News from AllianceQ: April 2014
Book Review: Outing the Bible: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Christian Scriptures
This review was written by GLAD member Rev. Robert J. Shaw
Early in her book Outing the Bible: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Christian Scriptures, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson claims the Bible as “ a resilient friend who bounces back and even talks back when I question it. . . .(it) belongs to anyone who will love it, push it to its limits, touch it and be touched by it. . .” (Pp.27-28).
She remains true to that attitude throughout. Her book is, by turns, a work of serious biblical scholarship, an exciting advocacy for a fresh biblical hermeneutic, and an outrageously speculative, sometimes playful tweaking of traditional understandings.
I have considered myself a serious Bible student strongly supportive of LGBTQ people for more than forty years, yet Wilson’s insights:
- Caused me (figuratively) to slap my forehead thinking: “Why did I never think of that?” more than once.
- Often had me laughing out loud, e.g., when claiming to be genuinely insulted that as a Lesbian she does not rate “abomination” status granted to homosexual men in Leviticus.
- Sometimes left my thinking unchanged, but only after following wonderfully provocative theological and biblical trails. Even when I disagreed with her, at no time did I think she was asking questions that should not be asked.
A major part of her overall premise is the desire to “move away from just defending ourselves into a more proactive reading the Bible” and to not be “content with trying to prove that the Bible does not unilaterally condemn us” (P 22).
She provides us (people of faith within the LGBT and supporting straight community) with tools to move beyond that defensive posture. If we can reclaim the Bible, it can become for us the powerful tool (weapon) it has historically been for oppressed minorities. It is the most dangerous thing the dominant majority can put in our hands.
The author, Nancy Wilson, is Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, a position similar to General Minister and President in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
The reviewer, Rev. Robert J. Shaw is an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also has standing in the United Church of Christ. He has been in ministry more than forty years and has been a “straight ally” since seminary days. He and his wife Susan McNeely have gay family members and have each lost close friends to HIV/AIDS. He is currently active as a volunteer with Indiana Youth Group, a service agency for LGBTQ and straight ally youth in the Indianapolis area.