Category Archives: Sexuality/LGBTQI

Did Your Child Just Come Out to You?

This entry is part 2 of 2 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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Traditional Christian Parents Reveal Changed Views on LGBT

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Coming Out

Like many other people close to the Father Heart of God, some years ago I ‘came out’ as a strong affirmer of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) people and their relationships. I’m writing this mini-series in order to help people whose children are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and to give you what I believe is a Christian perspective on the subject.

When the child of an Evangelical Christian ‘comes out’ as an LGBTQ+ person, all kinds of things could happen, from total acceptance right up to total rejection, and all shades in between. Personally, I don’t understand how a parent can ever reject their child, but tragically there are those who do. And the result of this rejection, for the LGBTQ+ child, can result in ruined lives – I won’t go into detail here but sometimes we are talking homelessness, suicide, severe emotional trauma – you get the idea. And that’s just with the parents – the person coming out has other social links too that could also bring suffering: church; school; friends; colleagues. It’s not easy by any means.

But today we’re looking at parents. In this short video from Facebook page ‘Christians Talk’, various Christian parents describe how they came to terms with their child’s sexuality, from the point of view of people who formerly had believed that LGBTQ+ was ‘wrong’. Also in this video are Rob and Susan Cottrell, whose work I have featured before in my blog, and will feature again over the course of this mini-series.

There we go. Meditate on that and hear what the Spirit is saying to you!

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Kirk Leavens on the ‘Nashville Statement’

In a superb response to the notorious and insensitive ‘Nashville Statement‘, released upon a hurting world by out-of-touch-with-reality Evangelical leaders at the end of August this year, other Christians – “…some of the queer, trans, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, gender-queer, asexual, straight, single, married image-bearing Christians at House for All Sinners & Saints (Denver, Co)” – wrote the ‘Denver Statement’; a point-by-point rebuttal of the Nashville Statement.

The Denver Statement was posted on the Patheos blog – and it is quite simply a breath of fresh air.

One of the replies to the blog post particularly caught my eye, from Kirk Leavens, a man of wisdom and compassion whose contributions to the Patheos blog are always well worth reading. Here is the quote; I think you will like it:

“The Nashville Statement on human sexuality is the latest attempt by the Religious Right to position male-female complementarianism, patriarchy and gender stereotypes as the Biblical norm for today, thousands of years from the culture in which male dominance and female subservience was the norm. One of the main problems with the belief that the Bible gives us a clear picture of “one man, one woman,” is…that it does not. The truth is conservatives must carefully pick and choose their verses to support their thesis, conveniently overlooking the much more numerous passages that portray the ugly side of complementarianism and submission.

“Contrary to most evangelical thinking, while the NT gives us excellent advice on loving our enemies and our neighbors as ourselves, the Bible, as a whole is a mixed bag on the issue of “Biblical Marriage.” With Biblical marriages involving polygamy, concubines, maid servants, spoils of war, sisters-in-law, rape victims, etc., conservatives must do a lot of cherry picking to come up with a definitive view of marriage.

“I am sure most of this is coming from the hard right of evangelicalism, the Southern Baptist fringe that grew into the dominant voice in conservative evangelicalism in the 80s and 90s during the takeover of SBC [Southern Baptist Convention]. What most evangelicals don’t know is that during this time period the moderates along with female teachers at Baptist universities were all forced out by the fundamentalist wing of the SBC. Evangelicalism has never recovered.

“This shift among the majority voice in Evangelicalism does not just condemn “homosexuality,” but would push a strong, hyper-Calvinism as the only “truly biblical” understanding of atonement, would severely limit divergent views such as Arminianism and Pentecostalism and has forced out moderates and postconservatives from teaching at their seminaries, as well as severely limiting women from teaching or using their spiritual gifts. This is not a group of people open to the work of the Holy Spirit. They are fundamentalists, period.

“The tragedy of the Nashville Statement is that it closes the door to dialogue about human sexuality, and attempts to rigidly compartmentalize gender stereotypes, ignoring the realities of gender and sexuality. It also closes the door to further understanding and reform amongst evangelicals. The door has been shut on careful consideration of the Biblical passages themselves, preferring a inerrant, literal hermeneutic that does not take into consideration a great many things: culturally bound materials, story as opposed to historical facts, and a general inability to differentiate Kingdom principals from cultural mores.

“In all of this we are to be schooled on marriage by a group of people whose heterosexual marriages end in divorce 50% of the time, differing little from the culture they pride themselves as being superior to. It has sadly become all too apparent that fundamentalists favor law over Grace, continuing over a century of vigorously defending indefensible attitudes towards race, women, violence and sexual minorities. This needs to stop.”

And I couldn’t agree more with what he said. Quite often you hear the phrase, ‘What is the world coming to’, and I often think the same thing about Christianity. It’s high time people professing Jesus as Lord began to confront the really serious issues of our time instead of wanting to install video cameras in other people’s bedrooms! Seriously, these people seem to think that the number-one big problem of our time is that some people have a ‘different’ sexuality. It’s not poverty, not North Korea’s nuclear program, not Donald Trump’s divisive presidency, not global warming; no, it’s what people do in the privacy of their own homes that is the number-one issue.

How twisted is that?

Anyway, enough of my ranting 😉 I’d like to also point my readers to Kirk’s complete article in which he expands on the points he makes in the quotation I have given above. Although you will recognise some of the paragraphs from above, there are some new and interesting points that he makes as well. Here’s the link.

Finally, a word of explanation. My blog purports to be, on the whole, me doing what I see the Father doing; me saying what I believe the Father is saying. That’s what my header is all about and it’s the mission statement, if you like, for my blog. In these times, I see the Father doing a great work amongst and through the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Intersex ‘community’. These people are going to play a major part in the next Revival; indeed, they are already doing so.

To quote Rabbi Gamaliel, in Acts 5:38-39, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Yep. Please consider this post prayerfully and hear what the Voice of the Spirit is saying to you 🙂

 

 

 

 

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The Tyranny of Article Ten

On August 29th 2017, the grandiosely titled ‘Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’ * released a document called the ‘Nashville Statement’ **, a declaration of the position of over 150 American conservative church leaders on matters of human sexuality, including statements on morality, sex outside of marriage, and of course homosexuality.***

Rather than recite it for you, here is a link to a PDF file of the Statement (it should open in a new browser tab): Nashville Statement PDF

I respect some of those leaders (well, actually, just two whom I know of and have heard speak). I agree, would you believe, with some of what’s in the Statement, and I can understand (if not personally accept) their stance on homosexuality.

But Article 10 in the Statement came as a surprise to me. Here indeed is Article 10, screen-shot directly from the Nashville Statement referenced above:

I actually find this Article to be troubling, pretentious and arrogant. Troubling in that it places yet another burden on simple Christians trying to live out their life for Christ, and now that’s another legalistic straw placed on their proverbial camel’s back. Pretentious and arrogant in that, well, who do they think they are telling other believers that they cannot agree to differ?

According to this Article, you’re not allowed to be ‘undecided’, (whether you’ve studied all the arguments or not), you’re not allowed to sit on the fence, and you’re not allowed to agree to differ. ‘Otherwise faithful Christians’ implies ‘unfaithfulness’ but to whom or what? Jesus? Christianity in general? Fundagelicalism in particular? The Bible? Surely this is just another point of doctrine, and the freedom to agree or disagree is just as valid here as it is for such doctrines as Communion or baptism, whose practices vary widely within Christendom?

Essentially they are declaring this belief [in homosexuality being ‘wrong’] as a central tenet of the faith, without which you are an ‘unfaithful’ Christian, whatever that means and whatever threat that is supposed to convey. I would suggest, then, that Article 10 is saying that unless you believe the Bible the way in which we [the authors of the Nashville Statement; those 150+ leaders] say you have to believe it, then you’re not a ‘proper Christian’. That’s what I find troubling – but unsurprising. I suppose actually seeing it written down in black and white was what I found most troubling; they have always believed it, but maybe never actually written it down.

At its core, the Article reveals plainly the bibliolatry (worship of the Bible) of their position, in that they have essenially elevated a book – an inspired book, to be sure, but still a book – to a place above the position of the One Whom it reveals. Once again, the Bible has been given primacy over Jesus, Who alone is the Word of God. Once again, these people present a non-negotiable interpretation of a book that is neither inerrant nor infallible. The Bible is so vast and complex in its layers, meanings and teachings that I think it is true to say that none of us knows enough to say categorically that another brother’s beliefs are ‘wrong’. And so they attempt to ‘forbid’ the holding of an opinion that they don’t like, even if it’s Jesus Himself who given us that opinion. But, of course, we need to remember that these men are not the Gatekeepers of the Kingdom, no matter how much they might believe that they are! These people do not hold a monopoly of the Truth, nor of Jesus.

I think in some ways it’s also a matter of ‘Scriptural authority’. You see, some believers hold that a Christian has to believe (and enact/build into his life) all of the Bible, and that all of the Bible carries identical weight and authority. But that’s not how anyone actually lives it. You see, every Christian cherry-picks certain verses and decides that they apply, and that other verses don’t. It’s inevitable that this will happen, especially since the Bible is written by different people who all had different views.

For these people to say that affirming of LGBTQ+ people is ‘sinful’, well, I and my own conscience can be the only arbiter of that for me personally. (And it’s time they stopped their preoccupation with ‘sin’!) Paul is quite clear that what is beneficial for some is not so for others (1Cor 10:23, 1Cor 6:12). I can choose within my freedom as a Christ-follower what to consider is ‘sin’ as instructed by Holy Spirit. But I think that, deep down, and in their admirable zeal to keep their flocks ‘safe’, a lot of these leaders have a great difficulty with trusting a) God to speak to their people, and b) their people to hear God accurately for themselves. I understand that. But part of our freedom a believers is that we have been released into this freedom partly in order to learn how to hear the voice of God for ourselves. Sure, we will make mistakes, but God is gentle and patient with us in our learning curve, and He supports us all the way. In any case, the more they legislate, the more powerful ‘sin’ becomes. More Law is not the answer, because the power of sin is the Law (1Cor 15:56)!

I would also suggest that in agreeing to the latter part of Article 10, a person would be submitting his/her own conscience to the control, approval and permissions of men. And what human has that right or that privilege? And where do you draw the line? What would happen if they (or any other leaders) decided to forbid your conscience’s participation on opinions that you really do care deeply about? Sadly, I know from personal experience that such leadership does in fact exist in the church, and that sort of behaviour is part of what is known as the ‘cultic mindset’ – a mindset which is a million miles from the ‘glorious freedom of the Children of God’ (Rom 8:21), which is what Christ actually intends for us.

And there’s more to the troubling nature of that Statement. Wendy Francisco describes it as, “…a heartbreaking and terrible call to organized rejection and scapegoating”. And I have to admit that I hadn’t thought of it like that, but you know what, she’s right. It’s both heartbreaking and terrible, and saddening too.

You have probably gathered by now that I consider the Nashville Statement, and in particular Article 10, to be just so much hot air. They are saying nothing new. I also think that the Statement will soon be forgotten as yet another irrelevant Church proclamation. It’s so ‘behind the times’; it’s certainly not going to stop anyone from doing or believing what they are already doing or believing, or change their minds. But the Article 10 ‘call to organized rejection and scapegoating’ is indeed worrying. As always with these proclamations, all it’s going to achieve is to hurt and alienate people.

And the timing of the Statement’s release could not have been worse: it has been released at a time when the southern seaboard of the United States is a disaster area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and forest fires continue to rage unchecked in northern Montana. Talk about blinkered vision…

No, this is a presumptious piece of pompous church bureaucracy that will not help anyone. All they have done is to codify what they already believe – which is fair enough, but unnecessary – and also tried to overreach what little authority they have in producing the dangerous Article 10. My friend Ken Nichols put it like this:

My greatest push back on this though is not about the homosexuality itself, but about their insistence that if you do not believe as they do on this issue, you are NOT a Christian. That should be pointed out, not to shame them or call them “sinners”, but to tell people watching on the outside that not ALL Christians believe like this.”

Well said, Ken 🙂

I would like to conclude this post by sharing a more positive outlook. My friend Julie Ferwerda (authoress of the book ‘Raising Hell‘) has made this counter-statement to the Nashville Statement:

Julie Ferwerda’s Nashville Un-Statement:

I affirm that marriage appears to be a plan of the Universe/God/Spirit to be a visible image of a loving, intimate experience of oneness. This relationship, when fashioned after genuine, Godly Love shall aim toward a physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually healthy union between people in a consentual, empowering, supportive partnership, intended to pattern the covenant love between a truly loving, non-biased God and his creation.

“I deny that God has limited such a relationship to be controlled or determined or dictated by legalistic, misguided religious affiliation based on sexual orientation, gender, nationality, ethnicity, or any other innate factor that is used as a divisive measuring stick. I also affirm that there is no such thing as “mere human” as separate from divine form. We are all expressions of God living out a unique role we have been perfectly made for, so long as we are striving toward genuine love and oneness.”

That’s a great place at which to finish, I think. For more reading on the Nashville Statement, may I recommend the following blog posts:

Susan Cottrell’s post on FreedHearts, a support site for parents of LGBTQ+ kids
John Pavlovitz’s semi-humorous ‘translation’ of the Statement into English 😉
Another excellent article by Jim Wallis of ‘Soujourners’
The ‘Denver Statement’; a ‘counter-statement’ to the Nashville Statement
Is modern Christianity ‘all about sex’? Sometimes it seems that way…
And finally, another piece on Article 10, which is very thoughtfuly written.

*I mean it’s not as if they are anything as monumental as the the ‘Council of Nicea‘ or the ‘Council of Jerusalem‘, lol. Or maybe they think they are… 😉


**Although it was called the ‘Nashville Statement’, this name was given it because the people who wrote the document finalised a draft of it in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Nashville’s mayor very quickly moved to disassociate her city from the naming, saying it was ‘poorly named’ and that it “…does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville”. Nashville is known as being an ‘island’ or ‘oasis’ of, shall we say, ‘free-thinking’ in the midst of the American ‘Bible Belt’. I wonder if that location for the conference was chosen with this in mind? 😉


*** Although they only mentioned homosexuality (so, Lesbian and Gay) and Transgenderism, I am assuming that all ‘different’ sexualities (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/questioning and other sexualities) are also intended to be encompassed by their declarations. It wouldn’t surprise me.

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To Christian Parents of LGBTQI Children

Not that this has happened to me, but imagine you are a Christian parent (or parents) and one of your children tells you that they are of an ‘alternative’ sexuality. That is, they are gay, Lesbian, bisexual, transexual, queer/questioning or Intersex.

For some Christian parents, this would be a non-issue. For me, that would indeed be the case. But for others, whose deeply-held beliefs tell them that this is simply wrong, wrong, wrong, what do they do? I really feel for these people. On the one hand, their parental instinct is telling them to simply love and accept their child; on the other, their beliefs, church or maybe friends/family are, well, at least making it difficult for them to come around to their new knowledge.

In this beautifully-written piece, Susan Cottrell, herself the mother of five children, two of whom are part of the LGBTQI ‘community’, gives her perspective on this important matter. If you are in this kind of ‘situation’, it is well worth reading. Susan has ‘walked the walk’; in my book, that gives her more than the right to ‘talk the talk’. Click the image below to go to the article:

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A Great Piece on Christianity and Homosexuality

While someone else’s sexuality is none of anyone else’s business, there are of course many Christians who would disagree, particularly with regard to people of what you might call ‘alternative’ sexualities, such as Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people.

Most of my readers will know by now that I am an open affirmer of committed LGBTQ relationships. I have many gay friends, both online and in ‘real life’. As a Christian, I find it morally indefensible that Christians should be in any way bigoted towards people of alternative sexualities. I share here, then, a great article by John Shore of ‘Unfundamentalist Christians’, explaining both his and my position really clearly, and Scripturally too. Click the image below to go to the article.

Enjoy!

unfundamentalist-christians-on-homosexuality

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Compassion and the Next Revival

I’ve written before on how I believe that the hallmark of the next great revival will be one of compassion for those whom the Church has routinely ostracised and rejected – for example, the homeless, the poor, and those of ‘different’ sexual persuasions.

Here is a tragic story explaining just a little of what happens when a Church prefers sacrifice over justice and mercy (Mt 9:13). And please read on into the comments too – this whole piece and its comments read as a powerful message from God to his Church today about how we treat Lesbian, gay, bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) people.

Sit up and take notice, Church – this is real and it’s happening now. We need to align ourselves with Father on this.

Click the link below to go to the article:

6 Ways The Church’s Treatment of LGBTQ People is Actually Damaging the Church

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Watch the Lamb

…and how the song changed my heart….

A few years ago now, I quite accidentally discovered this song, and its writer/singer Ray Boltz, while looking for Don Francisco songs. I can’t listen to this song without weeping; this is true for only one other song, Into the West, performed by Annie Lennox. The anointing on the song (by ‘anointing’, I mean the evident seal of God’s approval; the added je ne sais quoi that He adds to things that He’s got His Hand in) – anyway the anointing is so strong that I just lose it every time. I’ll let you listen to the song (and the video is very good too) and then I’ll tell you a bit of a story.

You see, apart from its emotional effect on me, this song was also pivotal in my walk with God in another way.

This was the song that Holy Spirit used to bring me to my present place as an open affirmer of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) people .

I’d never heard of Ray Boltz before. But I was really impressed, as I’ve hinted, by the anointing on this song, and I wanted to learn more about him. Long story short, I discovered that Ray is gay.

At the time (this was about mid-2009) I was in my fifteen-year ‘wilderness period‘, and would be for another six years or so (it lasted from 1999-2014). Although God had already retrained much of my thinking with regard to theology, doctrine and practical faith, still the dislike (to put it mildly) of all things LGBTQ was a stronghold in my life. I am embarrassed to admit that I thought that gay people were way off-beam and deserved everything coming to them, as I saw it then. I cringe to write that, but that’s the honest truth. And I was wrong.

Pride-Flag1

I had to wrestle with God on this. “If he’s gay [and therefore ‘wrong’]”, I put to God, “then why and how can you put such obvious anointing on his music?”

(Only recently, though, has my thinking changed on the issue of God’s anointing of ‘obviously wrong’ people – read about that here – but back then, this was a major issue for me)

God then led me on a journey of reading, research, study, prayer and contemplation wherein He eventually brought me round to His Heart on the issues surrounding LGBTQ people.  I found that God loves them, God reaches out to the outcasts of society, He upholds the minorities and He lifts up the downtrodden. In each age, there are such people, and in our age one such ‘group’ is the LGBTQ ‘community’. He changed my heart towards these people by showing me His Heart; the natural thing for me to do was to follow His leading. I am too honest a man to deny the truths He gave me; too honest to ignore His prompting. I knew this was the way he wanted me to go. It fits right in with His love, His compassion, His gentleness and His forbearance. And, as you know from the subtitle of my blog, I always love to “do what I see the Father doing”.

And in the years since, I have found out that some of my old friends from Yorkshire (with whom I am still in touch) have also had to wrestle with these beliefs, especially one whose daughter has ‘come out’ as a Lesbian. I’m not on my own; God is challenging, and changing, the ‘firmly held’ beliefs of those who have ears to hear – many believers in this time are also coming round to this point of view.

This line of thinking also got me pondering very deeply on things like the nature of sin, the deadness of legalism and religion, and on many more things that now form a part of the way my theological thoughts now sit, and which you can see in my blog posts. And all because of that song, and Ray Boltz, the gay man who wrote it.

Ray Boltz

I now have several gay friends, some in real-life, and some who are ‘Internet friends’. And I have learned that they are good people – if you’d told the old ‘me’, ten years ago, that this would be my attitude, I would never have believed it could be possible. But thanks to God’s grace, and Ray Boltz’s song, my heart has been changed for good.

Thank You, Jesus!


For more help on faith and LGBTQ issues, check out my other blog posts here, here, here and here.

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Marriage Equality: We have lost Nothing!

I believe that one of the things the Father is doing in this time is to put right so many misconceptions that the Christian church has held for so long.

Misconceptions that come across to the unbeliever, not as bravely-held convictions worthy of honour and careful consideration, bringing glory to God as we stand firm as illuminated believers in a dark world, but as anachronistic, irrelevant ironclad rules that simply put people off the beautiful simplicity of Jesus’s love!

Silly arguments about how old the Earth is; how old the Universe is. Silly arguments against modern scientific discovery which is reminiscent of the ‘Earth at the centre of the Universe’ model so beloved of the Church in the 17th century that they persecuted those who held the sun-centred view that we now know to be completely correct. And that wasn’t even an important doctrine!

So, in this time, the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to legalise same-sex marriage in all 50 of the United States of America is also seen by many Christians as the ‘end of marriage as we knew it’.

But in fact it does nothing of the sort. This ‘end of marriage’ statement is, in my opinion, simply an overstatement to try to get people on to the side of the anti-lobby, by frightening them. Heterosexual marriage will continue to thrive as it always has; the legalisation of same-sex marriage will not affect it in any way.

In fact, the effects of this law are asymmetric.

On the one hand, the anti-same-sex marriage lobby, for whom life will go on pretty much as normal. This result will not affect them one iota, unless they let it. And in any event, they’ll get over it. To put it bluntly, we heterosexual people have lost nothing!

On the other hand, for all these dear people who now have more of the freedom to be who they want to be, and who God made them to be, life will never be the same again. In a good way.

Let me remind my readers: there is serious doubt among modern theologians that the Bible does in fact condemn ‘different’ sexualities. And we should therefore err on the side of Love, rather than hate. Take a look at my previous article, The Call to Love, for more on this.

Granted, making same-sex marriage legal is not going to change the hearts and minds of the anti-gay lobby, at least not overnight. There will still be persecution; entrenched opinions sometimes take several lifetimes to drain from some people, if indeed they ever do. But in 25 years time, we will look back from a time when same-sex marriage is accepted as perfectly normal, perfectly run-of-the-mill, and wonder what all the fuss was about.

But for the people for whom this judgement is so important, the people in same-sex marriages, life will be as it should be.


For a real from-the-heart piece on this subject, check out Susan Cottrell’s blog entry here at FreedHearts. It’ll be well worth it.

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How the Church Should Treat Gay People

In the book I’m reading at the moment, ‘Disarming Scripture’ by David Flood, the author asserts that the correct way to read Scripture is to focus on the loving interpretation. If your interpretation of a passage results in doing harm rather than good, the chances are you’re not interpreting it as God intended. Essentially this is a way of interpreting ‘By their fruits you shall know them’ – (Matthew 7:16 – “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act” (NLT))

In few areas today is this more important than that of how the Church treat homosexual people and other folks with ‘different’ sexualities. I’ve previously posted on this matter here. And in this post I keep it simple by referring to people in the LGBTQ ‘community’ as ‘gay’. I know this is incorrect, but it’s simpler for me. My apologies.

Another bit of background before going over to Flood’s piece: Flood asserts that when modern discoveries find evidence for certain effects, such as the terrible effects of treating homosexual people badly, we should not be concerned that we are challenging the Bible. When the Bible was written, humanity simply did not have the same knowledge we have these days. To claim that the Bible holds all the answers is simply incorrect; it is simply not big enough! We need to interpret the Bible not only through the ‘lens of Love’, but also in the light of modern discoveries, both scientific and sociological. To do otherwise is to remain stuck in an unchanging past, much as many Christians accuse Islam of doing.

Right. Over to David Flood:

“I would argue that it would be more important to observe the effects that same-sex relationships have in life today, than it would be to ask what the respective views of past cultures may have been. Do we find evidence that same-sex relationships lead to harm or that they lead to flourishing? The overwhelming majority of social scientists and mental health practitioners today would maintain that there is simply no evidence that same-sex relationships are destructive or harmful in and of themselves.

“Conversely, what we can observe, as far as harm is concerned, is that statistically the LGBT community has a higher rate of drug abuse, mental illness, and suicide than the larger population—alarmingly higher in fact. The reason is quite clear: the rejection they experience.

“Being kicked out of their homes, hiding who they are, being threatened and hated, etc. can easily make a person sick, depressed, broken, and even drive them to suicide. As their voices have begun to be heard, we have seen story after story of how gay and transgender kids have felt hated, at times even hating themselves.

“That really should be a wakeup call for us. While there is no evidence that same-sex relationships are themselves harmful, there is a considerable amount of evidence that the condemnation and rejection the LGBT community faces is profoundly harmful.

“Regardless of whether we believe homosexuality is right or wrong, none of that matters much when people are dying. If we truly care about people, then the practical question straight Christians need to be asking is: Are we helping or hurting with the way we are responding to gays? Are we promoting grace or promoting harm? If it turns out that a moral stance in opposition to homosexuality is having the unintended affect of fueling this kind of rejection, leading to self-hatred and even suicide among gays, then we need to seriously re-think our priorities and focus.

“We can of course argue over what the Bible says about homosexuality, but one thing is utterly clear: Jesus teaches us to love people, not to hate them, not to make them feel hated, and not to stand by while that is happening. From the perspective of the New Testament there simply is no room for doubt on this. We know exactly where Jesus stands in this regard. He stands on the side of the least, the condemned, the vulnerable.

“Looking at Jesus, we can clearly observe in the Gospels that his priority was on caring for the welfare of people, in contrast to the Pharisees who instead prioritized the maintenance of their moral standards. We need to get our priorities straight and prioritize compassion in our witness towards gays—even if that means, like Jesus, having the reputation among the Pharisees of today of being a ‘friend of sinners.’

“Again, as stated above, if we recognize that our particular interpretation and application of Scripture is leading to observable harm, this necessarily means that we need to stop and reassess our course. Scripture, as Jesus read it, needs to lead us to love God, others, and ourselves. If we find that it is leading instead to causing harm then we are getting it wrong.”

And I would also add that surely the requirement to ‘do as you would be done by’ (Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (NIV)) must occur to some. Would you, if you were convinced of the rightness of your cause, appreciate it if someone came along and told you how ‘wrong’ or ‘sinful’ you were? Certainly this is no way to open a dialogue that will bear any useful fruit! But it is a dialogue that must be opened; Christians need to discuss this rationally and with a non-confrontational mindset. And do it soon. (Thanks to Rob, one of my Men of Honour, for discussing that with me this evening!)

And for those who would say, ‘Ah, but isn’t it more loving to try to correct gay people in their error?’, firstly I would say that it is by no means certain that the Bible actually condemns homosexuality, or, indeed, any form of ‘non-standard’ sexuality. Therefore we should default to ‘Love’ while we get our interpretations sorted out (see this post). Secondly, unless you are in an already existing, good relationship with that person, you should not attempt to correct them at all. See my post, ‘confrontation’, for more thoughts on this important matter.

How to treat gay people? It’s really simple: you treat them like you would anyone else. They’re normal people. We shouldn’t even have to be talking about this, but I’m writing this piece because for some Christians this is a really huge issue. Take a step back and look at yourself, study the contexts, read opinions and scholarly articles….there is reasonable doubt that Christians have been wrong all this time! God has given you a mind – use it!

In the meantime, Love. That’s Jesus’s number one commandment.

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