There was a Christian man who after twelve years of marriage, realized he was gay. He and his wife divorced, and some time later this gay man fell in love and married his new life-mate. Years later, when he died, this man approached the Pearly Gates where he met Saint Peter. “You know you can’t come in,” Peter said with a smile.My friend TK recently linked me to a YouTube clip that featured Brian McLaren at Willow Creek, speaking on the topic of the church and homosexuality. McLaren, who according to wikipedia is a “controversial voice in the church”, noted that the approach taken by many churches today – welcoming but not affirming – does little to bring gay people to Christ.
“I know,” the man replied, “it’s because I’m gay, right?”
“Heavens no,” Peter retorted. “It’s because you divorced and remarried. Don’t you read your bible? You’re an adulterer!”
So what does Christ say about homosexuality? I’ve discovered that many of the bible passages on this topic are from the Old Testament, plus a frequently-quoted verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Compare this verse with the direct quote from Jesus found in Mark 10:
One is a direct quote from Jesus – no symbolism here, it’s meaning so clear, beyond debate. But for some reason, McLaren didn’t feel a need to talk to Christians about their need to be “welcoming, but not affirming” to divorcees. And why is that?
Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.
At my church, it’s possible that the “welcoming, but not affirming” stance means that individuals who are gay cannot serve in leadership positions. But divorced and remarried people can. And why is that? And why is it also likely that across the country we have church leaders who cheat on their taxes, pass along gossip and fantasize about women?
Early, I wrote about seeing Jesus through your own experiscope – and I am sure that impacts our acceptance of divorce – and our feelings towards gays. After all, I have good friends who are divorced, and they seem like OK people to me.
Now I don’t mean to pick on divorced people (just a convenient example) nor do I mean to promote homosexuality (see earlier post). But it seems to me that we as Christians pick and choose our battles based not on WWJD – but rather on “what I or one of my friends may someday do”.