To help us stay up-to-date with the issue of homosexuality in the church I would like to post Giles Parker's ideas of how a Christian might hold a biblical view in support of homosexuality and gay marriage. Mostly it goes to erring on the side of God's love rather than that of divine judgment, as well as to embracing a wider fellowship within the church that presently discriminates against, and actively disallows, gays from open fellowship by gossip and personal prejudice.
Though I am not gay, I had a very good college friend and roommate (of two years) who was gay. At the time he was closeted and only chose to share his deep feelings with me much later in our relationship. Too, because of the university setting I was in I have had the opportunity to meet several other gays, including a couple of friend living in the dormitory room across from me. Moreover, in my later college and single adult ministries we welcomed all people. Inviting all to participatory worship and ministry regardless of orientation though my church itself took a dim view of it at the time.
At one time I held the view that homosexuality is a sin. I still do, but in the context of lust even as I would with heterosexuals unbounded by the union of marriage. I do not condemn a person for being gay much less than I would for a person being left-handed or grey-eyed. It is their psychological and physiological make-up, or nature, and would be silly to do so. And to revoke our American laws to allow for gay marriage in my estimation is the right thing to do. To do less is to deny the basic human rights which all American citizens must be allowed to participate in, and not just some based upon sexual orientation.
Thus, whether the church likes it or not, we must consider the gay argument for inclusive fellowship with the church, and not exclusive from its congregations. The article below is well written and falls in line with other past articles that have been posted here. Hence, these are the perspectival views for biblical argument for inclusion of gay ministry and fellowship into the church. Personally, I think its high time we did. There is sin - but being gay is not one of them. And wishing for human solidarity, acceptance, and a bonafide union is right and appropriate, whether my conservative evangelical friends think so or not, dithering on its edges arguing the pros and cons. May God forgive us for our sin, our apathy, our hatred, and unloving actions.
October 29, 2013
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Preface by Brian McLaren
by Brian McLaren
October 28, 2013
One of the blessings of my life as a "traveling evangelist" is that I meet fascinating people and make new friends around the world. One of them is Giles Parker, a charismatic house-church leader in the UK. Giles, like a lot of Christian leaders, has been grappling with the church's response to LGBT people. He is able to talk about the issue with both openness and respect for those who differ. He is part of the gathering here in Thailand, and graciously gave me permission to share a paper he recently shared with a group of charismatic pastoral leaders. I think you'll be impressed and may want to pass on his good work.
CAN YOU HOLD A BIBLICAL VIEW IN SUPPORT OF
HOMOSEXUALITY AND GAY MARRIAGE?
HOMOSEXUALITY AND GAY MARRIAGE?
A paper for discussion
By Giles Parker
The arrival of gay marriage as a present day, legally accepted norm in our society, has ignited the debate across the church of its validity. It has also got us re-examining our understanding of sexuality from a biblical perspective with specific regard to homosexuality as an orientation and as a sexual practise. In wanting to hold faithfully to the bible, the church is considering its own historical understanding and more importantly its own behaviour toward the LGBTQ community. As has happened before, is the Holy Spirit prompting the church to change? The obvious answer is yes! The question is - In what way?
It is hard to think of a community of people in history that the church has not more actively alienated and ostracised than the gay community. The present day perception from outside the church is staggering. In his book UnChristian, the result of a three-year study of what young Americans think about Christianity, David Kinnaman discovered that, 91% of young Americans chose anti-homosexual from a list of 21 positive and negative descriptors as the best word to describe present day Christianity. And this is the target group that most evangelical churches are hoping to reach. As followers of Jesus, the author of life and love, how can the first thing that is said about us be that we are anti-anyone?
And this perception has not come about by chance. Though we may individually distance ourselves from this description, we must acknowledge that there has got to be a collective shift of thinking and a behavioural change in the body of Christ. The default perception of all people, gay or straight, should be that the church is a welcoming, loving family that respects and values [each other] deeply, and seeks for [gays] be fully integrated [into the church] and [to] play their part. This should be all the more compelling for us when we see justice, reconciliation and inclusion sitting at the very heart of the message of Jesus.
When I suggested that we hold this day, it was with a view, not that we would have a polarised debate to see who wins the argument. That would be unhealthy and achieve little, but rather to encourage a gracious and mature on-going conversation around this extremely important pastoral and theological issue.
We all have a Starting Point
The fact is – we all have one! We all have our own preconceptions, both positive and negative. In preparing this paper, I have asked many Christians, both young and old, of their current view on homosexuality. Most have expressed strong opinions, both for and against, but very few could biblically or factually support them, or explain why. In some cases, when questioned further, their position appeared to be based more on inherited prejudice and discrimination than on any clear biblical conviction.
We can’t really help it. We all read the bible through the lenses of our own world view and listen to the voice of the Spirit through the headphones of our own preconceptions. In doing justice to a subject like homosexuality, and giving honour to the word of God, we have to start by discarding our own current preconceptions as best we can.
A Creature of the Left
With regard to orientation, I am very left-handed. I wouldn’t even know hwo to start writing with my right. Also I’m left footed, my left eye is keener than my right, my left ear is stronger than my right, suffice to say, mentally, physically, psychologically and politically I’m a creature of the left. I never chose to be so left orientated but it’s how I find myself and how I understand the world I live in is from a left perspective.
I have never met a gay person who has just chosen to be gay. More often than not it’s the ‘story’ they find themselves in. From a psychological perspective, Orientation describes one’s awareness of the objective world in relation to one's self. Gay orientation describes an awareness of being that may extend well beyond sexual behaviour or attraction.
As an openly heterosexual bloke I’m fully wired to appreciate physical, feminine beauty. Frankly I never decided to be this way. I just am. That does not mean my whole sense of attraction is limited purely to the sexual or physical. Marriage remains the only context to celebrate sexual union. Expressing love through a committed monogamous relationship includes all facets of covenantal love, partnership, companionship, adventure and building a family together. And I can only imagine ever expressing and sharing that depth of relationship with a woman.
Shared love is a basic human need. The fact is the desire to express such love through a committed monogamous relationship is not limited to the heterosexual world. A gay man may deeply desire the same love relationship with the same depth of companionship, adventure and desire to build a family together, but the way he finds himself wired means that he can only ever imagine that being fulfilled with another man.
THROUGH THE LENS OF CHRIST
The reason we need to be changed into the image of Christ is that we’re not so much like him. When we read the bible we should do so with his eyes and his perspective especially with regard to sin and judgmentalism. He thrills us with the level of love, acceptance and grace he shows towards those caught in sin and equally shocks us with his level of anger and indignation towards the religious superstars and judgmental sin-spotters of his day.
John 8:1-11 gives the account of the woman caught in adultery. Read it again and ask yourself, what’s the key verse to us the readers? It may be that what catches your eye is what Jesus finally said to the woman at the end of verse 11 – ‘go and sin no more’. After all Jesus not only saves her and forgives her, but most important of all he doesn’t ignore her sin. But the reality is that this was a private conversation between Jesus alone with her. You could say it has absolutely nothing to do with us. If I’d been there in the crowd, what I’d have heard loud and clear was ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone!’ Of course we don’t ignore the destructive impact that sin can have in someone’s life but this passage screams at us from heaven – Stop your judging! Look at yourselves! Grace, Acceptance, Forgiveness!
Just in case you didn’t know, Jesus never said “Love the sinner and hate the sin”. Mahatma Gandhi said it rephrasing a saying of St. Augustine.
Furthermore Jesus never would have said it! He never called us to be so sin focused. That would be so out of character! Rather He commands us to concentrate on loving each other in exactly the same way that he loves us. So then let me just love by brother, my sister, my friend, my enemy, and rather hate and seek to deal with the sin in my own life.
Here are the 11 bible passages that are often referenced with regard to Homosexuality. Of these, all but three are completely irrelevant or almost entirely redundant.
Genesis 19:1-11 (NIV)
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
This passage clearly has nothing to do with consensual sex but rather implies the threat of forced rape. Of greater concern than whether this refers to homosexuality is Lot’s willingness to offer his daughters.
Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 (NIV)
“‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable”.
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own heads”
We can often read the Levitical laws without considering what was the point of them? The context of these two passages are the holiness and purity codes set down for the people of Israel - rules set forth both to define what was clean and unclean before God, as well as what set the Hebrew people apart from their heathen neighbours.
As a Christian what weight should I give to the Levitical Law? We are told that our priesthood is of the order of Melchizedek and not Levi. If I choose to be under the law, James 2:10 implies that we cannot pick and choose to use the Law in part and exclude other parts; the Law demands us to use all of it.
So if we are going to judge homosexuality based on Levitical Law, then next week if a person misses a worship service on Sunday or worse has a job on a Sunday, do we stone him or her as well? (Exodus 31:15) Or at least subject them to the same level of alienation as we might do for gay people in our midst.
An old approach of dividing the Levitical laws into three watertight categories – ceremonial, civil and moral with an implication that we can ignore the first two and keep the third appears simplistic. Also bear in mind Leviticus 21:16-23 which doesn’t exactly favour those with physical disabilities.
So we do not reject the law. Instead we need to see the Levitical law through the lens of Christ. As Paul said, ‘do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather we uphold the law’ Romans 3:31. So we should view Leviticus, with its regulations through Christ rather than embracing the law so literally so that we end up viewing Christ through Leviticus.
Judges 19:16-24 (NIV)
That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. When he looked and saw the traveller in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?” He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. 19 We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.” “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink. While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”
This sounds like a re-run of Sodom and Gomorrah. Again this passage clearly has nothing to do with consensual sex but rather implies the threat of forced rape.
I Kings 14:24, I Kings 15:12, II Kings 23:7 (NIV)
There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.
He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.
These passages are referring to prostitution and clearly have nothing to do with consensual sex.
With only the Old Testament to hand our discussions based on these 7 passages would have been rather thin on the ground.
Jude 7 (NIV)
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
In order to define the sexual immorality and perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah we refer to Genesis 19:1-11 above. Again this passage can only be read in the same way. It clearly has nothing to do with consensual sex but rather implies the threat of forced rape.
I Timothy 1:8-10 (NIV)
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.
Paul uses the Greek word ‘arsenokoitai’ that some translations render perverts. To fully understand what is at stake here, we need to understand what Paul is talking about in the Greek and Roman contexts. Once again, in this context there is no such thing as ‘homosexuality’ understood as an orientation of sexual and emotional desire, as described above, rather, it is describing specific ‘sex acts’. Furthermore we must read it in the context of the list – killers, murderers, slave traders, liars, perjurers – all abusive acts of one person to another. So to be consistent we should assume that Paul in his use of the word ‘arsenokoitai’ is again referring of an abusive act of one person to another and is not referring in any way to the context of a monogamous loving relationship between two consenting adults.
We should also bear this in mind when considering other scriptures when Paul uses the same word and consider its context.
Romans 1:26-2:2 (NIV)
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
Paul refers to shameful acts between men, with the implication of the same between women. Again, we would tend to try to identify what those acts might be without considering the context in which they are referred to.
Paul is defining these shameful acts that God gave them over to as a result of the fall. He then describes these people as full of envy, deceit and malice, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Who is Paul really talking about here? Who is he really talking to? Let’s read on…Romans 2:1 You therefore! Who? The Roman Church. You are without excuse. Why? because you who pass judgment do the same things.
The context of Paul’s usage of these ‘shameful acts’ in Romans 1 is not to condemn the gay community but to confront those who judge them.
Furthermore, even the most superficial reading of the list of characteristics in Romans 1 above demonstrates that they just do not describe typical gay Christians or the vast majority of gay or lesbian couples seeking to live within a faithful, monogamous committed relationship. So who is Paul referring to? Some commentators would suggest Paul is referring to temple prostitution or an exploitative form of sex between men and boys or slaves that was all too common. It is worth saying that there is evidence in Platonic writing and more to suggest that gay relationships and partnerships were not unheard of.
By way of reference, there was an ancient short handbook to living the Jesus way in early Christian community called the Didache. It was written about the same times as the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and did the rounds of the early house churches of the time. Didache 2:2 acts as a useful reference to the context of the time…
Do not commit murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not corrupt boys. Do not have illicit sex.
With regard to homosexual acts, ‘Pederasty’, the exploitative sex between men and young boys, appears also to be the primary focus of concern for early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage and John Chrysostom.
It is therefore not entirely clear what Paul is referring to in Romans 1 and there are understandable differences of opinion on it. Yes it’s possible he may have been referring to stable monogamous faithful non-celibate gay relationships after all it is possible such relationships occurred however, the context of the passage suggests otherwise.
The evidence of the times suggests that it could have included temple prostitution but this requires some conjecture. The other possibility that was clearly known as a problem to the early churches was that Paul was referring to Pederasty. This would fit the context and the culture. What seems pretty clear is that it is not that clear. And the reader should proceed with caution, humility and grace in interpreting it.
1 Corinthians 6:9-12 (NIV)
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexual acts nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’– but I will not be mastered by anything.
This is pretty clear and warns specifically against deception. Paul also makes clear that these were the lifestyles that some in the Church used to follow. But first to set some ground rules.
We understand that the Kingdom of God is in heaven and on earth. Otherwise our experience of life in Christ so far is an illusion and the prayer Jesus taught his disciples was just wishful thinking. This is therefore not answering the question, who goes to heaven? It’s about who inherits the life of the kingdom of God right now.
Again we do need to look at this list. Is it just random naughty stuff or is Paul hinting at a link? It’s apparent that many things on the list deal with self-gratification and selfishness at the expense of others: Adultery, Theft, Greed, Drunkenness, Slander and Swindling, and Idolatry is always really about “Me” (The hint is in the letter “I). Whatever the reference to homosexuality is meant to imply, it should also be seen in this context of self-gratification and selfishness. Pederasty and Temple prostitution would therefore fit, though it is difficult to see stable monogamous faithful non-celibate gay relationships in this context.
In this passage, two Greek words are used: ‘malakoi’ – typically translated as male prostitutes – (malakoi means soft and is taken to refer to a submissive partner), and again ‘arsenokoitai’ – translated as those practising homosexuality.
I have the right to do anything??
In the Corinthian passage, Paul continues by restating our new being in Christ: Washed, Sanctified, Justified, and why? Because the law that had condemned me, that written code has been cancelled, with all its regulations. In fact Jesus took it away and nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). And then amazingly, Paul says, I really have the right to do anything! And the reason I don’t do anything is because it’s selfish, it would do me harm, offend the God I adore and that’s just stupid. It is no wonder he returns to the theme a bit further down in I Corinthians 6:18:
‘flee sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body’. In other words, don’t do it because you’re just harming yourself! And that’s stupid because you’re the temple of the Holy Spirit.
SUMMARISING OLD AND NEW
The Old Testament does refer to homosexual acts of some kind but only in the context of the Levitical written code and regulations. Apart from that, it is not found and other scriptures often referred to deal with gay rape or male temple prostitution.
In the New Testament there are really only 3 passages that refer to homosexual acts of some kind in Romans, I Corinthians and I Timothy. In the both passages in I Corinthians 6 and I Timothy 1, Paul appears to be listing abusive and selfish characteristics. His reference to homosexual acts should therefore be seen in that context. In Romans 1 Paul is really facing the local church up to its own judgmentalism towards those given over to depravity, greed and wickedness, if you like, Paul is saying “Love the sinners and deal with the sin in your own lives”.
It is possible Paul in these three passages was referring at least in part to male prostitution. It is also probable that he is referring in some instances to Pederasty. This would certainly fit the common concerns of the ancient church at the time. In not one instance is it remotely clear that Paul is referring to faithful, monogamous gay couples engaging in sexual acts to express their mutual love for one another. Whilst it was not unheard of in the ancient world, it appears to be rather invisible in the biblical accounts.
It is true there are no biblical accounts that promote monogamous gay relationships. These are equally invisible, however the ambiguity of the passages considered here should make us question any stance of 100% certainty and require us to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help in each and every individual situation or relationship.
IS THERE A BIGGER ISSUE AT STAKE HERE?
HOW DO WE TREAT “THE OTHER”?
How we as the church treat “the other” the stranger, amongst us who’s not like us, is fundamental to our engagement with the world we live in. Whatever our conclusions about homosexuality, our journey of change is to become the place, the community where anyone who is LGBTQ instinctively feels welcome and loved. But that requires us to face up to the impression that we give, that ‘monster’ that frightens our gay neighbours and gay family members far away.
It is said that I might change my views if I find out that someone in my family is gay. Well there is! In fact there are loads of them, and they all love Jesus. Only a few of my gay christian friends will confide in me about the sense of isolation, self-loathing and trauma they have had to quietly suffer. And for so many they have suffered at the hands of Christian churches that have told them: What you’re doing is wrong, and Who you are is wrong.
An openly gay church minister expressed how so many of his colleagues supported him in secret but ‘obviously’ not in public. His Bishop told him, “don’t worry, we’ve changed! We really do tolerate you sort now” to which the minister replied, “No, You tolerate haemorrhoids not a brother in Christ”.
It is said that the Religious communities provided the secular world with a mindset and language of hate for the LGBTQ community. With regard to the growth of prejudice and discrimination the church has a history of planting many of the seeds. The reality is we are all marginalised to some extent. None of us chose to be white, black, Jewish, Asian, a woman, a man, disabled, divorced, left-handed, a slave, straight or gay.
The Good Samaritan Homosexual
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus introduced his Jewish listeners to their neighbours who they had long time disregarded. The bruised battered Jew experienced the rejection of his own religious and official leaders as they dutifully ‘walked by on the other side’ and then experienced the care and compassion of his Samaritan rescuer. Steve Chalke of Oasis describes how he has come to increasingly appreciate those male teachers working in the Oasis Academies around the UK. Many of these men have shown such a high level of care, sensitivity and compassion in their teaching and pastoral roles. A number have already been appointed as head teachers and yet, ironically, in so many churches up and down the country they wouldn’t even be allowed to teach in the Sunday school.
WWJD: “Who Would Jesus Diss?”
The fact is there is a growing antagonism around the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality. And it’s being experienced both ways. Both the LGBTQ community and their Christian supporters feel antagonised and diss’ed especially by their churches, as soon as they express a view contrary to the evangelical norm. At the same time, those sincerely supporting the traditional evangelical view have experienced a fresh wave of aggression from an increasingly emboldened gay supporting lobby accusing them of bigotry.
The fact is the Diss’ing has got to stop in both directions. We as the church must not look for more groups to scape-goat and put outside our camp. Do we really think that would be Jesus’s strategy? We have to learn to live with diversity of practise and orthodoxy.
Let’s Live Together
A pragmatic view would be to face the fact that gay marriage is here and happening, and to also realise that we all in the body of Christ comprise those who whole-heartedly oppose it, those who whole-heartedly support it, and lots of us who are journeying at different points between those two polarised positions. And we’ve got to learn to live together in mutual respect, honour and commitment.
For me, learning to live with difference and to embrace ‘the other’ that we might wholly disagree with, is part of the process that the church is being taken on. Gay marriage is an important issue, but in my opinion, this is the bigger issue at stake.
SO WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
Option 1: GAY SEX IS A PARTICULARLY BAD SIN
If I was to conclude that gay sexual practice happens to be an unusually bad sin compared to other not-so-bad sins, maybe I should take some time to look in the mirror, look at my eyes and see if I spot any planks. Obviously there are no special sins, bad sins, minor sins. Sin is sin and it is often described as “Missing the Mark” so if you miss, you miss.
The fact is our churches are full of people with public and private sinful practices, habits and traits that they’re dealing with, trying to overcome or maybe ignoring.
Option 2: GAY SEX IS A SIN (just like gossip, greed, unbelief etc)
If I still conclude that gay sexual practice is sinful, it does affect how I relate to my gay christian friends. First of all, if it is sin, then they should fit right in to church (see above). Importantly we should ensure that they feel 100% included, loved and part of the church family. No special treatment, but treated just like everyone else.
Where is the best place for anyone who is LGBTQ?
Whether someone is straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, the best place for them should be integrated in as part of the local church family. If they’re journeying towards faith, let them experience the joy of belonging before believing. Too many have experienced isolation and yet God’s desire is always so set the lonely in families.
How should we behave towards them in the church?
Just like anyone else.
Love, accept, honour, encourage, include, receive from them. Bless them and let them bless you.
Best of all make friends and include them in your life.
Deborah Hirsch: “I never lead with my theology, I lead with my embrace”
How should we disciple them?
In our discipleship we should always rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Whether someone is gay or straight, let’s not assume we know what they need ‘help’ with. Rather let’s be listeners, with the primary motivation to hook them into Jesus, ask them what he’s saying to them and build their expectancy to hear and respond to his voice for themselves.
Alan Hirsch: “For too long we have let church people out-source their discipleship to us instead of the Holy Spirit”
How long should we give gay-folk to “change”?
Try a LIFE-TIME, just like God does for you. We accept them as they are and the amazing thing is that they accept us just as we are too.
And what if I haven’t been behaving like this?
Well I guess I need to say sorry, ask forgiveness and seek to change.
Option 3: HOMOSEXUAL ORIENTATION IS AN ABBERATION
I might conclude that to have a homosexual orientation is ok but it’s just not “normal”. In so doing we treat it in our thinking like a disability or mental/emotional instability. This might seem a comfortable position for some to hold but the reality is that there is nothing to support it biblically or scientifically and to be considered in any way abnormal is in many ways worse. We’re effectively saying, it’s not what you do that’s the problem, it’s who you are.
Option 4: HOMOSEXUAL ORIENTATION IS OK BUT SEXUAL PRACTICE IS WRONG
There are many who would hold this view, including some who are gay but who have made the choice to remain in an openly gay though celibate relationship. This includes those who serve in ministry in churches where gay sexual practice is forbidden. Bearing in mind the orientation, the emotional and psychological toll that this can produce can become intolerable. In I Corinthians 7:7, Paul implies that to remain unmarried to serve God more fully is a gift though the Bible does not explicitly call this “the gift of celibacy.”
Option 5: HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT SINFUL
It is important at this stage to bring in marriage, because sexual practice is only to be practiced and celebrated within the context of marriage. So in concluding that gay sexual practice in not sinful, it holds that this can only be so in a marriage context for a monogamous faithful gay couple.
To conclude this would be a seismic shift for the whole church and not one without significant implications. It would mean that being gay and having gay sex is not bad or wrong or an aberration, it’s just different. Like being left-handed is different. It would mean in a church and Christian context that all aspects of discrimination should be removed, and a gay lifestyle should not only be accepted but celebrated in the context of God’s kingdom.
HAS THE CHURCH EVER CHANGED ITS BIBLICAL VIEW?
One argument that is put forward against change on this issue is that the Church’s traditional view has been maintained on this subject for nearly 2,000 years. Only recently have new alternative views emerged. However history tells us that the church has changed and morphed in its thinking and practise on different issues that had remained unchanged for similar lengths of time (minus 100 or 200 years).
Slavery. Is the church now 100% clear its wrong? YES!
Role of Women (leadership, teaching, speaking). Are we now 100% clear on this? NO! (not in practice)
Segregation of the Races. Is the church now clear its wrong? YES! Just about