Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Disrupting Church

I am very curious to get your take on a recent event at a Lansing, Michigan church where homosexual protestors disrupted a service.

Read the story HERE.

How should a church respond to such an event?

Is the body of Christ called to "welcome" homosexuals? If yes then what does it mean to welcome? If no then what is the alternative?

Is there a difference between "welcoming" and speaking the truth in love?


AllisonC said...

Wow. I can't wait to hear responses on this one. There has to be a way to show that you love the sinner but not the sin. How can you welcome them without condoning what they are doing? But aren't homosexuality, murder, lying, pride, selfishness, etc all sins and we should love the sinner no matter what the sin? So should our treatment of them be that much different than any other sin, depending on if they are a believer or not. I guess that would make a difference in how they were treated?

(first time commenting on your blog, Todd, but been reading for a while)

Allison from COS

melledge said...

This is a problem I have personally faced on several occasions. On the surface, the problem seems so simple. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Oddly enough, this philosophy is much simpler when dealing with a sin like murder. As far as I know, nobody is lobbying for the rights of murderers. The fact is, society is in general agreement that murder is wrong. Here's where the problem arrives. Telling a person that you love him/her but disapprove of their "lifestyle choice" is still utterly offensive to them. How do you tell somebody who doesn't believe their lifestyle is sinful in the first place that you love them but they need to repent? In my experience, that is just not enough for them. I have tried to walk the line on several occasions between befriending someone living in this type of sin but maintaining the boundary of "I don't agree with and cannot support this lifestyle." Inevitably, I reach a point where I must choose between standing on my morals or offending this person.

Bottom line, I believe it is more important than ever to welcome people living in sin into the church. We wouldn't turn away a drug adict or an ex-convict. Likewise, we should not turn away people struggling with sexual sin. But membership and leadership should always be reserved for true believers and repenters. Unfortunately, in a day where even the sinners don't believe their sinning, it will inevitably be impossible to reach many people. And this kind of outrage towards any church that refuses to accept sinful lifestyle as normal will continue.

I guess that's an answer and a non-answer at the same time.

Pete Morris said...

Whatever the Christian does will be wrong in this "anarchy of sin." The police in this civilization are the protectors of peace and individual rights, and the media works for truth and justice - sarc. Perhaps the pure joy is to be mistreated and imprisoned by the government of the majority. Not intending to be a pessimist but isn't this the way it all ends anyway?

Would Jesus advance into the clamor speaking the Word of Truth expecting God to act, rejoicing in the outcome? I believe each person 'deserves' at some point in life a confrontation with the person of Jesus. The Christians of the congregation should stand and advance into the crowd telling each that the wages of sin is death and the only way to see God is through His Son the LORD Jesus Christ. That should get great reaction and perhaps some beatings for the witness. If Jesus was crucified what better end for His adopted brothers? I would not preach to them 'Jesus loves them' but that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life, all who don't bow to Jesus will suffer eternal Hell.

rmkton said...

tough question...I think our default as the body of Christ is to try and engage rather than condemn...typically what I see churches do is to have a special "ministry" for the sexually broken that really isolates them from the rest of the body because it makes the rest of us uncomfortable. Yet I think this is a very, very important issue for us to grapple with. If you believe Barna's statistics on the attitudes towards the institutional church by the post modern generation...this one issue (the church's disposition towards homosexuality) is at the top of the list as one of the reasons to be suspicious of the institutional church.

I don't have any answers that I think are "silver bullets" here but I think if I were to tackle it I would ask the question of the homosexual community..."What looks like welcome to you?" (with the caveat that we are going to disagree on the fundamental question itself). How do we as a body of Christ minister to them as people and not as a label? Perhaps the issue is so fundamental that we may never come to anything that is meaningful to both positions, but, if I am going to respond as Jesus did, condemnation is not an option. I think we can love them...with appropriate boundaries...but years of trying approaches like Pete's mentioned above has gotten us nowhere and has done much damage. We need to approach them as people first and not see them as an oppositional group even when the do what they did in Lansing...change happens one heart at a time.

It will be interesting to see how Rick Warren responds to the protests at Saddleback after the defeat of Prop 8 in CA. Perhaps this may give us a clue.

Mainline Mom said...

This is a really tough one for me that I have struggled with for some time. I believe the church has lost a lot of its witness by choosing condemnation over grace. I think there is a time for both, but my position is, when in doubt...grace, grace, and more grace. I tend to view homosexuality in the same light as extra-marital sex...both sin and both accepted by our society as ok. My best friend is a born-again believer who has decided that sex outside of marriage is ok. She knows I disagree, but she also knows and feels my love for her. We don't have to discuss it over and over for her to know my condemnation of her behavior. But if I choose to break my friendship with her over it, aren't I the hypocrite, sinner than I am?

I know this doesn't answer the question of what the church should have done in the case of that protest, but I fundamentally disagree with pete's suggestion.

toothdoc said...

In answer to the question on how the church deals with the protest. I feel that it should be dealt with as with any other distraction - the service must be stopped and those interrupting the service must be escorted out. I don't believe our God wants to hear a shouting match among sinners of various persuasion. Unfortunately, though the sociological reasons may be debated, common courtesy has been violated by this intrusion. Nonetheless, I believe all churches must take this incident and formulate plans that fit their physical layout and service style for dealing with these issues - much like they probably do for medical emergencies.

As for how we are to interact with homosexuals. I thought about it for the last hour while I was working on a patient who is openly homosexual. The truth is that he is no more a sinner than I. I have impure thoughts, I continually rebel against God - just in a way that is somehow rationalized to be less onerous to God. The church illuminati have led us to this place because, instead of preaching the unchangeable truth, they preach topically relevant, life application homilies. If each church would simply preach truth (look to Charles Spurgeon)or, as my grandfather says, preach as a sinner to sinners, we will be able to address the deeper issue than homosexuality or even (gasp!) abortion. Our Saviour was forsaken by His Father because I rebelled. The gates to His Holy Throne Room are opened. We should live our lives BECAUSE Christ died for our sins instead of "as if" he did. If we will stop worrying about how God can change someone else and start allowing Him to change us these issues will no longer matter. We are the victors, we win, nothing else matters.

sorry for the rambles, it may not make sense but this issue cuts deeply to my soul because it is further evidence of the agony a lost world is in - searching for anything that feels (even pain).

As a side note, Todd will you post your thoughts on how the Mormon church has taken over as the moral compass of America.

rmkton said...

This is a little off topic...but I find it interesting what is happening in CA with gays protesting the outcome of prop 8 (i.e. blacklisting of doners to prop 8). Now certainly I agree that they have a right to protest but I would say the same thing to them as I would to Christians who did not like the outcome of the national election when we elected a pro-choice candidate...that is when you submit yourself to the democratic process to advance your social agenda you have the possibility of losing. That being the case you have the right to protest the law...but you have to accept to some degree the will of the people if this is the channel you have chosen to change it.

toothdoc said...

Well said. You must accept the defeat if you want to accept the victory.