Open Letter from a pastor on Homosexuality

Dear Friends

What follows is my ‘digest’ of available literature and recent conversations around the issue of homosexuality.  I offer this for discussion and as an aid to the decision-making that we have to do and I do so in some trepidation.  My hope is that we will approach the issue in an attitude of humble seeking; seeking to know God’s will for us, and desiring above all to be conformed to the image of Christ.

My fear is that we will refuse to confront the real questions at issue here, and retreat instead to simplistic, defensive bunkers, surrounded by an emotional minefield, from which we will toss incendiary polemical grenades at one another, until everyone is completely shattered.

Can I commend some simple virtues?

  • Firstly, humility.  None of us knows all the truth.  Nor is it expected of us; we are meant to come together and hear what the Spirit is saying in many voices, before we discern the truth together as a body.  In this way we are protected from our own Babel-like egos and from the abuse of persuasive dictators.
  • Secondly, courtesy.  There is no excuse for attacking individuals simply because we don’t like what they say.  Nor should we put forward our own thoughts in such a way that it implies that anybody who disagrees with us is either stupid or evil.
  • Thirdly, tolerance.  I do not mean we should accept what is unacceptable, but we must recognize that there is a wide range of honest opinion on this matter.  Some feel that in even contemplating the issue we are calling into question the clear teaching of scripture condemning homosexuality.  Others wonder why we’re making such a fuss over something so trivial, and why we can’t ‘just get on with it’.  Others argue that the gospel requirements of inclusivity and justice demand that we accord homosexuality equal status with heterosexuality.  None of these opinions, in and of themselves, are sufficient reason for rejecting one another as sisters and brothers in Christ.  I do not believe that any among us are here with evil intent, or the desire to deceive.

 

My hope here is that we will move from ‘tolerating’ differences, however, to recognising the positive features in the arguments of those who disagree with us, and respecting one another for the good we seek, even though we differ in our final conclusions.

 

As I have sought to understand the research and thinking around these issues, I started from an honestly undecided position.  I simply was not sure how to think about the mass of conflicting assertions and arguments that I have seen and heard.  I have good reasons for siding with both parties!  I have since become a little more certain, but we have barely begun our discussions.  In the end I only wish to side with one person, and that is the Lord Jesus.  And by his side I hope to find all who seek truth and love with sincere hearts.

In this document I unpack some of the many arguments I have discovered, summarising them and placing them alongside each other, so that they can all be heard, and each receive their due.  There are few conclusions as I don’t want to anticipate our discussions together.  Many of the arguments herein are not ones that I agree with personally, but I have tried to do them justice – both by reporting them accurately, and by questioning them where I believe them to be weak – as I have done for the arguments that I do tend to agree with.  Ultimately, these arguments will help us to make decisions on the actual questions that face us – these are listed at the end of the document.  My prayer is that our decision-making together will be with the Holy Spirit of Jesus, in submission to the will of God our Father.

To that end I commend to you the following.

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