The Fellowship’s Presiding Bishop has issued an official statement on the Greater Mt. Calvary gay choir member scandal we reported on. Some of the language used in the statement unfortunately portrays the accused choir members only as victims. Calling the rejection of homosexuality a “psychosis” and “oppression”, Flunder said:
This sickness has resulted in the destruction of self-esteem, open vicious attack against the personhood of countless individuals and their families and has produced self inflicted theological and physical violence, duplicity and inauthentic leadership…”
In reality, such individuals are active ingredients in a problem they could help solve if they would first acknowledge that the issue is with God’s word and not necessarily a church that’s “not welcoming.” A church could accept homosexuality as normal and still be in contradiction to God’s Word. Thus, the problem is not resolved by being “welcoming and affirming.” That’s the rather unfortunate aspect to Bishop Flunder’s statement.
In the ex officio missive, Flunder offers, among other advice, seven points she calls “action items” which ostensibly are designed to “empower” homosexuals in [black?]churches where homosexuality remains a stated sexually immoral act inconsistent with the Biblical model of sexual expression.
1. Faithful support for affirming churches and faith-based organizations
2. Education regarding a theology of full inclusion of SGL persons in the life of the church
3. Active involvement in inclusive theological education of family and friends
4. Active involvement in inclusive theological education of churches and faith communities
5. Education regarding Human Sexuality
6. Commitment to ethical behaviors that include honesty, authenticity and truth telling
7. Confrontation when misinformation, destructive comments, oppressive theology or dehumanization occurs
Although we don’t agree with goals of the seven points, they are ones which generally can be applied to various other theological stalemates in the church. They could even be part of our purpose for this blog. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation embedded within the church which will not dissipate without a sustaned level of vigorous challenge and re-education. And while we don’t share Bishop Flunder’s theological perspective, perhaps we do share the same goals.
The statement appears to be a de facto resolution. The more forward message is to homosexual church members is to leave churches that don’t accept them. Whether that is a first option is unclear. We actually agree with that. No one should remain in a church where they are a constant source of contention and discord. They should move on. With this latest Greater Mt Calvary incident I doubt whether there will be some mass exodus of homosexual members. There are no reports of anyone leaving before and there have been other simular occurences at the church.
What should your church do to prevent a blow-up like this? The church should welcome sinners with wild abandon. That is the mandate of the church and the legacy of the cross. But we must also draw clear lines as to what is holy and unholy, clean and unclean and be very upfront about that without compromise. That includes inacting church discipline in a fair and balanced way which doesn’t single out homosexuals. Part of the problem lies with language and definitions. What it means to be welcomed to one person may have an entirely different meaning to another. This fundamental divergence of what means what is, at the moment, an insurmountable barrier to resolution.