Dear Rev. Randy Vaughn and other concerned pastors:
I hope all is well! I write you all honored to hold a conversation about such a precious social issue in this moment in history as a American Baptist College graduate (2014) and as a Masters of Arts candidate at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
Rev. Vaughn, you have addressed some issues that you have with the college in relation to what you think it should mean to be “Baptist”. I also understand that you are irate with Bishop Yvette Flunder, a lesbian, speaking at our “homecoming”–the Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series during March 15th-18th.
You told The Christian Post, “We do not wear our sin as a badge and parade it, when will the downward spiral end?”
I would like to address your idea of LGBTQIA persons being sinful. In my article on HBCUstory, I wrote,
“The Bible, at best, must be interpreted through a lens that liberates the characters in the scriptures that are oppressed. If the Bible has less to do with liberation, Blacks, Queers, or any oppressed group do not have the ability to transcend dehumanization and be treated with fair civil amenities.
Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, writes in “An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination”
As a result it is doubtful if these two particular verses (18:22 and 20:13) of prohibition can be taken out of context when it is generally acknowledged that the wider holiness “system” advocated here is not pertinent in contemporary Christian faith. It seems unlikely that this single prohibition can be extracted from a wider notion of holiness of a ritual kind to the neglect of the rest of the system. (pg. 71)
In essence, interpreters of the holy scriptures have become people that have adopted only parts to the holiness system. How could interpreters of the Bible give ecclesiastical weight to one law that was adopted into the holiness code but not give weight to the whole code? Interpreters have condemned homosexuality but have not condemned: the trimming of beards (19:27), mistreating foreigners (19:33-34), the priest shall not go where there is a dead body (21:11), working on the Sabbath (23:3), and selling land permanently (25:33). The Hebrew Bible notates all of these are offensive acts and yet we as a faith community decide to adopt one single law out of another community’s law thousands of years ago. Does this law out of the holiness code work for us in the 21st century?
Furthermore, the context of this Levitical text shows that Levitical writers wrote this text to control the land and procreate. They were concerned about the act of sex between two males rather than the being of a homosexual. This law was a law that the Levitical writers used to assert force over the inhabitants of the land and to live out being “fruitful and multiplying”.
What did God have to do with this sacred text? Was this what God said or what Israel said God said? How could we use the Bible to pick and choose scriptures that oppress an entire community? It is quite clear that we let a fragmented understanding of the scriptures justify the means of social control, domination, and degradation towards the LGBTQ community.
Let’s subvert the oppression of the LGBTQ community by reading the scriptures with liberating eyes. God must never be used to co-sign bigotry and oppression. My God is not a bigot!”
In essence, I support American Baptist College. My Alma Mater has always been a place where students learn social justice leadership. The effective 21st century pastor will be a pastor who approaches ministry with “the least of these” in mind. I urge you to rethink how you feel about this pressing issue of the LGBTQIA community.
We for far too long have asserted who we think are good enough to be Christians. Let’s end this today. A relationship with the same gender on earth, will never forfeit a relationship one can have with an Almighty God in heaven.
With God’s Love,
Robert K Hoggard
American Baptist College 14′
MA Candidate, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Director of Fundraising and Membership, Metro Justice