christian position on homosexuality is wrong, damaging to homosexuals, and must be confronted as its promoters must also be confronted, converted, or ultimately silenced. To this end, it has sponsored demonstrations at denominational conventions, churches, and conferences across the country, and has visited numerous Christian and secular universities. If pastors or Christian leaders choose to dialogue with this group, they should be aware of its erroneous theological positions and should clearly assert their disagreements with Soulforce’s beliefs and goals.
For example, one tactic Soul Force undertakes is to ask if they can speak to church leadership about LGBTQI. Basically, the Soul Force team is using simple Evangelistic techniques that those same churches themselves use with others, such as sharing a meal and talking about scripture! Now, what church would not want to do that? In fact, in the article in the Christain Research Journal in 2009, they tell Christian leaders of many denominations that:
“DIALOGUE IS OPTIONAL, NOT MANDATORY~ We are not biblically required to respond to every charge leveled against us, nor to every request for a conversation.”
Why would leaders of Christian church not want to talk? Easy, you cannot convert/change people who are already healed and believe they are equal. The problem is actually more complex, however. Christian tradition of repent or die, my way or the highway, is alive and well. Right Wing, “Traditional” Christians have been bred to be predators.
I could go into a diatribe and come up with all kinds of references to point out that the habits of traditional Christians (abusive predators) are valid. For instance, there has been a rise seen in the UK over religious exorcisms of children that really have become ritualistic abuse. You can also read about the recent suicide of a gay young man whose history including exorcisms.
But I have to ask myself, “why?” Most people instinctively know abuse when it rears its ugly head. Most folks really do know how to identify predators. Queer distrust of the church can be directly attributed to these facts. We all know that many Right Wing Traditional Christians prey on people’s vulnerabilities and target those who will be easily led through guilt, shame, and fear. People who become brainwashed, taken advantage of and who turned their own reason over to a group of people do so because they WANT IT (this is not a reference to children). Listing the facts and evidence and expounding upon the original intent of scripture to prove my point and to convince them they are wrong won’t change a thing. Making this point to people who already know this is just plain masturbation.
You Might Want to Watch Out of Curiosity Once, but….
For people who believe they are right, there is no argument that will convince them otherwise. Read this article from mainstream Christianity about Soul Force. It is a long missive meant to prove how wrong Soul Force is based on logic, history, tradition and scripture. I don’t believe a word of it. I think they’re full of crap. In all my recollection, I have never been won over by this type of “dialogue”. So, I wonder why Soul Force participates in exemplifying the same traditional practices of force and confrontation that Right Wing Christians use?
Please do not misunderstand me, I have no argument with what Soul Force stands for, I have issue with some of their chosen ways to change world. When a Church or University they have chosen to target won’t talk with them, they perform a physical protest. They are often arrested for trespassing after being asked to leave. This is supposed to win people over how?
Traditional Christians Are Not All Bad
I believe one of the greatest gifts traditional, right Christians shared was the idea of a personal relationship with Christ. This belief was the engine of change behind the Reformation. In this LGBTQ reformation, I believe it is useless and sometimes wrong to attempt to “convert” people using the same tactics as the Traditional Right Christians.
I believe that energy should be spent empowering people, not with swords of any symbolism, but with opportunities for personal change. Strengthening the already established growing network of Churches, Agencies, and Groups who offer alternative choices is a better investment in permanent change. We need our people strong and able to stand in the middle of the discrimination and violence as living and loving examples of change and then move aside to allow Christ to change hearts of men through their personal relationship with God, rather than us trying to force them.
Please Sir, may I have some more?
Soul Force does have a powerful practice that I do not hear a lot about. As a mix of gay and allies, couple and singles, they attend church services in these right wing, traditional Churches. What a powerful message this sends about our Queer Christian Community. It is very easy to build an idea of an enemy in one’s mind. Typically, that enemy is some fantastical conglomerate about all the hateful things attributed, rightly or wrongly, to that enemy. When confronted with the real person, however, that fantastical creature loses a lot of its magic. Sharing in worship gives them a chance to take some of the “magic” out the fantastical homosexual enemies they made us into and us for them.
This is one of the first ideas I have heard coming out of either side of the pulpit (left or right) that attempts to break down the wall of separation. There are so many of us concerned with being right and proving it with our wit, logic, history… All the while this wall of hate is maintained.
The wall is hate and intolerance for what each other stands for and it blocks the vision of the valuable human beings behind it. Breaking down this wall and coming together on things we can agree on, even when the climate is tense and perhaps even unwelcoming, goes a long way into changing the hearts of men, though some of them will never admit it. And if we would only step aside afterward, and allow Christ to move as he will, it would be far more effective than imitating our Right Wing brothers and sisters by taking the ball out of Christ’s hands before he even had the chance to run with it.
- The Conversion of St Paul (queeringthechurch.com)
- Satan Redux: On (Not) Playing the “Devil” Card (queeringthechurch.com)
- Bringing the “Good News” to Queer Christians: My Vision for Queering the Church. (queeringthechurch.com)
- Soulforce: Relentless Nonviolent Resistance (Soulforce Website)
- A Christian Lesbian from Bob Jones University (biblethumpingliberal.com)
- Two Tours and a Transgender Bill: Soulforce readies for spring tour as George Michael cancels his, and Massachusetts gets transgender protections (pinkbananaworld.com)