Communities marked by generous space keep enlarging their capacity for diversity. How can such a generous community remain pure in its commitment to God? In finding its center in Christ, generous space communities rest in finding our life, our identity, and our reconciliation with God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5: 21
Standing on this secure foundation, our communal life is less about sin management and more about unveiling our true identity in union with Christ.
The Sufficiency of the Cross:
For those who believe that covenanted same-sex relationships are sinful and believe that they cannot be in fellowship with those who interpret the scriptures differently on this question, the typical reason I hear for resistance to generous space is the understanding that such sin has eternal consequences. When I hear this, I see it as an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel. Particular sinful behaviours do not determine our eternal destiny. Our eternal reconciliation with God has ALREADY been secured through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the cross, all sin – past, present, and future in our understanding of time – has been accounted for and forgiven. God does not need our confession to forgive us. We need confession to reconnect us to the reality of God’s forgiveness. The tragedy of sin is that it prevents us from living in the reality that is already true – we are joined with Christ, adopted heirs, made right with the Father, and called to participate in God’s kingdom right now as we join the work of setting things right. The tragedy of sin is that it can so blind us that we never acknowledge our need of a Saviour.
LGBTQ+ Christians who know and love Jesus Christ, who eagerly receive the free gift of atonement through the cross and resurrection, cannot be separated from the love of God that is theirs in Christ Jesus. If after prayerfully agonizing over the scriptures, being still and submitted before the Spirit of God, they discern that the interpretive perspective that would make room for God’s grace in their covenant of marriage with their same-sex partner is true and they go ahead with their marriage, they can live their lives at rest in the victory accomplished at the cross. If, they are actually in error because marrying their same-sex partner and consummating their relationship sexually is sinful, that sin has been dealt with at the cross. The power of sin, evil, and death has been broken. Their prayerful decision was not willful rebellion, it was not merely twisting Scripture to make it say what they wanted it to say. It was the reality of two same-sex orientated Christians seeking to work out their salvation with fear and trembling as they trusted that God would work within them to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil. 2:12-13) I even know of one same-sex couple who literally prayed the night before their wedding for God to kill them in their sleep if they had discerned wrongly – so committed were they to following God’s will and not wanting to sin against God. They determined that if they woke the next morning, they would make their covenant before God.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Rom. 6:1) By no means! answers Paul. When we receive the outrageous news of grace, we die to sin. When we truly believe and live like people of the resurrection, those joined with Christ, those confident in being reconciled to God and knowing that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God – we don’t run to sin – we rest in Christ. Jesus said, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13) and again, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (Matt. 12:17)
The LGBTQ+ Christians that I know who have entered the covenant of marriage with their same-sex partner have thrown themselves on the mercy of God as an act of faith in a good God. Even if, despite their good faith efforts to discern rightly and their conscience open to the Spirit’s guiding, they are in error, their lives are hid with Christ in God. This may not match your theology, and I won’t focus on trying to convince you otherwise. I will simply ask you to humble yourself enough to acknowledge that married LGBTQ+ Christians who put their faith in Christ are the same as any other Christian who makes discerning decisions on their best understanding of the most faithful interpretation and at the end of the day trust in Christ’s righteousness to be sufficient for them. To refuse such acknowledgement is to refuse the sufficiency of the grace given to us through the risen Christ. And to refuse fellowship, to actively work to disqualify those whose convictions differ, appears to replace the secure foundation of the accomplished work of Christ with reliance on human interpretation.