Friday, December 15, 2006

Where Will the Church Go? Concerning Homosexuality

I'm amazed at the interest there is in the recent resignations by Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes. I'm not sure if this is voyeuristic curiosity in something "sexual" or if it's people glad to see evangelical leaders fall. There is something in us that likes to crow when we think we detect hypocrisy -- though there's plenty to go around for everyone, whether you're religious or not.

It's interesting to see the evangelical Christian response to the most recent resignation -- that of Paul Barnes. A follow up article published yesterday, I believe, in the Denver Post quotes several leaders calling for compassion and an end to gay bashing. But, there's no sign that there's any change in belief/understanding. Leith Anderson, who replaced Ted Haggard as President of the National Association of Evangelicals made that point clearly:

I honestly don't think there is significant rethinking on evangelical positions on homosexuality, but I think there may be greater compassion" . . . "Those who don't have homosexual inclinations can be judgmental towards those that do. When you discover people you know and respect are struggling with homosexuality, suddenly you're more compassionate because they are real people who are around you, members of your church and community, and the compassion level rises. It should."

The key is knowing people personally, but that's not the final straw. I don't see this issue letting up any time soon. The culture is changing, but the church is standing pretty firm. But I do see signs of change, especially among younger people. I never thought I'd be spending so much time addressing the issue, but like I said, it won't go away.

4 comments:

Dennis said...

It's a fair question. My own theory is that the church's heterocentrism will go the way of geocentricism: just as the church had to accommodate its thinking to a new indisputable reality, so it will, eventually, come to reframe the conversation about homosexuality. It's hard to find the fundamentalist who will argue that the earth is the center of the universe, even though that was considered biblical truth prior to the 15th century. I don't know how long it's going to take--probably quite some time, since the "evangelical" establishment have so strenuously dug in their heels--but I think it will happen eventually.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Dennis,

Thank you for your comments. I was talking with a group about just this today. Since Mainline Churches, which are supposedly more liberal, are dealing with this issue now -- quite divisively as we've seen -- I expect that this issue must be settled there first. Of course, it's important to remember that the polls say that the under 40 crowd has largely moved to openness, while the older group remains resistant. Since Mainline churches have large numbers of older folks, it will take some time. But, at least in my own congregation most of the seniors are okay with it. Personal experience with someone who is gay remains a key.

Kenn Chaplin said...

"Personal experience with someone who is gay remains a key."

After discarding a long comment I decided this summarized my views more succinctly.

My denomination, the United Church of Canada, wrestled with "the issue" (as it became known) in the 1980s in the context of ordaining openly gay and lesbian candidates for ministry. While it was very divisive the denomination's General Council eventually ruled that sexual orientation ought not be a factor in ordination. From there, fast forward half a generation, and we are the largest Protestant denomination to back Canada's new inclusive marriage laws.

Just as my family's story has influenced our local congregations' circles so, too, have the collective stories of many, many others changed hearts and minds in the denomination.

May it be so across the Church.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Kenn,

Thank you for sharing the experience of the United Church of Canada. This is an issue that is dividing the church and is taking a long time to resolve. But, ultimately this is about people and their ability to live with dignity and purpose.