This past September, people of varied perspectives gathered in this southwest Michigan town to discuss the bible and homosexuality. Most might assume instant fireworks and mass confusion, but accounts tell a different story. While the divisions remained fairly intact, it is a good thing that this discussion got out of the closet in this forum. The forum was led by six area pastors who argued for both sides of the issue (source: Kalamazoo News).
A young lesbian couple listened to the scriptural discourse seated beside an older married pair who shared a well-worn Bible between them.
One minister used the Bible’s book of Genesis to explain why God does not consider homosexuality a “mistake.”
Another pastor quoted the same passages to demonstrate why heterosexuality is God’s plan.
In the end, few minds were likely changed Monday night in a downtown Kalamazoo ballroom where more than 800 people heard a divided but civil discourse on what the Bible says on homosexuality.
Although the event was attached to an upcoming political initiative, it appeared to be a good thing to let people see and hear both sides and then make up their own minds about who is closest to the truth. Personally, anytime I have been invited to talk about homosexuality in a public/media forum (except church services), Ive always told hosts I have no problem sharing it with someone with opposing views. Im very confident in what I believe and feel fairly confident I can express that without acrimonious exchanges. I do though enjoy passionate debate and discussion.
A panel of six area pastors — three who believe same-sex relationships violate biblical teaching and three who say Scripture does not support that conclusion — spent two hours giving their perspectives and answering questions posed by the audience and each other.
But all three ministers who argued homosexuality is a Biblical violation called for, as Byl put it, “a church that doesn’t shut down those who struggle with this sin.”
“God is grieved by how the Christian church has handled this issue,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeff Porte, of Kalamazoo’s Third Reformed Church. “We’re sorry for the way we have treated the gay community and people who find themselves challenged.”
But Porte said he also is obliged to “speak the truth” and call homosexuality a sin.
“For us to fail to tell the truth is one of the most dangerous places we can be,” Porte said.
The Rev. Jim Lucas, chaplain of Grand Rapids-based Gays in Faith Together, said that as a gay man, he has “prayed for God’s spirit to guide me on this issue.”
“I have come to the conclusion that the church’s traditional teaching is wrong,” Lucas said. “It must be wrong. A small percentage of the human race, by no choice of our own, is attracted to the same sex. I believe God honors committed life partnerships for gay couples.”
A good idea or a bad idea? If youre a pastor, would you participate in a forum like this? And for the African American community we really need to have forums like this without all the usual grandstanding among preachers that occurs. Sorry, had to say that.
Atlanta, you may be next.