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The following is a letter from Rev. Troy Perry releasing information about The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition that supports MCC theology regarding scripture used again homosexuality.

April 2002

Dear Saints:

I'm excited to share with you today one of the most important theological breakthroughs in the 33-year history of Metropolitan Community churches. Let me explain... For many centuries, Christian churches and denominations used the six "clobber passages" of the Bible to condemn gay and lesbian Christians. But when God called me to begin Metropolitan Community Churches in 1968, I had several spiritual experiences:

1. God gave me an inner conviction that God's gay and lesbian children were loved and welcomed by God. God's Word in Romans 8:16 became real to me: "The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."

2. I knew the Church had held biblical interpretations -- sometimes for
centuries -- that it later came to see as misinterpretations. Sadly, this happened with the biblical justification of slavery, the oppression of women, and acceptance of racism. In each of these cases, the Church came to admit that centuries of biblical interpretation were in error.

3. I knew how easy it was for people to read their prejudices and biases into God's Word -- rather than letting God's Word speak its own truth.

In the early days of MCC, I made a commitment -- a commitment to study God's Word and find out what the Scriptures really said about homosexuality. And one other thing is worth noting: I was committed to following this research wherever it took me. I had no desire to use Scripture to justify my beliefs -- I wanted to align my life with God's will and God's heart. So I plunged into my research. I participated in debates. I read biblical commentaries. I met with theologians. I studied the writings of Jewish rabbis and commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures by Jewish theologians and historians. I read books on the science and theories of biblical interpretation. Early MCCers begin to form interpretations based on the latest scholarship, the cultural context of biblical days, and the leading of God's Spirit. Out of this research, the founding members and ministers of Metropolitan Community Churches became convinced that the six "clobber passages" traditionally used against gays and lesbians had been interpreted out of context. Past church leaders had read their own biases into the verses. For the past 33 years, Metropolitan Community Churches have challenged the Church to re-examine God's Word as it relates to homosexuality. Thanks to the boldness, faithfulness and ministry of MCCers like you, the role of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the Church has moved to the forefront of almost every Christian denomination. Together, we have forever changed the face of Christianity. Now comes one of the most significant theological breakthrough in my 33 years of ministry with MCC. I'm holding in my hands a copy of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition. This ecumenical study Bible contains the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. This new edition was supervised by Oxford University with study and research notes edited by the world's outstanding biblical scholars. This is the world's premier study Bible -- and in a major breakthrough for GLBT people of faith everywhere -- its footnotes and study materials incorporate many of MCC's biblical interpretations and views. In the new study Bible, the views and interpretations of the "clobber passages" use the theology and interpretations we have developed within MCC! Imagine the joy I felt when I recently opened a package from a scholar, educator and friend to find a copy of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition -- along with a handwritten inscription that read, "Thanks for your life and ministry which have helped to shape the scholarship of this edition. May God continue to bless you and UFMCC in your quest for truth."

Let me share a few illustrations with you:

For 33 years, we have been teaching that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, understood in the Jewish context of that day, was the sin of severe inhospitality to strangers. This interpretation appears in The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

In Jude 7, this version offers the alternate reading that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah "went after other flesh" -- leading to the interpretation that their sin was against angelic visitors, not other humans,
and thus could not be a reference to homosexuality.

In Romans 1, the footnotes in the new version indicate that this passage is used "to denote not the orientation of sexual desire, but its immoderate indulgence," that is, it is not a prohibition of God's gift, but a prohibition against its misuse.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 adopts MCC's interpretation that these verses prohibit temple prostitution -- not homosexuality. n The Leviticus passage is the least clear -- though it is set in the larger context of differentiating the Children of Israel from the hostile nations that surrounded them.

All-in-all, the world renowned biblical scholars who prepared The New Oxford Annotated Bible have adopted a great deal of MCC's own scholarship and theology: There is no biblical condemnation of homosexuality -- only prohibitions against its misuse, just as there is no biblical blanket condemnation of heterosexuality, only prohibitions against misuse of that gift. I am pleased to commend this new study version of the Holy Scriptures. I believe it will be an important addition to the library of every MCC leader -- and will be used by God to further open the doors of all faith communities to love, embrace and affirm God's GLBT children.

In Christ,

/signed/

Rev. Troy D. Perry Founder and Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches


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