A thousand words are not enough to really delve into the controversy that this topic brings up. A thousand words are a drop in the bucket to the research that has been done or even time spent in explanations of them. They are not enough to describe the friends that I have that struggle with same-sex attraction or even the friends who struggle with excepting the gay lesbian community inside and outside the church. What can I say in this short amount of space that even begins to express the journey that I or each of us are on. Within these thousand words, I hope you catch a glimpse of some of the challenges of leading in this complex world.
Two views of Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church by editor Preston Sprinkle is intended to open the door to a discussion. Spinkle writes, “No longer is this a Christian versus Non-Christian debate….[then later on talking about the authors says, they are] able to be direct without being demeaning, forthrights without being fearful or feisty.” I believe the desire was for those from somewhat opposing views to have the opportunity to write and react to some of the differing views concerning the issue of same-sex relationships, especially marriage. Finding that place of trust where difficult conversations can take place requires of level of vulnerability that many are not willing to participate in.
Defanza understands the complexity and potential for conflict concerning this idea of same-sex relationship when she writes, “ In light of these controversies of old, I do not believe Christians will come to a complete agreement on the matter of same-sex marriage, but I do hope that we will continue to listen to one another, that we will remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.”1 Finding that common ground to have ongoing discussions or finding unity even while disagreeing will take a maturity that not everyone will be able to have. To digress a little, I’ve been frustrated this week as there is an individual that wants to be baptized in our very diverse international fellowship. This has sparked an argument on what is acceptable form of baptism. Contextually this is happening in a hotel banquet room knowing we will be observed. We have been told that if it is not immersion than it is a “sham”. I am amazed at the things we are not just passionate about but also draw a line in the sand over. Some would say this is true concerning same-sex relationships. Holmes writes, “..Pastoral questions are properly answered at the level of individual lives…[he continues challenging people] …I encourage them to think about real people and their experiences in thinking though the issues.”2 It is easy to think in simple solutions when you have no skin in the game or when your relationships are not affected by thoughtless solutions.
Of course this kind of topic produces responses that do not agree with the goals nor the direction this book took. One such reviewer said, “The most important value [in the book] appears to be, unity is better than orthodoxy.”3 This critic also had issue with it being described by the editor as an evangelical book but felt all but one author didn’t take scripture seriously. He writes, “With some exceptions, the question is less what scripture says than what this is taken to mean for the church and how this is appropriated pastorally.” I do think this reviewer makes a point that this books seems to be how to deal with this homosexuality issue within the church more than a four author discussion of the Biblical understandings of this topic. Indeed this is a subject that definitions and common words are still being argued over. How Christ is represented inside this LGBT+ community will lay the foundation for how a common ground can be found.
My oldest daughter lives and goes to school in California. She attends what many in our denomination call the “liberal” school. She has a passion for those that are marginalize and unlike many millennials (sorry Kyle) wants to do something about it. For the last 2 years she has attended and help lead worship at a church plant. This church chose to place themselves in a community known for its strong LGBT+ community. Through her journey with this ministry her love has grown for those that are ostracized from the church. I attended this church a little while ago and they had someone that I knew was in a same-sex relationship up front calling the congregation to worship. This church has embraced those that love the Lord and fall into a place that are not accepted in most evangelical churches. I will admit I wasn’t totally comfortable with all that took place that day but know that is a journey I am on.
While typing this blog, I received word that our baptism was canceled by the individual to be baptized due to this disagreement. I find myself frustrated that there are those that don’t see the world as I do, that don’t value the unity Christ has called us to, that we are not as flexible as our Father in heaven. I…am…having…a…hard time …seeing with the log in my own eye. Whether it is the topic of creationism, speaking in tongues, baptism rites…the church finds ways to separate ourselves from those “not like us”. Loving and finding common ground with those that are not like us is one of the terrible and awesome challenges of our walk on this earth. These thousand words might not change the world but have allowed me to once again look upon this journey that is both great and maddening. Praise His name!
1 Sprinkle, Preston. Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church. Zondervan. 2016. 101