Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


A Letter

posted by Scot McKnight

Here is a letter about a subject that we believe will become much more of an issue in evangelical churches in the next decade. I am soliciting your responses today (civility must obtain) and tomorrow I have a guest response from Andrew Marin, who has a book coming out very soon from IVP on homosexuality. (I’ll be posting about it late April or early May.) On this letter: Would you deal with this person privately? Do you have a policy in place for these issues? Do you think a policy is needed or necessary or even wise? What would you do?

Dear Scot,

We have a college student on our worship team who has been struggling with issues of homosexuality.  He had voluntarily removed himself from the team last year due to this issue.  He has since come to the conclusion that homosexual unions are acceptable to God, not sex outside a civil union, but within a union. 

He currently has a boyfriend, although he is not sexually active. He believes he is “right with God” and wishes to rejoin the team, with the understanding that should he cross the line and become sexually active outside of a civil union, he will no longer be eligible to be on the team.

As the worship leader, the decision lies in my hands.  I do not want to condone the theology that God is accepting of homosexual unions or acts.  I would appreciate some advice as to how to handle this situation.
 
What do you think?
 



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Kevin Hargaden

posted April 1, 2009 at 7:37 am


Gah! What a dilemma. Although my heart goes out to the guy (and indeed to the worship leader), I think a very strong argument would have to be made that so specific a context as civil union has some kind of legitimating bearing on sexual acts. Without wanting to say too much and be an oaf, is there not a sense in which, perhaps, this young man is idolizing the sexual act by sanctioning it only within these very tight constraints?



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Scot McKnight

posted April 1, 2009 at 7:42 am


Kevin,
Are you suggesting that civil union is not enough — marriage is required — or that there are no genuine restrictions to (what you call) sexual acts?



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Alan

posted April 1, 2009 at 8:06 am


So is he saying that a civil order makes things acceptable in the eyes of God? If my wife and I were only married in a civil sense, I wouldn’t consider us truly married. Maybe I could be accused of separating church and state too much, but I don’t see a civil union as legitimizing anything spiritually.
But, for the worship leader, if he feels that there is no such thing as homosexual marriage (and I would agree that there is no such thing), and this student believes that there is and is pursuing a relationship with a person of the same sex (which is presumably “courting” in the same way a heterosexual couple would, with a relationship headed towards marriage), then the worship leader needs to say “no.” Debating homosexuality aside, if the worship leader feels that there is a direct conflict between his convictions and the convictions of the other worship leaders within the group (at least on such a big, controversial issue), there will most likely always be conflict. There will never be good unity within that group.
I find it interesting that the debate has moved from whether homosexual sex is OK, to whether an abstinent homosexual couple is acceptable. This is the third time in the last two days where I’ve heard this type of scenario (not exact situations, but same type of situations). I fear some responses to this question. I think this may be “camel’s nose is in the tent” sort of argument. Either that, or people are just looking for more ways to thread the proverbial needle with sin.



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LutheranChik

posted April 1, 2009 at 8:10 am


As a partnered gay person who has a lay leadership role in my very supportive church…this story makes me very sad indeed.
I was at a synodical training event awhile back where a pastor shared his experience visiting, at his adult children’s behest, a gay bar in a metropolitan area. He remarked, “It was surprising the amount of anger I heard directed at the Church when I introduced myself and said I was a pastor.”
Listening to this, I had to shake my head. Yeah; having one’s legitimacy as a human being and as a Christian, and having the goodness and sanctity of one’s marriage, condemned and ridiculed at worst, constantly called into question at best, tends to make us angry.
I haven’t been in school for over 20 years, and my memories of IV were that of a very conservative Evangelical group that wasn’t even all that respectful of my denominational affiliation or my gender, let alone my orientation. I suspect not much has changed. I’d hope that, rather than rejecting Christianity altogether after the likelihood of being rejected by this parachurch organizaiton, this young man and his significant other find a welcoming, inclusive faith community like the one in which I’m privileged to serve.



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Scott M

posted April 1, 2009 at 8:28 am


Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection said probably anything I would want to charitably say on the subject a few weeks ago as part of his series ‘When Christians Get It Wrong’.
http://www.cor.org/worship-sermons/sermons/show/sermons/When-Dealing-with-Sinners-Anti-Homosexual-Judgemental/
I don’t really know what to say to the author of the letter. I’m not even vaguely in or ever have been in a similar situation looking through that particular lens. But I would recommend he at least take the few minutes required to watch/listen to the above before he does whatever it is he is going to do.



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Brian McLaughlin

posted April 1, 2009 at 9:16 am


There is another issue that has not been mentioned: the role of the community. While the worship leader may be primarily responsible for his worship team, the belief that this is his decision alone fails to consider the active role of the community. This leader should have prayerful conversations with his pastoral team/elders/deacons or whatever structure exists. Together they must determine what is best for this particular individual in this particular community. If the leadership team asks him to do something that his conscious does not allow, then you have a different issue. But here’s my advice: DON’T GO IT ALONE! You need the community in this.



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paul

posted April 1, 2009 at 9:23 am


I had a comment that isn’t at the heart of the issue, but maybe is a side issue that i think will need to be addressed for this specific situation
Why is this decision solely up to the worship leader? It seems to me that the church should have a position on what qualifies a person to serve and what disqualifies a person to serve. To leave this up to the one leader to decide seems to put that leader in a difficult position… semingly deciding who can serve based on preference or opinion.
I’m not saying there needs to be a detailed list of qualifications, but if a part of the Christian community has a chosen lifestyle against the teachings of the church (which of course are based on their interpretation of the scripture) then there may be a problem with letting this person help lead the community in worship. If the church does not have a problem with this persons chosen lifestyle, then I don’t think the worship leader should oppose this person’s serving on the worship team



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pc

posted April 1, 2009 at 9:23 am


I really feel for those who have been hurt by the church in the past because of rejection. I am sorry for all the pain that has been caused within our communities. However, there are certain things which are not condoned within the scriptures, and we should not compromise on these things. I do not think that this is simply a cultural issue, but a biblical one. A detailed study of the scriptures with this person regarding the issue of marriage and sexual orientation might help.
That being said, I do not think that an issue like this should be left up to the worship leader. At the very least he should consult with the other leadership in the church.



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Kevin Hargaden

posted April 1, 2009 at 9:29 am


Scot you ask me, “Are you suggesting that civil union is not enough — marriage is required — or that there are no genuine restrictions to (what you call) sexual acts?”
After listening to the great sermon that Scott links us to and giving it far too much thought than I have the time to dedicate to it today, I guess my answer is that civil union is a particularly appropriate (I think) response to a civic problem in western liberal democracies. Your correspondent is dealing with a young man who is reading the Scriptures through the lens of this legal construct.
Perhaps there is a basis upon which gay people can remain obedient while committed to monogamous romantic relationships but arguably, civil union is not the category that permits that reading of the story of Scripture.



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ChrisB

posted April 1, 2009 at 10:41 am


First, I agree with the others that this isn’t something the worship leader should do by himself. This issue should be handled by the leadership as a group — even if the worship leader is the one who talks to this young man. Everyone — the man in question, the congregation (when it gets out, as it will), and the worship leader — needs to know that the leadership is all on the same page here.
Second, I would tell this young man that his conclusion that same-sex sex is ok in a committed “union” is incorrect. We don’t want to treat this issue as some kind of special sin, but we have to recognize that it is sin and we can’t condone it. That he has come to this conclusion after much study etcetera, etcetera, doesn’t change the fact that this church (as is implied in the letter) doesn’t hold that position.
Third, since there is no acceptable physical same-sex relationship, his continuing in this non-physical relationship is only asking for trouble. I think his leaders should advise him to avoid romantic same-sex relationships altogether. Technically they’re not sin (as I read it, only the physical act is really sinful), but it’s wise to avoid putting yourself in situations where sin is easy to fall into.
But finally, I think he should be allowed to rejoin the group with the understanding that he will be removed if he begins an illicit sexual relationship. At this point, he hasn’t done anything wrong. If he feels “rejected,” it will only push him down the road to ruin.
(The links are intended to give people a fuller picture of what I mean before they jump on me.)



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jamie

posted April 1, 2009 at 10:47 am


I am tired of hearing about gay christians who have to choose between two core identities. If he is told he can’t serve because of a non-essential belief than I guarantee that he will eventually choose to leave that church and perhaps leave “Christianity” down the road. If we had to quiz everyone who wanted to serve in the church, we would often find that our congregants do not line up doctrinally with everything our church “believes”. I would let him serve unless you propose quizzing everyone else. But I don’t think you’d find you had a lot of hands left to help.



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LutheranChik

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:03 am


If he’s “removed” the way some of you evidently would like, he and his significant other would certainly be welcome as a couple at my church. So I guess your loss would be our gain as a faith community.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:10 am


If the man is asked not to lead on the worship team (because having him on the team would support a lifestyle contrary to what that particular church believes about the Scriptures) would then having someone on the worship team who wears nikes communicate a support by that church of child labor? Or someone on the worship team who eats too much McDonald’s and doesn’t work out promote gluttony?
With regards to policies; I think policies best serve areas of function. Ex: we have policies on what time rehersal is and that all band members must be on time. However our policies cease to be constructive when they stop serving the organism and the organism serves the policy (Do we ask the band member to step down after they show up late for rehersal because they had car trouble?). Policies strive to bring clarity yet do an injustice to the complexity of human relationships.
Intersting this conversation has moved from participating on a worship team to marriage and civil union. We should not read too far into the request made by this man. He is not asking for the church’s blessing on marriage…simply to sing (yes, there are other complexities). If this conversation moves away from the specific question of the worship leader to one on marriage, we should alos becareful that we do not begin with an “assumed” framework such as: marriage is primarily about the union of male and female (this is an entirely new conversation).
peace



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DJ Dan

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:14 am


I love what’s been said about community. That must be taken into consideration. Additionally, without straying too much from the actual letter and situation described as I understand it, “wrong belief” is not a sin (I know there is more to that “assumption” of mine, but for the purpose of this post/comment I’ll stand on that.)
From the letter and situation described, if the young man has confessed Christ as his savior and God, then his “wrong belief” should not preclude him from service and certainly not from community. I’m not even certain the confession would be necessary in all circumstances, but that’s a different conversation.
As part of that community there should be a dedication to grow and learn and understand as the community does. There must be submission to that process (hopefully there is a process for that growth in his community.) There needs to be a submission to the community.
During that process, the young man’s beliefs will be challenged, as all of ours should as we ceaselessly seek to grow and learn and understand. When the young man cannot reconcile his commitment to the community with his “beliefs” OR “behaviors” then he’ll either leave the community, stay but maintain his beliefs tempering his behaviors/voice, or he’ll change both his beliefs and behaviors.
DJ
AMDG



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jamie

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:15 am


Great thoughts regarding child labor and McDonalds–those are the things followers of Jesus should be known for standing against. Thanks, David Diller.



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jhimm

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:16 am


Short, glib answer: Are all the other members of the worship team free from sin? Why do we keep insisting that engaging in homosexual sex is somehow a totally unique form of willful sinfulness? We are all willfully sinful every day of our lives, whether we know it or not. Homosexuality is not in any way shape or form a unique kind of sin and we expose our homophobia every time we treat it as such. Homosexuality being a sin does not excuse homophobia.
Longer answer:
The answer is in the question.
“As the worship leader, the decision lies in my hands. I do not want to condone the theology that God is accepting of homosexual unions or acts.”
If that is what you believe, then that is what you must live out and base your decision upon.
Is there a sub-textual question here as to whether or not it remains appropriate to hold to the notion that G-d rejects homosexuality? If not, there’s no confusion. You keep him off the team.
This sounds a lot like someone who wants to believe that they are progressive and open minded, but simply can’t bring themselves to conclude that G-d is ok with homosexuality. “Get over it”. Live what you believe, not what you think you ought to believe but don’t. Or, learn to believe what you think you ought to believe and be willing to risk being called unorthodox or heretical.
More baffling is the use of “civil union” in a religious context. Civil unions are a legal contract which replaces the legal contract of civil marriage. G-d couldn’t care less about our legal contracts. G-d cares about fidelity and marriage. If G-d does not reject homosexuality, then G-d would not reject homosexual marriages. If G-d does reject homosexuality, then why would G-d respect homosexual sex when engaged in under the umbrella of a legal contract? This makes absolutely no sense.
This whole “issue” boils down to something very, very simple: Was Paul speaking a universal truth or not when he spoke out against homosexual sex?
If he was, then homosexual sex is wrong and everything else is window dressing.
If he was not, then we need to become much more discerning about what he actually meant, and we need to get over our own homophobia and learn to welcome these fellow believers into full membership of our congregations and society at large.
Paul was not anti-homosexuality. Paul was anti-sex. He spoke strong words about all forms of sexual activity. He encouraged abstinence for -everyone- where possible.
But The Church does not and has not ever taught this. We have singled out his words on homosexuality and we ignore his call for everyone to “be as he is” if they are capable of avoiding the temptation.



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ChrisB

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:53 am


Quick thought:
If the young man wanted to live in open adultery, this would be an open and shut case. Because he wants to engage in a sexual sin that is becoming protected in our culture, we’re debating what should be done.
jhimm,
Paul was not anti-sex. He was anti-distractions from the gospel work, which he saw marriage as. For those who still wanted to marry, he said, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. … Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time” (1Cor7:3,5).



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paul

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:57 am


i think we need to differentiate as to why you would ask a person to step down from leadership.
if you ask a person to step down simply because they sin in life, then that (i believe) is an injustice (for we all sin). if you ask a person to step down because they struggle with certain sins that are deemed worse than others, then again i see this as a problem.
however, if you ask a person to step down because they are choosing to actively lead a life that is contrary to the teachings and lifestyle that is desired in your community (which are based on your understandings of the scriptures), they I think this is a valid for the community to address the issue. you don’t have to ban the person, but you don’t have to agree with the lifestyle either.



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paul

posted April 1, 2009 at 12:11 pm


David #13
i’m confused with your first paragraph. Are you meaning to say that situations are usually more complex then we normally think, and therefore we should be careful before we act? or are you implying that we can’t ever eliminate sin so therefore we shouldn’t ask anyone to step down?



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Jonathan Caldwell

posted April 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm


Why is this an issue? The Bible condemns homosexuality. It is against nature. It goes against what God created in the beginning.
I hate the way that some treat homosexuals, but tolerance of their behavior is not something that is encouraged in the Bible.
In 1 Corinthians 5 a man had his father’s wife. The Corinthians were almost proud of their tolerance of this situation and Paul tells them to remove the man.
There should be no doubt that while Paul would want to help the homosexual man referred to in the letter above, Paul would also demand that he (as old leaven) be removed!
Why have we strayed so far from the simple reading of the scriptures?!?!



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Tony Hunt

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm


This “issue” is not going to leave any Christian group untouched. Being in The Episcopal Church I know exactly the kind of division this brings. I still like Brian McLaren’s suggestion: “Lets just chill out and pray and think about this one for like 10-15 years before we keep shredding our churches apart over it” (loose paraphrase)
I just don’t know what to do about it. Kyrie Eleison!



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Scot McKnight

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:14 pm


Tony,
If we need to chill out in order to calm down and become more rational and level-headed, fine. But, I know of no instance in the history of the Church where the Church, by ignoring something, has made progress. This, brother, is the time to face the issues, work together, and strive for a loving, holy approach that is faithful to the Scriptures, to the Church, to reason, and to Christian conscience.



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Matthew

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm


Thank you for posting this letter; this is an issue that I have struggled with very recently. I do believe sin is sin, man is no judge, and I always begin this debate over orientation here: no one chooses this life, it is too painful and difficult.
However, I do believe that homosexual activity is sin, as is adultery, debauchery, or anything else mentioned in Scripture as so. So, if Scripture points to homosexuality as sin, why would we allow leadership to openly practice? If sin is sin, is homosexual activity not the same as adultery? Would we allow someone openly engaged in adultery participate in a leadership role? I don’t understand why more attention isn’t paid to 1 Timothy and the leadership requirements.



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Ed Gentry

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm


I realize there are several other issues on here, but for at least a modicum more clarity I’d like to suggest a distinction that we must make and something that should not be separated.
1) Do *not* distinguish homosexual sin from other kinds of sin.
We all are tempted. We all sin. God accepts us and draws us to himself non-the-less.
We err gravely when we make homosexuality a special kind of sin, or give it special grievous status. As much as possible, we should treat homosexual sin the same way we treat hetro-sexual sin.
2) Do *distinguish* between the choice to live in continual sin and an occasional falling to sin.
Most of us, I suspect, would not have a problem with excluding someone from leadership who is living in continual sin. Indeed some readings of Matthew 18 would suggest even stronger action. So, for example, we would rightly exclude someone who cohabitating with a person of the opposite sex. We would probably not exclude someone who occasionally falls into to (hetro) sexual sin, though we may council this person.



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Joey

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm


Just a point of clarification here. Scripture never talks about or mentions homosexuality as a preference or orientation, but speaks of sexual behavior between two people of the same gender.
It doesn’t take much introspection to recognize that we all have a broken sexuality, no matter our orientation, and that all of our broken sexualities need to be reconciled to God. I wish we would stop acting as if our sexuality was some how less broken than somebody who struggles, or maybe doesn’t struggle, with homosexuality. If pastors and other Christians started modeling sexual reconciliation with God as publicly as homosexuals are forced to we might have a much more firm platform from which to preach about sexual sin. I know it is from examining my own brokenness that I’ve come to accept people in their’s and it is from my own pursuit of reconciling my brokenness back to God that I have been able to speak into the lives of others.



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Ed Gentry

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm


The real question.
For me the question in the email is the following “what about homosexuality is sin?”
We can imagine several answers to this question
1) Sexual acts with a member of same sex is sin. Therefore homosexuality is sin.
2) Sexual acts with either sex outside the bounds of a society recognized life-long commitment are sin. Therefore homosexual acts outside of such a commitment are sin.
3) Sexual acts are only permitted between members of the opposite sex within society recognized life-long are permitted – all other sexual acts are sin.
The traditional position of the church is #3 and #1. Even if you don’t agree with #2, I would hope that you could at least hear that the person in this situation is trying to honor God.
Before we reject option #2, which I currently am inclined to do, I would suggest that we carefully, and prayerfully review the Biblical texts. We need to be sure that the hermeneutic that does not allows women to braid their hair, wearing gold, speak in church, and (possibly pastor), does not also apply here.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm


To be clear on an earlier post (#13), I am trying to communicate that “sin” is far bigger and deeper than we give it credit for. We choose to turn away from the sin we accept as normal (ie: shopping in stores that have had a history of child labor) and making an “example” out of the sin that we do not struggle with. When was the last time upon purchasing clothes, shoes, or even chocolate we did any research to see where our money is going and what we are supporting? Too often our conversations of sin have fallen way short in speaking merely of issues of morality. We’ve missed a much large conversation of systematic and coorporate sin.
In these posting threads there have been several statements that have begun with “I believe”…what about “what do the Scriptures say?”. This is a clear matter of discernment which cannot happen in a vacuum, but within a greater discourse. Some foundational questions like: “How does one interpret the Bible?” are essential to this discussion. Also we need to practice a humble hermenutic…one that always remembers that the Bible was not written “to” us, but “for” us (the Bible was written by people in a specific context, at a specific time in history, to a specific group of people, all with their own presupositions…yet it has meaning and for us today).



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Jim

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm


Dear Scot,
We have a student on our worship team who has been struggling with being disobedient to his parents. He had voluntarily removed himself from the team last year due to this issue. He has since come to the conclusion that being disobedient to his is just part of growing up and is thus acceptable to God.
He has parents and is currently not being disobedient. He believes he is “right with God” and wishes to rejoin the team, with the understanding that should he cross the line and become disobedient to his parents again, he will no longer be eligible to be on the team.
As the worship leader, the decision lies in my hands. I do not want to condone the theology that God is accepting of young people who are disobedient to their parents. I would appreciate some advice as to how to handle this situation.
What do you think?



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Ed Gentry

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm


#27 David,
I enthusiastically affirm your concern for systematic and corporate sin. I do, however, get a bit nervous about trying to make some kind of universal applicability in this area. My nervousness is based on Paul’s response to eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul did not have any problems with a christian buying meat at the market, though this meat went to support a pagan temple and probably also the associated prostitutes.
I am not at all suggesting that we do not take care for the results of our action. Indeed we must do exactly this. I’m only asking for care, moderation, and an pragmatic understanding of the nature of our fallen planet.



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm


#3,
I find it interesting that the debate has moved from whether homosexual sex is OK, to whether an abstinent homosexual couple is acceptable. This is the third time in the last two days where I’ve heard this type of scenario (not exact situations, but same type of situations). I fear some responses to this question. I think this may be “camel’s nose is in the tent” sort of argument. Either that, or people are just looking for more ways to thread the proverbial needle with sin.
This is a fair question, but I don’t think that people asking about celibate homosexual couples are necessarily looking for ways around sin for this reason: What constitutes a “homosexual” couple (that is celibate) vs. a “normal” friendship between two people of the same sex? Is it romantic feelings? If so, how are homosexuals to form friendships that don’t have them? Is the definition on the basis of other tangible, perhaps physical, behaviors, such as kissing? Where would you draw the line?
It seems to me that this is a far harder question to answer than a first glance might presuppose.



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eliza

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm


I agree that many of us overlook behavior that the Bible defines as sin because we think that somehow our sin is different but we don’t want to show others much mercy.I recently lost a substantial amount of weight because I finally realized that food had become more important to me than God. I thought about food more and put more time and energy into cooking and eating than I did into Bible study and prayer. I was guilty of gluttony, and it was separating me from God. Can I swear that I will never overeat again? No. Can I say in truth that I plan to work hard for the rest of my life to avoid this temptation and try again if and when I fail? Yes, I can. The problem for me is not that I have trouble loving homosexual people or that I want to embarrass or mistreat anybody. The problem is that a Christian is required to come to grips with his or her sin and make a decision to fight against the sinful behavior that threatens his or her relationship with God. There is also a distinction between intentionally engaging in behavior that God has prohibited with no intention of giving up that sin and falling down, repenting sincerely, and trying to avoid repeating the sin. I understand the anger that people feel when fellow Christians treat them with scorn. Some non-Methodist protestants in my area seem to feel superior to me, and I don’t like it. Similarly, those who disagree with Christians who believe homosexuality to be a sin, not because they want to be hateful or exclusive but because the Bible plainly says so, would probably be more credible advocates for tolerance if they demonstrated some themselves.



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ChrisE

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:28 pm


#30 Mark
Your analogy breaks down, because by having a boyfriend, the man in question is actively socializing and preparing himself for an eventuality (homosexual activity and/or marriage) that is, in the worship leader’s determination, sinful. It’s like the kid in your analogy saying that he thinks full rebellion against his parents is totally ok, and that at some point in the future he absolutely intends to completely disobey them, but for now he’ll only hold his opinion that disobedience is ok. That is a bizarre situation and one that would merit being addressed in some way (no matter what the sin in question).
A full and complete discussion of this issue cannot happen while both sides treat homosexual activity (mental and physical) as a ‘special’ class. Some have treated it as much worse than any other sin. Some have ignored the fact that sexual choices have special power (all other sins are committed outside the body) and that willfulness in these matters often means that these sins have to be treated differently than lesser, occasional matters.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:30 pm


It seems that we are giving a pass, or at the very least, offering a life-giving accomodations to living in a fallen world/within a broken system in some areas, but not others. If we are justifying our purchases at the GAP because of what Paul says about eating meat sacrificed to idols, then why are we not looking for redemptive possibilities for our gay brothers and sisters?
If we read about divorce and re-marriage in the scriptures and adopt a “that was then, this is now” interpretation of the text why are we not asking deeper questions about “Who” Paul was writting to, and “What” was going on in his day, and “How” might our gay brothers and sisters live a hopeful (and connected) life in the midst of a broken system?
We are quick to accomedate and find hope for those areas we struggle with, but then leave others high and dry when in falls “outside the norm”.
(side note: I sincerely appreciate your thoughts Ed :)



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Dave DeCook

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm


My pastors’ fellowship has discussed what to do with the homosexual issue a couple times in the past year, I was hoping for some help from those with more than my 20 years of pastoral ministry experience. There is an amazing lack of clarity and conviction. Confusion is probably the best word for it. Above all, no one wants to be thought judgmental or insensitive in our right of center pastors’ fellowship. We are supposed to shine the light, not follow people into the darkness. This is the point of attack these days. As Luther said, to stand firm on everything else but the point of attack is “mere flight and disgrace.” Yet I lacked the confidence to say anything substantial as did all the other pastors, except for one who quietly suggested reading Leanne Payne’s books “Masulinity in Crisis” and “The Broken Image.” I was tremendously helped by them to see the deep hurts and needs of homosexuals that the Church must offer Jesus to heal and feed. We do not help them when we cave in to the gay agenda or gloss over it as “a sin like any other sin.”
My answer to the question, then, is, someone who is struggling with wholeness so close to the core of his being should not be on the worship team, yes, even under the artifice of a personally constructed morality. (Seeking to define acceptable and unacceptable homosexual behavior seems very close to playing God.) Instead, he should be surrounded by loving friends who can affirm the sexual identity God gave him at birth, pray for him, hold him accountable (even as he holds his brothers accountable for their growth in holiness) and help him find counseling that will deal with the deep hurts and needs. Yes, we are all broken, but denial doesn’t help anyone.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm


just a quick request – let us not be so quick to say “the Bible plainly says…”. When we do so we trump Scripture with our presupositions and coloring of Scripture.



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm


ChrisB in #32,
Don’t be so quick to dismiss my question. Think about it beyond just this particular person. What should be do differently? Just not call this person “boyfriend”? What makes this relationship different than any other male friendship he might have? If he starts to have feelings for a person, should he discontinue contact?
Getting back to the particular person in question. At the moment, he’s not assuming homosexual activity or marriage, but is asking folks like Scot what is right. He’s demonstrating a desire to do what God wants, but isn’t simply going to assume traditional interpretations are “right” just because that’s what he’s always been told. We need to respect that, and actually answer such concerns. He needs to be persuaded that God’s will is the traditional interpretation (if indeed it is), not just have that asserted.



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ChrisE

posted April 1, 2009 at 2:57 pm


Davis #35
But does it help the conversation to use other words when that is what we really believe? And by “we” I mean both camps; both sides are pretty dern sure they know what the Bible says on this matter.
#33
Don’t be so sure that those who hold a more traditional position on homosexuality have not asked all those questions. I have studied and considered the issue at length. I have numerous friends who have struggled for years with various gender identity issues. I am not convinced by the new hermeneutic that says we’ve misunderstood Paul and the OT all these years, but it is not because I have not considered the issue or asked the questions.



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LutheranChik

posted April 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm


“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us” — something that came to mind, ironically, reading all your posts about this “problem” in your midst…which I embody.
Well, so much for my adventure in ecumenical understanding today.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm


#37 ChrisE – I think it does help the conversation to use other words. Maybe even phrases like, “In my humble opinion”. For either camp to suggest that the Bible “plainly says” discredits the God-fearing people on both sides who are earnestly seeking God’s direction and arrive at different places through prayerful, studious, and coorporate reflection.
I am not trying to convince either way, merely suggest an open and humble posture (one that says: God is still speaking, still moving, still revealing).
peace.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm


Hey LutheranChik…your voice and experience is an important one.



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Ed Gentry

posted April 1, 2009 at 3:33 pm


#33 David,
I still hold a traditional view. Though articulated with, care, grace and mercy… I hope :).
The following is just at thought experiment please read charitably…
I have begun to wonder if, as you suggest, the path forward may be through the idea of divine accommodation. Much of the Bible, the OT especially, is a record of God accommodating himself to the cultural and the understandings of the day. Paul doesn’t have a problem with buying market meat which supported pagan temples. Paul’s position on slavery is also culturally conditioned. Israel wanted a king, against God’s better judgment.
For me, the fall effected the entire cosmos. (This is why redemption must also be cosmic – Romans 8, Col 1:15-20 etc.) Babies are born with many challenges, downs syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome etc. I understand that some babies are born with both male and female sexual organs. I do not believe that these are part of God’s good design, but are a result of the fallenness of the cosmos. (A fallenness that we all participate in and which God is in the process of redeeming.)
Would it be possible to suggest that homosexuality is not part of God’s good creation. But that God accommodates the brokenness of creation including homosexuality. Could this accommodation allow us to put boundaries on homosexuality which protect the the dignity the individuals but still be based on Biblical principles?
This kind of an approach may suggest that – based on Biblical principles – sexual activity is only permitted in a society recognized life long commitment, but – accommodating our brokenness – may allow the this commitment to between members of the same sex.
Please understand this is just a thought experiment.



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DJ Dan

posted April 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm


LutheranChik,
I, too. am dissatisfied with the direction the comments have taken. You and I would likely disagree on the ultimate decision, but I respect the position you’re in. Although that might be true, we probably agree that the comments thus far have failed to actually address what I think is at the heart of the issue:
How do we evangelize the Gospel in a situation like this and be true to the responsibility Christ gives us to reflect His mercy AND truth?
DJ
AMDG



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Pomo

posted April 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm


One way to work this is to dialogue on how he got to his conclusion of ‘getting right with God’. It seems as if 95% of the time people make decisions on their as the individual without consult/help fro mthe community.
Interpretation does not stand outside of community, but is conducted within. So in a sense (and this will sound very postmodern) if the community has their own rules on homesexuality, then just because he decided as an individual he’s the exception then he missed the most crucial step to the whole discernment process.



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Eliza

posted April 1, 2009 at 4:42 pm


I don’t think that scriptures such as Lev. 18:22 and I Corinthians 6:8 leave much room for interpretation. One can deem them applicable to another culture or era or discount them based on other criteria, but the words say what they say. Besides that, I think you are missing my point. I was trying to say that if verses such as these and several others were not in the Bible,I truly would not care who married whom, nor would many others who find this issue painful to address. I like to get along with other people, and I don’t believe that I am in any position to determine right and wrong for the rest of the world as well as for myself. I do,however, believe that God does have the right to do so; therefore, as someone who believes the Bible to be God’s Word, I don’t believe that I have the choice or right to think otherwise. I don’t like to offend other people, but I dare not offend God. For me, that means adherence to the same scripture that some of you with a different view apparently accept when it condemns some of the behaviors that you do deem immoral,such as the greed that leads to abusive labor practices or gluttony. As for the Robert Burns quote, it is appropriate for all of us to take it to heart. Intolerance and a desire to be hurtful to those with whom we disagree is a pitfall for all of us. Finally, I cannot speak for others, but I used the term “problem” in reference to conflicting perspectives within the church, not in reference to another person. I am sorry that I wasn’t clearer in that respect.



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Richard Jones

posted April 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm


For me, the decision seems to be made with the statement “I do not want to condone the theology that God is accepting of homosexual unions or acts.” In other words, this is not a question or a discussion on the issue of homosexuality, but whether or not the person should be on the worship team. In this situation, another question to ask is: “What is the position of the church on the subject of homosexuality?” I think you should not go beyond the position of the church either way. I think it is not the whole story to say “As the worship leader, the decision lies in my hands”; because it probably doesn’t. You are accountable to someone, and your decision–either way–will have repercussions in the church community. If your church has no position on homosexuality, ask your senior pastor what to do. You will no doubt soon hear the question “I heard that [Bobby--or whoever] on the worship team is gay. Is that true?” If you say “Yes”, how would that fly in your church?
For me, it would be no problem. But you come from the starting point that homosexuality is a sin. You may make the distinction between homosexual attractions and homosexual acts, but I doubt the people in your church will.



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Brian Z

posted April 1, 2009 at 4:59 pm


39
David Diller
April 1, 2009 3:10 PM
http://web.me.com/davedecook
#37 ChrisE – I think it does help the conversation to use other words. Maybe even phrases like, “In my humble opinion”. For either camp to suggest that the Bible “plainly says” discredits the God-fearing people on both sides who are earnestly seeking God’s direction and arrive at different places through prayerful, studious, and coorporate reflection.
I am not trying to convince either way, merely suggest an open and humble posture (one that says: God is still speaking, still moving, still revealing).
Dave…could you help me understand what you mean by God is still speaking, still moving and still revealing)? How does that affect the way the church understands this issue and how we interpret scripture.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 5:08 pm


#44 Eliza – I wish it was as easy as “words say what they say”…words are only words and need meaning (via context) to help them come alive (side: all too often when words are taken at “face value” a meaning can emerge other than what the author of those words intended to communicate). Unfortunately there is a great deal of room in the Lev. passage, in Paul, and in the discernment/discourse of the church in this area(otherwise this would be an “open and shut” case). It is both helpful and healthy to discuss these elements as we have (much credit all who have posted).



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Dan Martin

posted April 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm


I think most worship teams would likely exclude a member who, despite his or her conviction of being “right with God,” had concluded that various forms of heterosexual adultery are acceptable. In a church I used to attend, we had a worship leader who was very dynamic, who projected a deep love for the Lord. He was asked to step down when he told his wife that he was made by God to desire other women.
The issue isn’t really homosexuality, it’s adultery in all its many and varied forms (more detail here for those who wish). While in its most precise form the adultery would be the sexual act, not just the broader social behavior, Jesus’ comments on adultery in the sermon on the mount would suggest to me that behavior that puts us in the position to enhance sexual desire outside of godly marriage, is behavior unbecoming to the believer, let alone to a member of leadership.
While I grieve for the pain that LutheranChik and many others like her must feel, we are not granted the freedom to modify the divine standard just because it hurts. We must not, however, single out gay relationships as the one kind of adultery we really do not tolerate. Straight or gay is NOT the heart of the matter.



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Brian Z

posted April 1, 2009 at 5:37 pm


Dave
to your comment # 47 that this is not an open and shut case.
“Unfortunately there is a great deal of room in the Lev. passage, in Paul, and in the discernment/discourse of the church in this area(otherwise this would be an “open and shut” case).”
You use the word “great deal” Can you help me see the “great deal” of room in these passages that might lead someone to a divergent understanding on this issue from that of the church for the last 1000+ years



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Mar

posted April 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm


Here?s another scenario that I see on the same level. Say a woman leaves her abusive husband and lives as a single mom for many years. At some point, she becomes a Christian and falls in love with another Christian man. According to Scripture, she was not even allowed to divorce in the first place, much less remarry. And yet the church so easily extends grace and mercy to cases such as this but comes down with an iron fist with anything resembling ?homosexualiy? (a value-laden term, btw). Can someone please explain how the divorce/remarriage and same sex marriage issue should somehow elicit different responses from the church? I?m not necessarily condoning either situation but I find it very difficult to tow the standard Christian line when there is so much blatant hypocrisy. How many pastors are willing to officiate the wedding of divorcees and yet not even support same sex marriage?
Sexual sin is such a complicated issue and I suspect that a lot of our assumptions will be turned on their heads once we?re finally in our glorified selves.



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Brian Z

posted April 1, 2009 at 5:58 pm


Mar
Does Scripture deal with divorce/re-marriage and homosexuality in the same way?
In your scenario you bring in Christian conversion, how does that color the discussion on remarriage?
How do we account for sin, the recognition of sin/confession, or sin that goes unconfessed?
I think I would be very careful to use the word blatant hypocrisy.



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Olivia

posted April 1, 2009 at 6:10 pm


So much spinelessness and weakness in the Western church disguised as love and humility. Can we honestly say, without having been brainwashed and intimidated by the culture, that the biblical position on this matter is not crystal clear? Then why the wishy washy response? Are we more concerned with pleasing men than God? I was distinctly not pleased when Christians told me i was living in darkness, but they were right.
Can we imagine Peter and Paul holding this conversation? Should these things even be mentioned among us? Truly the Western church is in decline. It is not by accommodating sin, of whatever nature, that we bring people to repentance, we are simply participating in their sin and run the risk of sending them to hell and going with them. Let us fear God more than men. the church must be counter cultural not slavishly reinterpreting scripture to suit cultural mores, of whatever sort.



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ChrisB

posted April 1, 2009 at 6:12 pm


Mar,
In your example, because the person divorced before coming to Christ, and assuming reconciliation with the past spouse is impossible, most folks say that remarriage is acceptable.
Similarly, same-sex relationships that predate conversion aren’t held against people. It’s what you do now that counts.



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Joseph

posted April 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm


First, let’s all sell everything and give the money to the poor. Jesus was pretty clear about greed, so should we also exclude greedy people from the worship team? After we start doing what He says, then maybe we can start on Paul.



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm


Hey #49 Brian Z. This most certainly is not a cop-out, but posting threads on a blog is not the best platform to address all the exegetical and hermenutical depths of the passages. Let me just offer a very brief “once-over” the 3 areas mentioned:
Lev. passage. Our treatment here must be in the same context we treat the rest of the Levitical law. So if Lev. becomes the rule for one’s position on homosexuality, that not only should it be condemned, but they a gay person should be executed (that’s what the Bible says). Also people who should be executed: disobedient children, people who eat shellfish, and those that like pork. The treament of the passage needs to be consistant.
In Paul: we need to ask questions such as, “What was the sexual climate like when Paul was writting?” Was he addressing temple prostitution…or pointing to male homoerotic sex acts performed by social superiors upon social inferiors? (abuses of power and thus speaking out agains the specific status-defined homoeroticism). When Paul uses words like “unatural” (para phusia) it can equally be referring to heterosexual behavior that was overly aggressive or violated sexual conventions (some thought women performing oral sex on their husbands was ‘unatural’). Still more Paul to discuss…
The Church: The Church Discourse and Discernment has been widely varied. Ask anyone in the Lutheran, Methodist, or Episcipalian community. Further, while we need to pay attention to the “1000+” years let us also remember that throughout church history we have silenced women and ethinic minorities (in fact many God-fearing preachers used the book of Philemon to encourage slave-ownership; because after all…that’s what the ‘Bible says’ in Philemon).
Lastly, God is always moving and revealing. Think about how much has been illuminated over the centuries! Theology and praxis did not stop with Luther, Wesley, or Calvin…we build of the saints before us as we continue on a redemptive tragectory.
All in all, I am not stating my stance here (many be suprised to actually know what it is)…I merely want us to understand that there are those on both sides who have studied (and are studying) the with integrity the the Scriptures and context, done so in community, and tried to remain faithful to the tradition of the Saints and have arrived at different points. We have to be charitable with one another and humble in posture. We (I’ll be the first to get in line) have much to learn.
peace.



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Brian Z

posted April 1, 2009 at 7:15 pm


http://renovatechurch.blogspot.com
Hey #49 Brian Z. This most certainly is not a cop-out, but posting threads on a blog is not the best platform to address all the exegetical and hermenutical depths of the passages. Let me just offer a very brief “once-over” the 3 areas mentioned:
Dave….if this isn’t the best place to discuss exegetical issues…then why are you mentioning them. In my “humble opinion” don’t throw gas on the fire if you aren’t willing to light the match.
having said that….thank you for laying out your interpretation on these areas.
If this is not the place…where would be a good place. Again…I think there needs to be much more discussion on each of these



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Brandon

posted April 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm


I would say ChrisB has sketched the best response thus far. We need to (1) firmly assert that homosexuality is a sin and (2) do so in a loving, compassionate, peaceful way. Stanley Grenz lays out this approach nicely in in book “Welcoming But Not Affirming”. I dare say that the former point, of calling sin sin, will become increasingly difficult, if not criminal, in the near future. The Church must speak prophetically to a culture that is sexually backwards. And of course we must repent of our judgmentalism and arrogance and proceed with a humble offer of divine “redemption” for all sexual sin that cuts against our Creators intention.



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Percival

posted April 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm


I don’t live in the West and haven’t for some years. I am more and more baffled by my “home culture” when it comes to issues like this. In my host culture homosexuality is defined completely differently. It is not seen as something integral to who one is, to one’s identity. It is no less complex an issue than it is in the West, but completely different. This tendency of defining people by their sexual orientation, assuming this behavior to be somehow integral to who they are, is very suspect, sociologically speaking. If you studied homosexual behavior across cultures you will see that in many cultures people move in and out of homosexual behavior regularly.
As I mainly sit on the sidelines and observe from afar, I wonder how did we (in the Western church) get into this situation?
Keith Drury was wondering the same thing when he wrote this.
http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/homosexual.ordination.happened.htm



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David Diller

posted April 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm


Hey #56 Brian. I mentioned that this is not the “best place” to discuss the depths of these issues, not that this shouldn’t be “a” place. These discussions are best served in person, in a group, where we can communicate in such a way where we can understand the vantage point and presuposions we bring to the table (much can be misunderstood via reading text on a screen with no context).
Further, I offered some treatment because it was requested (see your last paragraph #49). The point for me is not to try to make a case here (or even state where my own interpretation lies…post #55 is not “my” interpretation) but only to communicate that there are those who are striving to be faithful to the scriptures, the christian community (and who have done extensive exegetical work) and have landed in different places. For one to say that it is “clear” (regardless of position) is doing a discredit to those who are genuinely working through this difficult issue. An approach of humility is not a gesture of pouring gasoline, but rather a sincere attempt in communicating that there is still much to sort out and the offering I bring is presented with care.



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LutheranChik

posted April 1, 2009 at 10:08 pm


While I grieve for the pain that LutheranChik and many others like her must feel, we are not granted the freedom to modify the divine standard just because it hurts.
Hmmm…you seem to have confused me with someone who has a sexual relationship outside the bounds of a committed, lifelong monogamous relationship.
You know, we got back from our church’s Wednesday night Lenten supper and Evening Prayer service — we were co-hosts for the supper — and it was very odd to juxtapose our experience as loved, valued and respected members/lay leaders of our faith community with the comments on this blog. My advice to those of you who consider gay folk in your midst to be an onerous burden and challenge to your pastoral/other responsibilities: Please send them to churches like mine. We’ll take care of them for you.



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Brian Z

posted April 1, 2009 at 10:18 pm


Dave does that mean then, that if someone looks at scripture and is “genuine” and “Faithful” in their approach that they must be right?
Are we simply grasping for straws on this topic and in the end, the truth is found in each individual’s search?



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Eric

posted April 1, 2009 at 10:36 pm


I don’t understand the reliance on Leviticus to condemn homosexuality, because there are other restrictions in the same passage that none of us think should be followed today.
Paul is a somewhat harder issue to me. One thing that should be noted is that we don’t follow a number of things Paul said, such as that women shouldn’t speak in church, wear gold, etc. For those who believe those passages don’t need to be followed today, but think the homosexuality passages should be followed, by what principle are you picking and choosing which of Paul’s statements you believe should be followed?
Paul also seemed to be addressing homosexual behavior that appeared unnatural in Roman culture at the time. The evidence today suggests that homosexuality in our culture is often not unnatural; many people are simply born gay.
Promiscuity is another issue, but that is a question for both heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.



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Raymond Cote

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:55 pm


It seems the unspoken idea of student is that upon entering in a union with his male partner, both sexual relations with his partner and continuing membership in the worship group would be acceptable. I think he needs to go out into the world, live his life, perhaps join some ‘church’ that approves of homosexual unions. You don’t have to be the one to save his soul. However nice a guy he is, he is deceived. Let him go. How will you feel letting him go? How did Christ feel? “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her young, but thou wouldst not.” And He wept.



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Raymond Cote

posted April 1, 2009 at 11:59 pm


Eric, if you consider homosexual acts in themselves you would be hard pressed to say that the Holy One could or would bless such abberations. God did not make man to put his seed in another man. If that isn’t clear to you and to everyone, I maintain a strong delusion has overcome you and them.



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Eric

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:08 am


Raymond (#64) — your post is just a conclusion; it doesn’t explain or promote dialogue. I could also throw around terms like “delusional,” but I don’t think it gets us anywhere.
If you want to promote the dialogue, I would respectfully ask you to answer the question I posed: On what principle do you decide to pick and choose among (1) the passages in Paul that say women shouldn’t speak in church or wear gold, and (2) the passages condemning homosexual conduct?
I honestly want to understand the approach to scripture that people are advocating.



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Raymond Cote

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:25 am


ChrisB: “At this point, he hasn’t done anything wrong. If he feels “rejected,” it will only push him down the road to ruin.”
#1 You are too lenient in saying ‘he hasn’t done anything wrong’, the romantic relationship is wrong for several reasons. You know that not ‘just’ the physical acts are disordered and objectively sinful, but the desire when willed is also. You know Our Lord’s words about intentions of the heart. It is not the Christian’s duty to avoid others feeling rejected even if it pushes him down the road to ruin. This incessant sap has nothing to do with the Christ of the New Testament. Read 1 cor 5 for an explicit grasp of how to handle those engaged in immoral behavior. God desires not the death of the sinner and God is able to seek after His own. Sometimes people must be let go to do their thing and not finding God there, return to Him. We need to stand with Christ and not be “social workers” accomodating in the name of compassion those suffering while keeping the Truth from their ears.



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Raymond Cote

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:33 am


Eric (65) the error you are making is called reductio ad absurdum. You have reduced the matter to the absurd. Your question isn’t properly disposed to a dialogue, rather it is a disingenuous trap. There is no equivalence between women speaking or not speaking in Church and homosexual acts. No equivalence in Leviticus between the abomination of homosexual acts and the abominations listed for ritual uncleanness. How is this discerned? First, the constant teaching of the Church. Second, the Natural Law, which says nothing about eating pork but clearly proscribes as disordered acts that violate clear biological functionalities. Third, God blessed union between man and woman first seen in Genesis is spoken of by Paul as the sign of Christ’s love for the Church. Because a man is attracted to his own sex, doesn’t give him legitimacy to pursue a sexual union with a man. That has never bben the teaching of God’s People, even if it has become the teaching of this age.



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Eric

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:57 am


Raymond (#67),
“Disingenous trap”? Again, that sort of language is not civil.
I don’t see any way in which my suggestion is “absurd”; you simply assert it without explaining. Whether we want to admit it or not, we *all* have decided that certain matters the Bible says are not applicable in our times.
You decide, for example, that woman speaking in church is ok, and wearing gold is ok, presumably because you believe something is different between then and now, and that the statements that Paul says on those topics — which are clear on their face — are no longer valid *for cultural reasons*. Am I wrong on that point? I don’t see an easy way to say we shouldn’t at least attempt to ask the same questions with respect to the question of homosexuality. So they don’t need to be “equivalent”; the question is by what *standard* we pick and choose which restrictions apply now, and which do not.
And at some point the church decided, despite prior teaching, that things had changed with respect to women speaking in church and wearing gold, despite the clear statements by Paul against it. So I don’t buy the suggestion that the fact that prior majority teaching of the Church always controls. What would Martin Luther say to that? I agree that we respect tradition, but we can’t be controlled by it in all instances.
And appeals to natural law are often circular: The natural law — which the person who happens to be speaking ends up defining — says it, so it must be true. I don’t think it provides help here.
Agreed that the union of a man and a woman is blessed. I don’t see why that requires that homosexuality be deemed sin.
And for the record, I’m heterosexual. I just don’t like the way people seem to use the Bible on this issue, against my brothers and sisters in Christ who were born homosexual.



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Greg

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:59 am


Let him rejoin the team. If there is an assumption that the way in which individuals, in every aspect of their lives, are living is affirmed completely in any setting within the church there is a problem. We begin to create pedestals and raise people up higher than we should. If this individual assumes that being part of the team means he can be affirmed in his relationship (as you are both in disagreement), then he might be misunderstanding what it is to be part of the church and volunteering within the church. Your particular church may certainly claim that teaching something contrary to the theology you subscribe to, in any way, would not be acceptable, but someone serving on a team should not be in question in the slightest. They know that serving is not a blind affirmation of anything they might be doing in their life, nor is their serving a blind affirmation of the church in how they are living their life. Disagree in love.



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Georges Boujakly

posted April 2, 2009 at 2:23 am


Scot,
You ask “what do you think?”
I think that this young man should submit himself to his community, which may be the voice of God in his life (provided the worship leader seeks the voice of the community). Collective wisdom should prevail here. I don’t think it is wise to let one individual determine the rightness of his own actions if the whole community should speak of its wrongness. To “obey those who have authority over you,” I think, should prevail here.



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PSanAT

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:22 am


I’d suggest that you ask all members of the team, including yourself, to subject yourselves to the NO SINS or NO SINNERS rule. When any of you obtain a life with no sin, then you can be on the team. Until then….well, I guess you get to be on the team for about 2 seconds after you make your confession of sins during your church services, if you indeed do that.



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Brian Z

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:06 am


PsanAT….I struggle to see how this matches with the discussion (for which I would like to listen and hear what you think)
In my understanding of this issue, its not about who has sin and who hasn’t and who has what right to say what. we are all sinners and it is healthy to recognize that. But that doesnt mean that as sinners we dont have a voice for truth. We all have to examine our lives and to be in a willing state of confession. The issue on the table though is a man who choosing to do something that has traditionally been seen as a sinful act. Its the intentional and willful choice to continue in this behavior that is the issue. The worship leader has the responsibility to check himself and the rest of the team for the same thing and now is being asked to make the same decision with this young man.



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MatthewS

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:14 am


Brandon #57 praises ChrisB’s post in #10 and I think I agree.
It is hard to put my neck and say what I believe. I don’t want people to reject me because I think the Bible calls a homosexual relationship sin.
Gal 6 speaks of gently restoring someone that falls into a sin. Gently = not rough, treat the person as valuable. Restore = you can’t condone current behavior, shepherding them to something better. Sin = acknowledging that sin is sin and it is not to be excused. Confess and forsake.



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MatthewS

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:25 am


http://www.ransomfellowship.org/articledetail.asp?AID=506&B=Wesley+Hill&TID=7
Link to a very good essay from someone who has the same struggle. I wish to be one of the “few like you.”



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John Dornheim

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm


Unless sexual acts are part of your worship services, I am unsure as to why this is an issue. And even then…



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Amy Malek

posted April 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm


We condone the theology of divorce and remarriage when Jesus spoke against it (except in the case of adultery). Do you censure those who remarried? What about straight college students who engage in foreplay (or in many cases, intercourse)? Are they monitored? Are the girls’ purses checked for birth control pills and boys’ pockets checked for condoms?
On what other theological issues would you remove someone? Differing views on: Tribulation? Baptism? Charismatic gifts?
IOW if this is a “solo” situation — this young man is the only one in question, I would ask why — why only he?



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LutheranChik

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm


Here’s a thought: In considering ways to minister to gay people, how about…listening to gay people? You know — instead of treating them like problems to be solved? Or — ahem — ignoring them?
And how about listening to both straight and gay Christians who are as faithful and thoughtful as you are but who have a different hermeneutic when dealing with this issue than you do?



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Brian from NZ

posted April 2, 2009 at 3:10 pm


Alan @ #3
You say that you would not consider yourself to be truly married if you weren’t married in a Christian ceremony. Are you suggesting that all other marriages not conducted within a Christian ceremony are not valid? What about all other religions and cultures? What about all the marriages by arrangement? What about the marriages before Christianity existed? Are they all somehow not valid?



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LutheranChik

posted April 2, 2009 at 3:20 pm


Not to mention the fact that there are marriages and commitment ceremonies practiced in Christendom even as we speak…that “different hermeneutic” thing again.



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Tony Hunt

posted April 2, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Scot McKnight,
With respect, I think you misunderstand me. I do not mean to suggest some sort of passive and limp wristed “hangin around” on this issue. The Mainline knows so much more than mainstream evangelicals how this issue tears apart the Body. By wait I mean stop drawing up liturgies for blessings before the mind of the Church is behind it. By wait I mean stop barring gay people from ministry. By wait I mean stop stoking fires on both sides, ready with pitchforks and clubs.
I think it is telling that in many places in the early church division was as serious a sin as heresy. If we can prevent the split of churches by patiently building cases and making them in gracious love, waiting for the Holy Spirit to direct us, then lets wait 50 years!!! We already have continuing Anglican churches, continuing Presbyterian churches, hostility between the ELCA the the LMS. Discernment comes not to those who take it by force.
I am a divided line here. I have long supported a traditional read on this, but I am questioning this as late. I sure as heck don’t feel that if the Body is as confused as I am that we should just start running ahead with proclaiming dogma’s either way.
So I know that we need to face this, and many have been facing it for years, “but I know of no time in church history where rushing ahead in haste (remember perhaps the Great Schism?) made for anything but division.



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Scot McKnight

posted April 2, 2009 at 4:38 pm


Tony,
You write: “By wait I mean stop drawing up liturgies
for blessings before the mind of the Church is behind it. By wait I
mean stop barring gay people from ministry. By wait I mean stop
stoking fires on both sides, ready with pitchforks and clubs.”
I’m unclear on the first two “By” clauses: tell the pro-folks to wait? The second clause seems to be directed at the anti-gay ordination folks? Is the point to get the aggressive on both sides to calm down?



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MatthewS

posted April 2, 2009 at 4:40 pm


LutheranChik,
This must be a personal and emotional subject for you and I feel for you (I mean that sincerely – I hope it doesn’t sound condescending). Honest question: do you feel that you model respect for those who disagree with you?



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Tony Hunt

posted April 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm


Scot,
Yes, the first statements was towards the “pro” side and the second towards the “against” side. How that translates to my own Communion would be by observing the “moratoriums.” I hope and pray that we sign up for the Covenant.



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Desiree

posted April 2, 2009 at 7:09 pm


Scot,
I have to agree with the thoughts of Raymond Cote. The student has acted on homosexuality (by having the boyfriend) and a union is not going to “manipulate God” into changing his mind about homosexuality. Ephesians 5 speaks to this well.
Of course it should be handled with love. I’m sure you care for him a lot. I think it it is a good opportunity to deepen your friendship, maybe mentoring. If he really wants to please God he will be cooperative to listen and submit himself to God. If he insists on doing what he wants, then let him go. Maybe there are other areas he could serve that are not prominent positions.



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LutheranChik

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:04 pm


Honest question: do you feel that you model respect for those who disagree with you?
Matthew S: Respect needs to be earned. And not only do I not feel respected here, I don’t even feel visible…a feeling, BTW, that I think women also feel here. (I happened to direct some of my straight female clergy friends to this discussion, and that was their impression also; that women’s comments tend to disappear into the ether here.)
I honestly don’t think that most of the respondents here want to truly relate to gay and lesbian Christians on a peer-to-peer level. For you we’re at worst reprobate sinners who need “schooling” or even excommunication from your fellowships; at best we’re problems that make you anxious and rile up your faith communities by our unapologetic presence.
Again: If you can’t deal with gay Christians in your churches or other fellowships, send them to mainline congregations like mine that welcome and affirm gays and lesbians as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow workers in the Reign of God. If you are truly serious about ministry to the gay community — and I mean ministry, not trying to turn us into straight folks, then for God’s sake stop talking ABOUT us, and start talking TO us…and more importantly LISTENING to us. Frankly I don’t see or hear that happening here.



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Eric

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm


LutheranChik,
I have appreciated the perspective you bring to this discussion. It would be easy for you to run away from the discussion, given the uncivil things some folks have said, so I’m glad you’ve stuck with it. And if it is any consolation, I think that evangelicals are slowly coming around on these issues somewhat. At least that’s what the polls of the younger evangelicals suggest to me.



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Mary

posted April 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm


LutheranChik:
“And not only do I not feel respected here, I don’t even feel visible…a feeling, BTW, that I think women also feel here. (I happened to direct some of my straight female clergy friends to this discussion, and that was their impression also; that women’s comments tend to disappear into the ether here.)”
Please don’t speak for all women who visit here–there are women who comment on a regular basis and women who contribute posts to this blog. The voices of women are valued here. There are sectors of evangelicalism that don’t acknowledge or value the voices of women, but this is not one of them.



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LutheranChik

posted April 2, 2009 at 10:15 pm


Eric, one of my friends is a (straight) PCUSA pastor who identifies as an Evangelical, who admires my and my gay friends’/colleagues’ patience in situations like this one, who has advised me to not give up hope. I told her that my role model is the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable of the unjust judge.;-)



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Eric

posted April 2, 2009 at 11:19 pm


LutheranChik,
Interesting that you mention PCUSA. Out of frustration with traditional evangelical churches I had attended (on similar issues to those described above), I recently started attending a PCUSA church. My 36 years in conservative evangelical churches had led me to believe there were only two approaches — “believe the Bible” — or, more accurately, a particular approach to understanding the Bible — or don’t believe it at all — i.e., attend a mainline church.
Anyway, I was happily surprised — far from throwing out the Bible, the mainline, evangelical PCUSA church I now attend (yes, mainline and evangelical are not mutually exclusive categories) takes the authority of scripture very seriously — without the sort of interpretative approach I had seen in conservative evangelical churches that had seemed to me to be too simplistic. Their approach is similar to the approach outlined in Scot’s Blue Parakeet book, for example.
I sometimes wonder whether the less conservative evangelicals, the more conservative mainliners, and emerging church-types are converging; they seem to have more in common with each other than any of them do with the more conservative evangelicals. What I would love to see is a broad ecumenical focus on core issues and mission, with an approach that is more humble on non-core issues. E.g., let folks agree to disagree in humility on homosexuality, but set aside those differences for purposes of their shared mission.
Incidentally, its seemd odd to me that this post on homosexuality gets 90 (!) or so posts, with some very harsh language from some conservatives, while most other posts get far less attention.



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LutheranChik

posted April 3, 2009 at 8:49 am


And — not to bump up traffic on my blog, but if people visited it and learned about me and about my household, they’d find an unscary, normal, boring, small-town Upper Midwestern Lutheran family right out of Prairie Home Companion. And I don’t even talk about The Troubles much other than my reactions to conversations like this one.



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Jim Martin

posted April 3, 2009 at 7:33 pm


Scot– Just an observation but I think you are right on regarding this being a huge issue in the next decade. (I suspect the number of comments on this post may reflect this) Glad you posted this letter which challenges us all in reflecting on this issue in the context of ministry. Far too often, we get ourselves in trouble isolating an issue from ministry and the church.



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Mike M

posted April 4, 2009 at 1:03 am


Two thoughts on re-reading these posts:
1. Most Christians simply parrot back what they hear in church.
2. Most Christians are mean. And I mean MEAN!



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