My last post on this issue at the moment.
I feel I must say sorry to my friends who are troubled by my take on this issue- angered even. My last post was unfortunately rather flippant and did not do justice to the depth of the issue. All I would say is that I do not do this because I am drawn towards controversy for its own sake. I do it because I have come to believe that the church has got its attitude towards gay people badly wrong.
We isolate people at their point of greatest need. We place them on the outside with no possibility of acceptance and inclusion. In another e-mail recently I found myself saying this;
…human sexuality is highly complex- some people can indeed change their sexual behaviour to a certain extent, but the harsh fact is that most can not. The implication for this majority then is that God created them with a different sexuality, but who they are will never be acceptable to His people on earth- short of a half life of loneliness and struggle. The end results are high suicide rates, mental illness, isolation and some people end up living in (not always healthy) ghettos where they feel safer. Despite a shift in societal attitudes gay people still live in fear of all sorts of prejudice.
The other end result is that they are driven away from the church and from God. We have two friends whose children grew up in the church but always knew themselves to be ‘different’. Both are now far far from the church. I also have friends who deal with their sexuality by keeping secrets- trying to display surface acceptability. What they long for are stable, monogamous, loving relationships- and to be accepted and loved by their peers.
All of these friends will describe their utter incomprehension at being told that they are loved, but that their sinful lifestyles can not be accepted. They would describe their sexuality as fixed from the earliest age- in the same way as others have blond hair. The arguments about original sin make no sense to them- and they would point to others who are born with a physical disability, who used to be excluded but are no more.
The reason why we in the church have adopted the position we have is based on our interpretation of scripture. This has been a crucial journey for me- in trying to understand what these scriptures mean, and to set them in the wider context of the life Jesus calls us to.
And a long time ago I decided that if I was going to make an error in my theology, I would err on the side of grace. I would err on the side of love. I would err on the side of acceptance.
What I think we need is for people who have an apostolic voice to speak on this issue with love as the primary imperative. People who are prepared to risk the storm that will surely fall on their heads- risk their jobs, their reputation, even losing their friends.
Step forward Steve Chalke;
Grace, Love & Acceptance are so much more powerful than verses taken out of context that we don’t fully understand. Thank you and Steve Chalke and others who are not affraid to paddle in the waters of controversy and stand with those on the edge who are too often hated for a lifestyle and being who they are. I’m sure that some genuine Christians are hurt by this stand, but not half as much as the targets of evangelical hard liners. We are to be known by the wide way we love not by our narrow interpretation of Scripture. Thanks again.
Chris, check out Peter Stanford’s article in the Independent on Friday.
Indeed Maggy- the same debate in the Catholic Church folks- read here- http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/shame-on-the-leaders-of-the-catholic-church-for-their-sweeping-campaign-against-gay-marriage-8487841.html