In a wide ranging interview with the Huffington Post, Sojourners’ founder and leader, Jim Wallis has said that he supports gay marriage as part of a much needed wider renewal of marriage in American society.
“I think we should include same-sex couples in that renewal of marriage, [but] I want to talk marriage first. Marriage needs some strengthening. Let’s start with marriage, and then I think we have to talk about, now, how to include same-sex couples in that deeper understanding of marriage.”
Jim Wallis has often been called a ‘progressive Evangelical’ by supporters and opponents alike, with his strong campaigning stance on issues such as poverty, social justice and climate change, but this is the first time he has gone on the record to support same-sex marriage.
You can see a video of the interview in full at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/jim-wallis-faith-politics-immigration_n_3024458.html
…has become one of the first African-Caribbean Pentecostal ministers in Britain to state that the Black Christian community should be more inclusive and welcoming of gay people, and that the Bible contains theological grounds for same-sex marriage.
In an interview for ‘Keep the Faith’ magazine, which serves Black Pentecostal Churches in the UK, Paul pointed to Jesus example of welcome for the oppressed and a pattern of inclusion which continually pushed the boundaries of religious acceptance. On the traditional ‘clobber texts’ he said,
“The statements in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Romans, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy refer to a range of homosexual acts, but not to the issue of same-sex orientation, or to loving relationships between people of the same gender. Scripture should be applied in the light of God’s welcome of excluded peoples. If the Scriptures do not prohibit same-sex love, then who are we to exclude those whom God has included?”
Paul Bailey co-pastors The Regeneration Project in South London.
This year’s Pride Service will take place at 6pm on Saturday 6th July at St Martin in the Fields Church, Trafalgar Square.
This year, Accepting Evangelicals and Evangelical Fellowship have been asked to plan the liturgy and the preacher will be Rev Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans Cathedral. The service will be led by our own Benny Hazlehurst.
Unfortunately, since the venue and date were set last year, the date of the Pride March has been moved to the weekend before, so we and Christians at Pride want to encourage as many people as possible to come back on the 6th July.
Organiser Nina writes:
“After the success and fun of being in Blackpool Pride Parade last year we’ll walk as a group of Christians again this year. Last year several denominations joined in and we had a wonderfully positive reception from spectators who cheered and applauded. The crowd was delighted to see Christians standing up for a message of full acceptance for all people.”
To join Christians@Pride at Blackpool on Sat 8th June email firstname.lastname@example.org The day begins with bacon butties, prayer and praise at 9am, North Shore Methodist Church.
Following our success at last year’s Greenbelt Festival, we have applied to hosting an exhibition stand again this August. As last year, we will be doing this in partnership with Evangelical Fellowship, Two:23, and Affirm (The Baptist Network).
The stand will be in the G-source Tent and we will need a team of volunteers to staff it over the weekend (23rd – 26th August 2013). If you would like to help, please email Benny at the following address: email@example.com
We can order weekend tickets for volunteers at a discount price so let us know if you are interested.
Our partner organisations also have a number of events over the coming months:
The Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians.
Our next conference is from Friday 25th October 5 pm to Sunday 27th October 2pm. It is led by Rev Brian Smith with the title ‘Story Telling as part of the Christian life’.
For full details and booking form visit http://www.eflgc.org.uk/events.asp#Forthcoming
Or phone John on 020 8411 0040
Has a full programme of speakers for 2013 at their meetings in London.
Satuday 18th May – Ruth Valerio who is on the leadership team for Spring Harvest
Saturday 21st September – Padraig O Tuama from Belfast
Saturday 30th November – Steve Chalke from Oasis
More information is available here – http://two23.net/our-meetings/
One of our members drew our attention to a petition following a letter of apology from one of the leading advocates of ‘Reparative Therapy’ which claims to change sexual orientation by Christian discipleship and ministry.
John and Anne Paulk’s appearance on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1998 provided huge publicity for the ‘Ex-gay’ movement when they claimed that reparative therapy had changed or cured their homosexual orientation. They also wrote the book “Love won out” to persuade others to seek change in their sexual orientation through Christian ministry.
Now, however, he has issued a letter apologising for the damage his campaigning has done “to countless people” and stating categorically that it did not change his sexual orientation.
He continues, “Today, I see LGBT people for who they are — beloved, cherished children of God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or thrown away by God or the church.”
The petition asks for Newsweek (now a web publication) to publish an article with the same prominence to update the full story and the damage which Ex-gay ministries have done.
God Bless and Keep You…AE Blog | Leave a comment April 8, 2013
Justin Lee is founder of the Gay Christian Network ( http://www.gaychristian.net/ ) and a beacon for the gay Christian community. Based in the USA, he also travels widely and spoke in the UK at the Courage retreat in 2011 (see ‘What a great weekend’ for a review on our blog).
In the book Justin charts his journey from fighting with his same-sex attraction (including a foray into so-called ex-gay ministry) to accepting his orientation and to working towards greater reconciliation between gay and Christian communities – hence the subtitle “Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate”.
As an Evangelical from a Southern Baptist Church, he knows the ‘Evangelical Heart’ as well as he knows the ‘Gay Heart’ and the book navigates those two sides very skilfully and humorously – it’s hard to put down once you get going.
He also manages to address both sides in a loving and caring way. Justin draws largely on his personal story of engaging with the bible on the issue of homosexuality and of engaging with the scientific arguments (nature/nurture) as well as on his first encounters with other gay people. There are some laugh-out-loud moments as he plays with the stereotypes bandied about on both sides – he finds himself not wanting to be gay in the Christian community and is careful about ‘coming out as Christian’ in the gay community!
He also draws on the vast amount of stories people have shared with him in personal and virtual encounters and on how his speaking engagements as director of GCN have been perceived. This is therefore no theoretical treatise but a book that is full of personal accounts of real people who have suffered the pain of trying to reconcile their sexuality with their faith and vice versa.
In the concluding chapter he talks about the seven things he believes should be the focus for the way forward:
1. Christians must show more grace, especially in the midst of disagreement
2. We must educate Christians
3. We must move away from an “ex-gay” approach
4. Celibacy must be a viable option
5. We must shatter the myth that the Bible is anti-gay
6. Openly gay Christians must find their place throughout the church
7. We must learn how to effectively dialogue.
These reflect his experiences of Christians and LGBT people alike – Christians often have a misinformed understanding of homosexuality which leads to a lack of grace when they engage with others. It also means that, without any informed understanding, advocating the ex-gay approach of healing gay people from their same-sex attraction can lead to more pain and sorrow (e.g. mixed-orientation marriages).
At the same time, celibacy is not seen as a credible alternative in gay circles, but should be more accepted beyond a church environment. To create real reconciliation and effective dialogue, the bible needs to be read hermeneutically and exegesis must be carefully context-sensitive, to show that it is not anti-gay. A more open reading of the bible should also lead to more openness to welcome openly gay Christians in churches as they can offer insights on both perspectives (yes, you can be both!) and build bridges.
For accepting and affirming Evangelicals alike this book is a welcome addition to the growing number of resources encouraging greater dialogue between the two communities. It is well-known that the ‘gay issue’ is the biggest stumbling block for the church to share the good news of the gospel and this book is a wonderful attempt to “rescue the gospel” from this damaging debate.
Torn Publisher: Jericho Books (November, 2012).
Unconditional Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (January, 2013)
Website for the book: http://www.tornbook.com/
Justin Lee’s blog: http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/
Blog post by Dr Sigrun M. Wagner, co-chair, Accepting Evangelicals
AE Blog | Leave a comment March 19, 2013
News broke yesterday that the popular author, preacher and film maker Rob Bell, has spoken in support of same-sex marriage.
Rob Bell is well known for thinking ‘outside the box’ and has been an inspiration to huge numbers of Evangelicals in the USA and around the world. In 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of its Top 100 influential people.
His open thinking style has however, also drawn criticism from more conservative Evangelicals.
Responding to a question at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, he said,
“I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs… to affirm people wherever they are.”
According to the Huffington Post, Bell went on to say that while it used to be fair to equate evangelicals with social conservatism, that assumption no longer holds true.AE Blog | 1 Comment March 7, 2013
He opened the evening with an impassioned plea for a change in our theology of sexuality. Setting out his stall, he painted a picture of dire pastoral care for gay people in evangelical churches. He went on to say that it was not enough for evangelicals to say that our theology is right but our pastoral care needs to improve. “God is love – He is the great Pastor” he declared, “We can’t out-pastor God. We can’t draw a line between the pastoral and the theological – they are one and the same thing…. It’s our theology which needs to change.”
Talking about the burdens which the church has placed on LGBT people, and the terrible pastoral consequences which have often followed, he said “The real scandal is that we have not faced up to this issue.”
Also speaking during the evening was a gay man who told of his sense of call to be a Pastor – a call which started is search for God, and ultimately his Christian commitment. “God called me” he said, but he knew that would never be recognised by the church in which he came to faith because he was gay. He also talked movingly about a young man of 16 who was thrown out of his church after admitting that he was gay, and subsequently threw himself under a train.
During the question and answer session, Steve was asked how he could overturn 2000 years of Bible teaching. In reply he affirmed that he takes the Bible very seriously but that taking individual verses out of context was not the way to discern God’s will. “God is still unfolding his truth to us” he said, citing examples of ways in which our understanding of the Bible on slavery, the role and women, and even the flatness (or not) of the earth have changed after hundreds of years of ‘good Biblical teaching’ had been overturned. “We need to see things through the lens of Jesus” if we are to continue to grow in our understanding of God’s will.
His talk finished by quoting Acts 10 and the story of Peter going to the home of the gentile Cornelius. Until then the early church thought that only Jews could be the people of God despite Jesus commanding them to go into all the world. It took a work of the Holy Spirit to open Peter’s eyes to the fact that God’s grace extends to everyone. We need the same work of the Holy Spirit now to open our eyes to God’s grace at work in gay, bisexual and transgender people.
At the end of the evening Oasis launched a DVD resource for small groups to continue the conversation. The DVD is available from Oasis online and costs £5.
It includes sections on the authority of Scripture, what the Bible says about same-sex relationships, and questions for discussion.
We were also encouraged to continue the conversation via Twitter using the hash tags #MOI and #inclusion.
It was certainly a memorable evening and signalled Steve Chalke’s and Oasis’s continuing determination to engage in this issue. Well done Steve!
Benny HazlehurstAE Blog | 5 Comments March 3, 2013
On 5th February the House of Commons voted in favour of same-sex marriage after a full and lively debate. MP’s were given a free vote without political party instructions, and voted by 400 votes to 175 for the new law to proceed to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny. For some of the key speeches, please see our blog post ‘Reflections on parliament’s debate’
The Bill now goes to the Committee stage where MP’s consider its provisions in detail. If you want to write to the committee, they are inviting submissions until 12th March – follow this link for more information
Accepting Evangelicals continues to encourage prayerful reflection and debate on the nature of marriage.
There are 2 books from America which have been recommended recently by our members.
The first is by Justin Lee, the founder of Gay Christian Network and is called ‘Torn’ in the USA and ‘Unconditional’ in Europe – and both have the tag line- ‘Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays Vs Christians Debate’. The book has received considerable acclaim since its publication and we will be posting a review of it on the AE Blog in the near future. Justin comes from a Southern Baptist church setting and part of the book charts his own struggle to reconcile his faith and sexuality.
The second has been recommended to us by an AE member who said “Gay or straight, affirming or non-affirming, everyone needs to read this book”. Having read the reviews on Amazon, I can see why. The book is called “Homosexianity: Letting the Truth Win the Devastating War between Scripture, Faith and Sexual Orientation” by Pator R.D. Weekly. It is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. Follow these links for ordering from the UK and USA. Let us know what you think…
Also sent in by one of our members this article in the Huffington Post shows the power of dialogue to resolve conflict.
When Campus Pride Director, Shane Windmeyer, received a call from the President of a company they were campaigning against, he didn’t know what to think. But it was the start of a dialogue which brought real change.
Ellen is a Journalism student completing her degree in the UK and is interviewing LGBTQ Christians about church reaction to their sexuality, their current situation, view of gay marriage, and any experience of ex-gay groups.
Having already interviewed numerous men, she really needs to speak to some women aged 18+. Interviews can be conducted on the phone.
If you could help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass on your email to her.
From around 10,000 page views per month at the beginning of the year we saw our hits rise to almost 50,000 per month by December.
And in January 2013 they rocketed again to over 90,000.
So keep up the good work in telling people about Accepting Evangelicals. It is definitely working!
God Bless and Keep You…AE Blog | Leave a comment February 12, 2013
The free vote at the end of the debate overwhelmingly approved the Bill proceeding to the next stage by 400 to 175, but the debate will continue both in parliament and in our churches.
In the debate, there were clearly articulated arguments on both sides and in this longer blog post we highlight sections from some of those contributions. The links attached to each speaker’s name will take you to the speech in full as found in the official record of parliament.
We start with the speech from the Church of England’s official spokesperson in the House of Commons, Tony Baldry. He outlined why both he and the Church of England opposed same-sex marriage:
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): I am confident that we are all created in the image of God, whether we be straight, gay, bisexual, or transsexual. We are all equally worthy in God’s sight and equally loved by God. I am also sure that we are and should be equally welcome at God’s table. But equalness does not always equate with being the same.
For centuries, civilisations have recognised the value and importance to society of having an enduring and exclusive union between one man and one woman, not least for the raising and nurturing of children. That relationship is called marriage. The uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the distinctiveness of men and women, so removing that complementarity from the definition of marriage is to lose any social institution where sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged.
Others also took up this theme in opposing the introduction of same-sex marriage because it would ‘water down’ the institution of marriage:
Stephen Timms: Legal equality was delivered, quite rightly, by the introduction of civil partnerships, and if there are weaknesses in those arrangements, they should be put right. In particular, I see no problem with same-sex unions being celebrated in places of worship where congregations want to do so. A same-sex couple can have the same wish to affirm and to have affirmed a lifelong exclusive commitment as a man and a woman getting married, and we should value that and be willing to recognise and celebrate it.
This Bill, however, affirms not that same-sex unions are equal with marriages, but rather that they are the same as marriages, when in reality they are not: they are different. I think we will be poorer if we adopt a watered-down definition of marriage based on two aims from the Church of England’s list instead of all three.
But there were clear arguments expressed in support of the Bill. Emma Reynolds took up the theme of equality, and took examples from Europe to argue that marriage had not been weakened as a result of adopting same-sex marriage.
Emma Reynolds I hope that one day, we will live in a truly equal society in which there is little or no discrimination. I do not believe that that is a utopian dream. I believe that it is a possibility, but we have a very long way to go. The introduction of equal marriage and the Bill before us are an indispensable step in the journey towards that equal society.
There seem to be two key arguments against equal marriage, which I want to tackle head-on. The first is that it will somehow weaken the institution of marriage. That argument is simply illogical. On the contrary, I think that allowing more couples to enter into marriage will strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it. There are many countries in Europe and around the world, as well as many states in the United States, that have introduced gay marriage and it has not weakened or undermined marriage in those countries—quite the contrary.
The second argument is that equal marriage would threaten freedom of religion. Again, I refute that argument. I wholeheartedly support the freedom of religion, but the Bill contains guarantees that neither a religious institution or organisation nor a minister of religion will be forced by the law to marry same-sex couples.
Many European countries that are members of the Council of Europe have already introduced same-sex marriage, some—in the case of the Netherlands—as early as 2001. It has also been introduced more recently in Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere. Those countries have managed to introduce same-sex marriage while at the same time protecting religious freedom. As has been stated, no successful case has been brought before the European Court of Human Rights.
And there were a number of MP’s brought a specifically Christian perspective into their support for same-sex marriage:
Jonathan Reynolds: Having listened carefully to the representations I have received from constituents on both sides of the debate, I will vote for equal marriage today. I will do so because I am a Christian, not in spite of it. I believe marriage is important, and I believe it should be taken seriously—certainly more seriously than how it is presented in modern celebrity culture. I also think there are things that undermine marriage and strong relationships—the lack of family-friendly working hours and prohibitive child care costs are among them—but I genuinely cannot see how my support for equal marriage undermines my own marriage, the marriage of anyone else, or marriage as an institution. If anything, I believe it strengthens it.
Ben Bradshaw spoke as both a member of the Anglican Church and a member of the Ecclesaistical Committee, but was highly critical of the leadership of both the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church:
Mr Ben Bradshaw: There are many Anglicans and Roman Catholics who wish that their Churches were as open and welcoming as those that support the Bill entirely. In fact, all the opinion polls show that a majority not just of the public, but of Anglicans and Roman Catholics in this country support equal marriage. However, in their wisdom, the leaderships of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are not yet prepared to take such a step. That is their prerogative. It is perfectly possible to make the argument that, as a particular religion understands it, marriage can only be between a man and a woman. However the Churches’ credibility in arguing that would be a lot greater if they welcomed and celebrated civil partnerships. The fact that they do not do so leads me to conclude only that their objection to the Bill is not about the institution of marriage or even the word, but about a residual prejudice against same-sex relationships.
Others like Simon Hughes (who identifies himself as an evangelical) said that he would vote for the Bill but wanted more time for the process because of the enormity of the issues involved:
Simon Hughes: I come to this debate as the person I am, with the complexities I have as an evangelical Protestant by faith and a Liberal since my teens. So these are not easy issues for me, and they are not easy for many people here…
I supported civil partnerships. I think the Church was wrong to oppose them at the time, and I hope that it and other faith groups now understand that they would do themselves a service if they allowed services of blessing for people in civil partnerships…
On Saturday night, I watched the new film, “Lincoln”. Of course, as the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) said, there are no exact parallels between the battle over slavery and this, but there is a lesson: people then took different sides of an intense argument, even though they came from the same faith or other backgrounds, but things move on and we have to learn that understanding each other’s positions and seeking the maximum consensus is the best way to proceed. I hope that is how we will continue.
But perhaps the most impassioned speech in support of same-sex marriage came from David Lammy, who has been a member of the Archbishop’s Council in the CofE and openly professes his Christian faith. We end with this longer except and exchange with a fellow MP, Stephen Pound:
Mr David Lammy: “I have received many letters from people for whom this is all coming too soon. They say that the speed of change for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights is happening too abruptly for them to comprehend and that the country they live in, the traditions they live by and the people they live next to are transforming in ways that make them feel uncomfortable, upset and undermined. They are not homophobic or racist, they claim, but they say, “Not now, later”.
To some extent, I sympathise. As much as I would want Britain always to be the beating heart of radical and progressive change, it is not. At root, it has always had a small c conservative spine running through it—an instinct that change should always be organic, a need for change to be owned by the people, not imposed from up high. That instinct must be respected, and I will be respecting it when I vote for the Bill, because it commands the support of the country, because it respects religious freedom and tradition by permitting, rather than mandating, religious organisations to conduct the ceremonies, and because it is the end of an organic journey from criminalisation to equality for the gay community that began over half a century a go. This change is right and necessary and the time is now.
There are still those who say it is unnecessary. “Why do we need gay marriage”, they say, “when we already have civil partnerships?” They are, they claim, “Separate but equal.” Let me speak frankly: separate but equal is a fraud. It is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. It is the motif that determined that black and white people could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets. They are the words that justified sending black children to different schools from their white peers—schools that would fail them and condemn them to a life of poverty. It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and racists. It is the same statement, idea and delusion that we borrowed in this country to say that women could vote, but only if they were married and only when they were over 30. It is the same naivety that led to my dad being granted citizenship when he arrived here in 1956, but being refused by landlords who proclaimed, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.
The phrase entrenched who we were, who our friends could be and what our lives could become. It is not separate but equal, but separate and discriminated against, separate and oppressed, separate and browbeaten, separate and subjugated. Separate is not equal, so let us be rid of it. As long as there is one rule for us and another for them, we allow the barriers of acceptance to go unchallenged. As long as our statute book suggests that love between two men or two women is unworthy of recognition through marriage, we allow the rot of homophobia to fester and we entrench a society where 20,000 homophobic crimes take place each year and where 800,000 people have witnessed homophobic bullying at work in the past five years.
I am a Christian. I go to mass. I recognise how important this is.
Stephen Pound: It is a privilege to be listening to my right hon. Friend’s extraordinary and impassioned peroration. Does he agree, however, that there are Christians who look for love in every aspect of their lives and the lives of those
around them who still feel profound misgivings and concerns about this piece of legislation?
Mr Lammy: I totally accept the manner in which my hon. Friend has put his remarks, and it saddens me that I have received many letters in my postbag condemning this legislation from people who share the same values and Christian ideals that I do, and who worship on a Sunday morning. I know them to be caring, loving and understanding people, and I know they resent the fact that those on the extremes of our faith have poisoned what is an important debate with references to polygamy and bestiality.
Therefore, let us use today to return to a discussion of what marriage ought to be about. When I married my wife, I understood our marriage to have two important dimensions: the expression of love, fidelity and mutuality over the course of our life together; and a commitment to raise children. Gay men and women can now raise children—this House made that decision—so let us not hear any further discussion about having a family as if gay men and women cannot have that.
The Jesus I know was born a refugee, illegitimate, with a death warrant on his name, and in a barn among animals. He would stand up for minorities. That is why it is right for those of religious conviction to vote for this Bill.AE Blog | 3 Comments February 1, 2013
The UK Government’s Equal Marriage Bill is now beginning its progression through Parliament. It will have its Second Reading next Tuesday 5th February followed by a vote of MP’s to see if it will progress to the next stage.
So why not write to your MP to say what you think?
You can find your MP and email him/her at ‘Write to them’ – just put in your UK postcode and they will identify your MP as well as providing a form for you to write your email to them.
The Equal Marriage Bill published by the Government after last year’s consultation provides strong safeguards for churches and faith groups who would not want to offer marriage services to same-sex couples. At the same time it does not rule out religious marriage services for churches who want to ‘opt-in’.
We recognise that while all members of Accepting Evangelicals support same-sex partnerships, there is a wide spectrum of views on same-sex marriage, and our position statement encourages everyone to engage in prayerful debate on the nature of marriage in the light of growing calls for same-sex marriage.
The vote on Tuesday provides us with an opportunity to write in a sensitive way to inform the debate in Parliament, and we hope that you will feel able to do this.
AE Blog | Leave a comment January 21, 2013
Alongside Steve Chalke’s plea this month for a re-think on the way churches treat LGB&T Christians, there was another, less publicised article which followed the same theme.
The article was from another Baptist, but this time one who has experienced the full force of exclusion from church membership and ministry after ‘coming out’. Sadly Patrick now no longer attends church because of the painful experiences he has suffered, but keeps his faith alive by listening to podcast sermons and rejoicing in the faithfulness of God.
Patrick Gillan’s article was published in the ‘Baptist Times’ earlier this month and exemplifies the issue that Steve Chalke is calling to us address.
“Baptist churches have a real problem in knowing how to deal with gay Christians: not only do we not meet the criteria, but the usually heterosexual leadership of these churches are at a loss as what to do with us.
So we wander and become disenfranchised. Despite my vow of chastity I was not fit for purpose as explained to me when my application for membership was declined. So I have moved on to where I have no idea! God however is faithful and if church for me is listening to a podcast with my cat for company then so be it.
But will there ever come a day when Christians like me are not seen as different or a threat? Will there ever come a day when, like the woman at the well, we find not only a saviour who is all inclusive but a church which embraces difference?”
Those of us from other denominations will know that this is not just an issue for Baptists!
Despite the obvious pain and frustration in Patrick’s story however, there are two positive signs. First of all, that hope somehow still shines through the words that Patrick has written, and in many of the comments which follow (please read these too). Secondly, because the Baptist Times has chosen to publish it.
Their diecision to publish shows that there is a greater openness developing among many evangelicals, and a greater awareness of the damage which has been done to LGB&T people by our churches.
Patrick’s story charts where evangelical churches have been, and where most still are, in their treatment of people who are attracted to the same sex. The challenge we face now is how to chart our path to a more inclusive future.
‘Why I am a podcast Chrstian’ by Patrick Gillan - 8th January 2013 in the Baptist Times
AE Blog | Leave a comment January 15, 2013
As I write, there has been a significant event in the evangelical world as Steve Chalke has gone public about his support for same-sex partnerships for the first time…
He is also the senior minister at Oasis Waterloo Church in London, which has been quietly welcoming LGB&T Christians in an open inclusive way for some time. Last summer Steve Chalke joined Accepting Evangelicals as an Open Member and he has conducted at least one service of blessing after Civil Partnership. But he has not felt able to speak publicly about it – until now.
In an article published today in Christianity Magazine, Steve Chalke has called for an open conversation on how the church can truly welcome gay and lesbian people and give them the same support and guidance as heterosexuals.
Tony Campolo has already responded from the USA saying that “The significance of what Steve – a Baptist Minister – has done cannot be overstated… Steve’s public declaration in support of Civil Partnerships will cause reverberations far and wide. His statement represents the first time that a major evangelist and leader in the Evangelical community has come out in support of same-sex relationships. Discussions about what he has done will reverberate from churches, youth groups, seminaries, Bible schools and denominations. Both those who support same-sex partnerships and gay marriage as well as those who oppose such developments will look upon Steve’s declaration as a watershed.”
In the article entitled ‘A Matter of Integrity’, Steve writes:
“I feel both compelled and afraid to write this article. Compelled because, in my understanding, the principles of justice, reconciliation and inclusion sit at the very heart of Jesus’ message. Afraid because I recognise the Bible is understood by many to teach that the practice of homosexuality, in any circumstance, is a sin or ‘less than God’s best’.
“Some will think that I have strayed from scripture – that I am no longer an evangelical. I have formed my view, however, not out of any disregard for the Bible’s authority, but by way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously.”
He argues that churches are failing homosexual people by making them feel that there is something wrong with them.
“I believe that when we treat homosexual people as pariahs and push them outside our communities and churches; when we blame them for what they are; when we deny them our blessing on their commitment to lifelong, faithful relationships, we make them doubt whether they are children of God, made in his image”
Instead he calls on Christians to enter into compassionate, respectful, honest conversations, and calls on churches to “find ways to formally support and encourage those who are in, or wish to enter into, faithful same-sex partnerships, as well as in their wider role as members of Christ’s body.”
The article would be significant on its own, but Oasis Waterloo has also launched a new section on their church website, to encourage those conversations to take place. There is a teaching video, helpline and signposting to other resources, with Accepting Evangelicals at the top of the list. There is also an evening event planned on the 6th March as a way of encouraging people and churches to find a new approach and there are plans to publish a liturgy for blessing same-sex partnerships. http://www.oasisuk.org/inclusionresources
You can also comment via Twitter #MOI or #inclusion and via a new blog “A Matter of Integrity”
We hope that AE members will actively support Steve and Oasis in their courageous honesty.
Steve Chalke’s article can be found at: http://www.oasisuk.org/article.aspx?menuId=31973For background information on Steve Chalke: http://www.oasischurchwaterloo.org/who/about-steve
Following the House of Bishops meeting late last year, the Church of England has announced that it is lifting its ban on clergy in Civil Partnerships being put forward to be Bishops. The ban was introduced 18 months ago while a review group on Civil Partnerships chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man looked again at the church’s position on CP’s.
While this should sound like a step in the right direction, it has actually upset both conservatives and those calling for change.
First, the timing was very insensitive so soon after legislation for women bishops was defeated in General Synod.
Secondly, there was no clarification on the terms which any priest in a Civil Partnership will have to agree to. The Bishops’ statement simply said that they must abide by the Church’s teaching (which means a celibate Civil Partnership) but there was no indication of what assurances might be required or if any public repentance of past sinfulness would be expected.
But most importantly, the report which the House of Bishops commissioned on Civil Partnerships appears to have been suppressed by the same Bishops who set it up. There are no plans to publish the report which also considered the possibility of Services of Thanksgiving being offered to same-sex couples, and the Bishops statement in January has said that there will be no further statement on Civil Partnerships until yet another review group finished its work at the end of this year.
We have had a variety of invitations to speak at events over the last few months including the following:
At Bournemouth University Chaplaincy it was great to meet members of the Christian Union as well as those involved in the Chaplaincy Team. We had a good lunch-time meeting with opportunity for questions and answers after a short talk.
At Trinity College Bristol, Jeremy Marks spoke of the unnecessary pain which many evangelical Christians have suffered when struggling with their sexuality, and Benny Hazlehurst presented an evangelical inclusive theology of sexuality. The day was balanced by speakers from a more conservative viewpoint before students went into small groups to discuss what they had heard.
Finally, it was good to be invited to St Edyth’s in Seamills this month to talk about same-sex marriage. Around 50 people gathered for an informal evening service with food and an opportunity for discussion and questions. Although they were predominantly traditional in their beliefs on sexuality, they felt it important to hear another view at first hand.
If you would like to have a speaker from Accepting Evangelicals come to your church or group, please email email@example.com We need to ask for travelling expenses but nothing else.
God Bless and Keep You…AE Blog | Leave a comment January 3, 2013
AE members might be interested to get the Independent Newspaper in the UK tomorrow (4th January) as it contains an article featuring Accepting Evangelicals and the rise of evangelicals who say that same-sex relationships are OK.
AE Trustees, Jeremy Marks and Benny Hazlehurst were interviewed for the piece by their religious correspondent along with AE member James Holland.
Or if you can’t wait, the article is available on line at The Independent.
AE Blog | 11 Comments ← Older posts