Yes this post is about sexuality and it intentionally addresses LGBT issues. So what is the dilemma? The Christian is called to several ministry tasks. Among the tasks are bringing good news of healing to the broken, equipping the saints for ministry and keeping the wolves away from the sheep. But too many times the hurting are the wolves and the wolves are wolves because they are hurting. Carefully, one must walk in ministry to all.
This dilemma confronted me recently as I was reading a news articles on Presbyterian News. The article, “Great Ministry Practices: Using social media to broaden the reach of traditional ministries,” features several women in leadership who are using social media, blogging and Facebook to connect others in fellowship and ministry. The article provided links which I followed out of interest, after all I blog, I use Facebook and I am a member of Presbyterian Women’s All Women in the Church.
But one of the links I followed, and followed further, left me troubled. Part of the original article referred to two pastors who both blog and have created a Facebook page for those women who for various reasons cannot meet in the conventional circles of Presbyterian Women. The group is “Presbyterian Women Interest Group.” It is a private group. One of the pastors who started it, Katie Mulligan, has several blogs, and exploring I found this, “Inside/Outed:Mother/Pastor/Queer/Me.”
For October, Mulligan mostly wrote on intimate violence and she did a good job. She suffered as a child from sexual abuse and she has first-hand knowledge of her subject, plus she is a winsome and interesting writer. But then the dilemma, she is also a pastor; she oversees sheep, who can themselves be hurt. And she writes on her blog, Letters From Inside Out, that in taking her vows of ordination she could not tell the truth. (Well she didn’t quite put it that way, but she didn't tell the truth.)
And then when writing of marriage and the push for same gender marriage, I'm Queer, I'm Here, and other such things, she writes, “There's a lot of folks seeking equality (however one measures that), and I'm glad the folks who want to marry are getting their chance. But that's not my goal. Part of the fun (yes, FUN) of claiming a queer identity is setting myself at odds with normative structures in this world.” Still, despite her desire to not confine her sexual practices to marriage she does offer to help those seeking same gender marriages.
So here is a woman who has found a way to defend herself against the past events which broke her body and soul; that is by defying “normative structures” in the world. I should add in the Church as well! But who will protect the sheep? Not the PC (U.S.A.) as an institution. And who will help her, out of love, learn of the transforming good news of Jesus Christ? Not the PC (U.S.A.) as an institution.
In fact the trajectory is going the other way. Another Presbyterian pastor, Adam J. Copeland, has written new curriculum for The Thoughtful Christian.com , an ecumenical site hosted by the PC (U.S.A.). The curriculum is entitled, “Same Sex Marriage: for Better or for Worse?” It is written for youth and comes with multiple perspectives according to the question Copeland asks in his blurb, “Are you looking for a way to discuss same-sex marriage with youth, a way that gives credence to multiple perspectives and acknowledges that (no matter your personal view) Christians read the Bible in different ways?”
This is truly our dilemma. It is our nightmare and disaster. We are encouraging the sinner, not helping them. All of our sins will eventually multiply a thousand times over. All the hurt will come back to plague the already hurting.
So what must the orthodox do? Simply this. Learn to die the death that Christ calls the Christian to. “He who has found his life will lose it, and he has lost his life for my sake will find it (Matt 10:38). Learn to die for the sake of Christ so that others may find forgiveness, transformation and real love in Jesus. We cannot be afraid to say-“that is sin,” or “You need the transforming power of Jesus Christ,” or “You are causing the ones Christ died for to be hurt by your careless handling of sinful issues.”
The sinner who leads others astray needs to be admonished, but the same one needs to be enfolded as much as possible into the love of Jesus.