Thank you for having me on the program today. I am Daniel Haas with Provo Community United Church of Christ. When you ask a German Evangelical minister like me to speak at a Pride Festival you are gonna get a biblical lecture. So here it goes – the Greek New Testament knows two kinds of love: agape and eros.
You may have heard folks saying the “the Bible” opposes anything but the “straight” narrow path. Please bear in mind that both Judaism and early Christianity were persecuted minorities. And please don’t give up on the Bible altogether just because some of the biblical authors needed to establish their identities opposed to their pagan environment. They were in extremely weak, vulnerable and dangerous positions.
Greeks and Romans practiced philadelphia, that is brotherly love in an eros sense: “Man, love your brother with all your body, mind and soul.” We are talking holistic desire and sexual passion. Jewish and early Christian communities related to the concept of philadelphia. They took it and reinterpreted it in an agape sense: “Be a decent person and treat your neighbors with respect.” Unfortunately along those lines some needed to part with their pagan past and started badmouthing erotic philadelphia. When you find a cool new faith that works better for where you are on your spiritual journey, you sometimes will dismiss your past culture. So again, please don’t dismiss the Bible as a whole for the weakness of some of its authors. Once they had had their coming-out as Christians, they looked at their old lives with new eyes and were confused.
Here is the Good News:
People of faith are no longer a persecuted minority. Christians need not have a persecution complex in the Western World. People practicing same-sex love are no longer the pagan opponent of Christianity, but gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people find themselves to be people of faith, spiritual and capable of holiness. Today faith and LGBT identities need not polarize or stand against each other but can and must be reconciled – especially in Utah.
Here is my biblical call to all faith communities in Utah:
In the name of love you must make sure that LGBT people do not find an environment that puts them in extremely weak, vulnerable and dangerous positions, or as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans in chapter 15, verse 7: “So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!”