Today’s post, after a long period of silence on this blog due to an inordinate amount of doctoral work, is in solidarity with Justin Lee over at Crumbs at the Communion Table, his synchroblog, and in celebration of the launch of his new book, “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs.Christians Debate”.
Justin has asked us to share some thoughts about how to positively address the ongoing polarization caused by this issue. Let me begin by saying that I think it will be the lives of gay Christians that make the most significant difference when we look at this matter with history on our side. Gay Christians ARE the bridge. It is as people build relationship, share their spiritual journey as mutual pilgrims, and celebrate the gifts, passions and Kingdom contributions of each other that this disconnect within the Christian community will dissipate.
But even more specifically, I think there is one significant point that the church needs to grapple with and own if there is hope to move forward in a peaceable way, in a way that is able to experience unity in our diversity. It is a simple concept really – but one that people seem to have such great trouble accepting…..
“People who love Jesus and care about the Scriptures come to different positions on controversial matters.” And because of this reality, this fact, we need to be reminded that at the end of the day it is only God himself who perfectly can judge which position most closely represents his heart, his intention, and his will. That means that all the human participants in the conversation need to embody a humility that acknowledges that their best reflections on the question of whether marriage is an appropriate expression of faithful discipleship for gay Christians are incomplete and imperfect. We are called to wrestle with Scripture, do our homework, study, read widely, pray deeply, contemplate, seek wisdom, exercise discernment, test our conclusions, consider context, access the resources of reason including those from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, history, anthropology, biology, and philosophy, and engage in diverse experiences in the lives of followers of Jesus who are gay. And once we have invested in such a process, we are still called to a place of humility that acknowledges that we are guaranteed to NOT have the perfect interpretation on this matter – because no human being has the perfect interpretation. That means, in a nutshell, that we can open ourselves to conversation with those who have also gone through this process, and who have arrived at a different conclusion than we have, and have the grace to listen well, anticipate God’s presence in the dialogue, and trust fully that the Holy Spirit can and will continue to lead, teach, guide and direct us towards a God-honoring response to the very real and personal dilemma that gay Christians face.
Because at the end of the day the majority of Christians do not face this as a personal dilemma. They are not trying to discern, because of their sexual orientation, whether they should prepare to live a single, celibate life, or whether they should open their lives to the possibility of making a covenant commitment to an intimate life companion through marriage. Most Christians think about gay marriage as a theoretical idea. It costs them very little. My challenge is that, at the very least, the price all Christians ought to pay is the willingness to humble themselves and simply acknowledge that they could be wrong – and that those who disagree with them may be just as vibrantly committed to Christ and just as robustly honouring of the Scriptures as they are.
I hope that many, many Christians will pick up Justin’s book and be part of a hope-filled, love-filled, and unity-focused response to the pluralistic reality in the Body of Christ on the question of gay marriage …. and that we will all grow up and learn in deeper and richer ways what humility-shaped justice really means.