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?
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.