This morning, like every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., I went to text group. Text group is a small group of us at church who get together with the pastor to discuss the upcoming weeks sermon. The idea is to have the sermon be guided by diverse dialogue, as opposed to just one person’s opinion. It’s a smart idea, and I enjoy going, despite the fact that I’m really not that helpful, and find that I do not really say much at all, let alone much that’s productive and constructive.
This morning, we are at text group, talking about 1 Corinthians 15. Tim (the pastor) is trying to get a sense of how this concept of body-vs-spirit that Paul’s talking about (which we all seemed to agree was not the same type of dualism as its used today, but rather, Paul ‘speaking the language’ of the Hellenistic, Neo-Platonic Gentiles that he is trying to share the Gospel message with), can be understood and explained in our context, by people who aren’t Biblical scholars. He’s probing us for commentaries on this topic.
Dan, one of my favorite people at the church (I have favorites, not gonna lie there… not to mention, I don’t think anyone from church reads this blog, and those that I might suspect would, would probably also fall under the favorites category….) tells me, in jest, to close my ears, as he is going to say something I don’t like. He proceeds to recommend Richard Hays’ commentary on 1 Corinthians to Tim. I groan, like I always do when Hay’s comes up in a conversation on Biblical scholarship.

At this point, Tim quickly responds “Sheesh, Brandy, he’s not a moron, he just is wrong on this one issue,” and we move on, continuing to try to interpret and understand the text in front of us.

Fair enough. I get it. I know Richard Hays is a brilliant scholar.  And perhaps I’m not being charitable enough, or just too damn sensitive.

But this ‘one issue’ is one that effects my life every fucking day, whether I want it to or not. This ‘one issue’ is what  makes people believe that I am not a faithful Christian. This ‘one issue’ has prevented people in love from getting married, and has prevented people called to the ministry from being ordained. This ‘one issue’ has gotten people kicked out of seminaries (often with Hays’ Biblical interpretation of ‘this one issue’ as their theological guide), and has caused others to take their own lives. This is not just ‘one issue’ that sits on the sidelines and has little consequences on the Christian faith—this is people’s lives, this is my life.

Like I said, perhaps I’m being too sensitive. I’m almost sure that I am, and I know Tim did not mean it maliciously. But, Tim can push this aside as one issue among many, one place where people disagree on Biblical interpretation in an understandable way, one issue that becomes an abstraction that means little. I can’t. Because this ‘one issue’ is not all that I am (not even close), but, because of the theological reflections of people like Hays, becomes for people the sign of my faithfulness to God, or rather, my unfaithfulness. And that makes it a whole lot fucking more than “just one issue.”

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