Interesting, I read the latest email leadership newsletter from Christianity Today this afternoon … and there was an article from Brian McLaren talking about why we (pastors) shouldn’t answer the “homosexual question” directly.
Usually when I’m asked about this subject, it’s by conservative Christians wanting to be sure that we conform to what I call “radio-orthodoxy,” i.e. the religio-political priorities mandated by many big-name religious broadcasters. Sometimes it’s asked by ex-gays who want to be sure they’ll be supported in their ongoing re-orientation process, or parents whose children have recently “come out.”
The question itself is complex. Either it’s a political questions seeking to separate “us” from “them,” or it’s a deeply personal issue that needs to be addressed through a deeper pastoral relationship, not a quick answer. And we are trying to reach real people with Christ, not making a political statement.
Most of the emerging leaders I know share my agony over this question. We fear that the whole issue has been manipulated far more than we realize by political parties seeking to shave percentage points off their opponent’s constituency. We see whatever we say get sucked into a vortex of politicized culture-wars rhetoricâ€”and we’re pastors, evangelists, church-planters, and disciple-makers, not political culture warriors. Those who bring us honest questions are people we are trying to care for in Christ’s name, not cultural enemies we’re trying to vanquish.
The truth is the issue of homosexuality is much more complex that most of those on two “sides” will ever admit. Read the recent comments on the Harbour Blog and we see that illustrated time and time again … it’s just wrong, no question. Well, most of us realize that to take an absolute stand for or against homosexuality only divides us from the people we are called to serve. And even more than that … Brian admits that for many emerging church leaders … they just don’t know.
Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides, but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.
He suggests we put a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. I don’t know how sucessful that would be … the Presbyterians have been trying that … and after two moratoriums, we are still in the same bloody fight. What’s wrong with just putting aside the question for now … and focusing on building our relationship with Christ and in community with all those who want the same relationship. I believe that over time, Christ will lead us all to the answer that is best.
That is why Eklektos is not making pronouncements saying homosexualty is good or bad any more than we say sexuality is good or bad. We realize that there are layers of complexity which go beyond our understanding, there are Biblical and pastoral issues that are beyond giving the “right” answer, and too many of us just don’t know for sure.