Easter Imagined and Recreated

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 17 May 2006 0 Comments
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In one of your recent Questions & Answers a woman
asked about her friend saying "Go to God" for the
ethics on homosexuality and you interpreted this as
"go to the Bible." You asked her to question the Old
Testament principles that, as you point out, include
not only homicidal homophobia but also ruthless
misogyny and regulated slavery. Fair enough, but one
can also point to God's promise that no one who seeks
him is excluded and his refutation of the use of laws
to oppress humans. But on the point of "Go to God,"
may I share that as a gay teenage Christian (thirty
years ago), I had questions arising from the
condemnation others put on my own romantic attraction.
I didn't go the Bible for answers. I went to God in
my heart. I then knew deeply that my Creator neither
hates me nor made me to be hateful nor hated and that
my profound romantic love for a certain guy at school,
a homosexual love if you like, was a divine gift. It
may be that for many people if we "go to God" in our
own hearts, we may have some feelings indicating
whether we should buy into hateful divisive prejudices
or find it in ourselves to love our neighbors as


Thanks for your beautiful letter and for sharing your
personal story. When a fundamentalist condemning
homosexuality says, "Go to God and you will find that
my condemnation is also God's condemnation, I am sure
they mean read the Book of Leviticus! I go to the
Bible daily and I find there Jesus quoted as saying,
"Come unto me all ye," not "Some of ye." I find the
God of Israel commanding that the people care for the
stranger and embrace the outcast. I find Jesus
stating that his purpose is to give life and give it

Whenever we diminish life in the name of God, which
is what every prejudice does, we are violating the
deepest purpose that we claim for the worship of God.

Religious systems are not divinely created. They are
intensely human, bearing all the marks of our
survival-oriented self at the center of world
humanity. Yet as you have experienced it, it has
transcendent moments that change hearts and expand
life. God is not bound by human religious systems.
God is not a Christian; God is not a Jew, a Moslem, a
Hindu or a Buddhist. Yet every system can lead its
adherents beyond religion and into all that God means.
Our hope for humanity lies in that path. We need to
honor the pathways to God that millions walk in this
world. If they lead us to a deeper humanity, they are
all of God. If they result in our attempt to
dominate, control, persecute or kill in the service of
our religion, they are all destructive and evil.

The Christian faith has produced its share of horror
in 2000 years




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