Monday, June 29, 2015

The Church and the LGBTQ Community

I've been thinking about the controversy around same sex marriage approval in the USA. I'm a bit puzzled about why my Canadian friends are so upset. In some cases, same sex marriage has been legal in Canada for 8 or 9 years so it's not like this is some sudden infringement on our rights, freedoms and privileges.
When I think about Jesus and who he engaged with and how He did it, I think I see a path that we need to follow as the church in responding to the LGBTQ community. The most common accusation against Jesus was about who He spent his time with. If you are even a casual student of the scriptures, you'll know that Jesus spent considerable time with 'sinners, drunkards, tax collectors and prostitutes.' The Pharisees (the religious right of the day) hated him for it.
Some of the conversations that Jesus had with these people were recorded. Like the time, he encountered the woman caught in adultery. His response to her, after quietly rescuing her from certain death at the hands of the 'righteous' was 'go and sin no more'. His encounter with the woman at the well (multiple divorces, and at least one common law relationship) was to offer her Living Water after which he told her all about her life and ministered to her deepest needs. He met her where she was, offered her truth that set her free and gave her hope for a better day. I could go on, but the pattern is always the same.
Here's the difficulty with what I hear/see many of my friends posting and reposting. There is no hope, no mercy, no grace, and no love on this issue. There is only fear, outrage, anger and judgement.
To say that God is going to bring His judgement on American/Canada because of this particular issue reflects how messed up we really are. God doesn't need this to judge our nations. He can judge us for anything from the way we have treated First Nations peoples to the way we treated Jews and Sikhs who were seeking to flee persecution in their homeland to the way we treated the Chinese or the Japanese or the way we treated children in Residential Schools. The list is long and we are guilty on all counts.
We need to stop looking to politicians and judges to either save us from or solve our many difficulties and challenges. It might be better for us to weep for our nation and the mess that it is in, not because our law permits same sex marriage but because we, the church have been lax in fulfilling our mission and mandate to serve, love, go and give.
Perhaps once we own our sin and become 2 Chr 7:14 people, our nation will find healing, wholeness and the blessing of God.


Ed Hird+ said...

Yes, Tim, We have much to repent for. Yes, we need to be more hospitable and welcoming to all, including those who self-identify with the LBGTQIQ community. I would be hesitant though to appear dismissive of the grief that many of our American brothers and sisters in the dismantling of the biblical view of marriage by SCOTUS. Yes, it happened to us already, but Canada is small potatoes in its global impact. Whatever becomes entrenched in American culture becomes exported as the new required truth through Hollywood and Wall Street to every other country in the world. My prayer is that as out of the collapse of the 'make love, not war' hippie movement which birthed a Jesus movement reaching three million young people, so too may a new Jesus movement be birthed out of the disappointment and brokenness resulting from this newest sexual revolution.

Tim Schindel said...

I'm not dismissive of their grief Ed. I'm challenging the tone and general theme of judgement, anger and outrage. America leads the world in the production of pornography and has been an exporter of debauchery for decades. If it took this for the American church to grieve, they are just a bit slow on the uptake as to what grieves the heart of God. It might be that the grief is as political as it spiritual but that's a conversation for another day.

While we are the church, we are not the dominant culture. We live in a democracy and as such, everyone is entitled to equal rights and privileges, even if they are contrary to our particular values. The ONLY way to change that is to engage the culture as Jesus did and bring HIS grace, love, mercy and hope to a world that desperately needs it. We have overplayed our hand for too long. We have assumed privilege, position and respect and while we have been assuming, we have been losing it at every turn. It is time to humble ourselves, stop making excuses for our brothers and challenge them to follow us in engaging a needy world with the true heart of Christ.