November 27, 2009

In Our Own Words 11/27/09-Welcoming or Tolerating?

"We welcome homosexuals."

"We can't condone homosexual behavior."

How many churches do you know that make both of those statements?

I was reminded of that reading a story in the Christian Post where a Lutheran pastor in Minnesota tried to get his church to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) after the denomination voted to allow ordination of non-celebate homosexual pastors. When the congregation voted on and rejected that idea, he resigned and started a new church with people leaving his old one. The pastor used both of the opening phrases to describe his old church.

Seriously, if we were "welcomed" into a church but told that our "behavior" of having sex with each other was considered sinful, I don't think we would feel very welcome. Tolerated, maybe, but certainly not welcome. Who wouldn't feel the same way? Sadly, that concept continues to be a mystery to many mainline churches who have to tried to convince people (and perhaps their own congregations) that allowing people in the door without swift and direct condemnation is a sufficient display of Jesus' love.

Isn't this just one tiny step better than the worn out "Hate the sin, love the sinner" approach some of the more fundamentalist churches take, especially when the hate part is so often directed at the aforementioned sinners.

Remember, the only people Jesus cast out and was sharply critical of were the religious types, the ones who administered the Law that had grown so it was impossible for anyone to be in total compliance. He loved sinner of all types, but the religious leaders really got on his nerves, mainly because their rules put obstacles between people and His Father. Jesus came down to earth and suffered on the cross to give us a path to the Father, not to keep "certain types" away and out of fellowship with Him.

Jesus doesn't tolerate sinners, He loves them. Perhaps our churches should put more effort into doing the same.

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