I consider three different cords in living out the gospel with our gay neighbours.
First there is mission: reaching our gay neighbours who do not experience relationship with Jesus Christ with the good news of His love.
Second is justice: speaking out on issues of unjust treatment and the ways we fail to honour the image of God in our gay neighbours AND living out justice by treating our gay neighbours with the respect and love that is consistent with the shalom of God.
Third is ministry: doing life with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are gay, sharing mutual encouragement and accountability to grow as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, and offering care and support in seasons of growth and healing.
When these three cords of mission, justice and ministry are intertwined, I believe our Christian response has the best chance of representing Christ in our world. If one cord or another is given undue emphasis the strength of the cord becomes compromised.
In simplistic terms, one could say that the typical evangelical response has been focused on ministry. And I would suggest that within that ministry response there has often been an undue focus on the pursuit of orientation change. One could also say that the typical liberal response has been focused on justice. Unfortunately, I have not seen a particularly robust investment in mission as I survey the Christian community’s general response to our gay neighbours.
As I look forward and prayerfully seek to chart a distinct course, I want that course to be marked by the kind of cord Ecclesiastes 4:12 describes, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Mission, justice and ministry.
Holding these three aspects of a Christian response in tension comes down to a bottom-line question for me: Will this encourage my gay neighbours to fully experience the love of Christ?