I have long evaded the call to write on the current debate concerning LGBTA rights/rites and marriage.
Today I was sedated for a medical procedure and warned not to do anything that would impair my judgment. What an invitation! Throwing caution to the wind, here is a summary of some of my thoughts on the whole LGBT, church and marriage thing. My thoughts have been long reasoned, they are not in question to me; it is the decision to publish them that some may judge hasty because of how I may alienate some folk – but that’s okay – I’ve done that before!
I am well acquainted with the Bible bullets from Leviticus and Paul that assert a sealing of the argument against any consideration of allowance for same-sex relationships, let alone marriage. I am also aware of the fulness of the sacred text that steers us wondrously, attentively and engagingly through encounter with the Spirit of the Living God. The same who has moved us through rough, tough times of cultural immaturity to the application of divine love distilled in the gift and example of Jesus of Nazareth. This movement is not static. It is, to borrow Bruce Sanguin’s words, intense, immense, intimate and intentional. That, alongside the teaching of Jesus and the living dynamic of the Christ, is a touchstone by which, at my most attentive, I decide who I will include or exclude (and thus exclusion by attitude, stance, manner or word, hardly gets a look in, except when I’m weak.)
Hardly an era passes that does not seek to redefine it. Biblical marriage must take into account a variety of forms that include polygamy, concubinage, Levitical constraints regarding widows, and others. Contemporary laws are founded on medieval property and succession provisions that hardly rate a mention in today’s wedding service. Regarding same-sex unions, I was, for a long time, of the “Go ahead, but call it something other than marriage” mindset (which was a cop out given the intensity and context of the debate’s passion – dismissive of pain and isolation experienced by the excluded.) Many a legal marriage between a man and a woman today reveals the highest expression of human love around which the legalities of property, offspring, and extended or blended families find their nurturing and nurtured relational place. The same can be said for many informal arrangements that do not come under the heading of marriage. However, society continues to place marriage as the highest aspiration and expression of life commitment between two adults, increasingly regardless of gender. This is a sociological observation. The Church is at its best when it continues to be a touchstone for sacralising society’s deepest human commitments.
But surely your denomination has a stance?
We will take stances on many things and often be at odds with each other – but we agree on the uniting call of Christ that can hold the tension. Our guiding principle is the ancient maxim – “In things essential unity; in things non-essential, liberty; in all things, love.” Membership is based on trust in Christ alone, as revealed in the Scriptures. Our 200-year history has seen us speak with strong voice on abolition, even though some owned slaves. It modeled female leadership in its educational institutions and eventually its pulpits. It harboured a strong pacifist movement during the great wars. It works hard for a just outcome for the treatment of asylum seekers and dignity for Aborigines through recognition and just reparation. That it should seek to embrace those whose sexual orientation has banished them for so long is seen by many as a priority of justice over theology – which is odd, as ultimately all sound theology points to justice in terms of shalom.
Will I stand by this when the sedation wears off? You better believe it!!
ROY G. BIV
8 thoughts on “My sedated rant on the LGBTA thing and the Church”
Wow, I wish I thought I could be as clear and persuasive as you were if I were sedated! Thank you, this is such an important discussion to have.
Muriel, it’s amazing what makes words flow freely!!!
This is very well written, but I am not in agreement. In essence are you saying … that Society says.. wants.. and gets to say what the moral standards should be? That the latest going trends are acceptable? Does that mean Society eventually gets to set all the standards we are to live by – and the Church has to bend to accommodate fickle hearted society? To my mind the Bible is the ultimate standard we should be guided by, its full of Truth and Grace through Jesus Christ, a standard we can depend our lives, and eternity upon.
Nevertheless, you are brave to open conversation on this topical subject and allow others to express their views too.
I appreciate your question.
No, that’s not what I’m saying, though it may appear that way because it differs from what some (many?) speaking for the church are saying..
You quite well raise the tension we must all contend with – how to be in the world (society) but not of the world. The texts of the Bible itself emerged from this tension. Let me quote my nephew (also a pastor) when he says “There is also a much deeper hermeneutical discipline we must attend to as the people of God who read and understand scripture together. It is clear to me we don’t start from this place, instead we often start from assumed understanding of the text without appreciation for context, purpose, original language, culture. I am committed to attending to this discipline as much as I am being in conversation with those the Church condemns for being born a way they cannot reconcile with some teachings of the Church.”
I agree with him. Consequently, I can apply the highest standards of the gospel as revealed through the living Christ to affirm, encourage and invest in the transformation of the highest aspirations of society.
Good on you Dennis
It is poverty stricken that we evangelicals are so guarded and reticent to even open this conversation, for fear of being branded, judged and spat out by our peers.
If only Carol were right and the church actually had any ability to influence societal values and trends. Sadly, those days belong to half a century ago.
Clearly then, our role is to dispense grace, even in this conversation….
No…. ESPECIALLY in this conversation…. otherwise hypocrite might be our well earned name tag.
Thank you, Jim.
Once upon a time, our lot had a forum where these things could be raised and discussed, albeit with fire and fury. Maybe creating spaces for grace-filled conversations with more listening than speaking is required all round. Thanks for engaging!
“Throwing caution to the wind” – funny! -.o