The Church and Homosexuality: Part 1.

If you are a Christian who feels at all called to leadership in ministry (or simply anyone who desires a healthier understanding) at some point in your life, then this is a discussion you will want to be involved in. The question of what sort of stance the church must take towards homosexuality is one that has torn the church apart (literally). Perhaps there is no bigger question for the church right now than this. I’ll be keeping up with these posts and I’d encourage you too also. To whet your appetite you can read this.

Grace and peace.

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7 comments
  1. Bookachov said:

    This is an important topic to bring up.
    I am interested to see where it goes.

    Have you read the article, “Is the homosexual my neighbor?”
    I don’t know that it is an article so much as a transcript of a couple at a conference, or something.. tony and peggy campolo.

    Peace
    E

  2. societyvs said:

    I am currently reading a Jewish author called Rabbi Steven Greenberg’s and his book called ‘wrestling with God and men’. I want a purely Jewish viewpoint on the subject before I broach the plethora of Christian viewpoints I am aware of. (The rabbi is orthodox and gay)

    My leanings on this issue are for the full fledged acceptance of anyone gay into our congregations. I also look at gay marriage as fulfilling what God did for Adam in creating him a ‘help’ in his time of lonliness.

  3. paul Lubberts said:

    A very big and important discussion. Yeah, bookachov and interesting article. I though it may serve as a metaphor for the church as she negotiates this. Until a gay friend said, no, thats not good enough for me, this is my life and who I am that is on the line, you need to give me more than that. Truth is, until we can see and be taught what is on the line for members of the LGBT community (life, love, happiness, existence) we should not wade into the discussion. While this topic has hit closer to home for me than most other people will ever experience (no I’m not gay), the pain of what I have endured has taught me a lot about the human side of the discussion. But on the flip side it is a matter of orthodoxy and thus (and the reason orthodoxy is so important) a matter of orthopraxis. Every day I pray for this “issue”, and the same prayer: that we would follow the Your Spirit and not the spirit of the age. With an emphasis on the real presence of a very destructive zeitgeist at work within those who call themselves the household of God.

  4. jt* said:

    @Book, no I haven’t read it. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll be sure to check it out!

    @Society, “My leanings on this issue are for the full fledged acceptance of anyone gay into our congregations.” See, I think this is problematic if you stop at this point. Acceptance is good, don’t get me wrong, but any sort of liberal notion of ‘tolerance’ seems to fall short of what we see in the scriptures. The church is meant to be a community of mutual transformation. “Full fledged acceptance” of *anyone* is good, but only half the story as far as I can tell. Everyone is accepted and everyone transformed.

    “I also look at gay marriage as fulfilling what God did for Adam in creating him a ‘help’ in his time of lonliness.” I’d be interested in hearing more on this.

    @Paul, “Truth is, until we can see and be taught what is on the line for members of the LGBT community (life, love, happiness, existence) we should not wade into the discussion.” This is very important. That’s why it’s not just about the transformation of the homosexual within the Christian community but the mutual transformation of all members of the community.

  5. Michael Nakou said:

    Very important discussion. I have very close friends who choose to live in a gay and lesbian and trans lifestyle.

    I love them all. We are mutually transforming.

    Here is a link to the Tony and peggy transcript.

    Blessings,
    M.

    http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/campolo.htm

  6. societyvs said:

    “Acceptance is good, don’t get me wrong, but any sort of liberal notion of ‘tolerance’ seems to fall short of what we see in the scriptures. The church is meant to be a community of mutual transformation.” (JT)

    What exactly is in the scriptures I would ask? I am not only asking for tolerance for gay people but actual acceptance. You said ‘Everyone is accepted and everyone transformed’…I beg to differ on that one concerning the gay community. They are not accepted into churches, yet you and I will never know that – because we are, and we are straight.

    I think Christians talk a lot of game when they say gay people are accepted into churches, it just isn’t true. Oh they can come in and try join, leave sexual identity at the door though. That is like a conditional acceptance, one which no other person really has on them.

    ““I also look at gay marriage as fulfilling what God did for Adam in creating him a ‘help’ in his time of lonliness.” I’d be interested in hearing more on this.” (JT)

    I have been reading Rabbi Steven Greenberg (a gay ordained Orthodox rabbi) and his book ‘Wrestling with God and Men’. Here is a snippet of what he talks about concerning Adam, God, and creation.

    There are 2 creation mythos, one in chapter 1 and another in chapter 2.

    In chapter two Adam is created by God first, prior to Eve. Adam starts to get lonely so God decides to create someone to fulfill him. God creates animals – this does not satisy Adam. God then creates from ‘Adam’ ‘Eve’. The partnership of love is built on the idea of ‘lonliness’ (for starters). Also Adam is attached to someone that comes from his ‘loins’ (so to speak)…so what is woman to be defined as? An extension of man?

    However the key thing is the idea of ‘2 becoming 1’ in the marriage ritual. I see three aspects there (alongside the rabbi’s apparently):

    (a) Sex – two become one
    (b) Children – Two become on new person
    (c) Committment – Two become one union and share the same sufferings, joys, etc.

    Gay people cannot truly do (a) and (b). However, they can do (c) – which is part of the reason God created Eve for Adam…lonliness.

  7. jt* said:

    @Society,

    “What exactly is in the scriptures I would ask? I am not only asking for tolerance for gay people but actual acceptance. You said ‘Everyone is accepted and everyone transformed’…I beg to differ on that one concerning the gay community. They are not accepted into churches, yet you and I will never know that – because we are, and we are straight.”

    Well I would suggest that in the scriptures we see that the church is, necessarily, a mutually transforming community. We’re a community that has yet to arrive. We’re on the way. This necessitates transformation as we’re seeking to bear the image of the one for whom we’ve been created.

    I’m not trying to argue that churches are fantastic at accepting homosexuals. Hell, we all know that ain’t true! Yet my point remains the same, the church isn’t *merely* an accepting community. Is the church a community where all are accepted and embraced? Yes. And where we do a disgusting job of this we ought to repent and seek the forgiveness of both God and our neighbours. However, acceptance alone does not define the Body. In this way, I see acceptance and transformation as two sides of the same coin.

    “I think Christians talk a lot of game when they say gay people are accepted into churches, it just isn’t true. Oh they can come in and try join, leave sexual identity at the door though. That is like a conditional acceptance, one which no other person really has on them.”

    Again, I’d agree that Christians (myself included) are guilty as charged. This is why there is a need for a way forward (after repentance of course).

    I’m curious about the use of the term “sexual identity” (not just your usage of the term but it’s usage in general). How do we reconcile this with what we see in the scriptures? Is sexuality *really* what identifies us? I’m not sure I would agree. I like what he authors of the St. Andrew’s Day Statement say: “Our sexual affections can no more define who we are than can our class, race or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is no such thing as ‘a’ homosexual or ‘a’ heterosexual; there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation,” (The Way Forward, 7).

    With this understanding, it is in Christ – and in Christ alone – that we can know both God and human nature as they really are. Therefore, it is in Christ that we know ourselves as we truly are: “There can be no description of human reality, in general or in particular, outside the reality in Christ,” (7). We can say, along with Paul perhaps, that there is neither gay nor straight, but Christ is all, and is in all (Col. 3:11).

    All of this being said I’m genuinely interested in a way forward for the church and I think we’ve generally done a terrible job thus far. It will be important then to listen to all sorts of voices, gay and straight, in an attempt to discern Jesus in our midst.

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