Some churches I know are deeply divided over the issue of gay people of faith being included in the life of the church and particularly with regard to gay marriage.
I want to suggest a way to some peaceful, loving reconciliation in this matter. Church folks need to learn how to listen with love to the stories of people on both sides of this topic. Some of my straight friends get defensive for the same reason they don’t like Jehovah Witness folks coming to their door. The former are afraid they won’t be able to answer and will be pushed into a corner or made to look ignorant of their own faith. That’s why all this works better in small group gatherings.
This topic needs a voice.
I propose a Reconciliation Team within the churches that can bring different sides together. This team needs to be diverse to allow for diverse opinions. We need never to be afraid to hear brothers and sisters who differ from us on Scripture, Theology, or Life Choices.
It’s like the Jerusalem Council that met regarding the Gentiles. (See Acts 15) The earliest Christians differed on Bible matters, commandments, and loving flexibility as regards the Gentiles who wanted to become Christians. The Council compromised and decided that new converts did not need to keep the Mosaic Law of Circumcision. And this was a significant decision because it was the stipulation for the Covenant people with their God. (See Genesis 17) And many people did not believe that law could be nullified. But it was. See, changes do come.
Christian Ethicist David Gushee has written a book called, CHANGING OUR MINDS in which he suggests several ideas for churches confronted by this matter of gay inclusion and marriage.
One of his suggestions is that we STOP JUDGING PEOPLE. (See Romans 14 and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7) Judgment does not come from love. It comes from not seeing the log in one’s own eye. It’s looking down on another. It would be like telling people in the northeast they are sinning because they eat Lobster and Pork. Oh, no. Let’s not go down that road.
The other suggestion he makes is for a church to go through a deliberate time of dialogue and discernment where we have the conversation about homosexuality and the will of God. Such conversation will impact many areas of faithful life.
Paul writes to the Ephesians that we should speak the truth in love. Speaking and listening to what we understand as God’s truth and doing so in ‘regard for the other’ is what that means.
Some churches have made conscientious decisions about homosexuality according to their best prayerful understanding of God’s will. Whichever conclusion they come to is not without consequences. And the leadership of the church needs to reach out to people who by their own conscience have a different belief. But I sincerely believe that no decision by any leadership can be made without lots of input and conversation. And resources are readily available.
Right now Christ’s body is torn asunder and needs a loving spirit and intention to bring healing. The church is for everyone. Maybe I should say the Kingdom of God has come for everyone. No one is disposable.