Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Becoming a Spirit-Intoxicated Prophet of Justice: A Sermon

Becoming a Spirit-Intoxicated Prophet of Justice
John Shuck

First Presbyterian Church
Elizabethton, Tennessee

June 6, 2010
More Light Sunday


I Kings 17:17-24
Luke 7:11-17

One of the marks of self-awareness, confidence and maturity is to claim for ourselves what we have projected onto others or onto God. There is no point in saying, for example, God is good or Jesus Christ is truth or Buddha is Enlightenment and leaving all those qualities out there attached to those figures alone.

The goal of the authentic life or the spiritual life if you like is to become transformed, born again, risen from the dead, intoxicated with goodness, truth, enlightenment, compassion, and justice. Claim it. Be it.

I am not talking about hubris. I am not saying that we are to claim that we are absolutely and always good, truthful, enlightened, and so forth. Of course not. That is simply a foolish blindness and denial of one's own dark side. I am talking about taking responsibility for the power we already have. We are to be the peace we want to see in the world. We are to be compassionate as God is compassionate. We are to embrace truth and walk in the light.

Nor am I talking about getting on some kind of spiritual treadmill in order to work ourselves into a frenzy of good works in order to earn a special spot in heaven. I don't believe there is any supernatural cosmic judge keeping an eternal list of who is naughty and nice. Spiritual authenticity requires no promise of reward or threat of punishment. As it says in the Bhagavad Gita:
Renounce attachment to the fruits.
A secular translation is to do good for goodness' sake.

A legend about Sufi mystic, Rabiah, tells that she would wander the countryside with a torch in one hand and bucket of water in the other. When asked why she said:
I want to use the jug of water to quench hell. With the burning torch I want to get heaven on fire, so that neither fear of hell nor the longing for paradise will prevent me from loving God alone for his sake.
Rabiah was one of those spirit-intoxicated prophets of justice. Historical Jesus scholar, Marcus Borg, coined that label for Jesus.

A spirit-intoxicated prophet of justice.

I think that is awesome.
To a world deadened by the drag of being told what we cannot do or who we cannot be, along comes these prophets, drunk on the spirit of life, calling us out and raising us up. The fourth path of Creation Spirituality is the via transformativa, or the way of justice-making. It is participating in the struggle for life. It is about raising people from the dead.

Our scripture readings feature two stories of raising widows' sons from the dead. Elijah and Jesus both perform this miracle. When we read stories about people coming back to life we know two things.
  • First is that we are in the realm of fiction.
  • The second is that the storytellers really want us to get something important but they have no other way of telling it without resorting to supernaturalism.
What is that something important? I think it is that we are to raise people from the dead. We are to become like Elijah and Jesus and Rabiah, spirit-intoxicated prophets of justice.

The stories of death to life are not supernatural miracles that we are supposed to believe someone performed once upon a time. They are pointers to the reality that life, our lives, your life and mine, and ours collectively as Earthlings can be transformed.


The scriptures themselves tell us these stories are metaphors.

Ezekiel goes to the valley of dry bones and the bones come rattling together before his eyes and sinews grow them and flesh grows on them and the spirit of breath blows through them. This isn't a zombie story. This is the story of a people, of a nation, reforming and starting again after being conquered.

In one of Jesus' parables the younger son returns home and the father needs to explain to the older son why he welcomed him home. And he tells him that his brother was lost and is now found. He was dead and is now alive. Stories of death to life are stories about people changing
  • from futility to joy,
  • from going through the motions to living purposefully,
  • from worthlessness to value,
  • from despair to dignity,
  • from shame to pride.
In June 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York City, at a bar called Stonewall, a few spirit-intoxicated prophets of justice decided that they had had enough. They had had enough of being beaten, arrested, and hassled. They had had enough of being misunderstood, of living in the shadows, of living in secret.

The Stonewall Inn was not a nice place. It was owned by the mafia. It catered to the most marginalized and poorest among the gay community: drag queens, hustlers, and homeless youth. The folks who hung around the Inn were not church going folks. What happened was not pretty or organized. When the police raided the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, a riot erupted. It was a violent riot. It was spontaneous. People were hurt.
It lasted for several days.

From this riot a movement coalesced and these marginalized people began to find their spirit and their dignity. Gay activist organizations formed in New York within a few months and a couple of newspapers were organized for gay and lesbian rights.
These prophets said:
No more. We will take this abuse from society no longer.
It was a movement from death to life. One of the participants, Michael Fader described the mood:

We all had a collective feeling like we'd had enough of this kind of shit. It wasn't anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration.... Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us.... All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined, and everything just kind of ran its course. It was the police who were doing most of the destruction. We were really trying to get back in and break free. And we felt that we had freedom at last, or freedom to at least show that we demanded freedom. We weren't going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around—it's like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that's what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we're going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren't going to go away. And we didn't.Carter, David (2004). Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution
Since 1969 there has been a great deal of progress and a great deal of backlash and the churches, whether they like it or not, are in the center of this controversy. In 1974, David Sindt held up a sign at the General Assembly that read,
Is anyone else out there gay?
Like Stonewall in New York, that action at General Assembly is the iconic moment of the liberation movement in the Presbyterian Church.

It is June 2010, 41 years after Stonewall and still the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has discrimination written into its official policy. This congregation is one of the many exceptions. We do not discriminate. We are a More Light congregation. That does not mean we have "more light" than others. It is a spiritual posture of humility. As opposed to the idolatry of certainty that we have all the truth, we know we do not know everything. We anticipate that more light, more wisdom, more truth is yet to come.

The church is correct that the issue is about morality. However, the morality is not about sexuality. That is a given. The moral issue is about discrimination, prejudice, and homophobia. That is what is immoral. The choice for each of us in our own setting is to confront this immorality with truth.

We are to be spirit-intoxicated prophets of justice. That is no one else's job. It is ours.


Some may wonder why I care. Certainly there are other issues, injustices, and causes that aren't so divisive. Why advocate for gay rights in the church? Why does a straight guy with a straight family care? Why risk getting church folks upset?


It was in the context of church that I was made aware. My first week at seminary in 1989 at Princeton I sat with other first year students at orientation. Representatives of different organizations and groups spoke and each offered a description of what they were about. This guy stood up and said he belonged to a group called Presbyterians for Gay Concerns and invited anyone straight or gay to come to a meeting.

I obviously have led a sheltered life. I am sure there were gay-straight alliance groups at the University of Washington where I did my undergraduate work. I didn't know about them. They weren't on my radar. I didn't even know (or know that I knew) a gay or lesbian person.

So when this guy said that, I thought, "Huh. That's interesting." But what happened in the room next was the defining moment for me. You could feel the tension. I looked around and saw people were looking down to their laps. Praying? The guy next to me said under his breath but loud enough for me to hear at least:
They shouldn't allow a group like that on campus.
That sentence has been my motivation.
They shouldn't allow a group like that on campus.
Why not? That is who he is. I am embarrassed to say that I never contacted the person who told us about his group or attended the meetings. But I look at that moment as the light going on moment. I was made aware of gay people and of homophobia in the exact same instant and all in the context of church and ministry.
They shouldn't allow a group like that on campus.
Those are fighting words.
They shouldn't allow gay and lesbian people to be ministers.
Those are fighting words.
They shouldn't allow gay and lesbian people to have their relationships blessed and honored in church.
Those are fighting words.
They shouldn't allow gay and lesbian couples to have the same rights, privileges, benefits and responsibilities as straight couples.
Those are fighting words. When I saying fighting, I am not talking about fighting people. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are struggling not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers. We are fighting injustice and misunderstanding. We are fighting the spirit of death and despair, shame and isolation. To do that we become spirit-intoxicated prophets of justice who say Yes! to life, dignity, and hope.

You are that prophet.
When you accept yourself as you are…

When you correct falsehoods…

When you stand up for yourself and for those who are put down…

When you speak the truth even though you think it would be easier to remain silent…
When you treat others as you want to be treated…

You are that prophet.


Amen.

19 comments:

  1. When a man has sex with his donkey and demands for the right for you to marry them, you first protect the donkey, and then ask the man why he is so infatuated with this naive beast of burden.

    He will say he had been rejected by women and the donkey does not judge back.
    You ask, would you rather have been born a donkey, and he replies that is who he now is. He knew it as a child.
    You don't then kneel for a sign from Heaven, and say "let us bray".

    Would you leave a Samaritan lying in the street? So this man's wounds need tending.
    "Where did you cut yourself?"
    "When I was a growing up my mother made me feel so bad and my father was not there so I went to a church where they said the True Father was, but I never did find Him, they never revealed him to me only that all sins are equal. I found my little donkey out the back".
    "But the father is in you. You felt inferior to your mother's intimidation and you rejected your own father for not protecting you. You cannot take the essence of man from another nor the essence of god from without. No person can find god within them without first forgiving their mother and father. As Elisha got the mantle off Elijah so you inherit your mind from your parents.
    Jesus was raised by a step-dad who treated him like a Bastard under The Law of Israel. His real father was not there. How much more then should he have to return to his inner childhood and lay down his curses to become free saying "unless a man is born again...""
    "I have a comfortable life, I have my friends and their mules..."
    "No one can carry your pain away, not even the Blood of a Saint. Jesus succeeded that you succeed. Follow his path of letting go of judgements, of forgiveness..."
    "If Saul can change his name to St Paul I can change mine to St Peter with my Ass. I have the mind of Christ don't you forget that"
    "You have to have your own mind, face your own battles. Someone cannot drive your life for you."
    "The astrologer said we were made for each other..."
    "I have nothing to give you but yourself"
    "You can give me respect"
    "mariage is to give, not to take what completes you, for if a person did they would be your god"
    "you don't talk like a Christian"
    "I've followed The Way of dying to live again"
    "I'm going to the Bishop, I know she likes horses".

    And the cock crowed three times.

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  2. I think Kinderling has been torn up by some very bad psychotherapists. Self-loathing tears a person up, I'm sure. The self-loathing generated when a society rejects people based on sexual orientation race, etc., is bad enough, but it doesn't hold a candle to the self-loathing generated from these so-called "reparative" therapy groups.

    I feel badly for Kinderling.

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  3. Well! It looks like someone got something off their chest, at least! I hope it helps them.

    I don't see Kinderling as a BFTS, Alan. This is a deeply wounded, hurting person. I really DO feel badly for him/her.

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  4. The problem with this issue, and all issues like it, is that it is very difficult to move anybody out from behind their personal camera lens and into a different viewpoint.

    What concerns me the most it the sheeple aspect of how "They", meaning not themselves, but those in "authority", should handle the issue. They shouldn't allow... Chilling words indeed.

    Martha Burke tried to assail the Augusta National Golf Club because, "they should have to take women as members." Excuse me, why?

    It gets more difficult with religious institutions as the problem becomes two-fold. 1) They should have the right to define what morality they will accept from members but, 2) They stand as the only access between an individual and god. So, if you don't adhere to the tenets, dogma, etc. of said church, you are exposed to spiritual blackmail.

    The argument continues, of course, that if you don't support church doctrine, you are not really of the faith. With an unmentioned addendum of "so go elsewhere."

    So how far away from the faith is too far? Should Baptist churches be forced to allow their members to be practicing Catholics and follow none of the Baptist traditions? It's a slippery slope.

    The bottom line, and one that many of us have already answered for ourselves is, in the 21st Century, do we still need gods and religions?

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  5. "It gets more difficult with religious institutions as the problem becomes two-fold. 1) They should have the right to define what morality they will accept from members but, 2) They stand as the only access between an individual and god."

    Fortunately for us Presbyterians, Baywolfe, neither of these is actually a problem because:

    1) Our particular denomination is run via a democratic polity which means that we all have a say in who is "in" and who is "out". So, there is no "they" in the leadership who are not also simultaneously "us."

    and 2) In Reformed Christian theology there is no intermediary needed between us and God. So the disapproval of an ever shrinking minority of folks on the far right doesn't really matter to anyone but themselves.

    "The argument continues, of course, that if you don't support church doctrine, you are not really of the faith. With an unmentioned addendum of "so go elsewhere.""

    On that point, you're correct, and many of us in the PCUSA have heard such things from some on the far right in our denomination. But in our denomination it only goes one way. I have honestly never heard folks on the left, even the extreme left of our denomination say that they want those on the right to leave. But the far right has gone so far as to invite us to leave through overtures, and try to kick us out through church discipline.

    Ironically, that they are so open about wanting to sever ties with us and "get rid of us" merely shows how little they actually understand about our denomination and our theology. If they actually believed anything they say they believe, shouldn't they want us to stick around so that they can evangelize to us? :)

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  6. I had been blown out by Stan of http://birdsoftheair.blogspot.com/2010/06/one-of-these-things.html#links of 'hungry blind men offering other hungry blind men thoughts on life...'

    I mentioned there that the Pastor Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church had Truth and not love. And our Pastor John Shuck of First Presbyterian Church Elizabethton, Tennessee had Love and not truth.

    Now, I'm not saying one has truth and the other has love. Far from it. They would not know truth or love if they saw it in practice. It is only that they claim to have found it and made a shrine to it.

    A child in their midst would be rejected as blind. So the Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of Sex would be pumped into them to "correct" them.

    I'm saying one pursues Truth at the complete disregard of the love and the other pursues Love and the complete disregard of truth. It could be an Imam at a Mosque or a Holy Lama at a Krishna Centre. Their reckless singlularity is because without it they feel they will surely die.

    This chasing of Truth (or Love) is an emptiness, a void, a chasm, crying out to be filled at the sacrifice of health, family and friends.

    When you were faced with the pain of a world of liars - you sought the sanctity of Absolute Truth.

    When you were faced with the pain of a world of emotional betrayers - you sought the sanctity of Unconditional Love.

    Immersed in denial for a sense of feeling right, of feeling proud, of feeling whole, of feeling holy, of feeling sactified. Fascism and Communism came into being.

    Jesus was talking about people who were damaged: 'Go back to your inner child at the crossroads of pride'. This Snad, is reparative therapy for everyone to restore their minds. Jesus had some serious issues to have to go away and spend nearly six weeks meditating and fasting to face his fears and demons to apologize for judging and forgiving each person for 'they did not know they did not know'. Which means he attained a higher knowing in the stillness of the now... Now-ing: Of course it doesn't make sense! He went up a Jew and came down a free person with a mind of insight and intuition who could see there are no males and females, just peoples hypnotised around the world.

    St Paul on the other hand went for Conversion to submit to the Greatest God. He dismissed his submission from The Jehovah-God without a by-your-leave for The Risen Christ. Fifteen hundred years later he would have been on the road to Mecca and become an Apostle of Mohammed. Today we have Socialism, much stronger than all the Gods put together, and on the road to Elizabethton have become Sir Anthony of Stonewall - and still have a prick in his side of unresolved conscience. Like a stroke victim who has no control over part of her body, she cannot control her actions and says the JuJu made her do it, when in reality her 'denial' closed off the brain from her conscious awareness. It took a life of its own. In the night she has strange dreams and visions which she asked to be interpreted by a fully paid-up Approver for validation to continue her lifestyle.

    I don't think St Paulians or Homosexuals will ever get this concept easily, because they have covered themselves with the pride of Salvation.

    Children are born with a perfect minds and will go where angels fear to tred. Never put them in with such inverted people.

    Jesus said he did not come to bring peace but a sword.

    Now, Snad... it's off my chest.

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  7. 1) Our particular denomination is run via a democratic polity which means that we all have a say in who is "in" and who is "out". So, there is no "they" in the leadership who are not also simultaneously "us."

    Bottom up church government is certainly more enlightened than top down, although it's probably still heresy for most church denominations even in, this, the 21st century. Most theologians are still impressed with their Seminary or Bible College degrees in the same way that most idiot business managers are impressed with BA degrees.

    The concern is, what happens if the minority becomes the majority? Sure, they're dwindling now, but what if there is a new influx of the "far right" in an attempt to take over church doctrine? Is there a "poison pill" or does the new minority simply "vote with its feet?"

    I'm just not sure that new democracy is really any better than old dogma. Once a church moves away from "Thus Sayeth the LORD" to "Thus Sayeth US" do they not become more a of social club and less a "church"?

    Not that there's anything wrong with that...

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  8. "The concern is, what happens if the minority becomes the majority? Sure, they're dwindling now, but what if there is a new influx of the "far right" in an attempt to take over church doctrine? Is there a "poison pill" or does the new minority simply "vote with its feet?""

    We do the same thing we Presbyterians have been doing for the last few hundred years: split, recombine, split, recombine, split, recombine, lather, rinse, repeat.

    There has and likely always will be a group of fundamentalists in denominations like ours and every now and then they'll get so fed up, they'll chip off. Why they join in the first place is a mystery. It isn't like we've ever been exactly secretive about the fact that the PCUSA and its immediate predecessors aren't fundamentalist denominations.

    ""Thus Sayeth the LORD" to "Thus Sayeth US" do they not become more a of social club and less a "church"?"

    Doesn't that question presume that when people actually said, "Thus sayeth the Lord" that they were actually speaking for God? I'd say they weren't. At best, they were only speaking what they believed God is saying. Most people today aren't doing any different except some of us acknowledge that we're not God; and some of them don't.

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  9. Kinderling said "Pastor Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church had Truth and not love. "

    You lost me (and my sympathy) right there, pal. If these people have truth, then I want no part of it.

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  10. I don't think you read kinderling completely, snad. he goes on to say that he didn't really believer that phelps had truth, but that phelps pursued truth at the expense of love while shuck pursued love at the expense of truth.

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  11. Snad,

    If you read further is that Pastor Phelps "claims" to be an authority on Absolute Truth just as Pastor Shuck "claims" to be an authority on True Love and Compassion.

    Take an example of what Pastor Phelps says:
    "God blew up the space shuttle". Well, God Is All Powerful and All Knowing and can do anything at any moment, and so by allowing the Space Shuttle to blow up He technically was the Person making the Final Decision on that matter, so God did blow up the shuttle. The only problem is, Pastor Phelps then claims to know why God did it. Truth without any love is called Judgement. They have no spirit but the Law handed to them in a book. These people keep jumping to avoid hot coals on their own heads until all they have left is race, gender and skin colour to be proud of. Israelites.

    An example for Pastor Shuck is man comes to him unsure of his identity because he has not been loved as a child. More so because of the deliberate rise of single (by resentment) parenting. It is called attention-deficit disorder. There are men hitting on him in the Church where he went to find the Father of Jesus and to find his own father within to be healed. Instead of finding love, he found 'God Loves you as you are'. He found a whore who when asked of her son on drugs and her young daughter having sex "I buy the drugs and contraceptives to make sure they're clean and let them do it in the house because its much safer than out there on the streets". These people keep jumping to avoid the realization of truth on their heads until all they have left is race, gender and skin color to Celebrate their Rainbow Diversity of Separation. Sodomites.

    These people were offered peace for their insecurities when they should have been exposed to love and truth about themselves. The flock are used by the pastors for their own needs of a sense of righteousness and salvation where there is no righteousness and salvation.

    Be still and know.

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  12. I think this comment thread should leave little doubt as to why it is so crucially important to have More Light Presbyterians and inclusive congregations like the one I presently serve.

    Signed,
    Captain Darkness, aka
    The Authority on Love.

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  13. Pastor Shuck,

    You wrote: "To a world deadened by the drag of being told what we cannot do or who we cannot be, along comes these prophets... It is about raising people from the dead."

    Mohammed also was a prophet against being told what he couldn't do and couldn't be. A rapist, a paedophile, an adulterer, a murderer, so out-of-control that he thought others were out-of-control so women were covered and men had do everything ritually, but for him the rules were altered at a whim. A billion people today praise His Holy Name (Pbuh).

    You wrote of one Stonewall Inn that was not a nice place. It was owned by the mafia and catered to the most marginalized and poorest among the gay community: drag queens, hustlers, and homeless youth. Now there are hundreds of Stonewall Inns with drag queens, hustlers, and homeless/rentboy youth. And websites to cater to piquant tastes from children, to bondage, to simulated death. A billion internet accessed people may one day praise you as God's Prophet for taking away their pain of conscience, to do unto others whom liked it, while the innocent watch, and doubt, and become new recruits.

    These people came to you for help because you told them you knew Jesus, the man who suffered forty nights and days to set himself free. Without helping them, you took out one eye and called them 'prophets risen from the dead'. For without conscience everyone thinks they are in Heaven.

    A person can look at a person one way or another. One pushes them back onto their own character the other draws them in for their sexual potential.

    Nothing stops you therefore from having sex with every one of your church members ,for you are 'risen from the dead' and it was done as a gift of love because they were lonely.

    The world today is, as it has always been, against Jesus. If I revealed openly what I write, the authorities would arrest me for a Hate Crime, fine me and I'd lose my job. Period. This is the world you created by feeling sorry for the poor and outcast who now live in your home.

    You wanted no one to suffer.

    The poor are always with us no matter how rich they are, and need to suffer so they can wake up like the Prodigal Son. You pushed out the elderly who had experience and wisdom and invited the foolish and ignorant in their place.

    "This congregation is one of the many exceptions. We do not discriminate. We are a More Light congregation. That does not mean we have "more light" than others. It is a spiritual posture of humility. As opposed to the idolatry of certainty that we have all the truth, we know we do not know everything. We anticipate that more light, more wisdom, more truth is yet to come."

    There is no 'spiritual posturing', for if you held up your guard they would go under, if you promoted pascifism they would walk over you.
    The 'idolatry of certainty' is to copy others less enlightened, but if you can see for yourself that is all the certainty you need.

    You have the spirit. You use it. You will know what to do in the right time.

    This is Christian Lite: and known by its fruit. Because to keep them happy you have to keep distracting them until you are all reading the baby-change instructions in the bathroom and wondering what the writer really meant.

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  14. @Kinderling

    You don't know me. You don't know my church. You certainly don't know the people who attend. I don't know you, not even your name. What you have written is arrogant, ignorant, and insulting. I think you are finished here. Thank you for visiting.

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  15. John - yep. I still feel badly for the deeply wounded Kinderling, but that certainly doesn't mean I am interested in engaging him. There is a very nice parrot at the Hands On! Museum who is more engaging, and original.

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  16. Some of the comments on this post demonstrate confusion regarding ethics. Two things are held up in error:

    1) Ethics must be based on supernatural revelation. If you deny that "God" establishes the good, you cannot be good or have no basis for being or knowing good. "God" may exist, however, we do not know what "God" says outside of human language and thought forms and we can never be sure if what is being said is a communication from "God" or a human communication we place on "God's lips." In either case, "God" is no substitute for human beings making rational decisions about what is good.

    2) Ethics, in particular, sexual ethics must be rule-based and institutionalized or "anything goes." For instance, all sex within the institution of marriage between one man and one woman is good (or is the basic minimum for good sex to occur) and any sex outside of this institution is bad. If we challenge this rule, then nothing stops us from having sex with donkeys, etc. While rule tries to contain sex as if it is a bad oil spill. Ultimately, it says nothing about power, equality, violence, consent, or even love. So to talk about sexual ethics--good sex--we have to talk about all of those other categories anyway. So why not start with them? Sex is good when we have equality of power, no coercion or violence, consent, love, and so forth.

    I am sure we can put our heads together and come up with guidelines for sexual ethics that resort neither to supernaturalism or institutionalism. In fact, folks already have.

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  17. Pastor Shucks,
    Sometimes a message that beautiful can be lost to those not ready and/or willing to hear it. I am not a religious person. I was raised in a strict and abusive religious home. At 17, when I announced I didn't feel my parents faith was right for me, I was told "You will go to church, you will dress appropriately, and you will act happy to be there." Nothing takes the joy out of spirituality like being beat over the head with religion. Needless to say, I haven't taken a very kind view of religion over the past decade.
    Recently, I've started becoming a little more open-minded. I saw the movie "The Passion of The Christ" for the first time and couldn't help but appreciate how kind, loving, humble and faithful Jesus was. The only parts that disappointed me about that movie was the end, because the Roman guards didn't say what they do in the Bible, which I think is the most powerful part: "Truly, this was God's Son." And, the whole temple wasn't torn in two, JUST the curtain between the Holy and the Most Holy, symbolizing the old convenient being replaced by the new one. Anyhow, I found the message it carried to be more important than some of the details.
    I've practiced spirituality (the application of spiritual principles in my daily affairs) for quite some time, but keep feeling like something is missing. I've been showing support for a friend of mine who's come out of the closet as bi-sexual for the last few months. We're planning on going to pride fest next weekend and I was educating him about the history of pride fest. I was telling him about Stonewall and in researching it a little more for myself, I came across your blog. I'm skeptical of pastors, religion and religious people as a rule. But your blog was different. In it, I found none of the judgment, none of the hypocrisy, none of the intolerance that pushes me away from religion. Quite the opposite, I found comfort in what you wrote about judgment and intolerance being the moral issue, not sexuality.
    Your words opened my mind and heart to reconsider a lot of the judgments I've cast against Christians who preach love and forgiveness but don't actually know the first thing about either. You truly are a Christian, Pastor Shucks. Not in words only, but in what you do and how you live your life. Thank you for being that, it has touched my heart. I just wish your congregation was in Colorado.
    -Leslie

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  18. Wow, Leslie, you know how to make a preacher's day! Thank you for the kind words. I am pleased that you found the blog. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story here. I think of our church as community for those who were burned by church!

    I don't know about the spiritual communities in Boulder, but after just a quick glance through the web I would St. Andrew Presbyterian. I know nothing about them except that they call themselves a progressive church for justice and peace. That is often a good start.

    Also, First Congregational Church is open and affirming. I might check those folks out too.

    There are more and more progressive churches around these days.

    Again, I so appreciate your comment and for being a friend. Enjoy Pridefest and I hope you keep in touch!

    Blessings...

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