Mission and the LGBTQ community.

A while back I mentioned a Chicago pastor who was writing about mission and the LGBTQ community. I really feel strongly that this is an important issue. For too long the church has been at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the LGBTQ community, either “welcoming and affirming” or “welcoming and not affirming.” David is arguing for a third way, “welcoming and mutually transforming” and I think he’s doing a fantastic job.

His latest two posts have been great:

The Mission and GLBTQ Relations: Three Commitments of a “Welcoming and Mutually Transforming” Missional Community #1.

Why Pre-Labeling A Church Community’s Stance on Same-Sex Relations is a Bad Idea: Mission and GLBTQ Relations #2

You can check out the entire series thus far right here.

*It should be noted for those of you reading who wouldn’t identify yourselves as “within” the Church/Christ that this discussion might not make a whole lot of sense to you and that is completely understandable.

  1. Meg said:

    I don’t know where that came from! Sorry! 🙂 I think this is a great post, you know that!

  2. James said:

    Hey Jon. This is a complex issue, and I actually find it hilarious how the church tries to deal with this “hot potato” as Tony Campolo calls it. Ahhh. I think in a sense I have almost given up on xenophobic Christians and churches.

    When I became a new Christian there were many things I saw in the church (lower “c” as in the organization, and not the “Body”) that contradicted Scripture in a straightforward way. Churches and Christian leaders are great at sneaking in their personal bias with their teaching. An ocean of water (Scripture) can hide this pint of poison (bias).

    Politics. The first time I voted, I voted conservative because the church as a whole said that was the only Christian choice. I was told politics were about 2 things: Protecting life through preventing abortion, and Protecting the traditional family by preventing homosexuals getting married. Needless to say, this is idiocy – and a tactic the church has fallen for. My local conservative (Belinda) and the party as a whole won that year and as I watched the news they never spoke of the 2 “big” issues nor did they do anything for those two causes. I then learned of all the terrible things conservative politics stand for regarding fiscal and social policies. I decided to make a top 5 list of what I care about in politics, conservatives had contradictory ideas about what should be done, (against what Jesus taught in many cases) so I could never vote for them again. I am in a predicament because I have problems with each party and feel it would be great to have more choice. I don’t see the obsession with christians not wanting the LGBT community from committing to eachother in marriage. It is really none of my business, and those who think this will lead to the destruction of society are wrong and are falling for the “slippery slope” fallacy they are being played with.

    A bit of a tangent, but we as teachers have a huge responsibility to take our bias our of our teaching. In Timothy it speaks of teachers, and how if we cause a person to stumble because of our teaching, we may as well shoot ourselves in the face (current day millstone).

    We need to stop hating certain sins and sinners, start loving everyone, and repenting from our xenophobia.

  3. jt* said:

    Hey James,

    Thanks for weighing in. I think we share a lot of sentiments regarding modern day Christianity and the church and you’re someone who’s view (and more importantly life) I’ve come to respect and admire. Here’s a few initial responses to your comment:

    As we both know the Church will always fall short of what she could (should) be if for no other reason than the Body of Christ is composed of very flawed people. You say, “When I became a new Christian there were many things I saw in the church (lower “c” as in the organization, and not the “Body”) that contradicted Scripture in a straightforward way.” I agree, but I’d be wary of the tendency to draw a line in the sand and separate yourself from this (not that you’re trying to do that). If you’re anything like me, and perhaps you’re not, then you know that the same is true of your own life. As for me, there are things in my life “that contradict Scripture in a straightforward way.” Much of the time I feel like a bumbling fool. The hope, of course, is that the Spirit won’t give up on me and will continue to shape and transform my entire life. My point is simply that this isn’t an accusation that we can hurl at the church. We’re implicated in it as well.

    Secondly, while I agree with you that teachers have a big responsibility and that our bias’ are often harmful, I would push back at you with this question: Is it possible for a teacher/preacher/leader to be *free* from bias? To reveal my hand a bit, I’d lean towards ‘no’. We’re all biased because we all have different experiences and these experiences shape who we are as people and inform how we read scripture. To be sure, the same is true of me. That’s why anytime I come to the scriptures I like to keep in mind that “reading is interpreting.” No one just plainly and objectively reads the scriptures. We all interpret as we read and, therefore, we all tend to bring our bias’ with us into the text. This is why I would stress the importance of reading/wrestling with the scriptures within a community of discernment.

    This leads me to my next point. You said, “We need to stop hating certain sins and sinners, start loving everyone, and repenting from our xenophobia.” To be honest, the first time I read this it immediately didn’t sit well with me. I’ve read your comment over a few times now and I think I’m beginning to see why. How would you handle a situation where a husband is having an affair on his wife? I mean, surely this is a death-dealing situation and so I’m curious if your response would still be “We need to stop hating certain sins (adultery) and sinners, start loving everyone, and repent from our xenophobia.” I suppose what it comes down to is a question of how are we to understand the sort of community the Church is called to be. My short response to that question is that the Church is meant to be a Body that bears witness to a better way. Certainly this has real rubber-meets-the-road implications and I think that one of those implications works itself out in a particular set of ethics, including but not limited to sexual ethics. Whenever we celebrate the eucharist together we remember Christ and are taken up into the Body. To be part of the Body is to lay everything about ourselves at the feet of Christ. Now, when we do this there is no fear of actually losing ourselves in the matter, rather, it’s a matter of our whole lives being submitted to Christ. If this is the case, then there is no part of our lives that does not come under Christ’s authority or, to put it another way, there is no part of our life that is able to escape the transformative power of Christ. All of our life, our want and desires, must be re-understood and re-imagined in the light of Christ. ALL of our desire. There is no part of desire that is free from this, including sexual desire. And in this way the Body is a “mutually-transforming” community because *all* are being transformed “in Christ”. Simply put, the Body is a community where no one is left unchanged. We all come together and are transformed by one another and the Spirit.

    Therefore, I don’t think it’s a matter of simply “starting to love everyone”. Surely, love and grace are important lenses through which we should view each other and creation. And certainly we could all do a better job of this. But to suggest that we need to “stop hating certain sins” is, I think, misleading. Now this could lead into another whole discussion as to whether or not homosexuality is always sinful, sometimes sinful or never sinful but that’s another conversation.

    Ultimately, I agree with you on the point of repenting from our xenophobia and viewing others through a lens of love and grace. However, I disagree that “we need to stop hating certain sins” (we should hate all sin and death-dealing activity) as well as the idea that we need to simply accept everyone and leave it at that. The point of the Church isn’t simply acceptance (although that’s an important starting point and we see this in the scriptures, that everyone is invited). The point is transformation and regeneration that comes through the Spirit.

    That said, I think it’s important for the Church to wrestle with this issue and to understand sexuality in the light of Christ and what it means to be a renewed/redeemed humanity. What does a redemptive sexuality look like? I think that’s important to wrestle with and shouldn’t be simply swept under the rug by saying we need to “start loving everyone.”

    Peace bro!

  4. James said:

    Thanks for the reply Jon. In quick response:
    – When I came to the church, I was in weeks previous living a hedonistic high life so I was simply confused when I started reading the bible and seeing contradictions in the church.

    -amen to your second point, I just think as teachers we need to know our bias’ and agenda’s and make it known that it is our opinion. Like stating a conflict of interest.

    -Ah, by “loving everyone”, I meant “all without distinction” every type of sinner. My dad says true love confronts and tells the truth – this is somewhat true Jesus found easy. The adulteress woman, though Jesus had no sin, he still did not throw the stone – he did however ask her to stop sinning. Similarly with the Samaritan woman at the well.

    – again, “stop hating certain sins” (more than others) is just saying, all sin is equally sinful – though some has more extreme consequences.

    Sorry, I will try to be more accurate with my wording, text is difficult for me sometimes – my tone would help me in these discussions.
    See you soon hopefully.

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