Remember as a kid when your mom would tell you not to touch something because it was hot? Or, better yet, remember the last time you sipped your coffee too quickly, your synapses fired-the coffee’s too hot!!!-and you had to do that gag-thing to get it down (or you spat it out)? Many Christians have felt the same way about homosexuality. “It’s hot! Don’t touch it! Don’t get near it! Sit down! Don’t move!” Or we’ve engaged in a conversation about homosexuality in the church, sipped a little of it, realized that it was too hot (because your friend is angry like that), and gagged on the conversation just to get past it? Yeah, I’ve been there.
The issue of homosexuality in the church has been somewhat of a “hot topic” (understated) in
recent years. We, evangelicals, are partially to blame for this. Not only have we often condemned it over every other “sin,” we’ve actually have had a few of our main opponents of the issue take part in homosexual relationships (and, hence, their hypocrisy was exposed). However, I have to say that a fair amount of this condemnation has come as a counterattack to mainline churches and denominations that have accepted homosexual men and women and their lifestyles.
Much of this has ended in angry debates, harsh words, and hurt feelings. Mainliners have felt ostracized by evangelicals, and, equally so, evangelicals have felt so by mainliners.
Enter the emerging church.
Often, the emerging church been condemned for not taking a stance on homosexuality. This has come from people from the outside looking into the emerging church. Anyone in the emerging conversation will tell you, there is no “emerging church stance” on homosexuality. There are multiple opinions, and, unlike a denomination (which the emerging church is not one), it does not have a “set leadership” (per se), and so there is no possible way for emergents to have a “doctrinal statement” that includes the topic (and likely never will be). Thus, if you are looking for the emerging church’s stance on the issue, you’ll never find it because if you talk to me I’d say one thing, and, if you talk to someone else, they’d say another. It’s not as simple as a doctrinal statement.
However, many emergents within evangelical circles have attempted to remove the idea that homosexuality is the issue (along with abortion, of course). During the election, such people were reminding their fellow evangelicals, “Don’t be two-issue voters.” The reason is that the Bible has a few (somewhat obscure) passages about homosexuality, but it has many, many passages about helping the oppressed so, just by that fact alone, we should reevaluate how we vote (plus, Jesus didn’t really mention “homosexuality,” but he sure hangs with the poor folk).
My issue is this, as emergents, we must be sure to have open dialog about homosexuality. We must be continued to be known for this. We do not need a doctrinal statement. We are not a denomination. But we do need to have open discussion. We must belittle those who disagree with us. We must not say, “Well, you would agree with homosexuality if you just had a homosexual friend.” This is simply not true [and I think such a response is (how do you say?) a "cop-out"].
Here’s what I propose to all Christians, not just emergents — let us have an open discussion about the issue. But let us remember, we will not all agree on the matter.
It is not as simple as, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it!” If that were the case, we wouldn’t have so many denominations or disagreements. Also, it’s not as simple as, “The culture of the Bible was different than ours.” Such an argument neglects global Christianity and the views of millions (billions?) of Christians across the world.
For me, when I want to talk with someone, we grab coffee. So…let’s grab coffee together (we’ll make sure it’s not too hot). Or some fish and chips. Or some lo mein. Or something they eat in Africa. But let’s talk. Let love be on our lips. Our positions will undoubtedly hurt someone, but let’s talk. It’s OK to disagree. It’s OK to walk away without a settling the matter. It’s OK to get ask for a refill, even though it costs $.53. Let’s do it.
But, if we neglect to talk and neglect to do it lovingly and open to disagreement, we may just create our own cliques, or worse, more denominations.
So, would you like to grab a cup of coffee with me?