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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Love of Christ Compels Us to Understand

Written by: on March 14, 2019

“Did they really just say that!?”

I pulled over at the nearest Starbucks and turned the radio volume to full blast. “No, they couldn’t have said that!” I begged my senses to recompose and leaned in to hear more. Their two voices boomed through my shock as they repeated their diatribe.

“Yeah, Mike! You heard me right. If Britain could get rid of the Nazis, why can’t they do the same with the Homosexuals?” Yep. You heard right. A ‘Christian’ talk show just compared those in the LGBTQIA community to white supremacy. I copied their names, the details of their show and resolved to report them for hate speech. However, reality soon hit, and I realized that this mindset was not simply exhibited by few but was upheld by many.  For years, I’ve heard it preached, “Society is failing because of culture”; however, I realized that the greatest issue was not the changing dynamics in society, but the extreme perspective of those within the church.

Rachel Held Evens, author of Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church, confesses:

I didn’t stop going to church after the Vote Yes On One campaign, but I stopped being present. I was too scared to speak up in support of LGBT people, so I ignored my conscience and let it go. I played my role as the good Christian girl and spared everyone the drama of an argument. But that decision – to remain silent – split me in two. It convinced me that I could never really be myself in church, that I had to check my heart and mind at the door.[1] 

Each week, we are graced with the presence of diversity within our pews and within our lives. We have transgender people, gender non-binary individuals, gays, lesbians, intersex, and asexual in our sanctuaries. However, most Evangelicals are still arguing about issues, and not offering a relationship.

I’ve met many leaders who post affirming verbiage in regard to the LGBTQIA community; however, they don’t view them as people, but as political agendas. This strips people of their personhood. Affirmation is more than idyllic rhetoric; it’s a real-life relationship. If we want to influence; we must first seek to love and understand. This is why we must go beyond the basic presumptions of homosexuality and seek to understand the fullness of the LGBTQIA community. I’ve taken the liberty to provide a brief overview of definitions and terms.

LGBTQIA Glossary and Definitions:

Gay– A sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender.[2]

Lesbian– A woman whose sexual and affectional orientation is toward the same gender.[3]

Cisgender– The prefix cis- means “on this side of” or “not across.” A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not transgender.[4]

Intersex – People who develop primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit “neatly” into society’s definitions of male or female.[5]

Nonbinary– A gender identity that embraces the full universe of expressions.[6]

Transgender– A person who identifies with a gender other than that the gender they were assigned at birth. (This includes Trans-female and Trans-male.)[7]

Asexual– Person who does not experience sexual attraction. They may or may not experience emotional, physical, and/or romantic attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation, not a choice.[8]

Loving people can only come from understanding them. If we don’t seek to understand, then we make presumptions and pat ourselves on the back for pretending to embrace diversity. In a recent article by ET Live, the writer gave her readers a glimpse into the lives of Portia De Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres. De Rossi reveals, “It is good to be loved. It is profound to be understood.”[9] Love is not the same as understanding. Taking the time to understand someone takes time. It takes energy. It takes us surrendering our presumptions and choosing to learn from another’s perspective.

Countless churches perpetuate the mindset, The Bible says it. That’s the end of it. However, countless scriptures advocate the death penalty, slavery, and polygamy, yet we’ve learned to interpret contextually. We’ve fought for integration, we’ve marched for equality and we’ve spoken out against white supremacy. However, in the 21st century, we’re still debating if those in the LGBTQIA community should be granted our time and given our approval.

I had the privilege of interviewing Pastor Colby Martin, author of Unclobber: Rethinking our Misuse of The Bible on Homosexuality. He reveals, “My journey away from Conservative Evangelicalism was met with fear and frustration from others in our church. I discovered that many Evangelicals hold their beliefs with such clenched fists that they fear and violently resist any questions or challenges to their convictions.”[10] Our convictions come at a cost.

William Loader, contributor of Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church, suggests that even Jesus was met with unwarranted disgust and dismissal. The author reveals, “The need to engage both Scripture and experience…goes back to the beginnings of the Christian movement. On each occasion there was controversy… to some degree this already played a role in Jesus’ conflicts with his contemporaries …”[11] Jesus’ choice to love was countercultural and controversial. His life was given as a ransom for many, for the homosexual, the transgender, the heterosexual, the intersex and the Pharisee. Are we willing to do the same?

 

 

 

[1] Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church (Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2015),61.

[2] “LGBTQIA Terminology,” https://lgbt.ucsd.edu, accessed March 14, 2019, https://lgbt.ucsd.edu/education/terminology.html.

[3] Ibid.,

[4] “Education,” https://lgbt.ucsf.edu, accessed March 14, 2019, https://lgbt.ucsf.edu/glossary-terms.

[5] Ibid.,

[6] Ibid.,

[7] Eli R. Green and Erica N. Peterson, “Glossary of LGBTQIA Terms,” http://lbgtrc.msu.edu, accessed March 14, 2019, http://lbgtrc.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Glossary-of-LGBTQIA-Terms.pdf.

[8] Ibid.,

[9] Jackie Willis, “Ellen DeGeneres Says Portia de Rossi ‘understands Me completely,’ Looks Back at Their Marriage Vows,” https://www.etonline.com, August 10, 2017, https://www.etonline.com/news/223482_ellen_degeneres_recalls_portia_de_rossi_marriage_vows_she_loves_me_for_everything_that_i_am.

[10] Colby Martin, Unclobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of The Bible on Homosexuality, (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016),12.

[11] Preston M. Sprinkle et al., Two Views On Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016),46.

About the Author

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Colleen Batchelder

I speak at conferences, churches, companies and colleges on intergenerational communication, marketing, branding your vision and living authentically in a ‘filtered’ world. My talks are customized to venue needs and audience interests. My passion is to speak with organizations and bridge the intergenerational gap. I consult with companies, individuals, churches and nonprofit organizations and help them create teams that function from a place of communication that bridges the generational gap. I’m also the Founder and President of LOUD Summit – a young adult organization that presents workshops, seminars and summits that encourage, empower and equip millennials to live out their destiny and walk in their purpose. When I’m not studying for my DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary, you can find me enjoying a nice Chai Latte, exploring NYC or traveling to a new and exotic destination.

10 responses to “The Love of Christ Compels Us to Understand”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Colleen,

    I have heard whispers of folks saying because we live in Montana, we are “country bumpkins” out of touch with the real world. However, in my ministry, I have counseled and loved on someone from every part of your list.

    I smiled a little that you mentioned Ellen DeGeneres in your Blog, from a different perspective than my Blog (grin).

    Though you and I come from seemingly different worlds, we are not that different. Thank you for your input.

    Your blog mentions “clobber” (or Unclobber in a book title). Recently I have learned what that is referring to. As in, the “clobber” passages in the Bible, used to beat homosexuals over the head with what the Bible says.

    Am I right with the use of this term?

    • Thanks so much, Jay for the great reply!

      Churches, regardless of denomination or stance are faced with the responsibility and joy of ministering to the LGBTQIA community. Sadly, many pastors are ill-equipped and illiterate when it comes to understanding the varied ways that one can identify themselves within that community. I’m happy to hear that God has given you the privilege of connecting to many and giving the chance to hear their stories.

      It’s interesting. I can empathize with both perspectives in this book because I’ve held both perspectives. I was saved at three and defending my faith by five. However, because of being saved so young, it was easy for me to fall in line with majority tenants within the church and not question them, including homosexuality. In high school and undergrad, I could go head-to-head with ‘progressives’ and defend my more ‘conservative’ viewpoint; however, as I grew and connected with varied texts and voices, I realized that my perception might be wrong.

      Megan K. DeFranza suggests:

      A number of contemporary Christians have begun to view the inclusion of gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons into the tradition of Christian monogamy as similar to the surprising grafting of “wild” Gentiles into the “cultivated olive tree” of Israel – a grafting which Paul himself described as “contrary to nature” (Romans 11:24) (DeFranza, Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church, 93).

      I consider myself one of the contemporary Christians when it comes to the LGBTQIA community. I have lots of friends and family who consider themselves gay and have made LOUD a place where all can belong and find Christ. I do, however, hold to the view of Rev. Adam Hamilton when it comes to marriage. I, myself would encourage a gay or lesbian couple to be married because it encourages monogamy and commitment. I believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin and that sex is to be expressed within marriage between two people committed one another.

      Yes. Clobber talks about verses in scriptures that can easily get clobbered up because of lack of context. My friend, Colby Martin does a great job at providing an interesting commentary on those verses from both a conservative and progressive.

  2. Hi Colleen,

    I think you and I would be on the same page.

    One of the reasons is from your wise quote: “we are graced with the presence of diversity”. I believe that all are welcome in the Body of Christ, and as we become increasingly inclusive of diversity, the greater we will reflect His heart to the world.

    I really resonated with DeFranza’s use of the wild olive branch grafted into the tree, so thank also for highlighting that. I think that happens with all those who are diverse and different – originally Gentiles, in later years we are seeing LGBT folks grafted in.

    • Thanks so much, Mark! Yes. You and I would definitely be on the same page. 🙂

      Diversity invites us to be uncomfortable and realize that normal is only a setting on the washing machine. When we see diversity through an inclusive lens, we don’t look at the ‘otherness’ of people compared to ourselves but see Jesus and then see people in light of Christ.

  3. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Colleen,

    I think it is tragic when people attempt to make scripture back up their particular biases by claiming it is as simple as applying the ‘truth’ found there. I am sure that they mean well and desire to hold some kind of moral line in the sand to prevent the church from complete collapse, however that seems to only create further divisions and does not communicate God’s love for others very clearly. Your own discussions on singleness is another example of the need for many/most christians to prevent those living a different lifestyle from the supposed norm from holding any leadership positions or receiving full inclusion. I hope that one day this issue will be viewed similarly to others like divorce and race. I just wonder what the new issues will be as it seems they have haunted the church from day one.

    • Exactly, Dan! A lot of theological concepts are backed up by bias and then presented through the text of scripture. This encourages exegesis, which produces a 1-D perspective. Rev. Adam Hamilton talks about this in his message about the Methodist vote. He delves into the idea of context and common sense causing us to reevaluate and reframe. For years, the scriptures were seen as the inspired Word of God; however, now, it is viewed as the inscribed Word of God. The Bible was still written through the lens of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. This is why I laugh when people say that we should live out the scriptural form of marriage. If you look at the life of David, who was a man after God’s own heart, he had a harem and an affair. Abraham lied about Sarah to protect his own skin and Solomon had countless wives and concubines.

      Yes! Singleness goes against the norm and is therefore considered deviant. If we don’t make room for people who hold different views or different lifestyles, then the church is going to be filled with empty pews and hurting people.

  4. Shawn Hart says:

    Colleen, I keep hearing a similar theme through some of these posts, that I actually feel is the problem with symbiosis on this thought. As a Christian, I am very conscious of sin…not just others, but my own as well. As a minister, I have to be conscious of people; not just Christians, but all Christians. However, this is where the line gets split; I believe that it is one thing to be willing to talk and communicate with someone lost in their sin; however, I am not supposed to accept that sin. Some of these posts this week do not seem to grasp that you are asking us to accept someone’s sinful lifestyle (as we see it), and ignore that fact. We cannot do that! I am not justifying the atrocious way people treat LBQT people; I am definitely not suggesting hateful behavior. I am saying that there is a HUGE line between “communicating with” and “accepting as”. We do not accept someone’s sinful life choices…regardless of what that sin is.

    • Hi Shawn,

      I work with multiple pastors from a variety of denominational backgrounds. Regardless of one’s affirming or non-affirming position when it comes to the LGBTQIA community, everyone is called to understand and approach people with compassion. When we understand the basics of definitions and terms, then we show people that they have worth and that we’ve sought to understand them. This should happen whether we agree or disagree. For instance, I’m sure we’ll come face-to-face with some speakers in London and Oxford that we disagree with; however, it’s our responsibility to learn about them, understand who they are and how they came to that differing conclusion.

  5. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Great post Colleen. What an unfortunate story you opened with. 🙁 I’m sorry that happened. That sounds like a whole lot of ignorance from those callers.

    You share some great points although I’m very unclear on whether you think monogamous faithful homosexual relationships are sinful or not.

  6. Chris Pritchett says:

    I think you’re right on with this, Colleen. It really is about loving people. Jesus is the lord of life, not just the lord of ideology. To walk with people through this is our calling. Both the left and the right use gay people for their agendas, but who will love these people?

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