A Note from your Pastor (February 27, 2019)
Dear VICC family,
As you know, I tend not to focus on current events very much in my teaching ministry among you. I do this for several reasons, not least of which is the deep divisiveness of most “hot topics,” particularly in our cultural moment. There is enough noise and static out there, I feel, without your pastor weighing in. Sometimes this has led me to be silent in moments when I should have spoken. And, of course, there have probably been times I decided to speak when I should have stayed silent. However, just in the last day or so an event in the larger church world has taken place that has motivated me to share. Just yesterday, the United Methodist denomination voted to uphold its traditional teaching on human sexuality rather than officially accommodating the pro-LGBT movement within its churches. This may come as a surprise (it did to me), since not only have all of the other mainline Protestant churches either affirmed or found ways of accommodating homosexuality and transgenderism within their churches, but also because the western district of the United Methodist Church is its most progressive and liberal district, which gives Christians in our area the idea that the UMC is as progressive as, say, the Episcopal Church or the Unitarians. So I was surprised to find that, despite the best efforts of its bishops and seminaries in the United States, the United Methodist Church (influenced largely by its churches outside the US), has actually voted to strengthen its traditional stance on gender and sexuality. We will have to see how this plays out on a church level in the months and years to come.
This event, and its significance in our cultural moment, leads me to think it might be important to share our church’s position is on issues of sexuality and gender, and to give some pastoral reflections. I don’t want this to be too long, and so for our denominational position will just encourage you to read the Assemblies of God position paper on the subject here: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Position-Papers/Homosexuality-Marriage-and-Sexual-Identity. This is a somewhat long, but well-written, piece. It deserves a careful read, particularly for those of us who sympathize with our LGBT friends, family, and neighbors. The biblical position is established first, the compassionate application comes second. Don’t quit before you get to the end, but don’t skip to the end without reading the beginning. For those of us all on sides of the “gut-reaction” spectrum, it deserves the few minutes required to read it entirely and patiently.
Like many of you, I have friends and family who are not straight. I love them, and I know God loves them. But I also know the way God loves them. God loves them (and you, and me, and all of us) by means of natural life and common grace. God loves them (and you, and me, and all of us) despite and through the hurts of this life. But God also loves them (and you, and me, and all of us) with a love that holds people accountable for their choices and has a will for how they live. God loves them (and you, and me, and all of us) by means of his moral commandments and written Word. God loves them (and you, and me, and all of us) supremely through the cross of Jesus Christ, by which a definitive “no” has been said to all of our sin, disobedience, and brokenness, and a definitive “yes” has been said to us, should we only hear, believe, and follow.
Hopefully this provides a little bit of clarity on a hot-button issue in our day.
Your partner on the journey,