It is time to be candid on the whole matter of homosexuality and Christian community.
Many individuals think they have the answers (as if those answers were readily accessible) to the many questions that homosexuality and Christian community ask of us today, but to be honest, no one person (or church, for that matter) unequivocally knows what the Holy Scriptures have to say on the matter. Much of what many well-intentioned theologians, historians, ministers, academics, and the laity have claimed Scripture says on the matter is pure speculation.
There is no definitive answer within Scripture that leads to a conclusive assessment that God condemns homosexuality – any other assessment than that lacks intellectual integrity and clearly stems not from biblical hermeneutics grounded in God’s grace and love for humanity, but rather only projects the ignorance and bigotry of those who advocate a stance that homosexuality is sin. It is bigoted precisely because there is no conclusive evidence – biblical or extra biblical – to defend the position that homosexuality, as understood today, is a sin. It is a prejudice for churches, theologians, ministers, so-called academics, and lay persons to hold that homosexuals cannot be “truly” Christian because of their sexual orientation.
As Christians we have a tremendously rich biblical tradition of a Christ who closed the gap between those the “religious” found acceptable and the outcasts in society. Scripture illustrates a Jesus who ministered to the outcasts of society; his birth to Mary is a wonderful sign of a God that is willing to use the outcasts of society, the lowly, the ostracized to be his divine vessels.
One can observe this same principle in the life of the Apostle Paul with his struggle with the issue of women in the church – a cultural matter that greatly affected the church. The life of Martin Luther and his struggles with anti-Semitism which was a product of his place in time also demonstrates this principle. For Adventists, Ellen White with her struggles to properly understand the guidelines and procedures of publishing and copyright laws with the high production demands of a fledgling denomination. How great, then, is it that we serve a God who doesn’t rely on the opinions of the so-called religious of society.
Understanding the ambiguity inherent with the issue of homosexuality and Christian community it can only boggle the mind when one attempts to understand why Christians seems so obsessed with homosexuality – one might rightly understand this as a projection of America’s puritan views on sexuality in general and not the exclusive views of the Christian church. This overemphasis of homosexuality is quite apparent in Christianity as a whole and even within our very own church – it can be observed more recently with the frenzy that the Federal Marriage Amendment that failed to pass both houses of Congress.
Unfortunately the lack of compassion on the part of the Adventist Church toward homosexuals can best be illustrated by the failing of the General Conference to formally recognize the Adventist GLBT outreach ministry, the Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International. Additionally, those individuals within the membership of our church, most infamously Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, who advocate the unequivocal position that homosexuality is a sin ought to be ashamed of what has been published under their name and fellow Adventists ought very rightly not respect those who articulate such a position of arrogance and project their own homophobia.
The inaction of the leadership of the General Conference to provide productive guidance and dialogue on the issue of homosexuality and Christian community is a sad truth that can only serve to embarrass. Our church’s history of exclusion with regards to our GLBT Adventists and the pain and suffering that our denomination’s ex-gay ministries has caused so many only further illustrates the need for productive guidance and thoughtful dialogue on the matter. Seeing the torment in the lives of so many GLBT Adventists and counting the deaths of those who opted to not only leave the church but end their lives because of the inaction of the church. Such a history can only serve to eternally shame those of us who ought have acted on behalf of our GLBT brothers and sisters and should have countered the besmirched image of God’s character that our church projected.
When you have known people who have been ostracized by the church because of their sexuality, when you have homosexuals who are family, when you have homosexual friends, professors, teachers, ministers, police officers, firemen, doctors, loved ones, etc. it is not so easy to pronounce the judgment of God on their eternity. In fact, it is a transparent position of arrogance to deprive God of his judgment and place ecclesiastical authority in the hands of prideful men.
It is far too often the case that fellow professed Christians are the people that make us most ashamed to be a member of the Christian church and such is also the case with our membership in the Adventist denomination; I am painfully reminded of what Christ must have felt when encountering the religious in his day - the pomposity, arrogance, abhorrence, trite quotation of Scripture to promote oppression and injustice. Understanding the God of those who advocate the sin of homosexuality, one would ponder how anyone could not agree with Christopher Hitchen’s title that, “God is Not Great.” Indeed such a God is most emphatically not great or even worthy of any worship, praise, or adoration.
Such a God as that ought be scorned, ridiculed, and placed in contempt for the unloving, void-of-grace, and hateful being that he would have to be to hold the position of the sin of homosexuality. This would be the God of those who advocate the sin of homosexuality instead of admitting the inherent ambiguity of the matter and trying to dialogue to come to a greater understanding.
I’m simply tired of the niceties. I’m through with permitting conservative Christians to be “the only Christians” who love God and follow after his will, but most of all I’m not going to allow my church to be destroyed by the ideological allegiances to bigoted, close-minded, conservatism. Many Adventists and Christians can tolerate when these fellow Christians question our Christian credentials because of our inclusion of homosexuals, but let us not be silent and placidly sit by and permit those same Christians to dare question the dignity of GLBT Christians in the eyes of God. Enough is enough, it must end here!
For too many of our brothers and sisters have come to this church for help, assistance, guidance, and love to only find excommunication, ignorance, closed doors, bigotry, platitudes such as “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and have been driven away by the very institution whose sole purpose is to exist to fill the very need that these people have – the void of love and acceptance in relation to their God-given dignity as homosexuals.
To quote a recent post on this site by ‘Gay Adventist,’ “It’s not just about Bible verses or scientific findings – it’s about people, lest we forget. And above any quote or scientific report I choose to value the lives and dignity of people – following the example of my Lord.”
Would that our church could adopt such a humble policy. Would that all of us – conservatives and liberals and moderates – concerned with the issue of homosexuality and Christian community within our church could follow the example of Jesus Christ.
Our Adventist Church must resolve the issues of gender inequality and sexuality discrimination within our church or this church shall find itself in the dustbin of history’s failed religious movements. Our church shall render itself irrelevant in the twenty-first century if it fails to acknowledge the basic human rights of people regardless of gender and sexuality. I prayerfully hope that our church can truly be the peculiar people that we so vehemently claim to be and be a church of grace-oriented inclusion, of godly love, of compassion and sensitivity, of tolerance for diversity, of the Gospel message, of a Christ risen for all of humanity.
This is truthfully our divine test. What shall history and God judge of our actions (or inaction) from the publication of “Christianity and Homosexuality . . . Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives” forth? May we allow God to guide us as we enter this our most sacred hour.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/215