Casey, Bill and I spent time, a few weeks ago, in the Andersonville neighborhood talking with a guy named Andrew Marin. He is one of the most innovative Christians I know. Andrew is the author of the book Love Is An Orientation and the founder of the Marin Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to build bridges between the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender) community and conservative religious groups through biblical and social education, scientific research, and diverse community gatherings.
The whole point of the meeting was to explore how Parkview can be a church unlike most churches that are swinging and missing left and right on this issue. Some churches just change their theology to fit. Some handle a “coming out” in a healthy way, but don’t follow through in ways that are loving or Christlike. Some churches choose to simply ban it in their churches and fight against gay and lesbian people through politics or culture. Some just ignore it and try to run from it, which may be the worst approach of all.
Like most things, Parkview is trying to figure out how we act like Jesus and welcome everyone – just as they are – into this relationship with God. Here are some high points from our conversation with Andrew:
- We tend to say, as Romans 3:23 says, that we’re all “sinners” who have “fallen short of the glory of God.” We SAY that, but we still categorize some sins as worse than others. But James 2:10 says, “…whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” We have to realize that there isn’t a categorization of some sins (namely homosexuality) above others (anger, adultery, etc.)
- The Marin Foundation hosts “Living In Tension” gatherings, where people of homosexual orientation can come and talk about faith and spirituality in a safe, non-judgmental environment. These are important, because they allow people to say “I get it, your story has brought you to this point” and then also say “But where are we going from here?”
- There are three things we need to consider in the gay marriage debate:
- What does the Bible say?
- Do we believe that two American citizens who are gay have the same human rights as two American citizens who are straight?
- At the end of the day, even if letter (a) wins out, it is worth thinking through the conversation this way.
- Jesus worked within His cultural context – He healed a leper (Matthew 8:1-4) and then asked him not to tell anyone but to go and show himself to the priest and offer the sacrifices Moses offered. Jesus could have been counter cultural and say “To heck with those guys. I’m throwing them down.” Instead he worked with what he had to in order to do something amazing.
- In some situations, it’s better for a homosexual couple with a family to live in the same house, but pledge to stay celibate. It’s not the best situation, but for the sake of the family’s stability and the health of the kids sometimes it’s the only choice.
- If the church wants to tell homosexuals to stop practicing and be celibate, we have to be able to back that up with a community that will not let them wander and suffer with loneliness for the rest of their lives.
- We need to recognize how often our language exalts marriage and family when we are telling homosexuals they can’t have the life that we do.
We all should give these ideas some thought – even if we don’t agree with them, because if we are going to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” we need to be able to respond when our neighbor has a different sexual orientation than we do.
(Thanks to Casey for his notes - and thanks to Casey, Brian, and Tim for some excellent preaching in the last three weeks!)