Saturday, May 30, 2009

Coincident Paths

Last night wifey and I went out with another couple for a few hours without children. A rare opportunity for both families to find good alternatives simultaneously. We went to a nearby pub, mostly populated by much younger folks, and had some beer and bar food. We know these folks quite well, which means we can often have meaningful conversations without the risk of offense. Good thing, since I am not always known for social graces in lieu of honesty.

The conversation wandered through recent kids' sports activities, and ended up, as it often does, discussing theology and church. Specifically the acceptance of practicing homosexuals into the church body. It was interesting because one of those at the table took a very traditional approach, along the lines of "love the sinner hate the sin" although without actually using that tired - and nearly meaningless - cliche. Underneath though, there was the implication that this person was less than comfortable with the local church openly welcoming practicing homosexuals.** The idea, I think, was that by accepting these folks, loving these folks, we put an explicit stamp of approval on their behavior.

I'll admit, I'm not debating the correctness (or sinfulness) of homosexuality here. What I am hoping to point out is that until we can openly love everyone, openly accept everyone, we don't need to worry about what to do with them. What we are commanded to do is love our neighbors. If you really believe homosexuality is a sin, then what better way to convince a homosexual of this than to bring them to Christ, and let the Holy Spirit do the work? Leaving them outside until they change themselves is simply not an option.

In a recent Leadership Journal, John Ortberg wrote a great piece titled "The Sin Tamer." Here's a snippet:

The problem with what might be called the "victorious Christian living" mindset is not that it takes sin too seriously. The problem is it inevitably becomes selective about which sins God hates the most, and they always end up being somebody else's sin.
That quote kind of says it all. Unless you are going to preach against gluttony or sloth and reject the participation of overweight or lazy people, they why the major focus on homosexuality? I can imagine some reasons, for one, it's easy. (The same reason why we in New York continue to increase taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Who's going to argue?) We all know that we are not to judge, but this in practice is extremely difficult. Ditto for loving others, especially those unlike ourselves.

So, what's up with the title? My point on Coincident Paths is that regardless of what you or your church believes regarding homosexuality, we have many, many, struggles to overcome together before we need to nitpick about how bad a sin it is, or if it is a choice, or how fast they'll catch fire in hell. Wait until you can turn to the gay person in the pew next to you, look them in the eye and say "I love you." When together we get there, I think we will all find that the options and possibilities open to us will be quite different. Quite different indeed.

That's all for today. I could probably go on for hours, but the sun is shining.


** I keep saying "practicing homosexuals" because even most conservative sects have generally accepted the membership, and in some cases the leadership, of openly gay people committed to celibacy.

No comments: