What Happened When My Church Decided To Start Marrying Gay People

Some see this as a cause for celebration, others see this as a cause for separation.

Some see this as a cause for celebration, others see this as a cause for separation.

A week ago, the Church that my family and I attend came out (so to speak) as completely open and affirming of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. This was a little bit of a shock to me…. Not because I didn’t want it to happen (I wrote some thoughts about Gay Marriage a couple of years ago. You can read them HERE), but because I thought our Church was ALREADY open and affirming. Turns out it wasn’t. It was welcoming. It was definitely never judgmental or condemning. But when they started a conversation about the Church’s response to LGBTQ people a couple years ago, they didn’t have a policy of full inclusion–LGBTQ people could be members and get baptized and take communion, but as far as taking positions of leadership, baby dedication, and marriage, those parts of church life were not extended…. Anyway, that all changed this last Sunday.

Now, some of you probably just got upset when you read that first paragraph…. Probably for different reasons. Some of you got upset that a Church (in your head, you might have put air quotes around the word “Church”) would be “preaching” the false gospel that God loves gay people every bit as much as he loves the rest of us, and that someone could be so completely theologically deceived as to think God might bless the union of a same-sex couple. Others of you might have gotten upset at the fact that a Church that claims to follow Jesus could have operated for so long with such a clearly discriminatory policy toward the LGBTQ community, essentially giving gay members of the Church three fifths of a vote when it comes to being part of the Body of Christ. I understand both of those points of view.

If the words of this book are so stinking clear, then why are there almost 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world?

If the words of this book are so stinking clear, then why are there almost 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world?

Some of you out there may have experience with this sort of process. It’s nothing new in the life of the Church. When I was a kid, the denomination I grew up in started questioning whether or not women could be in positions of leadership. Women were allowed to work in the nursery and teach the kids, but the Bible their interpretation of the Bible seemed to prohibit female leaders. While the Church wrestled with this issue, there were some congregations who started letting women be Deacons, and others even had female Elders (!!!). There was talk (in my very sheltered world) of some congregations that even had women Pastors–as oxymoronic as those words felt together…. And as congregations moved toward inclusion, people were alienated on both sides of the issue. And people left. Some left because they felt the Church they loved had abandoned “the clear teachings of scripture,” and others left because they felt the Church they loved had abandoned them, and the clear calling they felt on their life. Others stayed….

People who live in black & white worlds don't always understand spectrums....

People who live in black & white worlds don’t always understand spectrums….

Some of us have a very clear view of what is right and what is wrong. Then there are some who are in the middle…. the “undecideds.” If one side says “RED” and the other side says “BLUE,” there are always plenty of people who say/ask “PURPLE?” Some Reds can have grace for Purples, and some Blues can have grace for Purples, but it’s often very hard for Reds and Blues to have grace for each other. Some people are so hardcore certain about RED or hardcore certain about BLUE that to even hint that PURPLE might be a possibility is seen as a betrayal. And don’t even THINK of trying to explain that the colors between Red and Blue are might actually be Green, Yellow, and Orange…. Or that there are actually all different kinds of light outside of the visible spectrum that we can’t even see. The Church is like this.

Even Papa Frank disagrees with me on this. That's alright.... I still love him.

Even Papa Frank disagrees with me on this. That’s alright…. I still love him.

There are Churches out there who are Blue on the issue of full inclusion for people who LGBTQ. There are some who are Red and will never be anything else. And there are a growing number of Churches who are increasingly Purple. It’s important to remember that some of these issues are complicated–even when they no longer feel complicated to you. And the measure of the grace in our own hearts is how we respond to people who have landed at a different place than you did. The hard part is being able to love even the people who have come to a different conclusion than you. For some people (people like me), it is easy to love the one who is way outside the group…. But I have a lot less grace for people in my own group. I feel like they should know better.

It’s not easy for Church leadership to take a stand on something that they know is going to cause division. Some might try to simplify it into just “doing the right thing.” But when doing what you believe is right causes people you love–people with whom you are in community–to feel like they must leave, it’s never as simple as people make it out to be. I mean, when it got out that World Vision decided to hire gay Christians, there were so many people who pulled sponsorships that it threatened their mission. Then again, sometimes staying in the middle can cause people on either on both sides of the issue to feel the need to find another Church home. If an issue that divides people were simple, it probably wouldn’t be an issue that divides people.

The Bible tells that the rainbow was a sign of the covenant between God and ALL THE CREATURES OF THE EARTH.

The Bible tells that the rainbow was a sign of the covenant between God and ALL THE CREATURES OF THE EARTH.

When our pastor made the announcement that our Church would no longer discriminate against people who are LGBTQ and even extend the Sacrament of Marriage to gay couples, he conceded that some might feel the need to leave. When talking about those possibly differing journeys, he said, “May we commit to those journeys knowing that the greatest guide is the guide of love.” Many stood and cheered. Some stayed in their seats. All of us were loved by God. I felt bad for the folks who stayed in their seats–it must have been hard for them, and I know it wasn’t out of a place of hatred…. But as hard as it was to see those people who–for whatever reason–were unable to stand, it made it easier for me when I looked around and saw a bunch of face of folks who are gay, standing side-by-side with allies who are committed to following Jesus with all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. There are many safe places for people to land who believe that the Church should be in the business of condemning people in committed, same-sex relationships…. There are not that many safe places for people to land who are gay and somehow manage to really love Jesus at the same time.

I am so proud of my Church.

And I can think of no better time to write about the civil rights of our gay brothers and sisters than on the national holiday set aside to remember and celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many people don’t know this, but right up until she died, his wife Coretta Scott King, worked very hard for the cause of equal rights for people who are LGBTQ. I’ll leave you with her words, still ringing like freedom….

“I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people, and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.” ~ Coretta Scott King

***UPDATE***

If you want to hear the best case for inclusion that I’ve ever seen, here it it:

Advertisements
This entry was posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to What Happened When My Church Decided To Start Marrying Gay People

  1. jmsabbagh says:

    Every plate overflows with it’s contains.

  2. Phil says:

    I hope my church has a moment like that soon. It’s been very contentious and frustrating lately. Congratulations to you guys!

  3. Byron Boyd says:

    Just to be clear – GracePointe has decided that sex with someone that is the same gender is ok and not a sin? Including women in leadership is the same as blessing a gay marriage in a Christian church?

    • theboeskool says:

      God decides what sin is, Byron. Churches just try to do their best with what they have.

      And no, including women in leadership in not the same as blessing a gay marriage…. There is way, WAY more of a scriptural case against including women in leadership.

  4. Carla says:

    We were there that Sunday (been attending for about six months). I’d be lying if I said we were in full support. Or that we stood. Mostly we were just shocked. All of a sudden we have to make an actual decision on what we believe. It’s no longer the issue “other churches” are wrestling with. Our friends that attended also, one family for over ten years, made a quick decision to leave. I’m not sure where we’ll ultimately land, but I will say that I thought regardless of what you believe, the Pastor was incredibly gracious to both sides of the issue, genuine, loving, and never condemning. I have a lot of respect for how he handled it.

    • theboeskool says:

      I believe that graciousness comes not only from having been firmly on both sides of this issue, but also having people he genuinely loves on both sides of this issue.

      And I don’t think anyone should feel compelled in any way to “all of a sudden make an actual decision” on what you believe. There will be plenty of people who do not agree who decide to stick around because they value the conversation, as well as the valuing the people. If you have been around GracePointe for 6 months, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it is not anywhere close to a “You have to believe like we do” sort of place…. Wouldn’t you agree?

      For me, this place saved me for Church. I was never close to giving up on God, but I was sure close to giving up on Church. And the humble and loving approach, along with the high view of scripture, has been such a breath of fresh air. It would be a shame to sever relationships over something like this, but I understand that this is what some people feel they have to do.

      If you decide to come back, say hello. I’m the really good looking bald guy with the awesome beard….

      • Carla says:

        While a firm decision on the issue at hand isn’t required, a decision does have to be made regarding whether or not there is even room for a conversation. For some, such as my friends, the issue is clear cut. No other viewpoint allowed “per the Bible,” in their opinion. I personally don’t feel that way. I mainly feel like I haven’t heard the conversation. If my husband and I decide not to come back, it won’t be with any ill-will. Gracepointe is a great church. I have a lot of respect for the Pastor and have really enjoyed his teachings. If we as a family aren’t on the same page about Gracepointe and decide not to attend on Sundays, I will probably continue to attend the Wednesday night Bible study.

  5. BJ says:

    I find it rather curious how everything always goes back to “sex”…where people put their genitals. Why is it that we cannot talk about love? Is God love? I think so. So how is it that love between two consenting individuals, regardless of their gender, is not of God? Can sin produce love? Can evil produce love? No. it can’t. So how can two people in love, regardless of their gender, be sinful? It’s a ridiculous notion, in my book. And…in the “good book”, if you ask me.

    • Concerned says:

      Gods word does not adapt to the times and culture of the world. It is and always has been and always will be the same, Truth. Just because someone (or millions) is offended by the Truth does not make it ok to “adapt” the Holy Word of God to fit modern society way of life. I appreciate your opinion and I do try to love my neighbor. Sometimes love is tough though and correction is needed in order to show true love. To promote ANY sin as ok with God cannot be wise, especially by an entire body of Christ and ministers of the Word. Not being ok with sin does not make someone a hater or judge, it is simply trying to accomplish Gods will, our sanctification.

      • Faye Aldridge says:

        Thank God for your comment! I agree with you. The trend to ‘rearrange’ God’s Word to fit the twisted desires of society is wrong. I believe Satan is doing some of his best deception in this present time. He even has many of the ministers blinded. They are ‘tickling ears’. Apparently some ministers don’t read the WORD these days. May God have mercy on those who seem to be completely oblivious to the TRUTH in the WORD. It is fairly plain and simple to comprehend. Sin has been deceptive since the Garden of Eden and it still is. God changes for no one! He does not change to fit the times or the people or the sins they commit.

  6. mihipte says:

    “Some of you got upset that a Church (in your head, you might have put air quotes around the word “Church”) would be “preaching” the false gospel that God loves gay people every bit as much as he loves the rest of us, and that someone could be so completely theologically deceived as to think God might bless the union of a same-sex couple. […] I understand both of those points of view.”

    For understanding that first one, you don’t argue it very well. Here’s an article which might put you in that camp for a different issue… (Note, I am not equating the two issues, but the conversations are incredibly similar.) https://medium.com/matter/youre-16-youre-a-pedophile-you-dont-want-to-hurt-anyone-what-do-you-do-now-e11ce4b88bdb

    But I’m kind of Purple, since I no longer acknowledge the authority of any scripture. I could be swayed either direction by new evidence, but I lean toward the side that says homosexual activity is sociologically unhealthy (which is as close to “sinful” as I’ll get).

    • mihipte says:

      Addendum: Note, in particular, this point:

      However, the moderators of B4U-ACT claim that because they’re not a research organization they can’t say whether all instances of adult-child sex are intrinsically harmful. “But we do support and would advocate for minor-attracted people to live law-abiding lives,” said Matthew Hutton, the group’s spokesperson, who uses a pseudonym to protect his identity. “Even though we acknowledge the existence of research in the past that might say that some sort of contact between teenagers and older people might not be so harmful.”

      I think that position is basically that maybe we should lower the age of consent. Oh, no, purple!

  7. Artemis says:

    Good for your church 🙂

  8. Hope says:

    I’m happy for you and your church. And I’ll confess, I envy you a connection with a church family. My husband and I haven’t found that yet since leaving our home church (philosophically and geographically), and I miss it.

  9. Teresa Gentry says:

    Well since a pastor from Franklin Tn wrote in the Ellen Degeneres and told her what a bad example she is and she read it on the air maybe Stan wants to write in now to say I am a pastor from Franklin Tn and my church just come out! She will either read it on the air or have him on her show!

  10. Pingback: Nigerian who recently visited Winners' Chapel talks about her not-so-pleasant encounter | Nollywood Magazine | Nollywood Magazine

  11. joe499 says:

    Reblogged this on joe brown and commented:
    ← MLK and the “American Sniper” — A Tale of Two HeroesMichael Moore Loves Our Troops Way More Than You →
    What Happened When My Church Decided To Start Marrying Gay People
    Posted on January 19, 2015 by theboeskool
    Some see this as a cause for celebration, others see this as a cause for separation.
    Some see this as a cause for celebration, others see this as a cause for separation.

    A week ago, the Church that my family and I attend came out (so to speak) as completely open and affirming of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. This was a little bit of a shock to me…. Not because I didn’t want it to happen (I wrote some thoughts about Gay Marriage a couple of years ago. You can read them HERE), but because I thought our Church was ALREADY open and affirming. Turns out it wasn’t. It was welcoming. It was definitely never judgmental or condemning. But when they started a conversation about the Church’s response to LGBTQ people a couple years ago, they didn’t have a policy of full inclusion–LGBTQ people could be members and get baptized and take communion, but as far as taking positions of leadership, baby dedication, and marriage, those parts of church life were not extended…. Anyway, that all changed this last Sunday.

    Now, some of you probably just got upset when you read that first paragraph…. Probably for different reasons. Some of you got upset that a Church (in your head, you might have put air quotes around the word “Church”) would be “preaching” the false gospel that God loves gay people every bit as much as he loves the rest of us, and that someone could be so completely theologically deceived as to think God might bless the union of a same-sex couple. Others of you might have gotten upset at the fact that a Church that claims to follow Jesus could have operated for so long with such a clearly discriminatory policy toward the LGBTQ community, essentially giving gay members of the Church three fifths of a vote when it comes to being part of the Body of Christ. I understand both of those points of view.

    If the words of this book are so stinking clear, then why are there almost 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world?
    If the words of this book are so stinking clear, then why are there almost 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world?

    Some of you out there may have experience with this sort of process. It’s nothing new in the life of the Church. When I was a kid, the denomination I grew up in started questioning whether or not women could be in positions of leadership. Women were allowed to work in the nursery and teach the kids, but the Bible their interpretation of the Bible seemed to prohibit female leaders. While the Church wrestled with this issue, there were some congregations who started letting women be Deacons, and others even had female Elders (!!!). There was talk (in my very sheltered world) of some congregations that even had women Pastors–as oxymoronic as those words felt together…. And as congregations moved toward inclusion, people were alienated on both sides of the issue. And people left. Some left because they felt the Church they loved had abandoned “the clear teachings of scripture,” and others left because they felt the Church they loved had abandoned them, and the clear calling they felt on their life. Others stayed….

    People who live in black & white worlds don’t always understand spectrums….
    People who live in black & white worlds don’t always understand spectrums….

    Some of us have a very clear view of what is right and what is wrong. Then there are some who are in the middle…. the “undecideds.” If one side says “RED” and the other side says “BLUE,” there are always plenty of people who say/ask “PURPLE?” Some Reds can have grace for Purples, and some Blues can have grace for Purples, but it’s often very hard for Reds and Blues to have grace for each other. Some people are so hardcore certain about RED or hardcore certain about BLUE that to even hint that PURPLE might be a possibility is seen as a betrayal. And don’t even THINK of trying to explain that the colors between Red and Blue are might actually be Green, Yellow, and Orange…. Or that there are actually all different kinds of light outside of the visible spectrum that we can’t even see. The Church is like this.

    Even Papa Frank disagrees with me on this. That’s alright…. I still love him.
    Even Papa Frank disagrees with me on this. That’s alright…. I still love him.

    There are Churches out there who are Blue on the issue of full inclusion for people who LGBTQ. There are some who are Red and will never be anything else. And there are a growing number of Churches who are increasingly Purple. It’s important to remember that some of these issues are complicated–even when they no longer feel complicated to you. And the measure of the grace in our own hearts is how we respond to people who have landed at a different place than you did. The hard part is being able to love even the people who have come to a different conclusion than you. For some people (people like me), it is easy to love the one who is way outside the group…. But I have a lot less grace for people in my own group. I feel like they should know better.

    It’s not easy for Church leadership to take a stand on something that they know is going to cause division. Some might try to simplify it into just “doing the right thing.” But when doing what you believe is right cause people you love–people with whom you are in community–to feel like they must leave, it’s never as simple as people make it out to be. I mean, when it got out that World Vision decided to hire gay Christians, there were so many people who pulled sponsorships that it threatened their mission. Then again, sometimes staying in the middle can cause people on either on both sides of the issue to feel the need to find another Church home. If an issue that divides people were simple, it probably wouldn’t be an issue that divides people.

    The Bible tells that the rainbow was a sign of the covenant between God and ALL THE CREATURES OF THE EARTH.
    The Bible tells that the rainbow was a sign of the covenant between God and ALL THE CREATURES OF THE EARTH.

    When our pastor made the announcement that our Church would no longer discriminate against people who are LGBTQ and even extend the Sacrament of Marriage to gay couples, he conceded that some might feel the need to leave. When talking about those possibly differing journeys, he said, “May we commit to those journeys knowing that the greatest guide is the guide of love.” Many stood and cheered. Some stayed in their seats. All of us were loved by God. I felt bad for the folks who stayed in their seats–it must have been hard for them, and I know it wasn’t out of a place of hatred…. But as hard as it was to see those people who–for whatever reason–were unable to stand, it made it easier for me when I looked around and saw a bunch of face of folks who are gay, standing side-by-side with allies who are committed to following Jesus with all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. There are many safe places for people to land who believe that the Church should be in the business of condemning people in committed, same-sex relationships…. There are not that many safe places for people to land who are gay and somehow manage to really love Jesus at the same time.

    I am so proud of my Church.

    And I can think of no better time to write about the civil rights of our gay brothers and sisters than on the national holiday set aside to remember and celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many people don’t know this, but right up until she died, his wife Coretta Scott King, worked very hard for the cause of equal rights for people who are LGBTQ. I’ll leave you with her words, still ringing like freedom….

    “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people, and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.” ~ Coretta Scott King

    Share this:

  12. Pingback: I Doubt The Homeless Folks Who Slept At My Church Last Night Care About Our Stance On Gay Marriage | The Boeskool

  13. Pingback: Living Generously, Even When God Isn’t Angry Anymore | The Boeskool

  14. Pingback: Four Reasons–From A Christian Perspective–Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong | The Boeskool

  15. Pingback: Four Reasons–From A Christian Perspective–Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong | Zombie Supervillain

  16. Pingback: Four Reasons–From A Christian Perspective–Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong | Zombie Supervillain

  17. Pingback: Fun With People Who Think I’m Going To Hell | The Boeskool

  18. Pingback: Tennessee Lawmakers Are Willing To Take Food From Poor Kids In Order To Keep LGBT People From Having Equal Rights | The Boeskool

  19. Pingback: Boycotting Target Is About The Least “Christian” Thing You Could Do | The Boeskool

  20. Pingback: Before We Forget About Orlando, Here Are 4 Ways Christians Need To Change | The Boeskool

  21. Pingback: When Christianity Becomes A Cult | The Boeskool

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s