Sunday, July 5, 2015

Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders CONCLUSION

If you believe gay sex is sinful, it’s really no morally different than straight sex outside of marriage.
Be honest, pretty much every unmarried person in your church is having sex (yes, even the Christians).
I know you want to believe that’s not true (trust me, I want to believe that’s not true), but why don’t you ask around? You’ll discover that only a few really surrender their sexuality.
Not to mention t he married folks that struggle with porn, lust and a long list of other dysfunctions.
If you believe gay marriage is not God’s design, you’re really dealing with the same issue you’ve been dealing with all along—sex outside of its God-given context.
You don’t need to treat it any differently.
By the way, if you don’t deal with straight sex outside of marriage, don’t start being inconsistent and speak out against gay sex.
And you may want to start dealing with gluttony and gossip and greed while you’re at it. (I wrote more here about how to get the hypocrisy out of our sex talk in church.)
At least be consistent…humbly address all forms of sex outside of marriage.
The dialogue is possible. (Andy Stanley offers a great rationale for sex staying inside marriage here.)

We have that dialogue all the time at our church.
And people are grateful for it.

We also talk about our greed, our gluttony, our jealousy and our hypocrisy as Christians. It’s amazing. Jesus brings healing to all these areas of life, including our sex lives.

4. The early church never looked to the government for guidance
Having a government that doesn’t embrace the church’s values line for line actually puts Christians in some great company—the company of the earliest followers of Jesus.
Jesus spent about zero time asking the government to change during his ministry. In fact, people asked him to become the government, and he replied that his Kingdom is not of this world.
The Apostle Paul appeared before government officials regularly. Not once did he ask them to change the laws of the land.
Paul constantly suffered at the hands of the authorities, ultimately dying under their power, but like Jesus, didn’t look to them for change.
Rather than asking the government to release him from prison, he wrote letters from prison talking about the love of Jesus Christ.
Instead of looking to the government for help, Paul and Jesus looked to God.
None of us in the West are suffering nearly as radically as Jesus and Paul suffered at the hands of a government. In fact, in Canada and the US, our government protects our freedom to assemble and even disagree with others. Plus, it gives us tax breaks for donations.
We honestly don’t have it that hard.
Maybe the future North American church will be more like the early church, rising early, before dawn, to pray, to encourage, to break bread.
Maybe we will pool our possessions and see the image of God in women. And love our wives radically and deeply with a protective love that will shock the culture. Maybe we will treat others with self-giving love, and even offer our lives in place of theirs.
Maybe we’ll be willing to lose our jobs, our homes, our families and even our lives because we follow Jesus.
That might just touch off a revolution like it did two millennia ago.
Perhaps the government might even take notice, amazed by the love that radical Jesus followers display.

5. Our judgment of LGBT people is destroying any potential relationship
Even the first 72 hour of social media reaction has driven a deeper wedge between Christian leaders and the LGBT community Jesus loves (yes, Jesus died for the world because he loves it).
Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy.
People don’t line up to be judged.

If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.
Judging outsiders is un-Christian. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church.

Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us were saved by the good we did but by grace.
Take a deep breath. You were saved by grace. Your sins are simply different than many others. And honestly, in many respects, they are the same.
People don’t line up to be judged. But they might line up to be loved.
So love people. Especially the people with whom you disagree.

Those are a few of the things I’ve learned and I’m struggling with.
The dialogue is not easy when culture is changing and people who sincerely love Jesus sincerely disagree.
I think there’s more hope than there is despair for the future. The radical ethic of grace and truth found in Jesus is more desperately needed in our world today than ever before.
Is the path crystal clear? No.
But rather than being a set back, perhaps this can move the church yet another step closer to realizing its true mission.
I was tempted to close comments off on this post, but I will leave them open just to see if we can continue the discussion constructively and humbly.
Rants and abusive viewpoints (on either side) will be deleted.
Show grace.
Respect those with whom you disagree.
If you want to leave a comment that helps, please do so.
But please spend at least as much time praying for the situation and for people you know who have been hurt by this dialogue as you do commenting on this post, on others like it or on your social media channels.
Maybe spend more time praying, actually.

That’s what we all really need. And that’s what will move the mission of the church forward.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good article!....following Jesus has always been a call to live was in his day and so it is in our day and will be for the future as well...mercy triumphs over judgement and belief/action in this truth will bring credibility to God's message of grace to an unbelieving generation..let us move forward with confidence that in the end God wins and the devil loses...His love will prevail!