Lent #9 – A Balance of Two Readings

Written as a part of a Lent 2017 project. 

Luke Dowding

Suffering from a lack of words is not something I often struggle with; I chat prolifically and have a comment to offer on most things, most of the time. I suppose some people might call this opinionated, I just think I’m a verbal processor and so I may start the conversation following one line of thought but finish on something completely contrary, having used the dialogue to reform my initial idea.

However, this week I’ve struggled to find the words, the words to fully appreciate the different streams of faith consciousness that make up our society. On Sunday, I moderated a panel for Digital Pride, which will air online in April. The focus of the panel was to explore whether religion remains “the main villain” towards LGBT+ peoples. The panellists consisted of a predominantly Christian background with one contribution from a Muslim.

It was an interesting discussion which only scratched the surface of the complexity of the issue. We asked more questions than we answered, but what was clear was the  desire for more conversation, more education, more understanding to take place between both religious and the LGBT+ communities. To assign blame or call one another “villains” doesn’t help, but rather perpetuates division and the process of “othering”.

We also spent a short amount of time focussing on the religious texts of our traditions and whether it is as obvious as it might sometimes appear when it approaches issues of human sexuality. Interestingly, as I’ve attempted to handle Scripture more devotionally and less critically through Lent, I’ve noted that it is much easier to take passages at face value when reading them in a context of devotion. However, what we do with reading is key.

My words don’t often fail me, but I find myself struggling to find a way to accurately describe the balance of reading scripture critical and devotionally. I particularly struggle to describe this within the Christian tradition, where I acknowledge the Bible is, to various degrees, a collection of writings written by human hands.

More importantly, does my bias towards a particular way of reading the Bible continue to affect the way I read it devotionally? Can I ever fully take my critical hat off? And if I can, will I ever find the words to describe how God moves through Scripture, even when written with flawed human hands?

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Luke has a degree in Theology from Spurgeon’s College and is currently studying for his Masters in Biblical Studies at King’s College, part time. The rest of the time he works as a freelancer in business management and administration, attempts to journey with the Baptist Union of Great Britain on LGBT+ inclusion, is a Deacon at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, and works on projects such as Soho Gathering (@sohogathering). He is married to Steven and their wedding was the first same-sex marriage to be celebrated at Bloomsbury.

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