Sunday, 22 July 2012

Church Camp for Gays?

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I have mixed feelings about an article that appeared in our local newspaper this weekend entitled, "Church Camp Caters to Gay Teenagers." Why do I have mixed feelings, you might ask? Well, there are two reasons. Let me try and explain.

But before I do that, please allow me to first digress a little say that I personally do not agree with a gay lifestyle. There, we've gotten that part out of the way; I've gone on record and said it. No, I am not "homophobic," as some have suggested. I am in no way afraid (as the "phobic" part of the word suggests) of the homosexual community, and at the end of the day, I will also be the first to say, "Live and Let Live." To each their own.
So what's the problem? 
Maybe everything; maybe nothing. Having been raised in a conservative evangelical church community, and having been the pastor in a couple such communities myself, I grew up with a pretty rigid anti-gay opinion. I believed that God was against homosexuality, and if we take to a literal interpretation of the Bible, then we could still argue that God does not agree with homosexuality, and therefore, by extension, we could argue that the church's involvement with homosexuals should not be. Therefore, too, a church camp that caters to the gay community, we could argue, is also wrong. There's one part of my dilemma. As someone has once said, "Truth is what you were raised with."

But there is another side to all this that is gaining ground lately in my "Rethinking Faith and Church." That is, God loves people. Period. It continues to be true, I believe, that homosexuality was not a part of his plan for humanity. A quick look at the anatomy that God created each of us with, and I would argue that God created male and female for each other; not male for male and female for female. But I do not want to make this a biology lesson; you know what I'm talking about. Yet, despite this, God's love for humanity remains.

When I look at the Gospels, I see Jesus challenging the religious mindsets of his day, just as stories like this newspaper article have challenged my (sometimes, still) religious mindset as well. There is the prostitute that Jesus sided with against the venom that the Pharisees spewed out at her. There is the calling of the hated tax collector (Matthew) to be a disciple. There is the appointing of a thief (Judas) as guardian of the common purse. As being God himself, Jesus knew who these people were. I am going to go on the limb and say, it really wouldn't surprise me in the least if one of the twelve were a member of the Jerusalem gay community, if there were such a thing back then. At any rate, thus was the crowd that Jesus ministered to and hung out with.
The point is, GOD is LOVE.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
As a father, there have been a number of things my children have done that I do not agree with. Do I love them less because of it? Of course not! As I look back in my own life, I know too that there have been a number of things that I did and believed in that my father did not agree with. Did he love me less because of them? Of course not. He still desired to see me whenever and wherever possible. Likewise, does God agree with the choice (I realize that some won't agree with my use of the word "choice," but I'm not going to argue that point here) of homosexuality? No. Does he desire to hang out with the homosexual? Yes. Why? Because he loves him; because he loves her. Such is the nature of our God. If we add anything more to that, we run the danger of becoming legalistic.

And therein lies the other half of my mixed feelings. Is it right for the church to hold a camp that caters to gay teenagers? Yes, I think it is. Some opponents might ask, "why cater to it?" Others, like the camp organizers quoted in the newspaper article have said, "we try to provide a space in which youth can comfortably discuss the intersection of their spirituality and who they understand themselves to be." Is that really such an bad and evil thing? No, I don't think so.

I used to use terms such as "conservative" and "liberal" when it came to matters of faith. I would argue the pros and cons of "Calvinism" versus "Arminianism." I would often delve into various eschatological (end times) debates. And I would argue the whole heterosexual versus homosexual view points. But at the end of the day, is that what God would have us to do? Is he interested in our theological debates? Is he interested in how well we have been able to parse those Greek verbs? Or is he interested in how well we have been able to put our faith into action and LOVE our neighbour? In case we've forgotten, the "our neighbour" also includes the people who think differently than we do.

At the end of the day, this too is one of the reasons why I chose to call this blog, "Rethinking Faith and Church." Is it time that we rethink a few things? Maybe. Peace.

3 comments:

  1. (via Facebook) "You've summed up my views pretty well about the whole gay issue. Is it's God's ideal, no, but neither is divorce, which I have gone through. I cannot cast a stone."

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    1. Somewhere I once read the following quote, reportedly attributed to Phillip Yancey. "Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do." I wonder if this whole gay debate is one such "sin?" Good point by my Facebook friend. Is divorce a more acceptable "sin?" Are either rightly called "sins" today?

      One thing's for sure, if we keep casting stones, someone's going to lose an eye!

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  2. I have three goldfish. God's creation. When I was buying them the lady in the store picked out two females and a male. She said that it wasn't really necessary however, because if all the fish in the tank are female, one of them will become male and vice versa.

    In heaven, will there even *BE* male and female?

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