As I talk across Canada, sharing my passion for bridging the gap between the church and the LGBT community I have been surprised at how positively I have been received. There is a sense that the Church is ready to begin to face this issue, and many of the evangelical Christians I know have a sense that what they church has been doing is not right, but they are not quite sure what they should be doing instead. As they grapple with the many questions that come up, one that seems to consistently be a challenge is how to relate to LGBT individuals who claim to be Christians. I have lost count of the times when Christians have told me stories about how they have non Christian friends who are gay who they relate to well, but when faced by a Christian who is gay the rules change, and they feel free to treat them rudely, or cut them entirely out of their lives.
The reason for this usually comes down to 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. The verses state:
“I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”
The logic here flows like this: “The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sexually immoral, therefore anyone who claims to be gay and acts on it should be put out of the church, and Christians should refuse to associate with them in any way.”
Many Christians that I have worked with over the years find themselves trapped between their internal sense that cutting their friends and family members out of their lives is not the right thing to do, and yet at the same time want to be obedient to Scripture. Others seem to use these verses as an excuse to not have to deal with the challenges of loving people they disagree with, or worse yet to treat LGBT people in disrespectful ways.
I know my Side A friends shake their heads and go “Obviously this verse doesn’t apply because there is nothing immoral about gay sexual relationships!” but for those who are Side B navigating friendships with those within the church this verse can be a major stumbling block.
Later this week I will post my thoughts on this verse, but i am interested to read how others have understood this verse. How do you understand this verse? Does it mean that Side B and Side A Christians can’t ever work together?