Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Love 'em all, and let God sort 'em out!

I believe marriage between two consenting adults should be a civil right. Gay couples who have committed to spending their lives together, who share their finances and living space, pain and joy, should be entitled to the same benefits and responsibilities as any heterosexual couple. It is not proper for a group of Christians to impose their religious convictions on a secular society. This has nothing to do with whether or not I believe being gay is a sin (a pointed question Rob Bell appears desperate to dodge), and everything to do with the separation of state and kingdom. Creating laws based on "majority Christian" values and imposing those laws on a diverse group of believers, non-believers and other-believers, is a recipe for resentment and division. Enforcing rules will not usher in God's kingdom. We do more harm than good when we treat gay people as less than. We need to love people into the kingdom, not convict them of their sins -that's God's department.

But is being gay a sin? I really wish Jesus had met a homosexual at the well, or given us a parable about this issue, but he didn't, so we are left to consider how Jesus treated other marginalized people. Who were the marginalized people in Jesus' day? Who were looked down upon, considered less than, or morally suspect? The poor, the disabled, women, children, Samaritans, adulterers, tax collectors, criminals... and in every one of these cases Jesus elevated their status. He built them up rather than tearing them down. He was radically inclusive and had harsh words for anyone who sought to dismiss, exclude or destroy God's people -even those who didn't consider themselves one of God's chosen, even those who were considered the worst sinners of his time! Jesus never once addressed the issue of homosexuality, and as such, I am inclined to believe it wasn't a pressing issue for him.

Having said that, I do not believe all sexual orientations/expressions are spiritually healthy. Gay people, like straight people, may be personally convicted about their sexual practices and God will let each and every one of us know what is right if we choose to ask and listen. In the early church eating meat sacrificed to idols was considered an abomination by some, but for others their conscience did not convict them that it was wrong. Even though we clearly read in Acts and in Revelation that it is wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols, Paul states in Ephesians that those who feel convicted to abstain from meat should not condemn those who are not convicted, who do not struggle with the issue. This may seem like a stretch for some people, but this was a big deal for the early church, and it received much more attention than homosexuality. Culturally, the early church had little to no context for two consenting adults engaging in a committed, exclusive relationship, and following Jesus.

I will admit, I could be wrong about this whole thing, but I don't think I am. Nonetheless, let me be judged as loving too much, including too many people in God's kingdom, than for dismissing, excluding or shaming. Love 'em all, and let God sort 'em out!