Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Who Get's the "Okay, You're In"?

My public ministry partner and I met with a guy this afternoon to discuss our plans to host a dinner for pastors of the city and their spouses. The guy jokingly made a comment regarding the gay churches. One of the things he said was that he can't get around the idea that these "gay Christians" continually choose to live a life of intentional sin.

That statement reveals alot about his attitude and perspective.

If we unpack that statement, his underlying assumption is that it's a sin. While he may use biblical reference to justify that it indeed is a sin, gay Christians can also use biblical reference to justify the context of their loving relationships. If both can use biblical reference, it appears that the conflict is in both sides' interpretation of their biblical references regarding the sinfulness of gay relationships. His statement also doesn't make the distinction between celibate gay Christians and Christ-centered gay couples.

I notice that he focuses on the part of the gay Christians' lifestyles that he considers to be sin. This presumes that this disqualifies them from being Christians. Does sin disqualify individuals from being Christian? What qualifies people to be considered Christian? Is it the work of Christ or the work of our own righteousness? Are we considered Christian if we commit intentional sin?

Are prideful Christians not really Christians? Are alcoholic Christians not really Christians? What about Christians who smoke? Do drugs? Work excessively? Eat excessively? Use profanity excessively? Indulge in sexual addiction such as pornography? What about Christians who dishonor their parents? Get divorced? Committed adultery? Refuse to tithe? How about Christians who are poor stewards of their finances? What about Christians who occassionally lust over someone they see on the street or on television or on the movie screen? How about Christians who steal things from work? Run a red traffic light? Lie to their employer?

Do any of these things disqualify a Christian from being a Christian? Is a gay Christian more gay or more Christian? What if he/she is a Christ-centered gay person? Even if one holds the interpretation that participating in a committed and monogamous gay relationship is a sin, does it overshadow the fact that the same individual has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

What's more important, that a person is a sinner or that a person has been redeemed? Couldn't we focus more on the fact that we are brothers and sisters because of Christ rather than thinking that we are enemies because of our sin? Why is it that some Christians within the Church feel like they can disqualify certain people from receiving the grace and mercy of God? Why is that some feel like they are Heaven's gatekeepers? Who really get's to determine which individual is "in" and which individual is "out" and on what grounds?

1 comment:

JJ said...

Yeah, that is a really frustrating thing. The last meeting I had with one of the pastors at my church before she retired, I asked her if she would think I was still a Christian if I was in a relationship with a woman... and she danced around it for a bit, but her answer was 'no'. She went on to explain that her answer would be 'no' to a lot of people though, not just gay people (well, gay people who are in relationships specifically) who engage in what I guess she would call 'willful sin'. It's hard, because there are people who don't see it as sin, and I don't want to sound like a complete relativist, but... well, if you don't think it's wrong, then is it still wrong?

There are some things that are certainly black and white -- murder, adultery, etc... but there are all kinds of grey areas. If I'm a little girl and my mom says I am not allowed to have any cookies before dinner, and my best friend's mom has made no such rule; and we both eat a cookie before dinner -- well then, it's only wrong for me. That's sort of how I see this. If you are convinced that it's wrong to be in a gay relationship, then you shouldn't be in one. But if you are convinced that God blesses them, then I believe it's probably okay.

But of course, that's just me. I am not exactly heaven's gatekeeper either. :)