Children of same-sex families in church

(Kathleen Van Every) #1

Our church has a general news spot in its Sunday bulletin where brief one liners share news of deaths and births in the church family. Under “rejoicing” this was shared: Congratulations to (female name) and (female name) on the birth of their son, (male name). Not only has this caused consternation which hasn’t been discussed openly yet, it is also forcing me to think this through for myself so I know my own thoughts when that conversation occurs. It is one thing to be legalistic and reactive, and another to be loving and biblically truthful. When I asked a deacon he remarked that our church doesn’t condone the lifestyle but does rejoice in new birth and that the couple regularly attended church. I have no problem with gay people. I am happy this couple is in church- the best place for us sinners!Several of my friends have children in that lifestyle and my heart loves them the same. Lest that sound condescending, my own children have had other issues and been loved and accepted. I have been searching RZIM Connect for answers to questions about the church’s approach to this. Does the Bible speak to whether children of same sex families should be dedicated to God in the service? When a child is born, whether it is out of marriage, same- sex marriage , or whatever other circumstance, that baby deserves the same chance as those born in a heterosexual family. I feel this is going to cause a church split and I am grieved. What is the line , if there is one , between “not endorsing same sex marriage” but accepting the family into a church? I feel stupid even asking this- am I asking the right questions? What does “endorsing it” even look like?" No one wants to sideline the child for his parent’s public choices(bear in mind that most of have sins of a sexual nature that are not public). Searching for answers online takes me down many rabbit trails. How should I respond as a child of God and a church member? I should also mention that I feel our church sprung this out of the blue by just printing it in the bulletin but maybe there was no other way to do this. My last concern is if and when this is discussed at our business meeting later this month, this family may be present, and I cringe for what they may hear. I have been long enough. Thank you for any ways to help me think this through.

(Kathleen) #2

Hello, @plantaseed! Oof, the question of how we relate to people in the church, esp. when they do not conform to ‘Biblical ethics’ is a reeeeally tough one, and each church will have a differing approach. I can really hear you wrestling with this, and I respect that a great deal!

David Bennett is a guy whom I really respect on this issue. Have you ever heard him speak or read anything by him? If you haven’t, I commend to you his book, A War of Loves. In it, he candidly talks about becoming a Christian at a time in his life when he was actively pursuing homosexual relationships. I can’t remember the exact timeframe, but it was something like 2-3 years after his conversation that God brought him to a place of being convinced that he was not to pursue romantic love with another man. He writes about how, during that time, God was uprooting the bitterness in his heart that he harboured towards the church. Though it sounds like his church did not shirk from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and its ethical implications), I can’t imagine what would have happened to him if they would have demanded he live a certain way immediately. It seems they gave him space to work things out, which, to me, spoke of their respect for his humanity.

I say all of that because, though I can understand the institutional caution of a church with regards to not wanting to come across as endorsing same sex marriage, when there are real human lives involved, we need to tread carefully. People, in my mind, are more important than issues. Truth need not be compromised for people to be loved.

But you were also asking more practical questions:

Not directly that I am aware of. But really, is Scripture at all prescriptive of who can/cannot dedicate their baby in a service? How is that decided in your own context?

As long as it is in your power to do so, I would say: love them and love their children.

Praying for wisdom for you and others in your church! :slight_smile:

(Kathleen Van Every) #3

Your answer has given me peace. Especially “Truth need not be compromised for people to be loved.” In retrospect, the day I went to church and that announcement appeared, I was already grappling with some other weighty personal issues and I wanted to sit in church and worship without having my mind be in even more turmoil. I resented that feathers would be ruffled and that we just couldn’t let things be. I can be very selfish! I am slowly coming to realize that through struggle we grow. Through struggle we learn just how strong Christ is in us.Like a bird pecking out of a shell or a seed straining in the compacted earth to burst into sunlight, we must fight against stagnation, complacency, and mediocrity. I have also looked at what Philip Yancey has to say on the subject of homosexuality and churches and that has brought me some peace as well. Being a child of God means I am free to love because He first loved me. I don’t have to worry so much over what my church as a whole will do as long as my actions are Christ-like. I have confidence that my church body will handle this well under the leadership we have. Will there be people who up and leave? Probably. But as I am learning, attending a church where you are supposed to change first would result in either very small congregations or large ones full of deluded people. Yancey states “We must humbly follow what Scripture teaches, but we must not single out one sin above others, and we must always show a spirit of love and humility.”