Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Homophobia in the Salvation Army" GLBT Series 2013

"Homophobia in the Salvation Army"

The broadcast last week of, "People and Faith" on Swedish Radio featured a program entitled 'Homophobia in the Salvation Army' that highlighted the Swedish State Government financial subsidy to EKHO's efforts to change the Salvation Army’s Bible interpretation-position relative to homosexuals (being accepted as full fledged church members).

The program participants are:

- Stefan Gustavsson, director of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, who questions why the government pays money to an organization in order to change the biblical vision of a Christian community.

- (Commissioner) Marie Willermark, leader of The Salvation Army in Sweden / Latvia, who clarifies the Salvation Army's position on the issue.

- Patrick Olterman, Corps Commanding Officer Malmö, who think it is tragic that the debate is about EKHO's grant application and not on how (church) congregations receive homosexuals.

- Cay Lennart Larsson, ‘Rainbow Priest’ (Lutheran Church), bisexual and former member of the Salvation Army, who says he loves the Salvation Army but not their ethical position condemning homosexual relationships.

My comments: (focusing on the broadcast’s content)

‘But hey, Cay Lennart, I understand that you think that the Salvation Army should have another Biblical viewpoint, but how can you say that the Salvation Army’s ethical position condemns homosexuals? The closest reference I can find that touches the question is this statement’: "We believe that God's view of sexuality is that it is expressed (lived) lovingly and mutually between a man and woman in marriage, and further, that it should be characterized by mutual consent and free will."

How can you call this ‘condemning homosexuals’?

It is as faulty as saying that, "the Salvation Army condemns heterosexuals who are not married." But the Salvation Army condemns neither heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual persons for that matter.

But there is no human right (stipulating that one has a claim) to be a Salvationist. All associations, churches and organizations have some form of restrictions on who may (qualify to) be a member or not.

What is the reason that people living in a homosexual relationship may not be accepted as Salvationists (SA soldiers) or officers in the Salvation Army? Let me say that I am no official spokesman on behalf of the Salvation Army; I simply have the right to my opinion.

The reason that those who are living in sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman cannot be a Salvation Army soldier or SA officer is that the Salvation Army still believes in the authority of the Bible. It is expressed clearly in the Salvation Army's first doctrine: "We believe that the Old and New Testament Scriptures were given by inspiration of God, and that they only (alone) constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice."

If one does not believe in the Bible, of course, then one need not worry about what is written there. However, if one believes in God and the Bible there must be consequences in how one live their life.

From my perspective three things are required to (qualify to) become a Salvationist:
·      One must be saved
·      One must accept the Salvation Army’s articles of faith
·      One must be willing to live by the Salvation Army's ethical values.

This applies to heterosexuals, homosexuals and all others.

(Translation: Sven Ljungholm)
February (11)


Anonymous said...


I have studied the scriptures from the time I could read, and have never been able to discover a text which suggests that our salvation is dependent upon "believing the Bible". As far as I can ascertain, the scriptures reiterate over and over again that salvation is dependent upon believing in the God fully revealed in Jesus Christ. We are asked to believe in Christ, not in words written about him, that have passed through many hands and translations that leave us with a record that is neither inerrant nor infallible, although God "breathed". As far as I know that is Salvation Army doctrine.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and then we are into the season of Lent, and Good Friday and Easter. In the four gospels we read of the unfolding story of our salvation, and yet in the Easter stories alone, even with a cursory reading, one can discover up to forty inconsistencies, inaccuracies, errors, whatever one chooses to call them. Does this discovery undermine the thrust of the gospel, not by any means, but it is enough evidence to prove that "believing in the Bible" is a false premise: indeed bibliolatry can even be a form of idolatry.

There is another false premise in circulation; it could even be classed as a cliché, uttered by some Christians. It is when an evangelist suggests to new born Christians that they should seek a "Bible believing Church", as if the only churches who preach the gospel are those who embrace a fundamentalist theology. It has always been my understanding that TSA is "evangelical" rather than fundamentalist, although I have discovered that there are pockets of fundamentalism in certain parts of the Army world. Perhaps you consider yourself to be a fundamentalist, and if so, that would explain your position.

Canada and Bermuda

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting to see if anyone would point out the discrepancy in my posting. But seeing that no one has I will take the opportunity to point out another variance in the Holy Week account that I am surprised that Salvationists seem to have missed.

It is the difference of the Last Supper as it is reported by Luke and that reported by John.

Luke has the supper taking place on the Passover while John has it taking place the night before. Luke has the bread being unleavened and John has the bread being leavened. Luke has the words used in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper and the commandment to repeat it. John does not have the words but has Jesus washing the disciples' feet instead with the commandment to "love one another". John's purpose is to have Jesus be the Passover Lamb, Luke's is to substantiate the observance of the Eucharist. Who is more likely to be accurate, John who was present, or Luke who was absent?

It appears to be the case of tradition trumping history.

Many liturgical scholars believe that John is simply recording the event of the last of many Kiddush (fellowship) meals that Jesus had with his disciples.

I just couldn't resist, and wonder why the Army has never used it to bolster its argument about the sacraments?

Canada and Bermuda

Anonymous said...

Former Canada and Bermuda, you make a good point. Over time I have learned that many people who are proud of being bible believing are not bible thinking. By that I mean they have not read the biblical accounts in a way which sees them as a whole. John also has events in a different order to other gospels You hav e mentioned one example with the last supper, another is te cleansing of the temple. The bible also reflects the culture of its writers. We have come to understand in TSA that some things are not absolutes. We cannot then claim that other parts f the bible are absolute without explaining why we treat them differently. "The bible says" is a helpful starting point in developing Christian ethics, it is rarely an appropriate ending point.

Australia Eastern

Sven Ljungholm said...

Canada and Bermuda,

Please contact me at

Thank you,
Sven Ljungholm
FSAOF Blog creator/administrator

Anonymous said...

Whenever I hear or see phrases such as "Bible believing" "the whole Counsel of God" and even (when declared in a self-righteous, snarling sort of a way--and usually taken out of context!) Paul's encouraging statement to Timothy about "rightly dividing the word of truth" I usually cringe.

This is because I know that the people who are mouthing off such "gems" are for the most part doing neither of the three but rather expounding on their own canon within the canon (which btw, is usually skewered!).

They can also be very dangerous because they rarely give little if any thought or acknowledgement to the elements of pride and personal interest that may have prompted them to latch on to those favorite phrases of theirs and the fundamentalist calls to battle that usually accompany them!

Because of their ignorance they unknowingly wind up creating new evils in their quest to correct old ones---and if what people have done with the six clobber passages in the Bible concerning homosexuality and the subsequent horrible, unjust treatment of gays throughout western and church history isn't proof of that, I don't know what is!!!!

And btw, while I'm on my soapbox another phrase that has become quite popular even in Army circles in the last two decades is the tendency to call corps "Family Worship Centers" and Sunday Morning Holiness Meetings the
"Family Worship Hour"--all in an attempt to impress the likes of power hungry screwballs like James Dobson and his ilk I suppose??!!

Have any officers who have succumbed to such rhetoric in their desire to be "fashionable" amongst other "Bible-Believing Xians" ever stopped to think just how many people are getting the message that they're not really welcome---especially in this day and age? Was that really the intent the Founder wanted the Army to convey to the unchurched public? Whatever happened to "Whosoever will may come?"

And another thing: It doesn't matter that that's not what the officer or the corps' intention is/was. If that's what the message is that people get from the rhetoric (and more often than not it is!) then that's the only thing that counts!

Daryl Lach
USA Central

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross, to Stand With Jesus in the Morning!"

Anonymous said...

Sven you have mail

Canada and Bermuda

Graeme Randall said...


Just a couple of points (briefly - as they have been discussed quite substantively already):

1) By defining relationships as only appropriate within a heterosexual expression, you are denying the legitimate existence of any other kind of relationship. In denying other relationships, it is worse than openly condemning them - you are in effect saying that it is so abhorrent it that it is not even worth mentioning. By denying LGBT persons full membership (including Officership), you are saying that they are less than human. That goes way beyond just condemning them. There is a lot more that could be said and argued on this point, but I will leave it there as it would be an article in itself.

2) There is numerous amounts of research that suggests alternative interpretations to Biblical texts which may be far more accurate. When you look at those interpretations, you begin to realise that nowhere in the Bible is there any text that condemns homosexuality. On the contrary, you begin to discover God honoring and blessed relationships which could only be described as homosexual relationships.

3) TSA doctrine is so broad that you can very easily hold a position that accepts LGBT Officers, marriage, etc. and still be in full agreement with the whole of TSA doctrine.

4) The underlying issue is what you consider to be sin, and why, and how do you treat sinners. Even deeper than that, the heart of the issue is what is your identity, what is it built on, and what happens to you when your identity is shaken? If it is built on doctrine, belief, etc., then it will be shaken easily, come crumbling down, and you will feel as though your life has been torn apart if it is challenged. If it is built on 'Christ the solid rock' (as the old 'Army song goes), then no matter what happens, no matter what changes are brought about, no matter what challenges are thrown up at you, it will never be shaken - your identity as a Christian will remain unchallenged.

Yours in Christ,
Graeme Randall
Former Australian East in London

Sven Ljungholm said...

Anonymous said...
Sven you have mail

Canada and Bermuda

Wednesday, 13 February, 2013