Last week I heard a wonderful, energetic, yet serious radio debate on the topic “Is the Church Failing Gay Christians?” Surprisingly, it was between a heterosexual Christian arguing for complete acceptance of Gay Christian relationships, and a same-sex-attracted Christian arguing for an orthodox Biblical view of celibacy for gays. It was hosted by the weekly Premier Radio show Unbelievable and can also be heard below.
Taking the Bible seriously – Steve Chalke, heterosexual, church leader, well-known speaker, founder of Oasis, UN advisor on people trafficking, and outspoken advocate of stable gay relationships.
And, taking the Bible seriously – Ed Shaw, same-sex-attracted, church leader, well-known speaker, co-founder of livingout.org, and outspoken advocate of celibacy for Christians experiencing lesbian and gay attraction.
The discussion was refreshing. For once, this was not a debate on detailed interpretation of Biblical texts, but an open discussion on how the church is caring or failing to care, for LGBT folk who profess the Christian faith.
Whatever you make of his view Steve Chalke effectively brought this debate into the open in January 2013 with his video calling for an open discussion (re-posted below).
Some of the themes which emerged and on which Steve and Ed agreed on
First, the problem of labelling goes both ways. Our churches have gay and lesbian people who are terrified of becoming known as homosexual, and also many churches who want to adopt a caring, yet orthodox view are terrified as becoming known as homophobic.
Second, the discussion invariably becomes polarized. It seems you are either 100% in favour of gay relationships and gay marriage, or you hate gays. However there are other positions Christians can hold (such as that of Ed Shaw for one).
Third, as well as the question “Is the church failing gay Christians?” we should ask “is the church letting down all people who are not married with kids?” Ie all people who don’t fit our stylised view of healthy normality, including singles, widows/widowers and divorcees. We must be able to support people of any sexuality and status, especially those in a minority.
And last, of course one’s position in the gay Christian discussion matters, but what matters more is the need to get hold of the elephant — break the silence and have the conversation in our churches, our congregations and youth groups.
In closing I am reminded of something my previous pastor Steve Rowley once told me: “pastoral care is a messy business”, he said, “peoples’ lives are untidy” (including our own). Caring is not an easy business, yet it is the business of the church.
Explore This Topic
After reading this briefest of summaries, you might consider listening to the whole discussion or reading the accompanying article in Christianity magazine.
- 10 minutes to spare? Take a look at livingout.org which contains stories from same-sex-attracted Christians living celibate lives (and for an opposite view try acceptingevangelicals.org)
- 30 minutes. Above + read the article in Christianity Magazine
- 90 minutes. Above + listen to the discussions on Unbelievable:
Steve Chalke — original video, January 2013 (if video does not play, click here)
This blog was based on material from Unbelievable. Unbelievable is a weekly show on the theme “faith explored”. Stimulating, provoking, on the edge, it often includes debate between atheist and Christian world views.
For this Unbelievable debate and a full set of related links, click here.