“Will I be fully accepted at your church as a gay man?”


http://erlc.com/article/will-i-be-fully-accepted-at-your-church-as-a-gay-man

(hippo cartoonHere is the clearest iteration of a classical understanding of homosexuality I have seen. Helpful to compare this with the present day explanations of “love” moving homosexual relationships and marriage to proper and God-blessed actions.           THE COMMENT BY (Rev)SID HALL (UMC , Austin, TX.) IS PERHAPS AN ACCURATE DETAILING OF  THE THINKING OF MANY lgbt PERSONS.

Fr. Orthohippo)

( “http://erlc.com/article—-Below is my response to an email I received that asked the following question:”  “I believe church should be for all of God’s children. No exceptions. I am a gay man. My question is, would I be fully accepted with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church?”

I have changed all of the identifying information, but other than that, my response is in full below. I hope that it will be helpful to others facing similar questions.

Dear D,

Welcome home to the beautiful Bluegrass. It is great to hear from you and to hear of your previous connection with Ashland. What a ministry this church has had for almost 100 years.

As to your question, it depends on what you mean by “I am a gay man” and what you mean by “accepted completely with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue?”

If by “I am a gay man” you mean that you struggle with same-sex attraction, recognizing any sexual activity outside of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and that you desire Christian discipleship to walk in line with the Gospel as you struggle with this temptation, then we would rejoice at your honesty and openness and receive you gladly at Ashland. We have faithful and accountable members right now in that very situation and attempting to live celibate lives to the glory of Christ.

Of course, this is really no different than a man who struggles with heterosexual sexually immoral desires or any of the myriads of sinful desires we all struggle with as disciples of Christ. Sin is an equal opportunity offender and something that every Christian struggles with in unique ways.

If by “I am a gay man” you mean that you embrace a lifestyle of homosexual activity and you refuse recognize it as sin no matter what the Scripture says and you are looking for a church that will affirm homosexual activity and/or same-sex marriage that would be a different matter entirely. But there is no uniqueness to homosexual sin in regard to this approach. The same would be true if a man came to us and said “I am a ‘name the sin’ man” and by that he meant he planned to keep on sinning in that way and embracing it as a lifestyle no matter what the Scripture says. There is a world of difference between struggling with a sin and embracing a sin. God saves us where we are, but loves us too much too leave us where we are. He is at work conforming his people into the image of Christ.

As far as whether or not you would “be accepted completely with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue” that would depend on what you mean as well. We welcome all to attend our public worship services. Consider this your invitation to worship with us. We would love to have you in attendance. If you mean that you desire help in an accountable community of faith to struggle against sin then I would say that we are a community of believers whose hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins—not our goodness. We are all struggling sinners attempting to follow our Lord and Savior and encouraging one another to do so.

On the other hand, if you mean that you want a church where any behavior you participate in will be affirmed and accepted in the membership of the church then the answer would be “no.” I do not think you would want to be a part of a congregation would tolerate any behavior or action among its members.

We are all broken in our sin and are in great need of acceptance by God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. We are all guilty sinners who have rebelled against a holy God and who desperately need to respond to Christ in repentant faith. It is the awareness of our sin that reveals our need for redemption in Christ. Self-acceptance must not replace repentance and the liberating love of Christ that delivers us from bondage to our sins. Faith, sin and repentance are Christ-directed. Self-justification is man-directed and fashions God as a sort of divine therapist who helps us to accept ourselves.

You are right that God’s gospel is about his “love, acceptance, non-judging, and forgiveness for all” but such is the fruit of believers who trust God and agree with God about their sin in repentant faith. The comfortable and convenient thing would be to do away with the notion of sin altogether but such an approach would abandon the biblical gospel and would not be a demonstration of Christian love.

The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Paul paints a beautiful picture of love, acceptance, and forgiveness for those who come to Christ in faith and repentance of sin. If we lose Paul’s grammar, we lose his gospel. If we shift his words to the present tense and say, “And such are some of you,” we are left with no one washed, no one sanctified, and no one justified.

I hope this response provides you respectful and direct answers to your honest questions. I struggle with my own sins so I could easily remove “homosexuality” from this letter and put my sins in those spaces and apply this letter to myself. The good news is that I do not have to be defined by my sins and neither do you. We can be forgiven of our sins and have our identity rooted in Christ and his grace.

I am thankful for the dialogue and your interest in my thoughts. I hope to see you soon at Ashland.

Blessings in Christ,

David E. Prince

{to see comments, click below – Rev. Sid Hall is the first comment.}

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About Fr. Orthohippo

The blog of a retired Anglican priest (MSJ), his musings, journey, humor, wonderment, and comments on today's scene.
This entry was posted in Christian Ethics, Gay Ethics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “Will I be fully accepted at your church as a gay man?”

  1. Sid Hall says:

    Bruce, this statement expresses the clear double standard imposed on lesbian and gay people not imposed on heterosexual people. This statement by David Prince is the worst and most damaging kind of hypocrisy, because it does great harm to our faithful gay and lesbian Christian brothers and sisters who desire to live the example of Christ in marriage and fidelity we have promoted for centuries in the Church: “… this is really no different than a man who struggles with heterosexual sexually immoral desires or any of the myriads of sinful desires we all struggle with as disciples of Christ. Sin is an equal opportunity offender and something that every Christian struggles with in unique ways.”

    There is indeed a difference a huge difference. Lesbian and gay people, especially lesbian and gay Christians, hold to the values of monogamy, fidelity, mutual love and respect, faithfulness, and the desire for that to be expressed in a lifelong commitment called marriage. How can this very lifestyle we promote for heterosexuals be the very values we condemn for gay people? Furthermore, while many heterosexual and homosexual people want to raise children, we don’t seem to mind if heterosexual marry people they cannot produce children with (older adults, infertile partners, paraplegics, etc.) but we condemn homosexuals in faithful and loving relations because they cannot anatomically produce children. The sin lies not with Christian homosexuals who only desire the very values of love and fidelity the church has taught them; the sin lies in those heterosexist Christians like Price who treat gay people by completely different standards than they do heterosexuals. This kind of self-righteous exclusion does not fare well against the standards imposed by Jesus in Matthew 25 regarding the least of these. I think they may be in for a bit of surprise when they meet their maker and discover that God is an equal opportunity judge, especially toward those who use the language of “equal opportunity offender” when they really are operating by very different standards. Price’s view not only does great harm, but fails Jesus’s ethic of love toward those on the margins.

    • Allen Rancki says:

      Fortunately, there is great diversity among our country’s Christian independent creeds and the major denominations. We get to try out what “fits” us. I don’t see the point in arguing with each other about what the minimum requirements are for calling ourselves Christians. “Know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The truth is, what works and what doesn’t work in a community of like believers will eventually bear good or bad fruit.

      For almost ten years I served faithfully in a metropolitan Methodist church which was open to all. I eventually left as the leadership slowly replaced Biblical perspectives with music, drama, arts, social justice and gay and lesbian outreach. It was painful to leave many friends, but I found another church community where I am now very happy and I am a much better fit. I’m sixty-nine and became a believer in Christ at twenty-seven.

  2. Hi, Sid. Thought you had stopped reading here.

  3. A simple “no” would have sufficed.

  4. Allen Rancki says:

    Fortunately there are varieties of belief systems under the umbrella of Christianity. Apparently, Ashland is a community of believers who attempt to live up to the words of Jesus, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (See Paul for confirmation.) There are also hundreds, perhaps thousands, of welcoming churches which do not value adhering to all the ideals of Christianity. I was part of a large Methodist Church for many years which welcomed everyone and encouraged diversity. Eventually I left as the focus of the Church became the arts and increasing attendance.

    Some of us want or need to be challenged to live on high ground while some of us don’t. Good news folks, in this life, we all get to choose. For me, only one issue remains–what will really happen when I die? I’m sixty-nine.

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