Lead Them Home is presenting Posture Shift in a growing number of denominational churches whose members hold a wide range of biblical views regarding homosexuality – and specifically gay marriage. Within conservative evangelical settings, a higher percentage of members hold an orthodox view. This results in unity, but also lower effectiveness in conversation with persons holding the opposite view.
In denominational settings, by comparison, there can be a wider range in member beliefs across multiple issues historically considered controversial and divisive. The intriguing element is that such church members are accustomed to having discussions with other members across many belief gaps. They are more equipped to handle such conversations in a productive, respectful and peaceful manner.
Regarding the upcoming PCUSA marriage vote, many Presbyterians are asking how they should vote. Due to a mix of theological beliefs, here is a respectful path forward: vote your conscience before God based upon your biblical beliefs. It’s pretty simple.
In Massachusetts, we are a decade down the road of gay marriage. Gay couples routinely call a wide range of churches to find out which ones officiate same-sex weddings. In the early days, conservative church leaders were anxious about such calls. How can I respond, they asked.
One conservative pastor shared with me his response: “I am sorry. Our church does not; however, I can refer you to several churches in town that do. Would you like that information?” Ninety-percent of the time, these calls are courteous, matter-of-fact, helpful and no one is offended.
Why are gay couples largely not offended, you may ask. Put simply, it is because they have a “civil right” to marry in Massachusetts even if not every church officiates same-sex weddings. Gay couples have a civil right and plenty of church options to express their right.
As the PCUSA vote approaches, here are several thoughts. First, voting “no” to gay marriage within your denomination does not eliminate gay couples’ civil right to marry in states that allow gay marriage. Second, voting “yes” does not produce a civil right in states where gay marriage is not allowed. Third, for denominations that do approve gay marriage, each congregation decides whether or not to officiate same-sex weddings. Fourth, assuming your church does not officiate such marriages, your staff can kindly refer gay couples to other churches that do.
Some (on both sides) will be offended by this post because they want the world to agree with their viewpoint. This is understandable. After a decade of gay marriage in Massachusetts, however, this is how the “belief gap” on gay marriage is working out – and mostly peaceably.
One last point: will government exemptions for churches hold up over time? In America, President Obama says yes. In 2012, Denmark’s parliament passed legislation requiring churches to conduct same-sex weddings. In 2013, a wealthy gay couple in England threatened to file a lawsuit to force their local church to marry them.
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