By Shirley Rollinson
I read with interest your articles on the courses on homosexuality offered by the Llano Estacado Church in Portales (CNJ Jan. 2). To present the biased view that Christianity is a repressive, anti-feminine, anti-homosexual man-made program — as seems to be the teaching of the leaders of the Llano Estacado Church — is a grievous distortion of the truth that should not be presented unchallenged to the unwary or ignorant of our community.
True, Jesus did not go into details about what sorts of behavior we should avoid — topics such as murder, theft, sodomy, bestiality and a host of other subjects had already been dealt with adequately by Moses and the prophets: Jesus did not need to repeat what was already written, nor did he contradict or annul that teaching.
Witness his teaching on what constituted adultery, which went beyond what had previously been accepted practice.
Instead, Jesus, and the Christian churches that truly seek to follow him, brought the real good news — that God’s standards of purity are so much higher than ours that we cannot possibly reach them by ourselves!
That, on the surface, may sound like the ultimate bad news — we are all going to hell in a hand basket, and God is going to be lonely in heaven all by himself.
However, the good news goes on to proclaim that because we cannot put ourselves right with God, God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, has taken the steps necessary to bring us back into a right relationship with him.
We can have peace with God. We can experience release from addiction, from lust, from whatever infections and affections have poisoned us. It is not by rewriting the Bible or reinterpreting passages of scripture that we will experience that peace, but by accepting the truth of the scriptures.
What the Bible says about us, and what we know with our consciences, is that we have fallen short of God’s standards in our lives. Do we then rewrite those standards? Would that really give us peace?
Would it help us overcome our problems? Or do we rather admit that we have all chosen, at one time or another, to go our own way instead of God’s? That we are in fact — if one may use that dreadfully outmoded word — sinners?
Admitting that fact opens the possibility of asking God to restore the relationship — a possibility that remains closed so long as we insist there is nothing wrong and we don’t need to change.
We do all need to change, to repent of greed, gossip, jealousy, lust, perversion, or a host of other sins. To say that God cannot change us, or that some facet of our nature, such as a misdirected sexual orientation, is fixed and cannot be changed, is to imprison ourselves in unbelief and to deny the power of God to change and restore us.
It is only when we admit our own inadequacy, and hand ourselves over to Jesus Christ, asking him to come into our life as Lord and Savior, that we can truly experience the healing of our brokenness.
To teach self help, or to rewrite or reinterpret the Bible along the lines favored by the Llano Estacado ministers, is to spread deception and bad news.
While the subject of homosexuality is one of those guaranteed to increase newspaper sales, it is of secondary importance when compared to the problems with which the majority of folks struggle on a day-to-day basis. It is a pity that such a course should be highlighted when there are many caring Christian churches in Portales and Clovis where God’s love is patiently and truthfully taught week after week.
Shirley Rollinson is a professor of religion at Eastern New Mexico University and a licensed lay pastor in the Episcopal church.