Category Archives: Sexuality/LGBTQI

So You Believe Homosexuality is a Sin, Now What?

I have published some of the work of the brilliant Chris Kratzer before on my blog.

In this essay, Chris combines his genuine Grace-filled faith with some of the most incisive Christian thinking I have seen in a while. Read through this piece, savour the logic, and learn the lessons. There is much wisdom here.


So You Believe Homosexuality is a Sin, Now What?

At the end of the day, the debate about whether homosexuality is a sin or not will long be like the debate between Calvinist and Armenians. Each will quote their bible verses and line up their arguments with very little to any resolution between them. Those who believe homosexuality is a sin have their biblical convictions, as do those who do not believe homosexuality is a sin. As a result of their disagreements, there is unfortunately very little, if any mutual respect for one another to be found in most circles. This, in my opinion, is reflective of the sad state of Christianity in America and beyond.

For me, beyond the question of, “Is homosexuality a sin?” is perhaps a much more important question, “If you believe it is, now what?” What is the Jesus-way of dealing with that which you believe is sin?

Here are some thoughts… if you believe homosexuality is a sin… fine, now…

1) You should focus on taking your sin seriously, now more than ever.

Since you believe homosexuality is a sin, and apparently increasing in influence and presence in our culture, you should start taking your sin much more seriously as the same reality could manifest with and because of your sin issues.

Imagine if our culture had the same “outbreak” and increased acceptance of your sin issues as you perhaps feel is happening with homosexuality. That could be catastrophic.

Imagine if things like lying, gluttony, gossiping, coveting, or “not doing the good that you know to do” (to name a cursory few sins) were legalized and lit on fire in our culture. That would be world changing! Imagine if everybody adopted and legalized the sin in your life. Comparatively, the presence of homosexuality in our culture would pail in comparison to the damage potential of the sin in your life (or mine) going viral.

Furthermore, in the familiar teaching about logs of personal sin and specks of sin in other people’s lives, Christ taught how suspicious it is to be even merely looking at sin in other people’s lives when there is obviously a log-full to be taken seriously (looked at) in your own life. In fact, one could surmise, with much wisdom, that Jesus was pointing out the fact that if you properly took your own sin-log serious enough, there would be little if any time for looking, let alone, finger pointing at another’s sin. And even more, Jesus seems to set the standard, if your log of sin isn’t so serious to you that in seeing your own, you can’t even begin to dream of having the perspective from which to judge just a speck in another, you aren’t taking YOUR sin seriously enough.

Perhaps, we Christians who are often so sin-conscious in our outward gaze, but sin-justifying in our inward gaze are the reason why sin seems to be increasing in our culture. The culture sees our example, and concludes, “Double standard for you, double standard for me.”

See, a lack of needed seriousness (apparent because one seems to have time for sin finger-pointing) about one’s gluttoness face-feedings at the local Golden Coral every Sunday after service could be sending a message that a person’s homosexuality is not so serious too. A lack of seriousness about one’s church gossiping, slander, and backstabbing could be sending a message that one’s homosexuality is not so serious too. A lack of seriousness about one’s coveting of other people’s lives, ministries, salaries, homes, marriages, finances, clothes, health, etc. etc. etc. could be sending a message that their homosexuality is not so serious too. And the list goes on and on.

Since you believe homosexuality is a sin and it’s growing presence and influence in our culture is alarming, all the more reason, you better spend every waking moment getting off of their sin and on top of yours, for your’s could become even more alarming than theirs.

The way of Jesus in responding to believed sin isn’t to point fingers and focus attention externally, but to be humbled by the alarming, toxic reality of sin in our own lives that demands our internal vigilance and heavenly mercy.

The way of Jesus is to make sure you don’t take your eye off the ball. The ball is your sin, not theirs.

2) You should be befriending many more gay people.

Jesus befriended sinning, sinful, sin-ladened people. Can’t get around that.

In fact, much of his reputation was founded on it. Apparently it wasn’t a hobby, but a priority. People don’t get reputations from hobbies. Jesus saw sinners as friends, and more profound, sinners saw Jesus as “friend.”

Every gay person you meet, from the day you declared homosexuality a sin, should now conclude from your investment and interaction in their life that you are a real-deal “friend.” That’s the Jesus-way and the Jesus-result.

This is no easy accomplishment. That is, to be known as a “friend” by gay people. When gay people see you in public, they ought to be saying to one another, “he (or she) is safe, they truly get me, and love me for me.” Not an easy response to gain.

Thats why this Jesus-way of befriending means genuinely loving gay people, not for the purpose of trying to change them (as if you or I could do that anyways), but simply to love them. People don’t hang out with and call a “friend,” people who are simply trying to change them and thus put another spiritual knot on their belt. Do you call people like that, friends?

Oh, and by the way, that whole “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” thing. That’s like saying, “Love the pizza, but hate the sauce.” Loving a person the Jesus-way is loving the person, as is.

But, if you believe your befriending a homosexual can change them, all the more reason you ought to be befriending every gay person you meet. Oh, and I guess that applies to every other kind of sin and sinner; hookers, liars, murders, child abusers, sexual predators, rapists etc. Shoot, for that matter, you ought to be befriending yourself.

Dang, between taking your sin more (properly) seriously and genuinely befriending gay people (who you may believe are our culture’s worst sinners) there isn’t going to be time for much else… hate, condemnation, marginalizing, political rants, declarations of your right and they’re wrong.

3) You should be studying the “clobber” passages that relate to YOUR sin much harder

Along with your belief that homosexuality is a sin, you may believe that people hearing the so called “clobber” passages in the Bible about homosexuality is going to change their mind and heart. Therefore, perhaps you memorize them and even rehearse them in preparation for that next debate or anticipated time when you get to “restore a brother gently.”

At the very least, if you are like most people who believe homosexuality is a sin, you have studied the 6 “clobber” passages in the Bible widely believed to condemn homosexuality as sin.

By the way, you also may believe there are passages in the Bible that give you license to point out people’s sin and get them on what you believe to be the right path. Just a question… these passages, that have become important to many people now, especially with the whole homosexuality issue, have they been just as important to you in regards to sins like gluttony, cheating, coveting, divorce, etc. etc. etc.? Have you made good on those passages and leaned across the cubicle to confront or “restore” your over eating, Christian coworker? What about your gossiping small-group buddy? What about your envious worship band team member? What about your non-biblically divorced next door neighbor?

If not, why not? There are tons of other sins and corresponding “clobber” passages to choose from? Aren’t those sins just as serious?

Why is it, with this whole homosexuality thing, that seemingly it’s all the sudden now so important to make sure we dust off the biblical badges that seem to justify our spiritual policing of believers and the world?

Well, if you believe clobber passages change hearts and minds, so be it… great. But that means you should now be all the more memorizing and studying the clobber passages about your sin for the same purpose. You should be writing yourself blog posts, Facebook statements, political messages, declarations of doom and wrath, and holding yourself to the fire for the destruction of America?

See, God doesn’t need to look any further than your own sin (or mine) for cause and reason to open up a can of angel-wrath upon the world. In fact, God expects the world to sin, but you (and I) do it having “tasted and seen.” Oops, probably not good if you believe in all that judgement, wrath, and hell-fire stuff.

I mean really, if God was looking for easy justification to man-handle the planet and drum up disasters of judgement, I think we would ironically find him far more peering into the stain-glassed windows of the Church more than bedroom windows of the world.

So you believe homosexuality is a sin because of your understanding of the “clobber” passages in the Bible. What are the clobber passages that speak to your sin issues? Are you studying them with equal diligence and debate? What about your self-posts, self-articles, self-rants?

If you believe clobber passages change people, are you just as adamant to use them to change you?

4) You should be defending and declaring from the mountain tops the righteousness of homosexual Christians and God’s unconditional love for them.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin, great… now what? Is it more of an important sin than yours?

I read somewhere, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Sin, in God’s eyes, is not placed in hierarchy. Therefore, the same righteousness declared over your life, through faith in Christ, is the same declared over a homosexual Christian.

I know, maybe you say your sin is not a “life-style” of sin. You don’t willingly choose it. Really?

Btw, how many times sinning in the same way makes for a “life-style?” Is it two, five, ten, twenty four? Who gets to determine and judge that? And, how much time in between the sin is this limit. One hour, one day, one week? Who gets to determine and judge that?

See, if you (or I) can’t shout from the mountain top that homosexual Christians are righteous in Christ; unconditionally loved, holy, sanctified, and justified, than neither can you say you are. All these spiritual realities of the believer are based solely on Christ’s performance and finished work on the cross, not the believer’s. It is Christ who makes and keeps us righteous, holy, loved, sanctified, justified, and yes, even saved.

The moment you pull back from the righteousness of homosexuals, you are pulling back from your own.

If they aren’t righteous, you aren’t either. If they are second class citizens, so are you.

5) You should be welcoming and wanting homosexuals in your church all the more.

In the same way, if you, with your sin and sinning, are welcome and wanted in your church, why aren’t homosexuals?

I know, it’s maybe because you see your sin as a sin and many homosexuals don’t. And yes, many don’t believe the way you do that their homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, perhaps in your mind they are not welcome or wanted. They, through their behavior and attitude towards what you call sin, are condoning sin. And you perhaps believe we can’t have any of that running around on in the church.

Well, maybe now you see your sin as sin, but did you always? Furthermore, do you see all your sin? Are you aware of all the areas of sin in your life and see every sin-area of your life as sin? Is not, in your beliefs, the heart wicked and full of deceit? Even portions of your heart, due to the “flesh?” Therefore, can you really trust that you see everything, and aren’t missing an area where you think you aren’t sinning, but actually are? Just like you believe homosexuals do.

By the way, perhaps you say you see your sin as sin, and that makes all the difference, is that why perhaps you overeat still? That’s why you perhaps still lie, right? That’s why you are better than homosexuals? You are better, more worthy, more wanted church-material because you are managing sin better in your life? That’s why you are the perfect leader, right? Never make mistakes that you know are mistakes, never see thing that you are doing as o.k when in fact, they are sin? Right?

I mean seriously, tell the Holy Spirit to move onto someone else. You don’t need any truth guidance, you got it all under perfect view, watch, discernment, and containment in your life. Which makes you the perfect gatekeeper for a church, right? Who better to know who should be in or out, welcome or wanted then you? You see all your sin perfectly, surely, you can do that in other people’s lives, right?

Trust me, awareness of sin makes a terrible safe-guard for sin. Just because you know and say it’s wrong doesn’t make you any more protected from acting on it, nor does it make you any better of a Christian or worthy of being welcomed or wanted in a church.

If “Church” is of and for the sin-aware, then “Church” would have never started. No one starts as sin-aware and therefore, there would have been no one to begin “Church” with on that first Pentecost.

Besides, in your mind, are homosexuals, regardless of “sin-awareness” better off in fellowship with the world or in the family of a church? If, while you were knowingly sinning, no one welcomed and wanted you, where would you be right now? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to change people, if change is needed? Point out sin, if sin pointing out is needed? Or, are you dependent on your “church-strength” and “church systems” to do it and manage it.

It’s one thing to welcome the knowingly sinning, and another to want them. It’s easy to welcome, and not want. Easy to let them sit in your pews, enjoy the same air conditioning, and sing your songs. But a whole other thing to “want” them; want them connected, want them serving, want them doing life along side everyone else.

Truth is, while you were knowingly sinning, through the cross, God welcomed and wanted you into His Kingdom, and still does. To not welcome and want homosexuals, is in all natural and spiritual reality, not to want and welcome you.

If you can’t welcome and want them, you can’t welcome and want you.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin… now what?


Here’s the link to the original piece

10

Thinking In the Box

About twenty years ago, my lovely wife Fiona was making enquiries about going to a Bible week* – can’t remember whether it was Stoneleigh or New Wine, or even something else – and she was going to go with her friend Yvonne. In the end, they didn’t go, for whatever reason.

Anyway, as part of the ‘registration’ process, there was a couple of pages of Rules. Like, please keep quiet after 10:00pm, no cars allowed on site after initial unloading, no alcohol, please don’t block the toilets, that sort of thing.

One of the Rules, though, was a bit of a Legalism thing. Bearing in mind that, at the time, I had just begun my major detoxification-from-Fundagelicalism event which lasted fifteen years, so it was a bit of a trigger…

This particular Rule was that no unmarried, mixed couples were allowed to share a tent.

So, I guess if you’d wanted to go along with your fiancé/fiancée, forget it: it’s separate tents or no dice.

Quite who was going to police this Rule (and how they were going to do it) was not specified 😉

Anyway, I simply couldn’t resist it. I wrote to their admin people and asked if it was alright if I and my gay partner were allowed to share a tent, despite not being married (I don’t think gay marriage/civil partnerships were even a thing back then!) pointing out that given the Rules as written, we would still be ok as we were a same-sex couple/unmarried, rather than a mixed couple/unmarried..

No reply was forthcoming.

And so I wrote to them again expressing disappointment that my question had not been taken seriously/answered, and emphasising that because we were not a mixed couple, we would be abiding by the Rules and therefore where’s the problem?

Still no response.

I wonder why.

Maybe those religious people were in a ‘box’, perchance?

Still, that lack of any response was a great help for me in my deconstruction, illustrating that not only were such Rules ‘doctrines made by men’ (Mt 15:9) but also that, when it really came down to it, nobody in those religious groups ever think things through to their logical conclusions, probably because they’re not allowed to.

I still laugh about it now, of course. And it makes an excellent after-dinner joke amongst like-minded believers


*For those who don’t know, a Bible Week is a sort of Christian rally where thousands of Evangelical (usually) Christians have like a camping week, usually at an agricultural showground (because of good space and facilities). It’s usually in the summer, and it usually rains. The program normally goes something like this. Mornings: workshops and/or seminars where people can attend teaching sessions or learn basket-making. Or how to lead worship or write songs, as if people can do that without the proper gifting… Usually the workshops are quite arty-farty things and very rarely anything scientific (of course), although one I went to in 1984 (Festival ’84) at Staffordshire County Showground did, uniquely, have a workshop on Amateur Radio, which led me on to eventually qualifying as a Radio Amateur; Afternoons: Free to roam the surrounding area just like normal tourists; Evenings: An extended worship and sermon session (very much like a long Charismatic church service, which is not normally as bad as it sounds. In fact, they were good fun (although the sermons were usually boring) and we always used to learn lots of great new songs there. Then, after a week of that, its pack up your tent and join the traffic jam to get off the site. That’s a Bible week.

Here’s a link to New Wine’s website; their camping events are called ‘United’. Probably means you have to fit in in order to be allowed to go 😉

10

Susan Cottrell – Why I Chose My Daughter Over the Evangelical Church

To most people, that’s a no-brainer. But for people inside the Church, believe it or not, sometimes they are forced (by those who really should know better) to make a choice between their church and their kids. It’s more overt in the States, but it happens here in the UK as well. Shame on those people who would make it appear that parents have to choose!

Anyway, here’s the terrific Susan Cottrell, whose work I have featured before on my blog. Here’s her story, here’s her passion, here’s her mission.

Be blessed.

 

10

American Pastors Rethink Homosexuality

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Coming Out

Previously, I have posted a video about American Christian parents who had rethought their stance on homosexuality and LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning and others) sexualities. And today I am posting a video by American pastors who also have learned God’s heart for LGBTQ+ people.

Why am I posting things by Americans, when I am British? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the persecution of LGBTQ+ people in the United States appears to have become somewhat ‘legalised’ – not that many Christians would care whether it’s legal or not anyway – since Mr. Trump’s Presidency has declared what appear, to the outsider, to be several pogroms against minorities. Anyone who is ‘different’ is made to suffer, it seems. I’d have no chance with my Asperger’s Syndrome! 😉

Secondly, it is usual in British Evangelical churches to parrot/mirror, in a somewhat dilute and more tacit way, the things that American churches take the lead on. And so, the ‘yeast’ of some American churches’ anti-LGBTQ+ attitude comes over here stealthily and infiltrates itself almost unnoticed into out attitudes, particularly among those who are unable/unwilling to think for themselves.

But this can have its advantages too. If some American pastors/church leaders and parents are taking the lead on changing their attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, and changing the way they respond to the peer pressure of condemnatory naysayers, then this will begin to happen over here too.

Maybe one day you will be able to say ‘I saw it here first!’ (here on my blog!)

Anyway, here’s the video. It’s only 3 1/2 minutes long and is well worth watching:

I reckon in twenty years’ time, LGBTQ+ people will be accepted into churches, relationships and ministries in the same way as are heterosexual people. There will of course be bastions of self-righteous people who are still anti-LGBTQ+, but most people will ignore them just like they ignore ranting Christians already. Change takes time in religious circles, and religious people can be some of the most intractable and intolerant people on the planet. That’s not going to change. But as the Spirit works on people’s hearts, those who have ears to hear, people like me, will gradually come around to His way of thinking and include all of God’s children in their perception of God’s family.

And, make no mistake: I still believe very strongly that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (and other) folks are key to God’s plans in this time. I believe there will be amazing miracles, healings, reconciliations and social changes brought about by Christian LGBTQ+ people. Like other persecuted minorities, these people have a special place in God’s Heart, and it will become apparent soon enough.

I personally am looking forward to seeing that coming to fruition.

Grace and Peace to you.

20

The Litmus Test

I feel that a good question to ask of a church one is thinking of attending (I’m not thinking of switching churches, by the way!) is this: “What are your attitudes towards LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Intersex, and others) people?” Or some variation on that.

This question will reveal, all in one go, their attitudes on Biblical inerrancy and infallibility; Bible as Rulebook; their attitude to legalism; their ability to love others they may not agree with; their attitude towards judging others [they would naturally call it something more palatable]; their attitude towards ‘mercy not sacrifice’ (Hosea 6:6); and – in short – to be Jesus to the people they meet.

To me, this is a real litmus test of a church’s sincerity when they say ‘all are welcome’. Is it really ‘All are welcome’, or is it ‘All are welcome, but…’?

I have, in the past, asked such questions of various Christian organisations. I have to say that those people have achieved the pathetic result of not one answer in reply. Not even one. No acknowledgement; nothing.

So, if you are interested in joining a new church, here’s an idea of the sort of question you might ask:

“Hi there

Just been looking at your pages on [churchname].com

I have a question, and it’s this: How do you cope with people of ‘different’ sexualities? (LIke Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual etc.) I have contacted churches with this question in the past, and have not once received a reply! What I mean by my question is, how much do you integrate people of ‘alternative’ sexualities into your church? I’d really love to hear from you on this subject!

Thanks for your time

Anthony”

[Edit: I have just heard back from one church today. Well done, those people!]

20

A 14-Point Rebuttal to The Nashville Statement

Some months ago, you may remember that a group in the USA published the ‘Nashville Statement‘, their statement on their position regarding human sexuality.

Unsurprisingly, their statement triggered a whole lot of controversy amongst Christians, especially (but not limited to) those – like me – who are affirmers of LGBTQ+ people and their relationships.

In September, I read an excellent rebuttal to the Nashville Statement, which I reproduce here for your upbuilding. It makes for excellent reading with its reasonable counter-arguments.

Here’s the article, written by Eric Reitan, quoted verbatim:


A 14-Point Rebuttal to The Nashville Statement from a Straight Cis Christian Man

In the wake of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s “Nashville Statement,” RD [Religion Dispatches, the website this article is from – Ed] published commentaries by Daniel Schultz, who called the manifesto “less of a theological statement than a Facebook post,” and Candace Chellew-Hodge, who argued that “this kind of damage has only been done to the LGBT community because we have given them the authority to do it.” Below, Eric Reitan opts for the point-by-point rebuttal that, we felt, might be of greater utility to readers with family or friends who find this sort of thing compelling. ⎼ eds

I am a straight cisgender Christian man, but for years I have listened to my LGBT neighbors, made LGBT friends, and vicariously shared in their struggles and triumphs. As an ethicist, I’ve wrestled with the lessons of those experiences—lessons that recently culminated in a book on same-sex marriage and Christian love. Based on that work, there is much I want to say to the authors of the Nashville Statement, who sought to reaffirm hostile conservative Christian views on the (presumably sinful) existence of LGBT people. But since the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s manifesto has 14 articles, let me limit myself to 14 points of my own.

  1. You do not speak for all Christians. In fact, there are many faithful Christians, across denominations, who strongly disagree with you. And although you write your manifesto with the kind of confidence that suggests you can’t possibly be mistaken about God’s will, that confidence doesn’t make you right (but does raise important questions about humility and hubris).
  2. The Christians who disagree with you cannot be dismissed as nothing but sell-outs to secular culture. In my book, The Triumph of Love: Same-Sex Marriage and the Christian Love Ethic, I argue that Christian support for same-sex marriage flows from nothing less central to Christian faith than Christ’s command that we love our neighbors as ourselves. I’m hardly the only Christian LGBT ally who thinks so. You may think we’re wrong, but if so you need to wrestle with our Christian arguments rooted in Christian values, not caricature us as cultural accommodationists.
  3. You cannot hide behind the “love the sinner, hate the sin” mantra. Of course we can love people who do sinful things. But the question is whether things like same-sex marriage and gender-affirming surgery are among those sinful things. Sometimes it’s unloving to take something to be a sin in the first place. Can I love my diabetic neighbor properly if I think it is sinful for her to use insulin? Of course not. If our condemnations leave a trail of dead bodies and broken lives, they might be out of sync with the law of love.
  4. The first act of Christian love is compassionate, empathetic attention. This was the first thing the Good Samaritan did on that Jericho road: he paid attention to the robbery victim. Likewise, we must listen to our LGBT neighbors. We must hear their stories. And we can’t shrug off this demand because we think we already know the truth based on what the Bible teaches. When teachings we support lead our LGBT neighbors to cry out in suffering or outrage or despair, love does not permit us to plug up our ears with Bible verses.
  5. And love does not permit us to use the Bible to slam people down. C.S. Lewis once warned that “we must not use the Bible (our fathers too often did) as a sort of encyclopedia out of which texts…can be taken for use as weapons.” It is tempting, when LGBT persons and their allies challenge inherited teachings, for conservatives to pull out “clobber passages” to beat their critics into silence. Anyone who cares about the law of love would do well to avoid this temptation.
  6. Speaking of the Bible, human theories are always subject to error—and that includes your theory that the Bible is not subject to error. Let’s return to our friend C.S. Lewis, who had a high view of Scripture, but was no biblical inerrantist. In his Reflections on the Psalms he insisted that the “human qualities” of the biblical authors show through in the text in the form of “naivety, error, contradiction” and even wickedness. There are many Christian theories about the Bible. Your theory needs to be weighed against the alternatives.
  7. There is more than one interpretation of the “proof texts” invoked to condemn same-sex intimacy and impose rigid gender expectations on those who feel strangled by them. Biblical scholars, trained in the original languages and adept at reading texts in their cultural and historical contexts, do not all agree with your interpretations. Oh, and you might want to wrestle more deeply with that “In Christ there is neither male nor female” bit.
  8. There is more than one interpretation of the Genesis creation story, in which God created Adam and then fashioned Eve to be his companion. The lessons you draw from it imply that gay men, unsuited for the kind of helpmate God created for Adam, must go through life without any helpmate, and lesbians, similarly unsuited for the kind of helpmate God gave Eve, should go through life alone. That’s an interesting take on a story in which God says, “It is not good that Adam be alone”—but it is neither the only one nor the most plausible.
  9. Paying attention to scientific research about human sexuality and gender is not putting science above God. When scientists explore these topics, they are turning their attention to our neighbors with the aim of accurately reporting what they find. Science can help us see our neighbors more honestly, without biases and prejudices. And that’s an important part of loving our neighbors as ourselves—something Jesus lifted up as a core piece of living in accord with God’s will.
  10. Based on the weight of the evidence, social and behavioral scientists overwhelmingly agree that trying to change a person’s psychologies and dispositional structures to conform to rigid social expectations is not a realistic option for LGBT people. Conservative Christians tout a few studies that say such change is possible. But even if we trust them (and there are reasons not to), what these statistical outliers show is that the vast majority of, if not all, attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity will fail. What’s more, as those who have survived such “change efforts” attest, any change that does occur is merely behavioral—little more than an attempt to escape abuse by adhering to conservative norms through repression and self-denial, rather than undergoing some religious revelation that prompts a lasting internal identity shift.
  11. If you say that every same-sex relationship is sinful, consistency demands that whenever it falls within your power to do so, you work to break up every loving, monogamous, faithful same-sex couple, and encourage your community to advocate for broken relationships, broken homes, and people stripped of things that bring meaning and joy. Perhaps that is the true intent of this statement. But if that’s the order you’re giving to your congregants, you must honestly confront the fact that your LGBT neighbors will experience this in exactly the way that loving, married heterosexual couples would: as an assault on their family, freedom, and happiness.
  12. In your statement, your understanding of “heterosexual immorality” offers heterosexuals a place to express their sexuality: in marriage. But the categorical rejection of “homosexual immorality” condemns any expression of a homosexual orientation at all, ever, even in the context of a lifelong partnership of loving fidelity that may well be rooted in a Christian understanding of God’s divine plan. To treat every expression of someone’s sexuality as immoral is to impose on them a burden of self-repression enormously heavier than any you would ever dream of placing on your straight neighbors. If you love your LGBT neighbors, you will pay attention to how this burden affects those who actually try to bear it. You might learn the effect can be soul-crushing.
  13. If you have a theory about human sexuality and gender and you learn that communities teaching this theory have driven LGBT persons to despair—in fact, that acting upon this theory is a leading cause of the astronomical rates of substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicide among an entire swath of God’s people—then you may want to rethink your theory. And if you care about your theories more than you care about the lessons of compassionate attention to your LGBT neighbors, you may want to rethink your claim that you love them. And if extracting rigid gender and sexual requirements from the Bible (or natural law traditions) matters more to you that living by the law of love that Christ laid down, you may want to ask whether that comes from your allegiance to Christ or from some other motive.
  14. If you’re going to make public pronouncements about the lives of your LGBT neighbors, you should first immerse yourself in their struggles. Break bread with them. Form enduring friendships—and not just with those who, like abused children hungry for scraps of parental approval, are putting on a brave front while carrying the weight of “costly discipleship” you require. Maybe you should also break bread with the parents of all those gay and trans Christian teens who killed themselves. You know the ones. They believed you when you said “the pardon and power” of God’s grace could heal them of their “sinful” desires. But when those desires didn’t go away, they decided God must have rejected them. And so they rejected themselves in acts of final self-obliteration.

Love for your LGBT neighbors calls you to pay deep and sustained attention to them in all their rich diversity. Until you do, you have no authority to make pronouncements that impact their lives, and your platitudes about love ring hollow.

– Eric Reitan


For your reference, the Nashville Statement is here as a PDF file (on my servers), and here is the link to the original article quoted above.

And the link to the Nashville Statement itself is here.

An article I wrote about the tyrannical ‘Article 10’ of the Nashville Statement. This article contains links (at the end) to more articles about the Nashville Statement.

(All links open in new tabs)

 

20

Affirmation and Freedom

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Coming Out

In this article by Rob Cottrell, he describes how it was the choice between maintaining his relationship with his Lesbian daughter, and following his existing faith beliefs to the letter that brought him into huge freedom in his faith. Truly, for each of us, God uses different means to bring us into that freedom.

This might sound like a bit of a no-brainer to most parents, but sadly, there are those who would rather follow ‘men’s’ interpretation of a book (Mt 15:9) than do something that is perceived by those ‘men’ as being ‘sinful‘. And of course pandering to the demands of those people always leads to more slavery to rules and regulations; they are never satisfied.

So, here’s Rob’s article. Enjoy!


A Father’s Plea to Christian Dads of LGBTQ Children

Eight years ago, my daughter came out. I love her. Nothing will ever change that. Nothing. I stand with her. I defend her. I believe in her. I protect her.

And my life’s work is now to advocate for her and for all those in the LGBTQI community.

Maybe you have a gay son, or a lesbian daughter, or a bisexual, transgender or queer child. And maybe this is not what you hoped for—what you dreamed of. But regardless of the labels placed on our kids by others, they are still our children and their dreams are still very much alive!

If you are willing to take an often difficult and sometimes scary journey with me, it will impact your heart and your life in ways more wonderful than you can imagine. It will lead you into a deeper love for your child, your family and for God.

Having a gay child is an absolute blessing!

I never had a conflict between my unconditional love for my child, and my faith… until my daughter came out.

What?!?

The source of that conflict could not be my love for my child. That love is pure, holy, God-given, true, right and everything good in this world. So the source of the conflict had to be somewhere in my faith beliefs.

That is the key moment.

That realization is the decision point, and probably one of the most important decisions of my life and my child’s life. How I as a parent react and respond to that will impact both of our lives forever.

Some parents abandon their child for their faith. Indefensible. Some parents abandon their faith for their child. Either decision is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, soul-shattering—and either will have horrible, tragic consequences.

There is a better way. But to make it, you have to be willing to take a journey.

If the source of the conflict can only be somewhere in your faith, then you have to open the box you are in and honestly examine your beliefs. And when you do that, God will reveal truth to you about God’s heart and unconditional love, not only for your child, but for you too.

When you take that journey and step outside of the box of behavior-focused Christianity, it can be scary—but the freedom, peace and truth you discover along the journey is exquisite, life-giving, and deeply satisfying to your heart and soul.

I plead with you to hear my heart.

My relationship with my daughter has never been better, my relationship with God has never been deeper.

To get there, I had to step away from religion, fundamentalism, legalism, anything that is part of behavior-focused, expectation-driven Christianity. As I stepped away from that, I realized I was stepping into the very life Jesus taught and showed us.

I learned that unconditional love, affirmation and acceptance of my LGBTQI child is actually consistent with a faith that follows Jesus.

I am fully affirming of LGBTQI people BECAUSE of scripture, because of Jesus, because of my faith, not in spite of it!

Your precious child holds your heart like no other. And you hold their heart in your hands like no one ever will.

What you do, how you react, the words you say, will have a greater impact—for good or bad—than you know.

I am just a dad, there is nothing special about me. All I did was refuse to abandon my child, and I refused to abandon my faith. I decided to begin a journey—a blessed beautiful journey.

One step at a time.

Will you join me?

– Rob Cottrell

p.s. If you are a Dad and need someone to talk with, please email me at robertcottrell@aol.com. You are loved and you are not alone.


If you’d like to see the original article, just click the graphic below to go to it.


Yeah, I know that my series on ‘Coming Out’ was supposed to have concluded with the previous piece in the series, ‘Conforming to the Pattern of This World‘. But I wanted to make this present article part of the series because of its relevance. And in fact I might just put all my future posts about LGBTQ+ issues into this series in order to keep them all together 🙂 [Edit: Doing that!]

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Conforming to the Pattern of This World

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Coming Out

Today, I conclude my mini-series with an appeal to those believers who remain unconvinced about what the Church’s attitude should be about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people, and those of other ‘different’ sexualities (so, LGBTQ+).

It is a fact of life that society in general is slowly becoming more ‘tolerant’ of LGBTQ+ people. Not too long ago, it was actually illegal, in the UK, to be homosexual. Nowadays, of course, same-sex couples have the right to form ‘civil partnerships’ and also to be married, just like heterosexual couples. It is gradually being recognised that the emotional, financial and practical needs of these couples also need to be met by allowing them to have a legally-recognised relationship. So, things like inherited pension rights, sharing of tax benefits; in short, all the rights that a heterosexual married couple would have.

This is not because there’s a ‘gay agenda’. Sure, some people have been extremely vociferous in their campaigning for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people. But most LGBTQ+ people don’t have such an agenda. They just want to live their lives with their loved one – who might just happen to be of the same gender – in the same way as other couples do, and to enjoy the same rights that others in equally-committed relationships have.

Many Christians see these changes in society as being ‘The World’ encroaching upon society in a negative way. This is quite understandable if one’s attitude towards LGBTQ+ issues is a negative one. The ‘gay agenda’ is thought of as a threat to the idea of a more ‘godly’ society (which many Christians believe is God’s will) and they therefore find the idea of gay marriage/civil partnerships to be offensive, and, increasingly, ‘worldly’.

And so, they might well quote Romans 12:2 – about not conforming to the ‘pattern of this world’ – that pattern being seen as LGBTQ+ affirming –  because they consider that affirming Christians are ‘conforming to the pattern of the world’; that we are gradually becoming more ‘worldly’ by accepting ‘worldly’ things like same-sex marriage and so on. They will likely quote James 4:4 – “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”.

Well, these arguments need to be addressed, if indeed it is true that the ‘world’ is dragging sexual morality ‘downhill’ with its affirmation of LGBTQ+ people.

However, I don’t actually believe that this is the ‘world’s’ way at all.

I would instead point out that, notwithstanding the excellent progress which has been made, legally speaking, in the area of LGBTQ+ rights, still ‘the world’s’ pattern is generally to reject LGBTQ+ people. They are persecuted and vilified in public, in the workplace, in schools, and of course in churches. You ask the ‘man in the street’, and particularly those over the age of about 40 or so, and this will be the opinion: ‘They’re queer, those folks…’ If you’re lucky, you might get a grudging, ‘…but so long as they keep theirselves to theirselves… ‘  LGBTQ people are ostracised in the playground; excluded from certain public places; personae non gratae in certain pubs; they are still seen as ‘odd’ or ‘wrong’, and – let’s not kid ourselves – they are still assaulted by homophobic thugs on a daily basis. This is aptly illustrated in the United States, where the homophobic attitudes of President Trump have been taken by some in society as a licence to allow renewed persecution of LGBTQ+ people. This is actually really happening in the real world, to real people. In addition, the self-harming and suicide rates are far higher amongst LGBTQ+ people than those in people of more ‘conventional’ sexuality. Despite current legislation legitimising same-sex relationships, and despite the undoubtedly increased tolerance (especially in British society), still the general consensus in society is that these people are somehow ‘wrong’ or ‘different’, and of course no amount of legislation can change that feeling.

Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that actually ‘the world’ too hates, or at least in some way discriminates against, LGBTQ+ people. It’s a complete misconception that Christians and other religious people are the only people who have a special problem with people of ‘different’ sexualities. The way of the World is not one of acceptance, but of rejection.

Now, Jesus hung out with the social outcasts of His day – prostitutes, tax collectors, political zealots, non-Jews. Those deemed unworthy or unclean not only by the religious extablishment but also by society in general as well. Tax collectors, for instance, were as universally hated as parking enforcement officers are today 😉 He set us the example to follow; not so much as a set of Rules, but to show us that the natural consequence of knowing Him and becoming like Him in His Grace and mercy results in us treating others with the same gentleness and kindness that He has treated us. He went out of His way to go ‘against the grain’ of society’s opinions, in order to include the ostracised (see for example Mark 2:16).

No, the ‘pattern of this world’ is that of separation, segregation, judgementalism, hatred, us-and-them, ostracism and violence, and the other things in the list in Galatians 5:19-21. The huge strides forward made recently for LGBTQ+ rights are nothing short of wonderful and are a result of precious (and, yes, sometimes militant) people standing up for their rights and for fairness. This renaissance in gay rights is advancing the Kingdom of God because it results in goodness and love and peace. And Christians have no right to hinder this because ‘he who is not against us is for us’ (Lk 9:50). This is Christ’s Kingdom at work and indeed advancing, even though it has not usually so been advanced by Christians (although some Christians have bravely identified themselves with the LGBTQ+ rights ‘movement’)

Now, many people quoting the Romans 12:2 verse about not being ‘…conformed to the pattern of this world’, also miss out the second part of the verse, which is ‘…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. This is not correct Biblical  hermeneutics (interpretation), because the verse is actually a doublet expressed as Hebrew poetry. It’s what’s known as an antithetic parallelism. One part of the verse cannot be interpreted correctly without the other. And so the injunction ‘Don’t do this…’ is only complete when we read the ‘…but do this instead’. So, we don’t just not conform to the world, but we need to have our minds renewed as well, in order to indeed not ‘conform to the pattern of this world’. This transformation; this renewal of the mind, is how that non-conformance is enacted in practical terms.

Bearing all this in mind, then, I would therefore propose this idea: that this transforming of the believer’s mind into something other than the ‘pattern of this world’ is actually, in this instance, to move away from the pattern of hatred and persecution that the world inflicts on LGBTQ+ people, and instead to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your minds’ – to change our minds; to ‘Repent’ (for that is what the Greek word translated as ‘Repent’ means – metanoia – to change one’s mind) and simply treat LGBTQ+ people with love and kindness such as ‘the World’ does not do. In other words, the Christians, like myself, who are complete affirmers, are actually pioneers setting the example of what Christian affirmation of the outcasts of society looks like.

Conversely, the rejection and other mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people by Christians is actually conforming to the pattern of this world. Now there’s a sobering thought…

And, as a final point, that kind of love must not come across as judging them or otherwise condemning them. We must treat them as Jesus would treat them. We must treat them fairly; treat them kindly. And, we mustn’t think of them as ‘them‘! These are fellow humans we are talking about here; there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’, the same as there is neither Jew nor Greek; slave nor free (Gal 3:28). Let God’s Spirit bring you to metanoia – to repentance. Let Him change your mind!

I would request that, as a believer, you go before God with this concept, and just ask Him to speak to you about it. Come with an open mind – either way – and just ask Him what He would have you do. Don’t take my word for it. Ask Jesus what He thinks!


If you have enjoyed this article and mini-series, or maybe simply for a little more background on my journey to becoming a full affirmer, you might also be interested in reading some of my other articles on LGBTQ+ issues, which are linked to below. Remember that I too was once very firmly anti-gay. I was in the same position as many Christians still are with regard to ‘alternative’ sexualities. But God changed my mind – He brought me to metanoia; to Repentance, on these issues. And He can do the same for you.

Firstly, the link to the other three articles in this mini-series, entitled ‘Coming Out’

How I began my journey towards full affirmation

One of my earlier articles on ‘How the Church should Treat Gay People

The story of my first encounter with ‘different’ sexuality as a Fundamentalist Christian

Finally, this link will take you to all my articles on LGBTQ+ and sexuality issues, including those mentioned above.

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Are You About to Come Out to Your Christian Parents?

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Coming Out

In my mini-series on ‘coming out’ for LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) people, especially young people with Christian parents, I have so far looked at the matter from the point of view of the parents of the LGBTQ+ person.

Today, I want to share another piece by Susan Cottrell of ‘Freedhearts‘. Susan is a strong, loving and totally Christian advocate of LGBTQ+ people and especially of those who are young people still living with their Christian parents. In this piece, Susan shares practical advice and points out relevant considerations for young people who may well have to ‘come out’ some time in the near future. Click the graphic below to go to the article.

If you are a LGBTQ+ person who is considering ‘coming out’, then I would definitely suggest you read that article – it’s brilliant. Susan has a huge amount of experience in helping and standing alongside people in danger of rejection, either by parents or churches, for either ‘being gay’ or for affirming those who are. Personally, I don’t give two hoots what people think of me as an affirmer, but then I am not in a position where such people’s opinions make the slightest bit of difference to me. But I understand that for some people, the stakes are much higher, and this is why I have done this mini-series.

Be blessed. Grace and peace to you.

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Did Your Child Just Come Out to You?

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Coming Out

In this, the second part of my mini-series on ‘coming out’ for young people of Christian parents, I want to share with you the wisdom of Susan Cottrell, of ‘Freedhearts‘.

In this piece, Susan gives sound advice to Christian parents whose child has just ‘come out’.

You think it might never happen to you? Well, how would you know? Because if your child is an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) person, they might not feel able to tell you, because they know your views on the subject!

I would recommend all Christian parents read this article – not only ‘just in case’ your child does ‘come out’, but also to give you a better understanding of how Christian parents of LGBTQ+ young people can continue to affirm and support their child once they ‘come out’ despite what they think ‘the Bible says’.

Click the graphic below to go to the article:

This is a real issue affecting real people, and we need to examine this, as a Church, in a Chrstlike manner.

I know a Godly couple whose daughter recently ‘came out’ and which caused much soul-searching in their congregation…and those people in that church have essentially been forced – by their circumstances – to learn how to continue in their acceptance of that precious young life. And, so far, they have done very well…they knew that child from a baby and nothing has changed, except that now they know something that God has known about all along.

So, I recommend you read the article – it will stand you in good stead should you need it!

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