Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is Black Still Black and White Still White? Is Right Still Right and Wrong Still Wrong?


I made a comment on Jamie's post at (e)mergent Voyaguers on his post titled: Homosexuality: A Personal Reflection.

My comment was this:
Jamie,

Vulnerability with this post could almost be an understatement. I commend your willingness to share such difficult things with us all. It has only been in the last year that I have really been willing to open myself up as a person that really wants to understand the homosexual community. Admittedly, I was a hard line critic of such a life. All the while using the Bible as my hammer. God has helped me in this greatly. I have a practicing homosexual woman that comes to my church and I want her to know she is as welcomed as anyone else and she won't be "judged" by us because of the way she chooses to live. I don't think she needs to be told she's wrong, I think she needs to be understood and encouraged in finding God's love for her.

______________________________________________

A reader, whom I don't know and for her confidentiality I'll leave unnamed, emailed me this:

Dear Shannon (and Jamie),

You (neither one of you, as I lurk on Jamie's blog and only found your blog today Shannon) do not know me from anyone. But your post on (e)mergent Voyageurs
has just really prompted me to write. You say...

I have a practicing homosexual woman that comes to my church and I want her to know she is as welcomed as anyone else and she won't be "judged" by us because of the way she chooses to live. I don't think she needs to be told she's wrong, I think she needs to be understood and encouraged in finding God's love for her.

The hurt is in being told that we (I am a gay person, bi-identified, living in a committed lesbian marraige) "choose" to live as a homosexual. Not all homosexuals have this "choice" as not all homosexuals identify bi-sexual or various types of trans-persons.

While you may not agree with her practice, maybe you should get to know that "woman at the well" and see her as Jesus does. And IS she welcomed as anyone else, will she be invited to serve in leadership, and will she, should the call come, be allowed to discern her path to ordination (like Jamie was able to)? Where will her glass ceiling be? I pray there will not be one, and that she will be truly welcomed in your church and is able to discover who God is shaping her to be.

Your last sentence indicates that she has not yet discovered God's love for her. You have a wonderful and beautiful gift in your church, someone who has decided that the church may just be a place where she can find God. I don't need to tell you how many people, especially the marginalized, are NOT looking to the church to provide answers to spiritual questions. They are happy to be "spiritual not religious." I pray that when we welcome these spiritual seekers, we can truly understand them, walk with them and hear what God has been up to in each of their journeys so far.

God Bless and be with you.


_____________________________________________

I responded to her email with grace, I hope.

Some of her points, however got me thinking. She asks if the woman attending my church would be truly welcome and able to serve in leadership or pursue ordination and to what extend will her glass ceiling be?

Let me first say, I believe homosexuality is contrary to God's word and His plan for mankind. I believe it is sin, plain and simple. But, I don't believe homosexuality is anymore of a sin than I believe lying, stealing, adultery, etc... is sin. If I hold such things to be sin according to scripture, am I bound to tolerate it in such a way that would compromise my convictions? I certainly hope not. I mean these are not preferences I'm talking about here, they're convictions based on God's inspired word. I can change a preference, no problem....I'd prefer scrambled eggs over sunny side up but it's not a conviction of mine. I will eat eggs prepared sunny side up, I just prefer scrambled. I can no more have a practicing adulterer in a leadership position in my church than I can a thief, liar, murderer or homosexual. Can I?!? God forbid. This is not prejudice, this is convictions from which I cannot waver. This particular woman that has begun coming to my church is as welcomed as anyone else. God knows that is the truth, but given her "chosen" lifestyle, I could not accept her in "leadership".

Jesus with the woman at the well truly had compassion. I think this is key. He also gave her a wake up call. He called her to the attention of her sin. Sin is at the center of the encounter. Through compassion, Jesus was able to get this woman to not only consider her complete and utter failings, her sin, but his compassion motivated her to change the way she lived. She no longer bounced around from man to man. She was changed.

Complexity is an understatement when dealing with homosexuality. I have a dear elderly couple in my church who's son is in the battle of his life with AIDS. He lived a homosexual lifestyle for quite sometime. He no longer is active in that lifestyle and is very committed to God. I'm not suggesting that God is meting out punishment on him, simply stating facts. I've talked with him and though he is very compassionate toward homosexuals, he wouldn't agree with the emailer's position I'm sure.

Have we become too soft in our convictions that we're afraid to call Right, right and Wrong, wrong or White, white and Black, black? When did this grey demilitarized zone come into play?
Though Jesus was abundantly compassionate, he never wavered in his convictions. Why should we?

7 comments:

paul said...

I don't want to be ungracious as I am a guest here. I appreciate your post and your views, the whole issue of christian sexual ethics is one that I have been writing about recently and is one that I have yet to bottom out...

I have lot's of thoughts but i think to write them here would be churlish, i understand where you are coming from, it is the script that i have spent most of my life reading off of but am now starting to wonder how much is just my evangelicism speaking and how much of it really is Jesus...

I'm gonna take my thoughts back to my place and you are more than welcome to come over and push back at me.... i'd just rather not leave towels over your bathroom floor :)

Shannon said...

Paul,

Thanks for you graciousness in keeping my bathroom floors clean. :)

I am interested in your position. I think this conversation is important.

paul said...

Thanks Shannon, it's very kind of you to let me enjoy your bathroom in the first place :)

Barry said...

Dear Shannon,
Forgive me if I misunderstand. It seems you are taking a wrong turn here. Being a Homosexual is not a sin. Homosexual sex is the sin. Homosexuals who renounces the sin is certainly can be a candidate for leadership. My sins are terrible but I can lead. because I chose to submit to Jesus. If the woman in your church stops doing the nasty with people and confines her sexual outlet to marriage with a male partner then she can lead. As to that question about her being ordained that is just silly. Pastors are men because the Bible says so. A female "Pastor" is morally equivalent to a practicing Homosexual, i.e. both are in rebellion to God.
Best wishes,
Barry the Cranky Christian

Shannon said...

Barry the Cranky Christian,

lol that's funny :)

Ok so it's a play on words I see. But, homosexuality is what I called "sin". Not being a homosexual though my thoughts would clearly link that. However, a definition of homosexuality is: "erotic activity with another of the same sex." This is sin.

A homosexual that may be attracted to the same sex but is able to live without engaging in that "sinful" activity should surely be able to serve in any leadership capacity. Obviously any pastor could struggle with the issue of lust but never act on it and still serve. But, if he acts on it, then that brings us to another issue all together.

Is that agreeable? :)

The Creature said...

This is a tough topic - particularly in this day and age.

I think it is possible to respond in love and to develop a relationship with someone even if we disagree - however it can be particularly difficult when there is a lot of emotional energy vested by one or both parties. I agree with your sentiments entirely Shannon and hope that you can continue to reach out to and support people such as the lady you mention.

I find this book - What some of you were helpful. It takes a different approach to the subject of Christianity and homosexuality to most other books or works I have read - http://secure.fellowworkers.com/cgi-bin/mmstore/wsyw.html.

I think Christians need to get their heads around this one, and the sooner the better.

Shannon said...

Andrew,

Thanks for the book title and link. I will surely look into it. I met with my intercessory prayer team today and I asked them about this issue and got a good feedback from them on it. I think this is an issue worth investing some serious effort here in our own town. I really want to help foster a beautiful relationship with homosexuals and our fellowship. I agree with you Christians need to get our heads around this one and the sooner the better. :)