The Real Issue Is Not Homosexuality
I want to share some disturbing things with you, but which I think are vitally important to the future of our denomination. I will warn you that this stuff will be difficult to accept by many. All I can do is to share with you what I have come to believe over the past several months of searching, study, and prayer.
As I continue to seek God's face and will for our denomination, I am being transformed by the experience. Our lectionary readings for this past week said this: ..."though now for a little while you may have to suffer GRIEF in all kinds of TRIALS. They have come so that your faith...may be proved genuine. (I Peter 1:6&7) I must confess that I have discovered some flawed edges as I have been tested by fire. I have discovered that sometimes the enemy can be found within ourselves, no matter how right our theology is and how honest our approach to a problem.
An evangelist friend once said to me: "When I am in disagreement with someone within the church, I think about ten reasons why THEY could be right." Because of my involvement with the Rev. Dell trial and the research I have been doing, I have experienced first hand the lives and ministries of individuals, whom we have been calling the enemy. I have decided that they are not evil people, but are struggling to be in ministry (in error perhaps) to a segment of society (those with same sex attractions).
How many of you (who have been attacking and ridiculing them) have an active ministry to the homosexual community? A BIG HURRAY FOR TRANSFORMING CONGREGATIONS! If not, is it because there aren't any of "those kind of people" within your communities? If you honestly believe that, then perhaps you need to look a little more closely at your community. Let's face it, for the most part we have attacked and condemned, but we have not been "in ministry to".
Jesus didn't condone sin and we shouldn't either, but haven't we in fact been like the pharisees who did not want Jesus to even associate or be in ministry to "those sinners". He ate and drank with "them people" and they seemed to be friends of his. The pharisees were disgusted by the whole thing! Isn't that the attitude they had about Jesus' ministry? In that regard, I have come to the conclusion that the affirmation forces are correct in that assessment. We are quick to condemn and self-righteous in our judgments. We have in fact closed the door on ministry, because we are uncomfortable with the subject.
This is what I have discovered by actively seeking friendships and dialogue with the affirmation side:
So they are left with two sad choices.
I have heard this testimony a number of times: "I have tried to change for years and it just hasn't happened. So if I am going to hell no matter what I do, then I might as well just do whatever I want, because it won't matter anyway." Funny, we don't ask other "sinners headed for hell" to eliminate all sin from their life before finding acceptance in the church. We offer them complete forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ and talk about the ongoing struggle of progressive sanctification. A struggle by the way, which lasts our entire life! There are some sins in my life that I may wrestle with until the day I die. Wesley realized this toward the end of his life when he discovered that finishing the process of "going on to perfection" was not going to happen until he was set free from this world.
I HAVE DISCOVERED A NUMBER OF GAY AND LESBIAN CHRISTIANS
Because I have been actively seeking contact and dialogue with affirmation individuals, I have now become friends with a number of "gay christians". At first, I questioned their claim of being "saved". Perhaps they only thought they knew Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. After all, how could someone know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, have the assurance of salvation, a place in God's kingdom, and still be homosexual? I would not have thought it possible, but am now convinced that it is true. Here is what I discovered:
There are at least three categories of homosexual Christians:
This may be very hard for some of you to hear out there. If fact, I was greatly dismayed to discover this and am still experiencing a sort of grief concerning it. In my searching, I wanted to find evil perverts doing and promoting all kinds of sinful behavior so that I could be self-righteous in my blanket condemnation of the entire group. What I often found was other Christians struggling to try to make some sense out of the whole matter and attempting to be in loving ministry to each other.
The sign out front of my church reads: "A hospital for sinners and not a hotel for saints". I have decided that I would much rather have a homosexual actively working within my church then some of the reprobates that are running around out there pretending to be religious and yet doing all in their power to destroy and tear down ministries and church pastors. I have discovered that the issue of homosexuality is just a smoke screen from the Devil to keep our minds off of the spirit of antichrist among us which is steadily promoting a false gospel within our midst. The main question should not be "Do we accept homosexual practice or not?" but: "Who is Jesus Christ and what must we do to be saved." I have discovered that the main fault to be found within the affirmation forces is their affirmation of the basic goodness of humanity and in doing so denying our sinful nature. The real evil can be found in their presenting Jesus Christ as a friend who liberates us from the condemnation of others, rather than the messiah who liberates us from the consequences of sin. That reality is sending many more homosexuals to hell than anything they may be doing in their bedrooms.
Rev. Kent L. Svendsen
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