Ministering to Those in Same-Sex Relationships

Several blogs ago I made passing reference to LGBT issues. That brought comments. I challenged myself to work out my own position, outlined in this blog.

Like it or not the current law of this country is that you can’t discriminate on the bases of sex. The LGBT movement happened rapidly, basically in the last twenty years. We all have to deal with this new legal fact.

What do we do with Paul’s statements?

The Old Testament statements are not relevant to New Testament understandings. The OT had civic Law, ceremonial law and moral law. The moral law is relevant only to the extent it is affirmed in the New
Testament. Paul’s statements are: Romans 1: 26, Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. 1 Corinthians 6: 9, Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders …will inherit the kingdom of God. I Timothy 1: 9, The law is made for lawbreakers . . . for adulterers and perverts.

I can’t just write off Paul as being wrong or old-fashioned. Until the last half-century, the Christian church recognized Paul’s writings, and the whole Bible, as the inspired truth of God. I still do.

Until the past half-century Christian theologians accepted and regarded these statements as definitive. After the Episcopalians placed a professed homosexual as bishop, they have been ostracized by the worldwide Anglican communion. When the ELCA did the same thing, they lost hundreds of congregations and congregations lost thousands of members. I talked with one bishop who called that decision a catastrophe. At their conference in 2019, American Methodists were shocked that delegates from world-wide Methodism rejected acceptance of homosexuals, and Methodists split as a result. The ELCA split and those who rejected their position formed the North American Lutheran church. Those who split from the Episcopalian church formed the Anglican Church of North America. The crusading Americans have persuaded nobody but themselves that their progressive position is right. It is never good to run red lights. This a huge one.

Christians are supposed to forgive all sinners. The catch is that we do that only upon repentance. The problem with those in committed same-sex relations is that they do not repent.

Yet mission-minded congregations want to reach out to all people, and that is the right instinct. Seventy years ago divorce was not accepted. I remember how my father’s congregation excommunicated a woman when she divorced, and it caused quite a sensation. Yet today any church that cannot deal with divorced people would have only a small audience. If you cannot deal with divorced people, you are practically out of business in America today.

Can the problem of ministering to those in same-sex relationships be worked out like the problem of those divorced? I doubt it. When half the marriages today end in divorce, practically all people in this country accept divorce as an everyday fact of life. The fundamental issue with same-sex relations is that about 90% of Christians regard that as wrong. Hence the results I listed above.

The classic position of conservative evangelical churches is to minister to someone who prefers same-sex relationships only by expecting them to change and then supporting them in their efforts to reject their former life-style. In some cases that works. In most, it doesn’t.

I think Christian churches can faithfully minister to those in same-sex relationships under a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. If those in such a relationship don’t make an issue of it, ministry goes on as usual. It is only when someone forces this issue that congregations have a problem to deal with. Then there are limited options.

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