Today is Gay Pride Day in Bristol and in London.
This is not a theological blog about what is the Biblical viewpoint, both sides of the argument argue a lot on the internet, if you want to do further research have a read.
Today I saw this on facebook from a Christian friend:
“So it’s Bristol pride today and I feel compelled to say simply this. Sorry. Sorry to the lgbt community. Sorry for how the Christian church has treated you, sorry that the message that we have sometimes given is one of hatred, condemnation and hostility to you. I’m sorry that we have come across as holier than thou and pushed you further away from Jesus and your loving heavenly Father. The truth is we are scared. Scared of challenge to our theology and the Bible and sometimes would rather keep people at arms length than question what we believe. I have also been guilty of this, so sorry again.
However, I have to say that the Bible is probably the most misunderstood work in literature but if its true (which I believe it is), is very offensive to us all. It says we are ALL SINNERS. All of us, and we ALL need a saviour and we ALL need to change. Heterosexuality is not the way into heaven, Jesus is. Jesus loves the lgbt community passionately and so should I and the christian church”.
I love this post, and I love Gav who wrote it, a very Godly guy with a lot of grace.
I saw on facebook a couple of years ago a friend, a heterosexual Christian, at gay pride, with a couple of placards, one said “Jesus loves you” and the other said “So sorry for the way the Church has treated you”.
I went for a job interview about 18 months ago and I was asked 3 times in different context about my view of LGBT stuff, I wasn’t asked about the cross once.
Something is badly wrong.
That’s not to say it isn’t an important issue, it is, but let’s not let it side-track us from talking and sharing Christ crucified.
Later in that same interview Churchwarden asked “what is your view of the LGBT community?” My response that they were loved by Jesus, and like any community I really wanted them to meet and encounter Jesus. (I didn’t get the job!).
I remember hearing a young guy say to me in the street (I was wearing a dog collar) “you must hate me?” I asked “why?” and he said “‘cos I’m gay”, this hurt me more than I could say. If this is the message people hear from us, then something has gone badly wrong. It felt the opposite of what Jesus was all about, and hopefully as he walked away he knew that God loved him and not every Christian wanted to reject him.
I remember too getting an email when I was at college from a friend asking “why do you lot hate the gays?” -okay probably being deliberately provocative- but Jesus says “by this will all people know you are my disciples because you love one another”.
My training incumbent talked about the people the Church shun are the people that ran to Christ, something has gone wrong, badly wrong.
I was interviewed several years ago for TV show called “Barbers Lounge” where you get a hair cut on the telly whilst the barber asks you questions. His first question was “what would you do if a gay person walked into your Church”, the answer was “Make them a coffee” which is exactly what I’d do if a straight person walked in, or anyone come to that.
Our Church is called All Souls’, the idea is that ‘all are welcome here’, Jesus says “come All who are thirsty”, he never told people to come back when they are sorted out an in a state of sin-less perfection. Our worship songs say “Come just as you are…” or “just as I am”. we don’t have the right to judge anyone, nor should we recoil from some sins whilst turning a blind eye to others.
For a short time a lovely same-sex couple journeyed with us, and one time one of them said “I don’t want a Church that simply tolerates us” and I was challenged. Especially as I know I had in my car some cards I’d used recently saying “Belong”, “Believe” and “Behave” -we all want a community that loves us not just tolerates us, Jesus never tolerated anyone -he loved them.
At this time I had people in the Church with strong views, and this is where discipleship gets messy, we are broken people sharing with broken people, and the desire to be “right” sometimes is great than our desire to “love one another”.
I think discipleship patiently see God’s Holy Spirit at work in peoples lives, and our lives too.
It is easier to write someone off when they are faceless people we are never likely to meet, rather than people in our own Church family.
Recently I heard of a great evangelist talking about how when he first walked into Church (not yet a believer) he was addicted to gambling, and instead of having lots of lecturers on the evils of gambling, they invited him to join their hockey team, and it took a long time after he became a Christian for his gambling to stop. The community of grace welcomed him, loved him whether he gambled or not, and through their love he found salvation and then later freedom.
Are our Churches Communities of grace? Committed to loving and supporting people even if they don’t do what we think they should, and do what we think they shouldn’t.
Are our Churches places of grace that love people even if they never tick all the same theological boxes as us (including the ones that we are passionate about). Do we love them even if they never get saved? Do we love them even if how they live out their faith following Jesus is something we struggle to get out heads around?
Billy Graham once said “It is God’s job to judge, Christ’s job to save, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and my job to love”.
Many people do things we don’t always agree with. Also, we as Christians don’t agree on everything either.
One of our local councillors said she stopped going to Church because the Minister called her a “painted woman” for wearing lip-stick -at that time Christians probably didn’t wear lipstick in Church, and there is even a verse in the Bible about dressing modestly.
Yet but one silly comment has caused untold damage.
Too often in ‘winning’ a debate we loose the person.
Interestingly several months ago I had someone (a Christian) “sounding off” about the gay debate (he was very anti), and -maybe I was in a bad mood- but I asked him if he could justify his position from the Bible (there are about 6 passages that talk about homosexuality) and (as I half expected) he couldn’t.
The other week I had a coffee with a lady who was exploring the question of preaching, she’s a gifted person but doesn’t want to preach/speak because she feels scripture prohibits this, she knows that is not my position (I am pro-ordination of women to the three dimensions of ministry) and wanted to talk about it, from the Bible. The meeting was incredibly gracious, -she even offered to buy me cake!- and prayed at the beginning and the end, and talk respectfully through verses that we have different opinions on.
A friends boss said this: “my liberal friends think I am a bit fundamentalist, and my more conservative friends think I’ve gone liberal”.
I smiled and thought I bet they said that about Jesus, drinking and eating with tax collectors and prostitutes and also saying “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”.
So, let us love one another, and continue to meet gather around scripture (with cake), read it together.
Let’s hold together rather than walking away and building walls.
Learn to love and not just tolerate those people you don’t agree with.
Cope with life and real discipleship being messy, and people in different stages of their journey towards, or with Christ rather than away from Christ.
And let us be a community that the gay community (in fact any community) can run too and not away from, with people hearing the message of Christ’s love, hope, goodness and grace.