I see by the March 22 edition of The Christian Century that the Presbyterians are now coming to terms with the gay issue, and with the usual results. One group of leaders who cannot reconcile themselves with the acceptance of gays (by whatever acronym) as full members of the body of Christ with all the rights and privileges thereof, have formed a Fellowship to chart another course. The same pattern has emerged among Lutherans, Methodists and Episcopalians.
It doesn’t take long for the so called conservatives to recognize that defining their faith by what they think of homosexuality is not very rational, and it gives the appearance of displacing Christ from the center of the Christian faith. That cannot be tolerated. So the next step is to claim the mantle of orthodoxy by asserting that those who favor full inclusion of gays have also abandoned the authority of Holy Scripture and are suspect of not believing in the virgin birth or bodily resurrection. It’s a much more comfortable position, and it sets up the possibility of a school yard argument consisting of “Am Not” and “Am Too” ad nauseam until the teacher puts an end to it.
The key for those of us who believe that we are following where God is leading, with full honor given to the authority of Holy Scripture, as we humbly repent of the sins visited on our gay brothers and sisters while opening long shut doors, is to ignore the invitation to a school yard argument by continuing to proclaim the gospel with Christ at its very center.
It’s a lesson I learned many years ago while serving as a seminarian in a largely gay parish in New York. No one was shy about acknowledging the sexual diversity of the congregation, but it was never the center of conversation or worship. Christ was always at the center. God was always the object and subject of worship. The greater question was always who and how are we called to be as Christians at this time and in this place?
My advice, unasked for and no doubt unwelcome, to my Presbyterian friends is the same that I would offer to any denomination. Let the Fellowship go their own way without hinderance. Let them go with prayers of blessing for God’s grace to lead and guide them. They have some serious demons to deal with. We have our own demons to wrestle with, and it makes no sense getting involved with theirs. In the meantime, we also have get one with the important work of proclaiming the gospel by word and deed.