Sunday, April 19, 2015

SWEDISH CHURCHMEN DEBATE #4

Extensive debate on the view of homosexuality

An extensive and high-profile debate has been raging in both the Christian and secular media recently (Sweden). It's centered on  the Church, especially the Pentecostal movement’s views on homosexuality. Dan Salomonsson, Pentecostal pastor and chairman of the Pentecostal Theological network, regrets how the current debate has manifested itself.
- I would hope that, with respect, that we place ourselves in the other's situation (shoes), he says.

Dan Salomonsson, pastor of Uppsala’s Pentecostal congregation 



It started with a news heading in the newspaper Dagen, where the writer Joel Halldorf argued that homosexuality should not be seen as a church positional issue. He took no position on the heading’s merits, on how the church should perceive at homosexuality.

This led to speculation in the social media and prompted a series of opinion articles. One of these was authored by 22 Pentecostal pastors, including Tommy Dahlman, editor of Insight. Their argument was that a homosexual lifestyle is a sin, which in turn leads to a person’s exclusion from heaven, caught the attention a few days ago of the national media and then since then the debate has raged in a number of forums.

In 2005, the Pentecostal movement in Sweden printed a publication; "Homosexuality and the Christian Faith". It is partly this publication that the Pentecostal representatives, including Pelle Corner Mark who leads the work of Pentecost FFS (Free parishes in collaboration) have now chosen to refer to in terms of how the Pentecostal movement views homosexuality.

It was the theological network of Pentecostals who brought forward the scripture, and the President of the network Dan Salomonsson, pastor of Uppsala's Pentecostal church. - Regarding this particular issue where there has been ongoing debate for many years, we felt that we needed to formulate ourselves. We are often contacted by the media, and then it ought to be yes or no responses but it is constantly a debate situation. We wanted to take (sufficient) time and formulate where we stand when it comes to faith and lifestyle.

"A careful reading of the biblical texts can hardly proffer any other result than a finding that the Bible disapproves of homosexual acts" is written among other things in the published material.

It's pretty clear when you read this booklet that the Pentecostal movement in Sweden says that practiced homosexuality is a sin. Am I right?

- We are not saying that homosexuality is a sin, we maintain that all sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin; it is an important nuance. Nor are we saying that homosexual temptation is a shame-  of course not. Our comprehension of the biblical texts apply to all sexual intimacy outside of marriage.

You also stress in the scripture very clearly that you can not apply a sin label on others; you write about the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye, and so on. Why do you think this aspect is often so difficult to present?

Dan Salomonsson means that the issue of the perception of homosexuality has almost become a litmus test of how good or merciful a believing person is.

- It is quite possible to have a classical Christian theological approach being a compassionate human being.- I cannot see in the biblical material that we as humans ever have the right to stand in judgment on the eternal questions. Only God has that right. On the other hand, the Bible reveals the principles for which God will in the end hold us accountable.

The reason for the charged debate now is that it’s landed in a situation where all who share in the question is graded on a scale where all are belittled/ humbled. If I say that according to the Bible one should not lay with someone outside of marriage, I have thereby faulted the one who does so. The debate climate must come up a notch in order that we can discuss and allow lifestyle issues with different opinions. (And) Then I really have full respect as it is very painful for those who struggle with this.

He wants a different kind of debate, with respect for the other's arguments and situation.
- This debate’s starting pistol was ambiguity and so everyone moves to mark where one stands. And from every direction everyone wants to paste labels on others. You use this question to either label someone extremely liberal and as a sign of Christianity’s decay, or to label someone as a dark individual. There’s virtually no debate of substance at all.

When you address how the church should handle this document you ask yourselves: Are there more shades than the unconditional acceptance and the relentless condemnation? What is the answer to this question?

- There must be a way forward. There is no doubt where we stand when we read what we have written. But on this issue, as in all the others, we must follow Jesus. And he was described as being full of grace and of truth. Not just the one, but both. And, in that order, grace first. –.

Samuel Teglund












Translation:Sven Ljungholm

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