“I was asked to make a 5 minute video for an Evangelical on-line church leadership conference called The Nines http://thenines.tv/speakers/. The conference is centered on “culture clash” – including what is called “the issue of homosexuality”. I conceded my time to a bunch of queer folks at church. Here is the result.” Thus begins an introduction to a link to video, posted on Facebook by one of my friends, who I thanked.
I made the observation that the posting was controversial yet pertinent, and referred to my “The Gay Conundrum” book. Another commenter made the point, which was also part of the reason for making the video in the first place, and reinforced by some speaking in the video, that she was neither an issue nor a conundrum, which I agreed. My response was: “Gay folk are no more an “issue” or “conundrum” than straight folk. The video clearly and movingly demonstrates gay folk having real faith. Besides the conflicts Christians holding traditional beliefs on sexuality and relationships, especially those of us that wish to engage in the public square and work with disparate partners to serve the poor in the wider community, may experience when we come in contact with a society that these days increasingly believe “gay is ok” and come across rulers and rulings that increasingly penalize those who don’t, perhaps the conundrum is as much for those folk who believe same sex “relationships” not to be God’s will, yet need to be challenged to work out how best to engage with and welcome such folk!? I used the word “controversial” deliberately but we should take some comfort and see some common ground given what our current Pope has said: “Gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized … If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?””
While I understand why Rev. Nadia Bolz Weber was taking a stand against the perception that LGBT people are an “issue” for Christianity, by posting the video, I refuse to be brow beaten to declare there aren’t issues or issues have been resolved. While not a criticism of Rev. Nadia, whose intentions I have no doubt are worthy, I sense those who believe there to be an issue, and say so, are often marginalized and subject to attack. While Pope Francis conciliatory remarks regarding gay people might be taken as ushering in a new era in the Catholic church, the church is far from agreed on how they deal with practicing homosexuals and do not seem to have markedly changed their views on homosexuality, as recent reports would confirm. When a Hillsong pastor was recently questioned whether he supports gay marriage, having previously made the point the church needs to be more relevant to contemporary culture, one is reminded the spotlight still rests on those conservative Christian leaders when it comes to such questions. That some of the LGBT community in Brighton staged a “kiss in” in a Sainsbury’s store after two girls were earlier censored for kissing each other in that same store, demonstrates their thinking that same-sex equality has not fully arrived. Much to the dismay of parents and teachers, children at a Jewish school were asked intrusive questions by Ofsted inspectors about, among other things, their views on same sex marriage. The regular reports from organisations like Christian Institute and Christian Concern still show pressure and worse put on Christians in the workplace that publicly affirm and act in accordance with traditional church teaching on and Bible understanding of sexuality. How does the Anglican communion continue to be a communion when some of its members believe other members have denied clear scriptural teaching on sexuality and have thus been committing apostasy?
My Christian leader friend did not answer the question posed by my then 15 year old son: after he told him his church unequivocally welcomes gay people. When then asked whether the people they welcomed would be allowed to take a full part in church activities, including that of leadership and, whether they would be affirmed in their “gay” relationships, given the church believes such relationships to be sinful, there was a stunned silence – which brings us back to the point the video makers wanted to make!
Whether we like it or not, these are still unresolved issues!