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

Welcoming Not Affirming

Written by: on March 15, 2019

When I was in graduate school I took a class called Contemporary Issues in Theology and it was in one of my top classes of all time. We covered a total of six different heavy issues that semester…

  1. Women in Ministry
  2. Divine Foreknowledge
  3. Divorce & Remarriage
  4. The Providence of God
  5. Spirit Baptism
  6. Homosexuality

There was great dialogue in this class and I remember some of the discussion posts being more lively than other online experiences I have been a part of. Each of these classes discussed gave us primary books, some lectures and some online videos for us to interact with and then develop a personal (at least preliminary) position on. Each of the books assigned about these topics were presented in a very neutral manner, as was our book from the “CounterPoints” series. For the first five topics listed we were given books from this sort of spectrum and opposing view points model. Homosexuality though, we were told what to believe.

It’s a shame that my previous seminary didn’t feel comfortable enough with the dialogue to do anything except tell people what to believe, and again this was at the graduate level. (to be fair a book like this did not exist in 2012.)

The class said, as stated in the syllabus course objectives, yes I still have that because I keep everything,

The student who has successfully completed this course of study should be able to:

  1. Understand the contemporary discussion of the four major views on the Divine Foreknowledge of God, especially the open-theism view and to formulate their own views.
  2. Recognize the four evangelical views on divorce and remarriage and to articulate their own views.
  3. Present the four evangelical views of women in ministry and frame their own views about the role of women in the church.
  4. Discuss why there is suffering, pain and evil in the world if God is a loving God.
  5. Debate the four major views on The Initial Experience of the Holy Spirit and formulate their own.
  6. Verbalize the Biblical position on Homosexuality.

Every other topic got to be surveyed and debated. Every other topic got to be deconstructed and given a personal decision on. The #6 though… homosexuality… was a one perspective-based book explaining the conservative stance on homosexuality.

Did the professor not think the students could handle this level of dialogue? Was too much at stake? Did the leadership from the school feel too uncomfortable with the possibility of someone siding with the other viewpoint, that they could only set it up as a straw man?

What a change from that program to this program, where our second day of lectures in Capetown we heard, “God is a queer God.” In some ways, our whole two years together has continued to circle around the issues of gender and sexual issues. It’s not an exaggerating to say I’ve been looking forward to the blogs and responses that will take place in this week and next weeks dialogues.

I’m glad that this program gives us a book that does give two different subjects. And I’m grateful for Zondervan being brave enough to publish it. Zondervan said itself that a book like this would not have been possible a decade ago (this book was published in 2106) and that this is the first book of its kind.[1] That’s because homosexuality is different. It just is. It’s an issue (more than an issue) that involves more than behavior but ties in to a person’s identity as well. This brings a different weight to it. Consider also, that this is the only blog we are allowed to not publish live. This is a heavier topic.

I think when boiled down, this issue is so much more significant because to many people, this issue has salvation implications tied in to it. Not in the sense that being straight sends me to heaven. Of course that’s not true. But if practicing homosexuality is open rebellion, then yes I think salvation could be an issue, in the same way any unrepentive sin could be. Unrepentive sin is the antithesis of saying, “Jesus is Lord of my life.”

The other issues, predestination, cultural problems, racisms, etc, very few people ever attempt to tie salvation implications to those topics.

So after this long preamble of talking around the issue, let me share with you what I believe, and let me also share with you one counterpoint that I found most challenging to my belief set.

What I believe

I believe, acting on the temptation of gay desires is a sin. I believe it’s just as much a sin a straight man or woman acting on their own temptations. I believe that while all sin separates us from God, sexual sin is different because it also is a sin against our own body. I believe you can be gay (non-practicing) and go to heaven and I believe you can be gay (non-practicing) and hold the highest levels of church leadership. I believe that people are probably born gay, but that doesn’t make it ok to act on it. I believe that I don’t have an answer for the intersex issue, but what is clear is consensual, monogamous, faithful relationships.

Is it the same as divorce/remarriage? I don’t know. 

For those who argue the issue of homosexuality is the same sin as divorce and remarriage, I’ve also wondered… Let’s say you believe remarriage is a sin, even if the divorce was permitted. Is the act of remarriage a one-time sin and then it’s done? Or is every act of sexual activity an ongoing sin for the remarried couple? If the latter is the case, wouldn’t this force them to get divorced again?

Biggest Challenges for me to consider

But lastly, as I said I would do, the arguments that made me think and reconsider my viewpoint were on the issues of intersex. Dr. Megan DeFranza gave some really interesting statements that will stick with me. First, the frog! Woah! Second, the statement that contemporary Christian marriage is not biblical marriage! Double woah!

That being said, I still maintain my belief.

I am praying that this week will foster more understanding and appreciation within all of us.

 

About the Author

mm

Kyle Chalko

14 responses to “Welcoming Not Affirming”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Wow, I really resonated with three of your quotes, all in the same paragraph–

    “I believe, acting on the temptation of gay desires is a sin.” So do I, and I think the New Testament Scriptures would agree with that statement, among a list of many other sins…

    “I believe it’s just as much a sin a straight man or woman acting on their own temptations.” Thank you for saying this, we have more heterosexual sin issues than we do homosexual…

    “I believe that while all sin separates us from God, sexual sin is different because it also is a sin against our own body.” Again, I concur, because the repercussions are deep and connect to the emotional, mental, social, spiritual and not just the physical.

    Let the discussions continue, this should be a memorable week!

  2. mm Mike says:

    Kyle,
    Thanks for talking around this issue and taking your position. I know how you normally write, analyze, and critique because I’ve read and watched you for 2 years. This one is different, as it probably is for most of us.
    Addressing this topic, homosexuality in the church and Bible is uncomfortable, uneasy, and unpleasant. The Bible is clear on the topic, depending on your belief and position on the Bible. But the position of the church, not the body of Christ church, but the ones humans build and ministry leaders like you lead, is not clear at all.
    I am so glad I got “chaplainized and missionized” by the Holy Spirit. Why, because I am comfortable ministering in tough contexts while maintaining my own beliefs. It may not be much more than the ministry of presence sometimes, a genuine smile, a notion of help, meeting basic needs, or whatever. But, it does matter eternally and ministering in a non-judgmental and loving way is a difference that makes the difference in many situations like we’re discussing this week.
    Stand firm my friend,
    Mike w

  3. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Kyle,
    I was curious as to how you would react to this book just because of your age (being a millennial). I believe the same as you, in fact the author I agreed with most was the one who is gay because of how he couched his argument, non practicing celibacy. This is a tough subject and I appreciate your thoughts.

    Jason

  4. Kyle, great read!

    I found your post one of the most interesting this week because you expressed your personal perspective in the context of your soteriological perspective.

    You mention, “…if practicing homosexuality is open rebellion, then yes I think salvation could be an issue, in the same way any unrepentive sin could be. Unrepentive sin is the antithesis of saying, “Jesus is Lord of my life.”

    In the cause of unrepentant sin, if a Christian cursed someone out and then got hit by a car without having the chance to repent, would they go to hell? Don’t we all practice some form of open rebellion, i.e. gluttony, pride, gossip, etc.? Not agreeing or disagreeing, but I would love your opinion on this. Thanks!

    • mm Kyle Chalko says:

      Hi Colleen!

      Great questions.

      You bring up an important distinction. The line between spiritual weaknesses(aka stumbling) and vs the more serious issue of a unrepentitive self-righteous heart.

      We all stumble daily. Luckily we don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness every second, because “where sin increased, graced increased all the more”.

      Unrepentive means you are proud of it, and you would do it again. That’s a big deal.

      I stumble all the time, but I don’t have any open rebellion or sin I’m proud of.

      Does that make sense?

      On a side note, I hold the firm position that gluttony is not a sin. Seriously. It really only came around from the medieval period when the church made up the “Seven deadly sins list”. The Bible calls it unwise, but never calls it sin. Party on.

  5. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Kyle,
    Thank you for a thoughtful, honest blog! I appreciate your contemplation on this issue and appreciate that you can share your challenges with this tough topic! We may not have the same outcome on beliefs, but I believe you and I process things very similarly. To be honest, I’m even more interested to read your blog next week :). I’m so sorry to hear about your experience in your Master’s program and so curious how you have developed your new training program…do you address/discuss this topic? Congrats by the way on your new project!!!

  6. Shawn Hart says:

    Kyle, aside from the fact that agreed with most of what you said, I’d prefer to commend you on the way you said; much more diplomatic than I fear my post was. With that said, I completely agree with the sin assessment…but I do not mean directly in regard to homosexuality…I mean ALL sin. We have preach against all sin…not just a few of them, and even then, not with judging someone to hell according to it. We all struggle with temptation; whether for money or sex or power or whatever else, we are driven to want something we shouldn’t want. For that matter, we fight the good fight and strive to remove the sin from our life; that is the only true assurance we can have that we are right with God.

  7. Hi Kyle,

    Thanks for your great post. I loved how you approached it with that fascinating glimpse into your seminary education that encouraged free, responsible thought on all topics except one. The dissonance in your syllabus was so obvious when you presented it.

    I highly respect your position, which is one I used to hold. And your holding it in love is admirable so keep it up!!

    I think my own evolution on the topic is impacted because of my own changing views on soteriology (that ultimately everyone will be saved even if sin has to be purged after death – a whole other rabbit trail here, ha!). Oh man, I just started thinking of all the other ways my theology has been changing, and I won’t keep enumerating them here. But you get the idea. If we are all ultimately included in God’s heart, I couldn’t fight gay marriage any more.

    • mm Kyle Chalko says:

      Thanks Mark! So interesting.

      Hey I didnt know you held that position about salvation. I can definitely see how that would make homosexuality a moot point.

      Would that make other standards of righteous living moot as well?

      I’ve pondered about universalism a lot and kind of wish it were true. I just can’t find it in the scriptures.

      This would be a great whole week blog post 🙂

  8. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Kyle,

    I think the graduate course you took and the directives you received regarding homosexuality is striking and suggests a level of fear that is greater than warranted. How can a course allow for varied opinions on something as critical as the providence of God or Divine foreknowledge yet only provide directives for a hotly debated lifestyle issue. The unspoken message is very clear – there is no allowance for points of view when it comes to this issue. I think this is why many in the LGBTQ communities feel that the church has no place for them. I also am not convinced that practicing or not practicing any sin, whether sexual or others listed by Paul, has any bearing on whether or not one is received into heaven. I hope not otherwise you and I are just as likely to be excluded as LGBTQ people living in a consensual, monogamous relationship. I certainly am not advocating for interpreting homosexuality as endorsed by the scriptures or as a perfectly acceptable lifestyle decision for Christians, I just don’t see it as the most critical element of faith. As far as intersex etc. I think this is where the biblical record may fall short as I am not certain this was understood in the time and place, although the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch suggests that there was at least some acceptance of people outside the ‘norm’ in the early church. We are all still growing in our understanding of God and the created order. I think if each of us, affirming and non-affirming, is open to civil discourse, maintaining an attitude of love, the church can continue to demonstrate the life of the gospel.

    • mm Kyle Chalko says:

      Thanks for the meaningful response Dan.

      It is a shame that my previous seminary did that. I wish the They hadn’t.

      As far as salvation. I think the key is the word unrepentive. To me that’s means a sin that you are proud of , and something you would do again. Doesn’t that show a heart are not living with Jesus as lord.

  9. Greg says:

    Kyle.
    Thanks for your confession of being a pack rat…:-)
    I would guess your grad program would be similar to many programs around the country. It is interesting that there are some topics that we are open to discuss and other that we want to shut down. I wonder if we are not willing (as denominations) to discuss because we don’t always know what we believe. I appreciated your willingness to express your belief and your way of processing this. As Dan suggest, we are all on a journey with God…and each other.

  10. mm Trisha Welstad says:

    Kyle, I appreciate your post and sharing candidly about perspective and your seminary experience. My undergrad was very much the experience you had with regard to telling us how to believe and I found that it did not teach me to think well on my own, especially as a young college student.

    Also, your questions on divorce and remarriage are good. I am going to consider those as this has been part of my own wrestling with the subject.

  11. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks, Kyle,
    Like others, I appreciated your self-critical sharing about your grad school experience previously, and the way that you continue to sort through what these things mean biblically, pastorally, and in your own ministry context. I think your willingness to engage with points of view that are other than “the official party line” are important, especially as you deal with millennials and young people who tend to have plenty of questions and need someone to journey with them and bring wisdom for the road… peace.

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