October 02, 2007

Interview with Rev. Steve Kindle, a Straight Ally

This from Faithfully Liberal:

The Rev. Steve Kindle has a unique ministry. He is Executive Director of Clergy United for the Equality of Homosexuals , a consulting and education organization focused on the inclusion of homosexuals and transgender persons in the church. Originally ordained in the conservative Churches of Christ, in whose colleges and seminaries he received his theological education, today he has standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Before founding Clergy United, he served as pastor of two “Open and Affirming” Disciples congregations, and since then has served as consultant to congregations exploring the process of becoming open and affirming to the GLBT community, and this fall he’ll be speaking to a number of Log Cabin Republican groups. Since the blogging bug has bit Steve, he has launched a new blog called Open Hearts – Affirming Pages.

Q. Since your background is fairly conservative, what was it that changed the way you looked at homosexuals?

A. I was raised in a very conservative home, both politically and religiously. My understanding of the gay community was formed by all the stereotypes that typically accompany such an upbringing: that they are in the main promiscuous, self-centered, lust filled, choose this “lifestyle,” and are not to be trusted around children. I happened to move from North Dakota to San Francisco and, in the course of getting to know the gay community, I discovered the startling reality that GLBTs are as normal as any other large segment of America. Also, working with many gay Christians challenged my view that “gay Christian” is an oxymoron. So, I began a lifelong pursuit of examining the scriptures used to support the antigay view and found the traditional interpretations wanting.

Q. To take this to another level, since you teach a seminar on the Bible and Homosexuality, what is the role of biblical interpretation in forming our views?

A. Most Christians don’t form their views, they inherit them. In the case of Fundamentalist, those who teach them seldom interpret the Bible; they are content to “let the Bible speak for itself.” So the surface reading of the scriptures is left as the final meaning rather than as the starting point for understanding. It’s as though the Bible should be read the same way we read the morning paper, without taking into consideration that some 2,000-3,000 years separate us from the original documents. If you are going to take the Bible seriously, you can’t take it literally; what it says may not be what it means in the least.

Q. Finally, Steve, is there anything we’ve not yet covered that you just have to get off your chest?

A. Yes, indeed, and thank you! Ultimately, the refusal of marriage to same-sex couples is a denial of their humanity. The first “not good” of creation was God’s discovery that “it is not good for the human to be alone.” When the church denies marriage to gay couples it is saying that you are not worthy of having your loneliness relieved in the only way it is possible. In other words, you are not worthy of being a human being. Imagine the anguish of a straight person not being able to marry, ever, unless he or she married someone of the same sex. God created us all in the image of God. Who are we to denigrate that which God has made?

I strongly agree with these points made by Rev. Kindle. It is always reassuring when I run across a straight person who shares the same calling of advocating for the GLBT community.

He tries to get people to think for themselves, not just take what they've always been taught at face value. I've said this before and it bears repeating here; education is the number one antidote to homophobia. I'm glad Rev. Kindle seems to approach his ministry with that goal.

1 comment:

  1. My first wife was lesbian, although as young as we were, and both of us with very conservative religious upbringings, it was unspeakable. After an eight year marraige that proved our love, but not our sexuality, we divored. I understood then the reality of homosexuality. Thank God for religious leaders like Rev. Kindle who understand and believe.