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Reverend Caro Hall, an Episcopalian priest and board member of the national organization for LGBT ministers, Integrity USA, spoke to a large audience in the Business Silo to discuss the topic of gay acceptance in the Christian community.
Hall shared important ideas about human and Christian identities: one of the more notable being God’s unconditional love for all people with no exceptions.
“God loves me exactly the way I am,” she said. “God loves every one of us just the way we are.”
Hall eased into her talk by explaining the difficulty she faces identifying as a lesbian.
“Being gay is more than something I do; it’s not like a habit I can change or an addiction that with prayer I can overcome,” she said. “It is a core sense of myself.”
The effects of being homosexual are culturally conditioned, according to Hall. Her own personal and Christian identity has been “fogged” through her relationships, which has altered her sense of self over time.
“It’s always a mistake to make generalizations about a person’s sexual identity,” she said. “Sexual identity changes over time and is very individual.”
Through several years of researching the question of why homosexuality has been such a dividing line in the Christian church, Hall has come to a conclusion. Certain people are the problem, not the religion as a whole.
“This debate is human construct and has nothing to do with God’s purposes or intentions,” she said.
Hall went on to explain that while people tend to relate certain Biblical passages to homosexuality, they only apply to the modern gay community if one believes each word of each passage is authoritative.
“This controversy about whether you can be gay and Christian can’t easily be answered by saying, ‘What does the Bible say about homosexuality?’” she said. “The Bible itself doesn’t say anything directly about gay relationships in the 21st century, just as it says nothing directly about cyber bullying or stem cell research.”
There is no true Christian religion that has been passed on from the Apostles over the course of history, Hall said. Deciding which Christian teaching was correct was a process of debate, one that generated a great deal of strife, unrest and political power battles.
Although there are many books on the subject, Hall believes the Bible says very little. To pull out a few verses in order to create an argument regarding homosexuality is not sound; even Luther, “champion of the Bible,” did not do that.
Over the past 30 years, gay, lesbian and transgender people have become the scapegoats of religious rights, Hall said.
“It’s normal behavior to cement our relationships by excluding someone else,” she said. “If you’re the scapegoat person, it can be very painful and damaging.”
She believes the root of the religious unrest lies in actuality, a political position that is intended to support the status quo and empower white men.
Empowering women and people of color as well as lesbians, gays and transgenders to come out of the closet threatens the current patriarchal system, which has been supported by structures and teachings of the Christian church, Hall said.
“But that isn’t what Christianity is about,” she said. “The gospel is about creating a just society where we can all live together in harmony.”
Communications freshman Hannah Berookhim agreed with Hall’s opinions and hopes these feelings are present in other people.
“We are kind of on a tipping point in history where everyone is getting more comfortable with idea of people being who they are and not hiding it,” Berookhim said. “Hopefully at some point it won’t be an issue anymore.”