Discussing
The cost of exclusion

Glenn Goodfellow

Lynn Carr
May 1, 2012

It's called holiness.

William Harris
May 1, 2012

Were some one in my family gay? I would start with hospitality. I would want to set the table and make sure that he or she is always welcome. Always.

At church, I would make sure there is always a place at the potluck. I would sing together. Pray together. And because I'm not ordained, I would break off the bread and give it and say, "this is Christ's body broken for you."

A model that shuts people out or hardens hearts is not the stuff of Grace. Rather, we need the wisdom to let tares and wheat grow; to nurture the wheat, in full confidence that a the Last Day, goodness and delight win, and the weeds fall away.

Thomas Peck
May 1, 2012

Here is the problem as I read it: you are worshiping your sexuality and not worshiping God. You are defining yourself by whom you sexually desire and not as a child of God.
You are not willing to conform yourself to Christ but have embraced your sinfulness.
I am not judging (condeming) you, just telling you the Truth, repent of your sins (not just your sexual activities) and recieve Christ as Savior and Lord.
To the point of your message, though, Scripture tells us to turn away those whose sins are visible for the purpose of their seeing their sins as sin so that they may return to fellowship when they repent of those sins. This removal is to be done out of love for the individual in hopes for their restoration. If their intent was to harm or hurt you, then they should repent of that sin.
That being said, God does not call the individual to reject the sinner and it is unfortunate that your family is acting in such an ungodly manner. Just because someone is sinning (and are not harming us in that sin) should we turn them away. We should confront their sin, but it is God who changes the heart which, in turn, changes the person.

Rosemary Nickerson
May 1, 2012

I once visited a church in Mexico. I asked how I should dress for the occasion: hat, dress or slacks, what was appropriate? The response spoke love to me in such a deep way, I have never forgotten it. "We all come to church to worship, not judge one another. God will speak to individual hearts to tell them what needs changing."

Only a truly loving, serving church will welcome all people to fellowship. It is hard to remember that it is Christ's church, not our own.

On the other side, most LGTB's shun churches by projecting fear, judgement, criticism. They hardly give us a chance to reach out to them.

Rosemary

Ian Mabbitt
May 2, 2012

I think Glenn you want to have your cake & eat it too. You want to belong to the Church of God, The Body of Christ & at the same time not only keep your sin without repentance but openly flaunt it to others. Homosexual acts may be as legal as Adulterous acts in New Zealand or your country but they are still sin full acts. When we come to Jesus Christ in repentance & Faith we are born again by the Spirit of God just as we are. As we grow in Grace the Holy Spirit will point out sin & hidden sin we need to repent of & this may take a lifetime, but you know your sin & have chosen to ignore it. If I had someone in my family gay I would want my church to nurture their faith by treating them the same as any other person. With Christ like love & compassion and good Biblical teaching - leaving nothing out whether warnings against Adultery, Gluttony or Homosexuality! But always stressing the Love & Grace of God to forgive.

James Gilmore
May 2, 2012

I think you gave us all rhetorical whiplash here. In one sentence, you tell the writer of this piece that he is "not willing to conform [him]self to Christ but ha[s] embraced [his] sinfulness," suggesting that you know exactly what is in his heart and mind and soul, and then in the very next sentence you have the temerity to write "I am not judging (condemning) you."

Those two statements are incompatible with one another, despite your weak attempt to paper over your judgmentalism by saying you're "just telling [him] the Truth" as if it is somehow an objective, absolute, and certain thing that your particular hermeneutic and interpretation of the Bible is the right one.

Oh, and "defining [him]self by who [he] sexually desires"? No. It is the culture that forces that upon him, and upon all LGBT people. It is straight privilege that you and I *don't* have to define ourselves by our sexuality, because our culture sees straight as "the norm," and engages in harassing, hating, assaulting, ostracizing, and often killing those who fall outside of that—with people who claim to follow Christ, shamefully, often standing at the front of the crowd hurling metaphorical stones at our LGBT brothers and sisters.

Chris Algoo
May 2, 2012

The comments on this article show what an uphill battle it is to gain acceptance among Christians. All the same, I believe it's a battle you can win, and in doing so, show the world what Christian Love can actually mean.

Chris Algoo
May 2, 2012

It's understandable given the way many churches treat LGBT's, isn't it?

Stephen Steiner
May 2, 2012

Now a little about myself. I am a white American Heterosexual that works as a full time missionary. Politically I am an independent because, partially because I don't like a lot of things that "conservative Christian Americans" stand for... things always get messy when you try to treat politics like it is part of your faith and don't do things the other way around. I know people that are gay, and some that used to identify themselves as being gay. I like them, and I agree that there is value in knowing people who are gay, just like it helps to know people who are Muslim. It could be easy to get caught up in needless hate mongering when you don't have a face for what you know.

I don't think there is much of a point in telling others that aren't followers of Jesus how to live. Part of the power of the Gospel is that it can transform those of us who believe. We aren't called to change and then reciprocate in our relationship with Jesus. Instead we are called to come to Jesus/God, and start the life long process of becoming more like him, and adhering to what the Bible teaches. So I don't tell non Jesus followers how to live regardless of sexual orientation. My job as a Christian is to model God's love to them.

The thing is though, Christianity isn't merely a warm blanket of acceptance one you are a follower of Jesus. This is part of the point of the Bible. I do believe it is infallible, and I also believe it is God's word. It tells us to love others, it says God loves us all the same, but it also expects that as followers of Jesus we try to stop sinning, and we use the power that the Holy Spirit gives us to say no to temptation. So when someone choses to start making their relationship with Jesus go both ways, then it is reasonable to expect to see change in their life. In fact if we don't see change in their life, or ever worse if they continue to proudly live in any kind of sin (such as for instance "playing house" as more and more young men and women are doing today) believers are instructed to act. I don't believe this is a pitchfork and torches kind of act, but we can lovingly show people what God's word says, and help give them encouragement.

So I have to admit that this article does bother me a little. It seems like there are only two conclusions that I am allowed to draw from it. One conclusion is that God's word contains at least one fallacy (you know, the part about the whole gay thing), and if that is the case then what is the point in believing in any of it. The other possible conclusion is that the writer has chosen to overlook that part of the Bible, since I don't know him I won't make any assumptions further than that. I love people who are in live in boy-girlfriend situations, homosexuals and other people that aren't living the kind of life that the Bible calls us to. However if they are people I have a relationship with or may be disciplining, I still can't ignore that kind of behavior if they are a professing Christian. In the end though it is God who changes hearts, I just try to do what I'm taught and told.

Angelia Sparrow
May 3, 2012

I think the void is only there until the QUILTBAG realizes YHWH is not the only game in town.

There is a reason that paganism is popular with LGBT people. It meets our spiritual needs, while giving us gods who actually understand us, and who don't hate us for who and what we are.

Being required to be the exact opposite of yourself for a god to love you is a sign that This Is Not The Right God For You. (Thinking women bump up against this too)

TimF
May 3, 2012

"... a theological debate set on determining if our existence is beyond the scope of Christ’s redemption."

Well, that certainly is not a debate on the top of my list of things worth discussing. The only people beyond Christ's redemption are those who do not belong to him (Eph. 2 and Heb 11:6 come to mind). I gladly leave it up to the Holy Spirit to define of who those people are. It moots the debate.

And as for whether someone who is gay needs to change in order to come to Christ, I'd say the first thing is to come to Christ. Changes come by his work in our lives, and for those of us who belong to him we can rest assured that change will certainly come. If God desires a change in one's life - whether sexuality or anything else - he will make it so. (Phil 1:6.)

Cheers,
Tim

TimF
May 3, 2012

YHWH's not the only game in town? Jesus got it wrong? Hmm ... No, I think I'll go with Jesus on this one.

Cheers,
Tim

Rustywheeler
May 3, 2012

Meh.

As a former evangelical Christian and thoroughly unrepentant gay man, I must say that all of the handwringing about not being accepted by the church has grown a little wearisome. The bottom line is that some churches WILL accept you and some will not. Add this issue to the long list of schisms in the Bride of Christ, whose members cannot even unanimously resolve fundamentals like theodicy, determinism, and the works/grace dichotomy, much less the niggling little details of sexuality. Every believer, everywhere, CHOOSES the faith and the particulars of it that fits and comforts him. We are all pickers of cherries.

Full-throated universal acceptance of gay people by all Christians? Ain't never gonna happen.

Cavyn Smith
May 3, 2012

How do you base your faith-filled relationship biblically? I'm just really curious. I attended a Lutheran grade school and have always attended a Baptist church.

James Gilmore
May 4, 2012

"So I have to admit that this article does bother me a little. It seems like there are only two conclusions that I am allowed to draw from it. One conclusion is that God's word contains at least one fallacy [...] The other possible conclusion is that the writer has chosen to overlook that part of the Bible."

There is a third possibility: That you're approaching the Bible with an improper hermeneutic and a set of cultural predeterminations about what the Bible says, and thus coming away with the wrong interpretation of what the Bible says about sexuality.

It's not like this hasn't happened before; Southerners of the antebellum era came to the Bible with a hermeneutic and cultural predetermination that said that the Bible not only justified but encouraged the holding of slaves, some preachers in the 1960s came to the Bible with a hermeneutic and cultural predetermination that said that the Bible justified Jim Crow and laws against interracial marriage, and some preachers continue to come to the Bible with a hermeneutic and cultural predetermination that says that people with two X chromosomes are biologically incapable of being called to full-time service in the leadership of the Church.

Don't assume that your hermeneutical approach is the only one and that you have the absolute interpretation of Scripture—because many who made that assumption in the history of the Church have come to regret that assumption as God changed their hearts later in life.

Ashley Headrick
May 4, 2012

I think the church should be accepting of educating people on the teachings of the Bible. I believe they should foster their love in God. People have to be willing to acknowledge that what they are doing is a sin. Lets look at this from another stand point as from another sin that is obvious in the Bible. If a liar was upfront and open that they are a liar, as in it was obvious in the mannerism and speaking and then did not repent and change from their ways would it be appropriate to allow them to serve in the church? The Bible says that we are to be honest. Are we to allow someone flamboyant in their sin to represent the house of God? What would it say about the church as a whole? That we are a group of liars and the gospel does not mean anything to us. This would hurt the kingdom of God. God's grace is abundant but we must accept His help and repent of our sin. The church should choose to meet people where they are at and offer the wisdom needed to fight the sin but if the person refuses to acknowledge it than the church should not "feed" the sin. Sin is not okay.. all sin leads to death. We ALL are sinners however there is a difference between habitual unrepentant flaunted sin and everyday sin. There is also a difference between knowing that Jesus is a savior and knowing Jesus are the Lord over our lives. Even the devil knows that Jesus is a savior. The devil does not allow Jesus as Lord of His life. Making Jesus Lord means knowing that the Holy Trinity is one God and that God's plan for existence was Good. If we don't understand, value, and keep His Word.
Matthew 7:22-24
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

TeeJay
May 5, 2012

Some things to be said:

When you say that churches "no longer value them [homosexuals]", there needs to be a distinction between the actual person and the very strident gay agenda which has social engineering as its goal.

Every human person possesses equal human dignity--no other criteria necessary. Gay people possess equal dignity with heterosexuals. However, not all actions conform to that dignity equally.

Sex has something to do with the progeneration of the human race. When you separate sex from openness to procreation, you begin to change its meaning from self-donation to self-fulfillment (which is only one of its aspects, and in isolation it becomes self-centeredness). Often, homosexuals are looking for acceptance from their partner that they didn't get from their same-sex parent. In many cases they are acting out abuse that they were themselves the victims of.

Love is, of course, a good in itself. In its proper context, sex is a physical manifestation of that love. However, sex is not solely the domain of the autonomous will. When some of the aspects of the act are rejected--namely the procreative aspect--the act begins to be less than self-donation. Putting the one that is loved at physical risk, is not fully love; It is not fully self-sacrificing.

Lastly, children are (properly understood) the result of self-sacrificing love. Human life is not a commodity to be mass produced and customized. Human life is the product of human love, not science.

Most heterosexual relationships in our culture are guilty of all of the above.

Jackie Huntley
May 5, 2012

I don't think Thomas is judging at all. If you have dirt on your face, and I hand you a mirror so that you can see the dirt on your face, I am not judging you. The whole bible is one big mirror to show us our sins. If you have a problem with any part of the bible, the immediate response is to declare there is something wrong with the bible. But what sense does that make? Glenn Goodfellow obviously doesn't reject God. He simply doesn't think that God's standard as revealed in the Bible is perfect. Most people justify that the text is flawed, too old, translated too many times, misunderstood, the works of men, full of contradictions, and a thousand other excuses to keep from taking it seriously. Personally, how you interpret the bible is up to you, but understand that this is relative truth and it is quite prevalent in our post-modern society. There is, however, only one absolute truth. And if you are at all interested in finding it, then be prepared to accept it, even if what it says is not what you want to hear. And that goes for Young Earth Creationist as well. The bible doesn't say the earth is 6000 years old. It says MANKIND as we know it is 6000 years. old. Dating he earth by the genealogy of men is as absurd as dating a house the birth-date of it's owner. One has nothing to do with the other. I stand firm by every word in the bible. And when it says "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth" it is the same exact thing science has been saying all along.... The Big Bang happened at time (t) = 0, more commonly known as "In the beginning..."

Ggoodfellow
May 5, 2012

Hello there, friends. It’s Glenn Goodfellow writing, the author of the article above. What a joy to read the fantastic discussions taking place both here on TC as well as on FaceBook—there’s some serious passion here!

As I’ve read the discussions here, I’ve also been reading some other stories that have come across my laptop:
-Reading about North Carolina pastors advocating violence against gay children.
-Reading about a group called the “Angry Queers” in Portland, Oregon smashing the windows of an evangelical church.
-Reading about another LGBT youth suicide in Utah

On and on…it’s all so extreme and all so sad.

At the core of this discussion (and I hope it remains a true discussion) is the simple reminder that we all live in this world together. As members of faith we are called to journey towards our divinity on an arduous road. The people we encounter on that sojourn are there for a reason. And yes, some of them happen to be gay.

My hope is that I will be able to continue walking in empathy and kindness, letting other see what my version of goodness looks like. What does yours look like?

Ken Boyer
May 6, 2012

Answers:
1) Turning away "gay and lesbian believers" should be dealt with in the same was as turning away adulterers, murderers, idolaters, and gossips. They need to either repent or be excluded.
2) If someone in my family were gay, see answer one (although, I would be weeping profusely).
Sorry, but there's no other way, no other answer that can be given. Ultimately, I believe that this issue will lead to open persecution against Christians who will not change on this stance. With God's grace, I will pray for you as you carry out your hatred against those of us who you believe hate you. We really don't; there's just not enough time in our lives to spend it burning with hatred towards you. Pity and sadness; yes. Hatred; no. But, somehow, I don't think you care at all about what I say if I don't agree with you completely.
Best regards,
Ken

AJCheney
May 6, 2012

This is a beautifully written insightful piece. Many of the subsequent comments are just sad. For anyone to assume they could handle the situation biblically given the same set of circumstances is arrogant and ironic being that we obviously so often fail to live up to the two most important commandments given to us as followers of Christ. Love the Lord, Love his people. It's very easy to cast down the sins of another man when you yourself have not been faced with his circumstances. Likewise, pointing out where someone else errs is far more simple than turning our gaze inward to address the sin in our own lives. We are to be the hands and feet of God; loving who he loves, healing who he would have healed... when we begin to become his bullhorn, we fail; and in doing so we hinder the word of God and weigh it down. Do you assume that we serve a God so weak, so incompetent, that he is unable to communicate his will to one of his children? Why then, do you take that task upon yourself? Do not delude yourself to feign that you are "rebuking a brother in love." You are ramming the agenda developed by your personal insecurities down the throat of another child of God in order to self-promote and feel entitled. In order to rebuke in love, you must first establish love. Let's not forget the pride most definitely comes before the fall. Step down off the high horse and show men and women, regardless of their sexuality, the love of Christ and allow his GOODNESS to lead them to repentance because chances are you don't know the way.

James Gilmore
May 7, 2012

"Glenn Goodfellow obviously doesn't reject God. He simply doesn't think that God's standard as revealed in the Bible is perfect."

That statement contains a host of presumptions:
(a) The Bible's primary intent is to reveal "God's standard," rather than as a narrative about how God has interacted with God's people throughout history;
(b) "God's standard" is intelligible from the Biblical text to such a degree of self-evident clarity as to require absolutely no interpretive act from the reader or writer; and
(c) "God's standard" from the Bible is an absolute and objective set of rules to be followed at all times by all people.

There are those who would suggest, based on 1 Tim 2:12, that you are wrong to write on this forum because you could be teaching men; why is it that you don't see that interpretation of Scripture as "God's standard"? What makes your interpretation, which would seem to go against a plain literal reading of the Scripture, superior to theirs? Or is it that you simply don't want to accept that particular part of the Bible as literal, but are happy to apply a literal interpretation to the parts that apply to other people's lives?

(For the record, I don't take that part of the Bible at all literally, and have been under the teaching and pastorship of some wise, intelligent, and incredible women, including my current bishop and several of the priests at my church; the above is intended as an intellectual exercise to point to the fact that each and every one of us engages in interpretation of Scripture, and not one of us takes it literally.)

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
May 7, 2012

Ken,

I appreciate that you answered the questions posed on this piece, but hesitated to approve your comment because of your use of the phrase "hatred." To be clear, I don't see how anyone could characterize Glenn's point or the tone of his piece as hateful. So far the tone of this conversation has, for the most part, been even-tempered. Here's hoping we can keep it that way.

Josh Larsen
Think Christian editor

Thomas Peck
May 16, 2012

Are you honestly saying that pointing out when someone sins is judgmentalism? Does not Scripture tell us to speak the truth in love? Is it more loving to allow him to live decieved?
It is not hate to say that your sins, unless covered by Christ, will cause His judgement on you in eternity. Just giving him a warning and apologizing for the unloving ways of others.

Bruce Meyer
May 22, 2012

This article (and similar ones) conflate--mix up and confuse--two really distinct groups: those who had been living a life of faith and turn their backs on faith to embrace a life of blatant, conspicuous sin; and the other group, of those who make no particular claim to faith in God and do the kinds of things that unbelievers do, like "drink and smoke and dance" and have homosexual sex. The latter group *ought* to feel welcome among Christians--and in my experience they *always* do except for not wanting to get to close to God themselves. The former group, the grace-renouncing group, want to think that the church should rejoice in their new found ways, and we don't, so they call us judgmental! This is exactly how Christians are told we *should* divide things up, and this is how we actually do divide things up in my experience.

Renée Villani
May 26, 2012

My Church does not turn away anyone. (Period). There are many who identify themselves as "gay" and go to Mass without issue.
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm

Rick Weaver
May 25, 2013

This is going to be a very difficult issue for churches and for our country over the next few years. Many of us believe that people are not simply "born gay", but that there are a number of factors that lead a person to engage in homosexual behavior. If this is your understanding, a corollary is that there is really not an upper limit on the percentage of people who can be enticed into the homosexual lifestyle. The church (and individual Christians) must be open and loving toward sinners of all types (as Christ was) in hopes that the sinner will turn to Christ in faith and repentance. However, the church must also protect its people (particularly its young) from being drawn into any sinful lifestyle, from prostitution to adultery to homosexuality. Striking a balance between those two imperatives will not be easy.

Joanna Meyer
June 13, 2016

In Reply to William Harris (comment #17437)
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AMEN!

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