By jazc

 I was raised in an evangelical church in the years before that identity was cemented in a conservative political perspective.  For me, my evangelical church meant community, support, meaning, and purpose.

That evangelical church pointed me toward a liberal arts education which valued study, knowledge, scholarship and growth.  I was encouraged not to be afraid of new ideas, including those concerning theology and biblical literature.

 By the 1980s I was reading a book on homosexual portrayals in the Bible.  It considered history, culture, and language in order to understand a more accurate interpretation of these Scriptures.  Combined with information on human physiological sexual diversity, of which I was becoming aware, I journeyed to a new place in which I could better understand and accept the emotional and psychological, as well as sexual, diversity that some experience.

 I have not been alone on this journey.  This continuing theological development by some raised in evangelical churches rarely makes the news.  Their work reaching out and joining those of other traditions in efforts to make a just, loving world, can find it difficult to overcome the headlines generated by the political manipulation of and the participation by many in the evangelical community caught up over the years in a backlash against the civil rights movement and an egalitarian, democratic, pluralistic society in general.

My hope is that those raised in more recent versions of the evangelical church, especially the young, will realize that it is part of their tradition to question, search, learn and grow as they work with others to create what philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the beloved community.

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