Top positive review
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A voice worth hearing about a topic worth discussing
on 29 March 2017
Shaw is not going to please everyone, especially the Christian left. He stands, as he knows well, in a sort of No Man's Land where he risks separation from both camps. His voice is essential in a very heated debate, and all credit to him for being strong enough to be vulnerable for the sake of others.
I have learned a lot from reading his story and the pointers that he gives to a largely opposite-sex attracted church. The 9 or so loving and much-needed criticisms he nails on our door have direct implications for how the church should not only be serving the gay community, but also for completely different demographics who have could have many issues with sex, love and attraction that we are in danger of ignoring: the widow and widower, the childless trying parents, the homeless, the addicted, the grieving, the mentally disabled, straight voluntarily celibate. The love of Jesus goes like a magnet to these people, and if Ed did nothing else but remind us to listen and be with people, even our theological and societal 'enemies, then his story will have been worth sharing.
Churches aren't clubs, Ed reminds us, where you need 2.4 kids and a white picket fence in order for God to come to you and be with you in your plight. The single word I may have invented that I will take from 'The Plausibilty Problem" is 'familiolatry', the idolatry of the family, a idol whose temple is typically filled with the religious right, an idol of a god who is useful and wrathful in the culture wars.
I am reminded of Richard Rohr's observation that the cause of the outsider (here, the same-sex attracted Christian) is the cause of everybody. The voice of those on the margins contain the key for the integration and health of the whole community. Shaw is right in reminding us that listening to and simply being with the perceived outsider is never something Jesus is NOT going to call those who bear his name to throw all their efforts into.
Making your mind up about what the Bible says about issues of sex and attraction is only for you to do, whatever you end up confessing. But I would encourage you to read Ed Shaw's story, see the sincerity, sacrifice and joy that God is guiding him into, in the midst of his particular worldview and challenges. Ed's choice of celibacy has a good precedent in both in both Paul and Jesus. I don't think Jesus was a stranger to the 'kitchen floor' moments that Ed discusses, I think Gethsemane was the kitchen floor moment to end all kitchen floor moments.
However, while I (the jury) am still out on some of Ed's conclusions and opinions, I love the bravery and servant-heartedness he has in his testimony, and the direct benefit Christians on both sides of the political aisle will have if they simply listen.