Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Inclusive Church - the final chapter?

Is the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people into the life of the church the most challenging task of all? How did we get to the point where a person's sexual orientation became the greatest barrier to their involvement in church life?

I am of the firm conviction that the vast majority of people with a homosexual orientation are naturally inclined that way. It's not a choice they make because they want their lives to be more difficult or something that can be simply cured by enough prayer - it's just how they are. If I'm correct about this (and I know there are many who disagree) then I don't see that anyone has the right to forbid gay and lesbian people from entering into lifelong, loving relationships with each other.

In every other area of life, gay and lesbian people have proven their capacity including in leadership roles. Our social service delivery is greatly enhanced by their contributions. We all lose by making our churches unfriendly and unaccepting places simply because someone has a different sexual orientation.


Anonymous said...

Good post, Jason, and I agree completely.

As an Army officer, I have had to make a choice between what my conscience tells me is an appropriate way to act and what the organisation would expect. For example, I was recently asked to officiate at a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple. I was happy to do it, but I wasn't so sure if the Army would have been so keen. It was a fairly high profile event in our town too: the affair made the front page of the local paper twice.

Thankfully, I didn't need to choose, because the couple changed their plans and my services were no longer required. Still, choosing between career (if I may use that word) and conscience is never pleasant.

Again, thanks for your post. I'm glad I'm not the only officer who thinks this way.

Anonymous said...

The problem for me with the 'issue' of homosexuality (acts not orientation) is that the bible is pretty clear in defining it as sinful. So for you or anyone else within the church to say you that you condone that activity is at odds with scripture. I know there are those who try to work their way around this by suggesting that the biblical references are about male prostitution (rather than relationships) or feel they can put it in a historical context so that it doesn't have to be considered as sin today. However I really feel this is really grasping at straws and those that hold the same opinion as yourself need to just say "we don't agree with the bible on this matter".

Of course that then sets the wheels in motion for everything else in the bible. What else that is stated as sin in the bible do we no longer consider sin? What literal truths can we find in there amongst the stories? What parts do we rely on and what do we discard?

The Christian faith is based entirely upon the bible - so if some of it is wrong, some is literal and some is not (and we can't agree on which bits), some of it portrays God as egomaniacal and genocidal, some of it portrays him as a loving father, etc. etc. - how can you or I or anyone else have a faith based on that book? And if not based on the bible, then what? God as indefinable creator/spirit, Jesus as ultimate model for living our lives?

I hope you get what I am asking and saying - I'm in a bit of a hurry today so these points may not be well constructed, but I hope we and others can have continued discussion about this.

By the way, this is the usual anonymous commenter on your blog (the Christian/agnostic/atheist one) - there have been the odd anonymous comment that haven't been from me, so I think to avoid confusion from now on I will be "Jack" - short, sharp and nothing like my real name.

Anonymous said...

Lets go even further and allow practising Gay and lesbians (in committed relationships) to be ordained and commissioned leaders in The Salvation Army.

Weren't we once a movement that pushed the boundaries with regard to inclusive leadership (women in leadership). Lets do it once again!

JDK said...

Thanks for your comments. I've written previously my perspective on what the Bible says about homosexuality (click here for one discussion). I think there are four options:
1. The Bible consistently condemns all homosexual acts with one authoritative, eternal voice.
2. The Bible is neither clear nor consistent in its various writings about homosexuality.
3. The Bible addresses different situations (eg. temple prostitution) which cannot be compared with lifelong, monogamous, gay relationships.
4. We ignore the Bible on other issues when we find it is no longer relevant - why stick with this one?
Personally, I find options 2-4 to be far more compelling than option 1.
On the issue of gay and lesbian soldiers, leaders, officers, I think it's worth pausing to recognise that they already exist and feel forced to hide their sexual identity.
Regards, JDK

Evangelist for Christ said...

Hey i hate to write in and sound like im a homophobe, but im not, i have mates that are gay. But i do agree with Jack, the bibl does forbid homosexual relationships and declares it as a sin, i think that we have started comprimising ourselves by saying this is ok. What else then becomes ok. Addiction to porn? sex outside of marriage? murder? peodaphilia? why can't they be acceptable aswell. I think i want to follow the scripture on this one. I have no problem with homosexuals being part of the church, but never in church leadership or soldiership, just as we dont allow adulturers and others into these positions. Sex is God's gift to men and woman, are we taking away from that?

Anonymous said...

JDK and Cameron have you considered starting up the reformed Salvation Army. If so I would like to join :-). Actually both of you should stay where you are, as your opinions are very valued, and God wants you to reform the Army from the inside. Have either of you been pressured into thinking the same as the 'official' line of thinking, as some of the comments don't fall into line with positional statements. This subject interests myself as I believe there is not much room for thinking for yourself, its very much think what we think or you can't be accepted as one of us, so its bye bye.

Anonymous said...

JDK and Cameron - I never thought I would hear a Salvationist talk about inclusivity so openly. I'm a gay man and former Salvationist, who when I came out over 15 years ago was told I was no longer welcome at the corps where I had become a soldier. I still feel a void in my life because I'm no longer a Soldier, however, I do believe it's the Army's loss, as I have a relationship with Jesus, my Saviour - He has NOT rejected me (or my partner of 11 years) - I just pray that one day, I will be able to put my uniform back on and be a part of the SA again.

JDK said...

Hi Karl, thanks for your comments and your openness. I hope the day that you feel welcome back in the Army is not too far off as well. God bless you. JDK