A short description of what we’re up to can be found here. Comments are welcome but may be moderated for content and tone.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

The Price of Admission

If you read only the complaints of Social Justice Christendom, you might be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the only possible reason a local church can possibly object to the idea of having fellowship with practicing homosexuals is a lack of love.

And, to be fair, one has to admit that at times Christians have reacted to homosexuals in ways that might be considered less than charitable (though the strictest Christians tend to be considerably kinder than even moderate practitioners of Islam).

But not every gathering of Christians is the Westboro Baptist Church. And thankfully, few believers conduct themselves like Fred Phelps, though the media has a tendency to perpetuate the stereotype.

Still, we are told, homosexuals are suffering:
“The gay community has cried out for justice from Christians, who have a biblically mandated obligation to be just … the suffering imposed on gay persons by Christians is … severe …”
Sorry, I should say “severely suffering”.

But doesn’t this misrepresent the situation just a little? After all, homosexuals who profess Christianity and are looking for somewhere to go to church have many, many options available to them.

There are varying degrees of acceptance for homosexual practice among many denominations, but Anglicans, Lutherans, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, New Apostolic Church and the Moravian Church, along with some Pentecostals, Mennonites, Presbyterians and Quakers, with very few local exceptions, accept practicing homosexuals into their gatherings. Some will officiate homosexual marriages and many ordain homosexual clergy, some of whom are even allowed to practice.

There are in fact thousands, perhaps millions in Christendom who accept those that insist on practicing their real faith.

But an inability to find acceptance in the Christian community is not the real problem. As we have watched the homosexual “struggle for equality” in society, it has become evident that having a comfortable and affirming place to go is not the highest priority on the homosexualist agenda. The “gay community cry for justice” is really an ever-more-insistent demand for universal approval and often even admiration.

“Justice” is code for capitulation, to use the language of the Left.

Let me suggest three reasons some of us will never capitulate that do not have to do with lack of love, and why the hope of universal approval from Christians for homosexual practice is a fantasy rather than an inevitability.

Conscience

Paul writes “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”, a statement that comes squarely in the context of expressing approval for things one is unable to bring oneself to believe. The Christian conscience must be clear.

I can understand why many homosexuals insist that they find the arguments of Matthew Vines and other LGBT advocates satisfying to them — so satisfying, in fact, that they cannot understand why we don’t instantaneously accept them too.

But charity demands recognition that the other man’s or woman’s conscience must be clean before God. In any area of disagreement, if, after all our arguments, our brothers and sisters are not convinced by them, the Christian thing to do is to shrug and walk away, not hector fellow Christians into submission to our wishes.

Genuinely loving, truly Christian homosexuals will respect the consciences of their fellow believers.

Judgement

Some Christians are not unloving, but recognize that God judges churches as well as individuals. Those of us who are convinced that engaging in homosexual acts constitutes sexual immorality have an obligation before God to act in accordance with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people … I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality … Purge the evil person from among you.”
To fail to act on our beliefs is, to our minds, to court the sort of corporate or individual judgement described by John in his letters to the seven churches. It is worth noting that at least one of these expressions of disapproval from the glorified Christ comes not for intolerance, but for being overly tolerant of evil. 

Leaving aside whether we’re right or wrong in our understanding of scripture, surely a fellow believer who loves Christ can understand our desire to be obedient to him even if you disagree with us as to how that obedience ought to manifest itself.

Love

Some Christians express disapproval of homosexual practice and refuse to associate with professing believers who engage in homosexual acts not because they are unloving, but because of the very opposite: they are deeply concerned for their homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christian discipline is not just about preserving our own corporate purity. It is very much about the restoration of the sinning believer. Paul teaches in another context that the purpose of not associating with sinning believers is in order to shame them and warn them for their own good

I know that Matthew Vines and his friends are unlikely to see it this way, but if there is any chance that his reinterpretation of scripture via history and culture is incorrect, then the very shame he is trying so desperately to avoid, rather than being merely a product of hatred and bigotry and a source of suffering, is actually an expression of love from a merciful God calling to him through the testimony and concern of his fellow believers.

If Vines is wrong (and since his interpretation is far from universally accepted, that possibility ought to at least be considered), acting on his orientation is actually considerably more damaging to him, spiritually and potentially physically, than repressing his desires. Christians who are genuinely loving get that.

Further, if Vines is wrong, it is those who unconditionally accept him, affirm him and advocate for him that are actively working against his best interests. It is they who are truly unloving.

The Price of Admission

If the price of my admission to the local church of my choice is the destruction of my fellow believers’ consciences, the possibility of the judgment of God on my church,  and an end to genuine expressions of love toward me from my fellow members in Christ, do I really want it? Would any sincere Christian?

That price is way too high.

No comments :

Post a Comment