Matthew Vines speaks on the theological debate regarding the Bible and the role of gay Christians in the church. Delivered at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas on March 8, 2012. Watch video.
Dr. Jack McKinney
John sits across from me in the big easy chair in my office. His arms are crossed tightly and his knees are pressed firmly together giving the impression he is trying to slip through a crack in the cushions. Next to us on the couch are John’s parents. If possible, they look even more uncomfortable than their son.
The reason for this tense gathering is that John wants to talk to his parents about his sexuality. He is a college student who started coming to see me for counseling several months earlier. John believes he is gay, has wondered about it for many years, and even tried to talk to his mother about the issue when he was in high school. His mother’s response then was direct: homosexuality is a sin and she could not tolerate the thought that her son was gay and going to hell. That one conversation convinced John he must not speak to his parents, or anyone else, about the confusion he feels regarding his sexuality.
John grew up in the church and considers himself a devout Christian. He loves and respects his parents, and is particularly close to his mother. Their opinion means a great deal to him. Yet, in the years since he left home for school his attraction to men has only grown stronger. He has not acted on that attraction because he is afraid of the condemnation he would face from his church and his parents. This is the tension that brought John to counseling in the first place. He is more and more clear that he is gay, and he is convinced coming out will cost him the people he loves most in the world.
There are countless young adults like John in our country today. They are people who are trying to figure out their sexuality in a world that sends them conflicting messages about it. Many of John’s peers, including some of his Christian friends, don’t see what the big deal is if he is gay. (Public Policy Polling published a poll on April 24, 2012 two weeks before a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage was voted on in North Carolina; though the amendment denying same-sex marriage ended up passing easily, the poll indicated only 31% of people under 30 supported the amendment.) Yet, his parents and pastor from his home church make it clear to John that being gay is not only a big deal, it puts his soul in mortal jeopardy.
This is the backdrop for the meeting between John and his parents that John has asked me to mediate. He desperately needs to talk about the tension he feels between his sexuality and spirituality, yet is so afraid of being rejected by his family he cannot bear to risk that conversation alone. As I watch these three tortured souls in my office, I think to myself that there has to be a better way for Christian families to address this issue. read more
HOMOSEXUALITY, THE BIBLE AND US
By Rev. H. Stephen Shoemaker
Myers Park Baptist Church
Charlotte, North Carolina
Text: John 8:2-5, 7, 9-11; Galatians 6:15; II Corinthians 5:16-17
Today I want to begin a discussion -- not end one -- on Homosexuality, the Bible, and Us. Can we be a Biblical people and a people who welcome and honor homosexual persons as part of our community? I think so; but the easiest and simplest way of reading scripture is to read it as condemning of homosexual persons, so it requires a more careful reading. Human sexuality is a complex reality; the Bible is a complex document. I will try to follow the maxim: "Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler!"
Today’s sermon is an exercise in Biblical interpretation in the hope of a greater inclusion and welcome of homosexual persons in the church and in society.
You will get a chance to add to the conversation at TalkBack. This week at Camden during evening Bible study, the youth and I went through all the texts which address the issue of homosexuality. I asked them if they wanted to talk with me before the sermon, not just after it. They were game, and off we went with our open Bibles and questions. They’ve made this a better sermon.
The stakes are high. The issue seems to be dividing the church in America, but it need not. We live in a culture rife with hatred, fear and discrimination toward homosexual persons. Sports talk radio station 610 AM makes frequent fun of gay people. There is a high incidence of teenage and young adult suicide propelled by a crisis in sexual identity. The youth told me this week that the term "gay" has now mutated in current slang to be the general adjective which means something negative, stupid or weird: "That’s so gay!" Such is how viciousness gets imbedded in language.Read more.