There is no monopoly in common sense,
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology,
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you,
I hope the Russians love their children too
As in real war, the culture war reduces the identity of those “on the other side” to a single dimension: enemy. As long as those in power can keep a one-dimensional identity alive, troops can be mobilized to fight. Once the identity collapses, however, blind spots are uncovered. The Russians did love their children too. They were more like us than we realized. Or maybe, we were more like them.
I want to lay out a biblical basis for “reasonable self-determination” – a respect for others’ conscience before God – and how this might merit a wider inclusion of LGBT+ people in the evangelical church. Here goes:
First, we already afford ourselves “reasonable self-determination” regarding divorce and remarriage, internet pornography, tithing, alcoholism, pride, selfishness and materialism. Many of our “lifestyles” and “behaviors” fall outside historic measures of orthodoxy. While some of us in one or more of the above categories may be precluded from certain leadership positions, we remain full participants in the evangelical church.
Second, our heavy reliance on the distinction between “celebrating sin” and “feeling bad about sin” is grossly abused. We should never minimize the distinction between “those who repent” and “those who do not.” However, we must remember that repentance means to turn from sin. Many of us confuse “feeling bad about sin” with repentance (read: we are not repenting), yet we are full participants in the evangelical church.
Third, many of us who “feel bad about sin” are giving ourselves over to sin at a rate that equals or exceeds those we claim are “celebrating sin.” Is it reasonable to suggest that at some point our own frequency of sin becomes a form of celebration? Yet we remain full participants in the evangelical church.
Fourth, the passage used to exclude LGBT+ people is 1 Corinthians 5 (“Expel the Immoral”). While the distinction between those who “feel bad about sin” and those who “celebrate sin” is important, the entirety of Chapter 5 equally distinguishes between “those who repent” and “those who do not.” Many more of us could be expelled according to this passage, yet we remain full participants in the evangelical church.
Fifth, our double standard forces us to consider scriptural warnings against locking people out of the Kingdom. While the risks of “reasonable self-determination” concern me, the double standard concerns me more. Matthew 7:1-5. Romans 2:1-4. James 2:12-13. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. This is serious business.
In my next post, I will begin to identify principles to guide our inclusion of LGBT+ people in evangelical churches. For now, I want to close by suggesting that the foundation upon which we distinguish between heterosexual majority sin and non-heterosexual minority sin is unbiblical. The foundation is sandy and that is why the ground is shifting. To be blunt: “reasonable self-determination” is not a new idea; those of us who call ourselves Christian have been regular partakers of it for a long time. Dare we withhold it from others?
Believe me when I say to you,
I know that Jesus loves LGBT+ people too.
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