Creating a unique space for Evangelicals

One of the unique things about Accepting Evangelicals is that it is not just for ‘Gay Affirming’ Evangelicals.  It is also for people who are willing to accept the Christian integrity of those who affirm same-sex relationships, even though they cannot affirm such relationships themselves.

Ray Khan is a founder member of Accepting Evangelicals and part of our steering group – here he explains why…

 “My own journey towards becoming a founding member of Accepting Evangelicals, started as a reaction against certain evangelicals whose articulated views on homosexuals appeared as homophobic, bigoted and (in my mind) illogical. I could not help but conclude that for these people homosexuals were the new “lepers” and the authority of scripture rested solely on this one issue. I felt that the Bible was being misused in the selective way that it was being used and interpreted. The problem for me was that this approach was being portrayed as THE Evangelical stance on the issue and I as an evangelical objected to this most strongly.

For me Accepting Evangelicals is a unique space for evangelicals who sense unease and concern over the polarisation and debate on homosexuality and the way that this has had a negative impact on the Good News. When I was asked to be a founding member I was delighted to be in a space where we could say that the Good News is for all and to listen and appreciate the diversity within us and within society.

I hope that Accepting Evangelicals can be a space where evangelicals can explore a more loving, inclusive and positive approach to Gay people and Gay Christians. I welcome the wide diversity of opinion within Accepting Evangelicals, even when I feel some ambivalence with some of the views expressed by others within it. This diversity is a reminder that what holds Christians together is greater than what can divide us. I am uncertain of whether I will have the same reached the same conclusions held by some of the members, but remain confident that this is an important space.

I am a heterosexual and I just cannot understand what it means to be gay, but I know that I am not wholly defined by my own sexual identity and in Christ I have a new identity. This is also true for the Gay Christians that I have encountered, they are not defined just by their sexuality, but by Christ. Any attempt to define a person in a narrow way is an attempt to dehumanise them and therefore makes them less human than we are. Martin Luther King Jnr. would see such a process as not just dehumanising the oppressed, but also the oppressor. The inability to see another as a fully human being diminishes our own humanity.

There are still significant areas of scripture that make me uneasy about wanting to wholly affirm homosexual behaviour. However in scripture I also encounter a God whose is full of mercy and compassion, who challenges us to take the extravagant risk of love and compassion towards those considered outsiders, by the majority. My personal struggle with Scripture is holding onto what Scripture teaches about homosexual behaviour and affirming God’s mercy and compassion. In this tension I am inspired by Jesus, who looked to and loved those considered “less human”, those on the outside of religious purity. God calls me to love, I am not called to judge, but to show grace, to love others as I have been loved by God. This does not remove that tension, but it does provide me with an ethic for the present moment.

I want there to be a reasoned and prayerful dialogue that moves evangelicals towards a positive ethic of homosexuality (whatever that may be). I want to be part of a church that accepts and celebrates the gifts that God has given in our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and sees that they have an important part to play in the church and work of God. There are those within Accepting Evangelicals who will have a stronger and more defined view on this. I am not one of them, but I stand to say that I want to be part of that process, knowing that it will not be easy and that there may never be a total resolution, except for that resolution that lies in the grace and love of God.”

 Let us know your thoughts ….

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Ray. It’s important and good to see the full range of accepting in Accepting Evangelicals.

  2. What a superb article! I absolutely agree with everything Ray says. I am married and have tended towards a traditional interpretation of scripture on this issue, but with all the same reservations that Ray has. I have agonised for hours over this issue since 2003 and have failed to make many firm conclusions. I tried to capture some of my views in my letter to the CEN in response to Benny’s article (see below). For those Christian homosexuals who are committed to celibacy, and who want to make a lifelong committment to each other, I can’t see any argument against them being able to have a Church blessing of their relationship of love and committment. For those homosexual Christians who do not have the gift of celibacy, there are passages of scripture that make me uneasy about Church blessings, but I also feel there is so much we just cannot be certain about either way, and I do not regard it as a “closed case”. It is surely right to respect and applaud anyone who makes a lifelong committment of love. “If I can fathom …. all knowledge……but do not have love, I am nothing”. I believe that the whole of this beautiful chapter of scripture, so often read at weddings, is so important in forming a Christian ethic towards same-sex relationships, and is as relevant to homosexual relationships as it is to heterosexual ones. I absolutely affirm any homosexual Christian in a lifelong relationship of love and committment, whether celibate or not, as my brother or sister in Christ, and I also wholly accept the Christian integrity of those who affirm such same-sex relationships.

  3. I have now had a chance to read all the other stories posted here. They are all direct, honest, moving and, in the case of those who were treated so badly by other Christians, profoundly disturbing. These stories should be essential reading for anyone who professes to be a Christian.

  4. Thank you John. I am glad you have found the stories helpful, and yes – I agree – they should be essential reading!

    I also think it is important for people like yourself and Ray to be able to be honest and open, so thank you for your first comment too.

    There are those who seem to want to polarise the issue in the Church as much as possible. The things Ray and yourself have written show that it does not have to be that way.

  5. Many thanks for the artiles, I see that approaching scripture in the wrong lane lets human thinking distort the words and sometimes arrive at conflicting results.

    It has been pointed out to me that whilst we can use OT to understand better God’s salvation plan, we are no longer under it’s laws – Paul tells us in we are not under law but Grace. I try to live by the golden rule – namely Love God and love your neighborough.

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