I revisited one of my old churches recently. The sermon was about Christians and the world and was spoken by one of the Pastor’s whom I have known for many years and whom I respect. He spoke on the troubles facing the world in general and those who live in western-based society in particular. Such as; drug addiction, family abuse, alcohol dependency and marriage equality. I was in shock!
Many Christians, such as my ex-pastor, do amazing work with the oppressed, the downtrodden and the destitute. But, they also treat the LGBT community with contempt, fear and disgust. But why? Many people are now welcomed to our Churches who, heretofore, would not be.
In 100 years will our descendants look at the church of today and wonder what all the fuss was about? The Church is a living, evolving and welcoming body ... isn’t it?
The Church verses the Secular World
I was not a Christian until I was in my adulthood. So where did a young person, me, learn how to treat people. Firstly, through my parents, they taught me about respect and kindness. Secondly, at a young age I found that I had a love of Acting and the Arts. I still do. What I found in Amateur Theatre was that people of differing backgrounds, social standing, and beliefs were all were welcomed. Specifically, gay people were, and still are, welcome. In fact the first gay people I met was through the Theatre scene. I have many gay friends and quite frankly their lifestyles are of little interest to me. In Theatre we all work together for a common goal. Should not the Church do the same?
So why is the church so different? Are some professed Christians using their faith and Holy Scripture to feed their prejudices? Why focus on the Old Testament’s laws for some things and not others?
What about the Bible and The Law?
The Old Testament says that homosexual behaviour is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22) (Leviticus 20:13) It also says that homosexuals should receive the death penalty! It also says the same thing about eating pork or shellfish, charging interest on loans, and a great deal of other stuff that were part of the Old Testament Laws.
But for Christians, the Old Testament laws are now void. Because Romans 10:4 says that “Christ is the end of the law.” Which is probably why many Christians today use credit cards, eat meat, wear clothing made from different fabrics, wear makeup, and support equality for women. Because, as Hebrews 8:13 says, the old law is obsolete. But, we cherry pick laws we want to uphold and ignore the others we don’t?
We live in a different world now, we do not possess slaves or own wives. Still, Paul the great biblical hero, said that men having long hair is "unnatural" and that women shouldn't speak in church. So times have changed. We changed. Jesus made things new.
Marriage Equality and the Church
So change happens. Albeit slowly, in the church. It will not be a smooth process. Many will be dragged kicking and screaming into enlightenment and fairness. When Martin Luther protested (hence the word protestant) against the Catholic Church and many others martyred themselves over the centuries. It was for us to get closer to God. English language Bibles, for instance, and women pastors are now the norm.
Why cannot a couple who love each other but are of the same sex get married? The answer is that in many counties they can. Why? Because the law says so, not the Church. Church and State separated some time ago. This discussion, to most in the community is a matter of equality. Yet the Church stands up, so often, and rages against the wind of change. Jesus was a man of change. Has the church today become the Pharisees of old?
Matthew 28 says:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age.”
Does not 'all nations' also mean 'all people'? As a church shouldn’t we be welcoming 'all'?
It is not our place to judge, but rather to love. As recorded in John 8. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” And later Jesus said “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.”
Jesus loved prostitutes and money lenders. He knows our sins yet he still loves us. We are all sinners: if you see the lifestyle of gay people as a sin, then Jesus died for that sin. He died for all our sins, yours and mine. Any man or woman with a seeking heart must be welcomed into the church family. When I hear words spoken in hate by church leaders, I feel like crying. I am sure Jesus weeps also. No Christian man or woman should prevent any man or woman from seeking God.
If Jesus loves all, shouldn’t we also? We are all made in Gods image, are we not? We need to reflect Jesus. Too often we Christians do not.
Christopher wants to see fairness in the world and desires to see the doors of Christianity open to all. He has been a theatre and drama junkie for decades. He found God in the 1990’s but too often sees faith and belief being used to promote individuals doctrines. Chris enjoys reading, theatre, good food and good company. Chris loves music but can’t play a note. He has two adult children and a patient wife. He lives in Melbourne Australia.
See previous articles by Christopher Newport