Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why fight the Church on homosexuality?

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia. It might be a good day to reflect on how much simpler my life could be if I would only stay quiet about the 'issue' of homosexuality and the church. Yet, I don't think silence is the vocation that I've been called into.

I'm sure people wonder why a heterosexual man would spend the time and energy that I have done campaigning for greater understanding and acceptance of gay and lesbian people within the church and more specifically within The Salvation Army. The answer is pretty simple really - I keep witnessing people being hurt by ignorance and prejudice and I refuse to allow this situation to continue unchallenged.

I've lost count of the number of people that have told me how they used to be a part of the church but when they awakened to a differing sexuality, they were excluded - some quickly and cruelly and others slowly frozen out. My heart breaks when I hear of the violence inflicted on gay and lesbian people because they are different. I wonder why followers of Jesus, instead of welcoming these marginalised folk, seem to be the chief proponents of highlighting their difference, legitimising prejudice and 'othering'. I am deeply saddened when I hear of occurrences of self-hatred, self-harm and suicide amongst LGBT people, many of whose misconceptions of their own self-worth have been driven home by 'well-meaning' Christians.

So, while LGBT people continue to be the victims of intimidation, bullying and violence, I'll fight.
While Christians hide their prejudice behind a handful of out-of-context scriptures, I'll fight.
While the church remains closed to my gay and lesbian friends, I'll fight.
While love comes second to man-made rules, I'll fight to the very end.

11 comments:

Jack said...

You mention "a handful of out of context scriptures", but I'm wondering about the need to try and get around what the bible does say in condemnation of homosexual practice. I know the usual method is to suggest that the biblical references are for practices that are quite different to longterm homosexual relationships, however it seems that it is a bit of a stretch to come to those conclusions. What about an alternative to this - how about we just say that the bible is wrong on this matter and that in our more enlightened age we can recognise that homosexual activity between consenting adults is OK? The bible seems to fairly clearly condone slavery, but we now recognise this to be wrong. It also treats women as second class citizens, but our society now at least endeavours to treat them as equal to men. There's lots of things wrong in the bible, so why can't we just say it on the issue of homosexuality?

Johnny said...

Interesting and powerful piece, Jason.

You might find this interesting too.

Grace & peace

J

JDK said...

Thanks for your comments. Jack, I agree with your thoughts. In fact, the most obvious example in The Salvation Army is our longstanding attitude to women in ministry, which successfully just ignores the handful of scriptures to the contrary. However, more broadly I want to provide paths that meet people where they're at, so for some the need to look deeper into scriptural context will be the best way forward.

Regards, JDK

Johnny said...

Ah - I don't think I added the link I meant to:

http://www.johnnylaird.net/2011/03/looking-outside-of-yourself-jay-bakker-the-salvation-army/

Hope it's helpful

J

JDK said...

Thanks Johnny, I managed to find it without the link but this may help others. Blessings, JDK

Jack said...

Could the discussion regarding scripture at least be confined to new testament writings? I'm always amused by old testament quotes being used to condemn homosexuality, often done by a short-haired, mixed-fabric wearing, Jesus tattooed, crab leg loving fundamentalist.

Adam Couchman said...

Amen to this post. I'm one who has decided to withdraw for discussing this issue until such time as LGBT people are welcomed at the table of fellowship. Discussing this without them present at the table is like talking about Indigenous issues without any Indigenous people present in the conversation. It's the height of arrogance, even if it is well intentioned. The first priority is to love LGBT people for who they are, as they are; people created in the image of God. If we get that right, then, and only then, can we begin discussing this issue with them.

JDK said...

Agreed Adam, though there's much work to be done in getting LGBT people to the table. My experience is that those seats are heavily guarded.

middleberry said...

thanks for this

The Horse said...

I know of plenty of people who have come out later in life, the misconceptions and blatant hatred of gay people inside the church mean that quite often they internalize their feelings and take on low self esteem and self worth. Even once out they see themselves as less than a normal person.

This force to marginalize those who are gay, either directly or indirectly to me does not follow the tenants of peace and love to all man. To me its more like peace and love to those who I choose. This unfortunately is the case in most religious organizations. I find it hard to stomach having been on the end of it myself.

JDK said...

Thanks for your comment 'Horse'. A senior figure in The Salvation Army recently told me that one day the church will be held accountable for it's relationship with the gay community. Let's hope we can fix it before that day comes.