Here in the Balcony of Life, where we can see over the heads, behind the backs and beyond the wings of the daily drama that seems so real to the players, we often talk about Soul and Ego: Soul being that eternal part of us within which God resides, Ego being the mortal part, the personality and physical costume that are visible on planet Earth.

We also frequently discuss purpose: Why are our souls here, in this place, at this time? What unique thing did we come to do to facilitate the evolution of the planet and its consciousness—and how do our egos try to interfere with the fulfillment of the Soul’s desires?

Bishop Eddie Long

It’s with those questions in mind that we direct our attention to the stage on which the sexual abuse drama at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta is unfolding. If you entered the theater late, no problem, it’s very early in the first act.

You’ve only missed the part in which an anti-gay activist minister who counseled gay men and women in his 25,000-member congregation to “go straight,” became the defendant in two lawsuits claiming that he sexually abused teen boys. Within a couple of days, the number of lawsuits had doubled, and none of the plaintiffs withheld his name, choosing to be publicly scorned and permanently damaged personally and professionally, if they have filed false charges.

This is delectable fodder for the gawkers and gossips on the main floor of Earth’s theater. Up here in the balcony, where we can see the larger picture, the plot appears much deeper than that: Consider the possibility that the soul we physically recognize as Bishop Eddie Long has come here to jettison human consciousness above the level of Levitical ignorance.

The scribe of Leviticus had a particular hatred for those with same sex orientation. When the clergy at the Council of Nicea included the book of Leviticus’s hate-filled words in the anthology that they declared to be the Word of God, thy implanted the belief that homosexuality was a choice, that God considered it “an abomination,” and that those who engaged in same-sex relations “should be put to death.” We’ll love them anyway. That was 2,000 years ago; they didn’t know then what we know now.

In the centuries that followed, scientists discovered same sex orientation in the animal kingdom as well as in plant life. Choice? In addition to biological and botanical findings, genetics, meteorology, physics, geography, history, archeology, cartography, astronomy, other fields of study, and plain old common sense have proved that what the ancient scribes believed to be true simply isn’t. Claims that their works were inspired or dictated by God, who permeates every living thing, portrays God as ignorant rather than omniscient, and evolving rather than absolute.

We all have relatives, neighbors, dear friends, co-workers, bosses, students, teachers and other loved ones who are gay. If we’ve known them since childhood, we were aware that they were gay long before they knew what sex was. They taught us that gender preference is not a choice made on the physical level.

It amazes many learned Bible scholars, theologians and Thinkers that in the 21st century, millions still believe that everything in the Bible is true—and will vehemently defend the book, rather than defending its sometimes disparaging portrayals of God. As retired Episcopalian bishop, best-selling author and Bible scholar John Shelby Spong concluded: Anyone who thinks that everything in the Bible is true simply hasn’t read it.

One of Bishop Spong’s bestsellers, Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the Love of God, concluded something with even deeper relevance to our Atlanta-based drama: Paul of Tarsus, the man most responsible for the spread of Christianity, was gay. Bishop Spong was challenged on his theory by a very defensive fundamentalist host of a TV show. I thought the host was going to pop a blood vessel, he was so incensed by the thought that Paul could be gay.

Like Paul, there are those who presume that God “hates” certain aspects of “His” creation, and that if something or someone is different from the majority, they are unacceptable in “God’s sight” and should be chastised, ridiculed or even eliminated. For all we know, the writer of Leviticus might have been fighting his own demons, unwilling to accept himself and his natural attraction to those of the same sex. Or maybe it was run-of-the-mill bigotry, the unruly child of pure ignorance.

If Bishop Spong’s theory is correct, perhaps, like Paul, others have assuaged their own discomfort or hatred of themselves for being different. They controlled their natural attraction to the same sex by convincing themselves and others that God hated that behavior and would violently punish it. Perhaps they forgot that God is Love; Love does not hate, judge, punish or respond violently.

Perhaps 21 centuries is long enough. Maybe it’s time for this unloving behavior to end, time for us to evolve to a higher level, to align ourselves with divine consciousness, the Love Consciousness that is the real God. Maybe it’s time to put down the picket signs, stop condemning or trying to change those who are different, and accept each of us for who we are.

Maybe that’s the mighty job that Bishop Eddie Long’s soul bravely agreed to do on a very public stage. Time will tell, and we’ll all be blessed.

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16 Responses to The Beginning of the End of Levitical Ignorance?

  1. Rev. Bobby says:

    Oneness – neither male of female. No sex in Spirit. God loving itself through itself, enfolding itself within itself. I could do that! Not that much of a stretch….

  2. Rev. Bobby says:

    P.S. P/, Very nice job.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patricia Arnold, Patricia Arnold. Patricia Arnold said: The Beginning of the End of Levitical Ignorance?: […]

  4. Emma Young says:

    Imagine me standing and clapping loudly to give you a standing ovation. What an excellent, excellent article! This is the first thoughtful, intelligent, non-gossipy response to this so-called “scandal” that I have heard. When I joined Trinity UCC in ’85 the first class we had to take before we took any other bible class was called “The Inspiration of the Scripture.” The culmination of that class was that “men are fallible, the Bible was written by men.” Rev. Wright was honest enough to point out some discrepancies and contradictions within the Bible. Paul had many hangups and his hangups about women certainly could be explained by his “gayness.” Maybe that explains that mysterious scripture when he says “I wish that everyone could be like me.” Gay? 🙂 Great job!!

  5. Ollie says:

    GIRL !!!! This is fantastic writing and more important the no gossip approach and definition of the possibility of why his soul is here is outstanding. Thanks for the great insight 🙂

  6. Thank you so much, Rev. Ollie!

  7. Emma Young says:

    P.S. As for the accusations – I believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty. I understand that these young men were consenting adults – so there was no crime, except the crime of them breaking into Bishop Long’s home and stealing his iphones and jewelry. Could they have used those iphones before getting caught or before Bishop Long noticed they were missing to email those photos to themselves and to text messages to themselves? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to change the time on their phones and on his phone. I’m just saying ….

  8. Duane says:

    @ Emma: Just for the record, the two accusers broke into and stole items from Bishop Long’s office at the church, not his home

  9. Emma Young says:

    @Pat and Duane — You both are right, but if I was his lawyer, I’d sure try it anyway. 🙂

  10. Keith Boykin says:

    Great article. Very timely and insightful. I also checked out the YouTube clip with John Shelby Spong. Wonderful piece. I love when he tells the host “I don’t see the Bible as the word of God.” Now that’s a conversation starter.


  11. Conversation starter, @Keith? It would probably silence most clergy. Another Bible scholar wrote in one of his many bestsellers that his divinity school taught that the Bible was written, re-written, erroneously translated and revised by humans. But the school required each student to sign a form declaring his or her belief that the Bible was the inerrant word of God.

    Fascinatin’ stuff! But it makes sense that those who would be so hypocritical would present the world with a “Do as I say, not as I do” God.

  12. Eric says:

    Great article thanks for your insights. My church is in schism over this issue. We have not been able to reconcile biblical writings with homosexuality. My thoughts have always leaned toward the need to have armies in the ancient world (the Jews saw their military as a necessity) as well as we do in the post modern world. Same sex marriages have no natural offspring and therefore reduces military strength. Drones well that’s another story.

  13. My goodness, my goodness, @Eric, the military angle TOTALLY escaped me! Duh! Solving problems by killing God’s children has ALWAYS played a prominent role on Earth and in the Bible. 😉

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