Should I leave an LBGTQ affirming Church? How should I respond?

(Sieglinde) #21

Thank you for your reply. Yesterday I was awoken at 3am. I was distressed and prayed dillengtly. I had prepared a letter to my pastor and his wife a month ago but had not sent it. I wanted to be sure that I expressed my disagreement with the most love and respect I could muster up.
Then I got an e-mail from my pastors wife on the very subject. The timing was right so I sent my response. In my letter, I informed her that I could not support their view and that it was time for me to move on.
Thankfully, because I waited (which is a discipline I am still growing in to) she responded very lovingly. She thanked me for the well “thought through” and “well written” letter. She said it was important to them that I go where I feel led to go.
Interesting you bring up the inerrancy. Because Stan Mitchell (public aware of so feel it’s ok to name) is a very gifted speaker (and if your not listening with “spiritual ears” can be quite compelling) was speaking at our church. He slipped in the comment “so much for the inerrancy of the Bible.” I had a hard time focusing after that comment. If the Bible is in error in one place that makes ALL of scripture questionable. Even Jesus.
Am I correct in saying that? Thoughts and corrections please!

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(Kenny) #22

Thanks for being open to share with us how it went @sig. :slight_smile:

It was definitely a divine timing for all that to fall in place, so praise the Lord for it.

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In relation to your question on whether the bible can be in error, I think it is good to explore what the definition of error is, because just off hand, I can already list out a few perspectives on this:

  • error in theology (e.g. The trinity is not real. Jesus did not die on the cross.)
  • error in translation (e.g. ‘Confess’ in the greek is actually ‘Metanoia’ which is the ‘change of mind’ rather than our usual thought that it is ‘to declare your sins to God / a spiritual leader’.)
  • error in interpretation (Sorry, but I can’t seem to think of any off hand at the moment, :sweat:, but hopefully you get the idea.)

Just to list a few.

I don’t know the full context of Stan Mitchell’s claim about the bible being erroneous, because that sentence can also be positioned as a form of sarcasm against those who claim that there are errors in the bible. Therefore, I am unsure how to accurately address his statement directly.

But I do believe that it it is regarding theology, the bible is God-inspired, and therefore it cannot be wrong. It’s not to say that the people writing it are perfect. However, if I were to ask someone to write the entire alphabet once, it is possible that he / she is able to create a perfect copy. Though to keep repeating it without errors might be questionable.

If it is in relation to translation / interpretation, I do believe that yes, it is actually possible, but I wouldn’t say that the bible itself is erroneous. It is the people to are taking the bible and translating / interpreting it who are the ones who input the erroneous factor.

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(Sieglinde) #23

Thank you Kyrie. “ sarcasm against those who claim there are errors in the Bible.”
That is an excellent point! I had not thought about that. Perhaps my “spiritual ears” were not listening close enough. I would have to go back and listen to that message again.

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(Mitchell A Strickling) #24

Great questions. I feel a huge tension here (but lets be honest I feel tension in most of life).

I live in Midland, TX (pretty dang conservative population) and attend a Presbyterian church that I was raised in. The church split from the PCUSA a couple years back over the LGBQT+ debate and went with a more traditional/conservative ECO. Despite Midland’s strong conservatism, the debate and decision was pretty earth-rattling. I am pretty content in their decision. Interestingly, I recently realized that although I reject full-blown Calvinism, I attend a church within a denomination that fully supports a Calvinistic belief system (I am pretty sure you have to accept Calvinism to be ordained). Nevertheless, I am not going to switch denominations anytime soon, and I definitely do not feel as though I am being “led astray” (despite the HUGE theological implications). And I think most of those sentiments, or lack thereof, are because this is not a polarized public issue. And let’s be honest, most people do not care (although I do think about the free-will/predestination/determinism ALL THE TIME and would love to hear your comments). That said, I feel as through there should be tension between the Calvinism / Presbyterian reality that does not align with my beliefs, but there really is not.

On the other side of the story, my girlfriend lives in Austin (a much more moderate, perhaps even liberal population) and attends a church that affirms the LGBQT+ community. The LGBQT+ issue is so polarizing in both the public sphere and within the Church that most people cannot help but think and talk about the subject regularly. I really do love the church there in Austin, yet feel a HUGE tension in the fact that it affirms the LGBQT+ community.

All in all, I find it interesting that many Presbyterians would have pretty big theological issues if they knew their entire pastoral team were full-blown Calvinist, yet because this issue is not in the mainstream news media it is not discussed. Inversely, because the LGBQT+ topic is being so polarized, one feels as though they might be “led astray” by a pastoral team/church if their church happens to fall more on the liberal side of theology.

(Sieglinde) #25

Can you elaborate more on “love the cancer?” I’m pretty sure I understand it but I didn’t address that in my response. I had to twist my head in several directions to wrap my brain around that one.

(Kathleen) #26

@sig – Now it’s my turn to wrap my mind around my own question. Ha! I suppose I was just engaging with the metaphor Kenny gave us. He likened indwelling sin to cancer…which I think is a fair comparison. But sometimes people see certain human predispositions (such as sexuality, temperament, personality, etc.) as ‘just a part of who they are’. We run into difficult spots when one person diagnoses parts of another person’s predispositions or motivations as being cancerous. (Cancer is agreed upon by most people to be an evil to needs to be ‘got rid of’.)

Let’s take sexuality, since that is what we’re somewhat discussing here… there are many people in this world who contend that the celibate lifestyle (esp. if religiously motivated) is upheld by unhealthy, cancerous ideas which keep one from being released into the fullest expression of humanity. As a single, Christian woman, I push back (sometimes quite angrily) against this idea that I am not fully human if I am not having sex. I see God’s confinement of sex to marriage between a man and a woman as a good, life-giving thing, not a cancer. So, in a way, I love my so-called ‘cancer’.

Similarly, when Christians refer to sin as cancer, it will often not be viewed as such. People will often love their various ‘cancers’ because it’s a part of who they are.

So, my question off the back of the analogy then is… how do we relate to people who love in themselves what we believe to be cancerous? Do we only focus on the cancer and eradicating it? Or is there much more to a human being than the various cancers we all have? :thinking:

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(Curran Harms) #27

Here is a episode that kinda reflects on this issue below.

If a church is teaching something that is undoctrinal then I would address the matter and tell them to change and if they wont, I would leave that church. That is my opinion. Paul spoke to the church of corinthians over sexual issues.

The most loving thing in the world at times is the truth. It may offend people but we need to remember that we are not identified by our sexuality, but our identity is in Christ.

I will be praying for you on this. In this culture it seems that this js a sensative subject. The church should welcome all people regardless of beliefs but it doesnt mean a church should permit things that are sinful.

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(Kenny) #28

This may be a bit overdue, haha, cause I sat on it for a while. Just to build on, on what @KMac asked.

I think we need to separate the feelings towards the condition vs the actions we take towards the condition. It is definitely not wrong to feel anger towards the “cancer”, however that doesn’t necessitate that action needs to be done to “remove” the "cancer’. In fact, only God can be the doctor to remove it from that individual, not us. Our role on earth is to love others, and be the support that they need.

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However, I am in agreement that being celibate does not equate to having cancer. After all, Paul himself did preach this:

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

If this is in relation to the area of LGBT as we were discussing about previously, I think as it is a deviation from the sacredness of what marriage is intended to be, then yes, I think it is fair to consider it a “cancer”. Otherwise, if you choose to stay single, it is up to an individual’s choice, and Paul is clear that both marriage or staying single are acceptable.

Regardless of the individual’s choice, we have every right to not condone it. However, it does not necessarily mean it’s our job to fix the issue. It’s solely God’s role in that matter.

(Sieglinde) #31

I have an employee who is gay. I interviewed him for an assignment in the core module @RZIM. Since that day, we have become pretty close. In all honesty, I don’t care that he is gay. When he talks about his partner I find it endearing. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. I would do just about anything for him or his partner if I were asked. And I truly mean that.

So I guess to answer your question __" how do we relate to people who love in themselves what we believe to be cancerous? Do we only focus on the cancer and eradicating it?
Or is there much more to a human being than the various cancers we all have?
__
I love the person and leave the “loving the cancer” between them and God.
After all, I am broken too. And I wouldn’t want anyone to treat me “according to my brokenness” but to look past that and show me love. But, I do want truth.

Since I have officially left my church, I have had a churning in my stomach. I have had anxiety which is very difficult to navigate through. I deal with it through prayer and it subsides but before long returns.
What I want to be understood is, it’s not me who is doing the judging. The word of God is. It judges me too. So I feel a church should uphold this and not compromise for any of us so that we are not led astray.
__Romans 16:17
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”
__

Would that be the correct scripture to reference concerning a church teaching and condoning what you believe to be contrary to the word of God? :pensive: And is it wrong for a Christian to keep quiet until they are asked if they believe certain behaviors are wrong? :zipper_mouth_face:

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(Kathleen) #32

Ah, man, my heart goes out to you…esp. as you battle the anxiety. That must have been such a heart-wrenching decision. But it really does seem that you have done what you needed to do. Paul, not just there in Romans, but in other letters, is always encouraging the churches to be mindful to not deviate from the Gospel, so I greatly respect the wrestling you’ve had to do in this whole situation. As for if it is right or wrong to keep quiet… I think it’s tremendously difficult to judge that. One has to follow the Spirit’s leading…though, we need to really examine why we would be keeping quiet. What is silencing us? Fear? Apathy? And if one feels led to challenge the leadership, it needs to be done with respect. So tricky!

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(Carson Weitnauer) #33

Hi @sig,

I am stirred to love God more by how you have explained your situation. It is evident that you have a real care for your employee and his partner. And, I think this is a humble way of expressing God’s commands:

What I want to be understood is, it’s not me who is doing the judging. The word of God is. It judges me too. So I feel a church should uphold this and not compromise for any of us so that we are not led astray.

I agree that we should all take stock of our lives before God’s word - and realize that we each stand in need of his grace. We are all called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. There isn’t intended to be a ‘comfortable lane’ for ‘our’ discipleship and a ‘hard path’ for ‘others.’ We’re all in this together as the disciples of Jesus, the crucified one.

Leaving a church leads to a tough transition period. There is a healthy grieving of what has been lost - familiarity, relationships, and the positive values of that community. And it will take time to find another church that is placing God’s word as the authority over everyone’s life.

I think you will find encouragement in this time from meditating on 1 Timothy 3:1-16. Paul wrote these things so that, “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” The standards for church leaders are clear - their behavior and their teaching must be above reproach.

When and how we might have the responsibility to speak to church leaders about a gap between these standards and their example is going to depend a great deal on our own circumstances. However, I hope this at least provides you with a clear benchmark for what any Christian’s expectations should be for the leadership of a church.

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(Ruth Marie Romero) #36

Aloha. I’d like to reply not having read any other replies first. So let me say this topic is sensitive for sure. I can feel your dilemma. I myself wrestle with how to approach these matters in our ever quickly changing world. I am going to have to say just trust the Holy spirit to lead you. I am sure you won’t hurt anyone because your intention is not to hurt. But for your own growth and accountability to what God is saying to you, it sounds like it is time to make your decision/stand and move on gently in love. Do not take any reactions personally because if you get negative reactions just realize it isn’t about you but the one who lives inside you and Jesus stirred up some conflict sometimes in His day with the truth. Blessings to you.

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(Pam Carroll) #37

Sig,
I am so moved by your story and thank you for sharing. Two things must be considered regarding your question. Should the church embrace someone who is tempted or has SSA but is NOT active and/or deeply troubled and struggling with their sexual identity or is the individual actively engaging in the lifestyle and refuses to confess his/her sin? Temptation is not a sin but acting out on that temptation is a sin. Yes, the church should embrace those struggling in their sexual identity. When you leave someone alone to figure it out on their own, more often that not they will turn to the first place of acceptance. Anyone who is actively engaged in homosexual behavior is not in God’s will and should not be embraced or celebrated by the church anymore that the church who would embrace someone committing adultery, “shacking up” or sexually intimate outside the confines of marriage. Embracing someone who is struggling with SSA is not the same as celebrating or participating someone living in their sin. Ask the question, if the same individual was heterosexual but committing adultery, would he not have expected to repent of his sin of adultery and forbidden to be ordained as long as he was living in sin.

There is a movement called the Reformation Project that was started a few years ago by Matthew Vines. The movement claims to be “Bible-base, Christian grassroots organization that works to promote inclusion of the LGBT community by reforming church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity.” It becomes difficult and confusing for Christians who believe in the unchanging truth of God’s word when this issue hits close to home. Many are easily influenced by “reformed church teachings” when it comes to making a choice between our children, a family member or friend and God.
No matter how much it my hurt, we have to rely on the truth of scripture, leave it in God’s hands and pray for the lost to be saved. Jesus invited a man to follow Him and become His disciple but the man refused. He said he would follow Jesus later, but first he wanted to go bury his father. Jesus responded, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22). This sounds a bit harsh but Jesus was telling the man, look, if you love me, do not allow anything to come between you and I. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). In Matthew 10:37-38, Jesus says, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Then in Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
Blessings,
Pam

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(Pam Carroll) #38

I so loved what you wrote here! “I love the person and leave the “loving the cancer” between them and God. After all, I am broken too. And I wouldn’t want anyone to treat me “according to my brokenness” but to look past that and show me love. But, I do want truth.”
As for your question, “And is it wrong for a Christian to keep quiet until they are asked if they believe certain behaviors are wrong?” I think it is our silence is what has gotten us into this mess. The LGBT community and their supporters are “Out Loud and Proud.” As one who lived in the lifestyle and now knows Jesus as my personal Savior, I think we need to be bold warriors of God, spread the Gospel and to speak the truth.
Blessings Pam

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(Sieglinde) #39

Thank you! Your insight here is much appreciated :heart: