Can the Church Accept Gay Marriage? P6: Do We Need to Speak the Truth to Love? / A.J. Hendry

*note, this piece is the sixth piece in an ongoing series. If you’re just joining this korero, I would encourage you to start with part one, which you can find here

Introduction: Resetting the korero

Over the last few blogs in this series we have considered both the way a traditional posture towards our rainbow whanau has caused harm, and examined some key considerations that might free the church to alter and revise our posture towards our whanau in the Rainbow community.

Each of the points we have looked at so far can be held alongside a traditional view of same-sex relationships, in some upcoming blogs it is my hope to explore some of the key texts in the New Testament that dominate the conversation, and also to explore this idea of Creation Theology and how it plays into this korero. We’ll see how we go, I’d also hoped to finish this series last year, and well Covid happened and the world blew up, so I’m not making any promises around how quickly this is all going to come out.

One thing that might be worth noting if you’ve been reading this series thus far, is that I have been reflecting on how I’ve been framing this series, and had some thoughts about maybe a slightly different angle to come at this korero. You might notice some slight changes in direction, tone or style, as that reflection comes through into my writing, so if you’re someone that loves uniformity, and for things to fit nicely, than please bear with me (I also totally get that, I’m the same). I’m still figuring all this out, I’m by no ways an expert in anything, just a fellow sojourner like yourself, trying to figure out how to Love my neighbour, and serve my God, in this complex and complicated world we live in.

I hope if anything this series get’s a dialogue going, perhaps you like what I write, and think I have something worth reading (if so, thankyou, I’m humbled, and you’re crazy), or perhaps you’re just hear to slam me in the comments, or critique my writing, or to save my soul (all valid reasons, also the last one, appreciate the love), look whatever it is that brought you here, thanks for reading. As we discussed in the first of this series, the only way forward is Love. We will not all agree with each other on every theological idea, or concept, but we can agree to engage with one another in Love. To choose to see each other, not as adversities, or deviants, but as fellow human beings, loved by the Divine. This is our true identity, this is yours, this is mine. Love is the Way my friends. Let us engage, read, write, and post in Love.

I hope you read, I hope you listen, and I hope if you disagree, that you talk about it with your family, your friends, your church, whoever, start the conversation. Because, whether you agree with my perspective or not, I think we can all agree that something has to change. Whatever the reason, too many of our rainbow whanau do not feel safe, or loved, or accepted, within our communities. I think we can also all agree, that a community founded on the Way of Love, and committed to following our dear friend Jesus, should be a community where all find safety, acceptance and Love. I think we can all agree that at the very least we need to discuss and figure out how to Love our Rainbow whanau better.

Apologies about the ramble, but last note before we get into it (I promise). This time to my Rainbow whanau, thank you. There is part of me that feels so uncomfortable writing this series, putting your faith, and your humanity under the microscope, theology aside the way those within our Christian Tradition have often treated you is just not ok. I’m sorry that we have not created a space for you, I’m sorry that you have been told that you’re not welcome, I’m sorry for hurting you, I am sorry even as sorry is not enough. If you join us in this korero, please know you are loved, much of this conversation is directed at bringing whanau exploring this korero on the journey, so I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge you, your pain, your humanity, your courage, your willingness to continue to bear with us in Love, to courageously chart your own path when you were kicked off ours, to faithfully serve and follow the Divine, even when so many in your faith whanau won’t acknowledge or accept you. Know you are accepted by the Divine, know that your love and your worth is not defined by any organized structure within our Faith Tradition. Know that you are enough.

With that said, let’s get into it.

Is This a Salvation Issue?

 Before we go further in this korero I wanted to highlight one point which we have discussed over the last few blogs.

Regardless of what your stance is on covenantal same-sex relationships, or what your views are on LGBTQ inclusion within the church, there is a way to hold that traditional view, without denying the salvation of LGBTQ people, or excluding them from inclusion within Christian community (for a refresher, have a read of Part 3 where we discussed Hell, or Part 4 where we took a look at Repentance and the Gospel ).

As we’ve discussed already, this not necessarily a salvation issue, to claim that gay Christians are condemned to hell simply for being in a relationship with someone of the same sex, is to claim that salvation comes through our works, opening up a pandora’s box that we will struggle to slam shut. If Gay Christians are condemned, than we are all condemned (I explore this idea further here if you’re interested). Who amongst us lives a perfectly blameless life? Who amongst us is repentant for every single sinful thought, action, behaviour that exists in our life? Who amongst us is willing to be judged by the standard that we have set for our Queer Christian whanau?

And so, if in fact this is not a salvation issue, how would that change the way you approach this korero?

Do we need to “speak the truth” to Love?

A deeply held belief within the church is that we must always “speak the truth” in order to Love. But, what happens when your “truth” is not experienced as love, but rather as hate? When love the sinner, hate the sin, conveys not acceptance, but rejection? When welcoming, but not affirming is not welcoming at all.

What happens when your language no longer communicates your intent?

Whether you want to accept it or not, we no longer live in a culture which is dominated by Christian values and beliefs. This is a culture which is largely secular, and one which by and large does not understand what Christians mean when we talk about Sin, or Repentance, or even the Gospel. And so, when we jump into the public square – as Israel Folau and the Tamaki’s have beautifully illustrated in recent times – and start “speaking Truth in love”, without taking into account that our language does not always convey our intent, all we do is hurt people and drive them further away. Now add to this approach a long history of church sanctioned homophobia, and you begin to see why our culture is so suspicious of Christianity.

With this in mind, the Church must recognize the need to develop new language and fresh methods with which to communicate her core messages, and perhaps while we’re doing that, take a moment to remember and refocus on what those messages even are (we’ll discuss this a further a bit later).

Room for silence

But, in the meantime, let’s come back to our question. Is it possible to love our queer neighbour, and remain silent on this issue? If it is recognized that the way the Church has behaved and spoken in this space has caused harm, and that our insistence on “speaking truth” is actually driving people away, and causing our whanau harm, rather than producing the fruit of Love and grace which we hope for, is it possible that this is a time for the church to hold Her tongue? And if so, is there a theological framework within the scriptures which allow us to do this?

I believe there is, and in the next couple of blogs, we’ll discuss this further.

A.J. Hendry

One thought on “Can the Church Accept Gay Marriage? P6: Do We Need to Speak the Truth to Love? / A.J. Hendry

  1. Pingback: Can The Church Accept Gay Marriage? P8: If This is as Far as You Go… / A. J. Hendry | Reclaiming The Lamb

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