I remember in my early days with New Direction how easy it was for me to feel threatened and defensive when I encountered people who appeared to have moved from a traditional understanding of Scripture’s boundaries for same-gender sexual behaviour towards a more inclusive and affirming stance. I remember feeling quite justified in my judgments of them – because afterall, I felt they had distorted the truth. I lamented people’s lack of certainty, attributing it to being either deceived by the enemy or selfish and fleshly. At times, I concluded that the emotion I was experiencing in these situations was righteous anger.
I felt that I needed to be very guarded, that I needed to be very careful to not be tricked or fooled into deceptive thinking.
And if this was true for me, someone who was not personally wrestling with the experience of same-gender attraction and seeking to be obedient and faithful in holding to Scripture’s teaching, I can only imagine how intense these feelings can be for someone who experiences unwanted same-gender attraction.
And if I, straight & married, could feel so betrayed when a public person moved from a place of certainty in a traditional position to a place that seemed questionable …. How much more might a same-gender attracted person feel betrayed?
With the movement towards seeking to embody a generous spaciousness, a place where any and all can come to engage on matters of spirituality and faith, we are aware of the potential of triggering feelings of betrayal. It is a weight and burden of responsibility that we feel.
For those who are side B and walking a personal journey of commitment, obedience and faithfulness to not engage in gay relationships or same-gender sexual behaviour, we would want to encourage you in the Lord. Our prayer is that your convictions are motivated by a profound sense of how deeply God loves you. We pray that you have worked through any fear or shame or anger or denial that might masquerade as godly motivation. And we pray that you will know God’s provision and sufficiency and delight as you choose to own your convictions from a place of contentment and joy.
Our decision to be engaged relationally with diverse people across this spectrum of faith and sexuality, has come from a deep desire to embody the love and grace that we see in the person of Jesus Christ. We believe that God is at work in all sorts of surprising places and we want to have eyes to see what he is already doing. And we believe that the Holy Spirit really is more than able to be the energy and motivation behind any transformation or growth in any of us.
Regardless of where anyone lands on the continuum of belief and practice in relation to our sexual identity, we all need to be challenged to navigate conversations where faith and sexuality intersect with a growing maturity. This kind of maturity refrains from lashing out and accusing others as a cover for our own insecurities, hurts, emptiness or anxiety. This kind of maturity recalls that engaging with the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) is just as important as a commitment to sexual purity and integrity. And this kind of maturity chooses to move from a victim, self-focused perspective to look beyond oneself to the ways we can serve, bless and encourage others.
We long to embody this maturity and to see it develop in others – even as we groan with all of creation in the incomplete experience of this kind of wholeness this side of heaven. We all fall short. We all can play the victim from time to time. We all point the finger and blame others while hiding from our own fear and anxiety. We’re all selfish at times and have next to no desire to serve others. There are gaps between who we are and who we want to be.
But in the midst of this mess, let us find grace. Let’s be gracious with one another, giving one another the benefit of the doubt, expecting the best of each other….. for we are all on a journey.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.