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The Church, Singleness, and Homosexuality

03 Jun

MATT JENSON writes on his blog:

Three things have been on my mind for a long time. The first is Jesus’ strong word about his family being those who do the will of the Father. The second is my singleness. The third is homosexuality, as I’ve had many dear gay friends over the years.

At a recent chapel at Biola University, I spoke about the church as family, the implications that has had in my life as a single man, and the implications it might have for the church as it walks with gay Christians struggling to follow Jesus.

MY THOUGHTS:

I have written before about the dynamics of how traditionalist churches minister to and with LGBT folks… and how they speak to them and about them.

Cards on the table… I think that the traditionalist view is flawed in its reading of and application of scripture on the issue of homosexuality. In that way, I disagree with Jenson’s basic theological assumption.

That said, I understand the traditionalist theology and that many of the best and most effective churches hold this position. And most of these churches have shut the door to LGBT people.

If the LGBT people are called to life-long celibacy or seeking change (as the traditionalist view holds), then my question becomes “what are you doing as a community to create spaces for LGBT people to (a) encounter Jesus; and (b) work out their sexuality in the context of community and discipleship?

The answer in 99% of the churches I know is that they are not doing either of those things. Frankly, if that is the case, I think these churches should simply shut up about gay issues. They have no business talking about these issues unless they are committed to actually living out the Gospel and inviting others to do the same.

In this message to students at Biola University (a conservative Christian school), Jenson gives a compelling talk on the church, singleness and homosexuality.

In the talk he addresses well the challenge of singleness on its own — an issue most churches do not deal well with at all. And then to the issue of homosexuality.

Let me say this about his message:

1. While I disagree with his premise that all homosexuality is sinful, I agree with 95% of his message and theology — including the importance of calling all Christians to a life that embraces sexual ethics summarized by “fidelity or celibacy”.

2. As a gay man who disagrees with him, I fully sense his love, compassion and openness to engage on this issue. I would want to be in his church, worship beside him, and journey with him. This is a rarer dynamic than you might think.

3. I think he lays out a good road map for how churches need to deal with both heterosexual and homosexual singles. For progressive churches and Christians, if you can get past your disagreement on the theology of homosexuality, I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned here. For traditionalist churches and Christians, I think this is the road map to take.

4. I deeply appreciate his sense of the intrinsic and existential struggle that homosexuality creates for gay followers of Jesus (as well as for seekers). I am increasingly convinced there are no easy answers nor formulas that apply to every person. I know that I was deeply hurt (and certainly not helped) by people who wanted to squeeze me into a formulaic answer as opposed to letting Jesus speak into my life on this issue. As a younger pastor, I made the same mistake with others. This is why — despite criticism from both the traditionalists and progressives — I maintain that both a Side A and Side B (and even, for some, “Side X”) approach can be the best option. I think both traditionalist and progressive churches need to do a better job at broadening the tent.

This is really a great talk… I hope you will take the time to listen to it and let it challenge you… even (and especially) if you disagree with him.

I would love to hear your comments and thoughts…

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1 Comment

Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

One response to “The Church, Singleness, and Homosexuality

  1. Ben Dubow

    June 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    The point that Jenson is making in his message, among others, is precisely that for many (most!) singles (gay or straight), their heart longs for community/family and that this can (and should) be found within the church. ?Following their heart leads them to want to be part of a church family, community, etc.?He also points out that most churches fail to really be family to and for singles (both gay and straight) and then offers some insights into how the church can do it better.<div> <div><br></div><div>From experience as a pastor to many singles — in a church that was 60% single — and as a single myself, I think he is right on that main point. ?For families and couples, church can be more about programs, events, kids, etc. ?But for your average single person, the most important thing is going to be relationships and family.</div> <div><br></div><div>I don't think that is good or bad… it just is. ?And since the church is supposed to be the place where all God's children (family) are welcomed and loved, it seems like we (the church) should work at getting better at it… for all ages and all groups… including (and maybe especially, given the demographics in America) singles.</div> <div><br></div><div>BD<br><br></div></div>

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