I had intended to write in response to the beautiful piece written about Peter Beeson, and his journey of Faith, Love, and self-acceptance, but unfortunately, I feel compelled to address instead the ugly reaction to this news I have witnessed from self-professing followers of Christ. These modern-day Pharisees (used in the Bible synonymously with “hypocrite”, and not used here to disparage the Jewish community) always attempt to wrap their hatred and narrow-mindedness in the cloak of Biblical sanction.
They quote Leviticus 18:22 and Deuteronomy 23:17, the prohibition of cross-dressing in Deuteronomy 22:5, the New Testament reiteration of gender roles and the ban on homosexuality in Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6:9-10, the negative treatment of the topic throughout I and II Kings, and, of course, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (to name a few). They smugly and self-righteously pat themselves on the back for supposedly having the Biblical high ground, all the while missing the entire message of Jesus, that of love, compassion, forgiveness, and affirmation.
Instead of recognizing and aspiring to the spirit of Christ’s message, they take the Bible literally, and get lost in the minutia of outdated understandings, expired commandments, and prohibitions that have lost their relevance in today’s day and age. Indeed, the proverbial “joke” is on them, because, in making the transition to his authentic self, Peter has brought himself and his congregation closer in-line with Biblical teachings on church polity and governance.
The Bible unequivocally states that the role of bishop or pastor should only be assumed by a man. In I Timothy 2:12 the Bible says that a woman is not to teach or usurp authority over the man, and in I Timothy 3:2 the Bishop is to be the “husband of one wife.”
A full reading of the New Testament will reveal many such other instances of the same command that the role of clergy is to be exercised by a man. Therefore, in transitioning, Peter took a step of obedience to God’s Word, and fulfilled an important qualification for the office he so ably exercises.
One would think that this would be cause for celebration for Bible-believing Christians, but instead, they seem so blinded by hatred and judgment that they have completely overlooked this aspect of the story, and choose to dwell instead on what they perceive to be negative, “sinful,” and even “abominable.” All of this demonstrates, of course, how blessed we are to have congregations such as St. Matthews and pastors such as Peter who have the discernment to choose which portions of the Bible remain relevant, and which should be condemned as incompatible with the imperative of love and tolerance.
It is vital that others follow the courageous example of Pastor Beeson in re-defining what Christianity means for this current generation, rather than allowing the archaic and hateful portions of the Bible to govern their lives, and keep them from experiencing the healing power of love.