Acts 10, LBGT Inclusion and The Church
I noticed one of my Facebook friends posted “Please pray for the up-coming International Symposium on Human Sexuality”, to which he added the request “Acts 10 please Lord”.
It is not my place to say who my friend, a well-respected church leader, is (we have in the past had exchanges on LBGT inclusion) nor to say which church he is involved with (noting it is a subject that has arisen in many churches; my observation is most churches have leant toward popular culture more than traditional orthodoxy).
I can say though that my church belongs to the Strict (renamed Grace) Baptist tradition and, while I do not agree with everything (if I did, I would be churchless), doctrinally we are almost on the same page. I suspect most members take a conservative, traditionalist view on LBGT matters and for that reason have not had to come to terms with some of the pastoral implications (I suspect, unlike my friend). Yet, who knows how many in our sphere of influence have issues and concerns on the subject of human sexuality that are not dealt with for reasons like not wanting to tackle controversial subjects or sticking to the need to promote only sound doctrine.
A long while ago, I wrote “The Gay Conundrum – A Personal Christian Response”. While eight years old and a lot of water has flowed under the proverbial bridge, the fourth edition (32 pages) can be freely downloaded from my website and I still stand by what I wrote them. I often point out to folk, while the Bible says little about sexual orientation (LBG) and sexual identity (T), what it does say is clear and, while we must be careful not to cherry pick, the teachings of Genesis (later to be affirmed by Jesus) are pretty clear on the subject. As with any subject, it is what God thinks that truly matters.
Back to my friend’s post, to which there has been 200 replies (as I write this) including an interesting exchange between him and someone with a different take on the subject concerning the relationship between Acts 10 and Acts 15. I suggest before reading on and if not having done so already, in order to ascertain relevance, check out what the Bible says (here and here) (I give links to what Biblegateway.com says in KJV mode, but you can pick your version for the essential teaching covered is the same regardless).
It is worth noting the early church up to Acts 10 was (as far as we can make out) composed entirely of Jewish believers. But then we read of Cornelius: “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always” (10:1,2). Peter, who was reluctant when it came to interacting with Gentiles, and Cornelius had divine encounters, meaning the two men met, Peter sharing the Gospel, Cornelius believing and being baptised (in the Holy Spirit and water) and being accepted into the church. Acts 15 and the Council of Jerusalem ratified the decision that Jews and Gentiles could co-exist as equals in the church and Gentiles did not have to become Jews (circumcision and keeping the law) to be part of The Church, providing they followed Christ, with the requirement laid on them to “abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication” (15:29). (While off-topic, today’s Church is without doubt overwhelmingly Gentile, but the Church has not ever replaced Israel!)
But back to LBGT inclusion and the Church – I have no doubt there are LBGT folk who like Cornelius follow Jesus (some I value as friends). As I am not a “leader” these days, I am not directly involved in the decision making on matters of church order and discipline etc., for example how we deal with LBGT folk who choose to remain so. We live in crazy days, it is true, and many real Christians believe things I consider to be erroneous. As for me, I can only go by what the Bible teaches and allow God to do the rest. I readily associate with Christians of all shades. I try to apply principles such as grace and truth. I wish the afore-mentioned Symposium well. While maybe agreeing to disagree, I hope delegates will listen to God rather than bow to a culture that is becoming increasingly godless.