It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on the topic which threatens to split our denomination apart. I do so today only as a response to a clergy gathering conversation that occurred yesterday at our pastor’s convocation in Holston Conference.
The conversation itself was great. We split into groups of four or five and spent an hour responding, each in turn, to four questions pertaining to homosexuality. It was refreshing to share openly with colleagues about our own experiences, traditions, interactions with scripture and reason regarding this pivotal issue facing our global church. It was a fine example of how people of differing opinions on a crucial matter can dialog responsibly and charitably.
The conversation itself was not a problem. What concerned me was how only half the story was told when introducing the conversation.
Prior to our splitting into groups, a video was shown telling the story of a young man who took his own life because he was gay and couldn’t reconcile that with a pastor who told him he was going to hell while shutting him out of the life of the church. As tragic as this story is, and needs to be told, it is only one side of the story.
It would have been nice if this story was followed by one of many other stories that exist, such as that of Christopher Yuan, a gay man who struggled for many years with suicidal thoughts and rejecting God who was prayed over daily by a Christian mother and loved without reserve until the day Jesus moved into his life in such a radical way his life was forever changed. Today he travels the world sharing his testimony. He has not been led to seek a change of desire so that he might one day love and marry a woman, but loved into a community of people who enable him to find greatest joy in Jesus. His fulfillment is not found in his sexuality or in another person but in his submission to God’s will for his life.
Why isn’t that story being told prior to our holy conversations? Why aren’t stories of the many people who have found lasting joy and fulfillment in submitting their fleshly desires to the desires and designs of God?
For many of us, our current position on homosexuality has been largely influenced by the people we know. But when only one side of the story is being told – the one that suggests you must be either fully affirming OR you are homophobic,telling people they are going to hell – we are not being fair to both the people tasked with making decisions about the future of our church OR to the many men and women with stories just like Christopher Yuan’s.
By all means, let us continue having holy conversations. But let us also tell the whole story.