Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Offending the majority for sake of the minority

I've included below the full text of a talk delivered in place of a sermon at an Anglican Diocese of Sydney church on September 4th 2016. Two areas are highlighted in green by way of creating discussion in a separate post.

I have sought that the talk be taken down from the church's website.  The talk is still available for download at time of posting this blog entry.

Note: the transcript has been generated by software.  It contains some errors of translation.  As I have absolutely no concern for a part of the talk - the part about same-gender sex I've removed that section.

Thank you and thank you for those readings for clarifying the reading that was read for the first reading was correct. The Genesis reference on the screen wasn't quite correct. I think those readings were what was what I was wanting. I think it is. It is indeed good to be here this morning and thank you.
Thank you for this opportunity to mention briefly the work of Liberty and then also to think with you about this topic. What have been asked to share with you about this morning is how the Bible helps us think about homosexuality and how it relates to marriage.  And I'd like to make a three introductory comments.
The first thing to say is that homosexuality and marriage for some of us we can't see any particular connection between those two things. For others of us perhaps those of us he had by experience same sex attraction those of us who identify as gay or lesbian we might say there's a particular connection between marriage and homosexuality particularly in the context of current discussions around gay marriage. So I want to acknowledge our right up front that these are potentially personal issues potentially difficult issues for some of us perhaps all of us to think about.
A second introductory comment. I don't personally experience same sex attraction so you might feel that I'm not really qualified to speak on this topic at all. I acknowledge that many LGBT people have experienced a lot of hurt and pain. Some of you may have experienced a lot of hurt and pain perhaps as a result of what Christians and churches have said. So as we think about this complex topic I'd like to thank you in advance for being gracious and forgiving towards me for any shortcomings in what I say. As I said it can be a personal and difficult topic.
Thirdly let me comment on the word homosexuality. From now on I'm not going to use the word homosexuality. For two reasons. Firstly many LGBT people find the term offensive and some of you might find the term offensive. Secondly, and my concern with the term is it's ambiguous, what are we referring to. Are we thinking primarily of a same sex orientation. Are we thinking primarily of same gender sex. Because a sexual orientation and acting on it are of course not necessarily the same thing. For example, I have the opposite sex orientation, I’m heterosexual, straight, however you want to describe it. And I was single until I was married at the age of about 30 full. Now for those years before I got married I've never had sex. But I certainly did have an opposite sex orientation during all those years. So having a particular sexual orientation and how I may or may not act on it of course are two quite different things. This despite the obvious isn't it. So I think it's helpful to ask two separate questions to clear and specific separate questions.
First question what does the Bible say about same sex attraction or same sex orientation.  That's the first question. The second question is What does the Bible say about same gender sex. Because that is a different question. 
And now I'd like to give another attempt and a bit of an answer that question asked at the beginning and then to come back to that now because I think it's relevant at this point. That question was. How does the Bible help us understand same sex attraction or same sex orientation. Some I’m not now asking what does the Bible say about same gender sex. I'm not I'm not thinking about that. That's not the question now I'm asking. 
How does the Bible help us understand same sex attraction, same sex orientation. How would you understand the reality of same sex attraction. For example you could ask various questions. Is it a spiritual reality?. 
Is it a spiritual thing? or is it a psychological reality?. Is it sinful in and of itself?. Some Christians seem to argue that same sex attraction in and of itself is sinful is it. Or is it neutral?. Is it neutral?. 
What is it?. How do I think about it?. Theologically, what category does it belong?. 
Well I think to help us understand God's view on same sex relationships or indeed same sex marriage we need to get this as right as we can. I don't have all the answers. Actually none of us do but we need to work hard at getting it as right as we can. I want to quote from a Christian who has same sex attraction who is committed to the traditional understanding of Scripture. Wesley Hill who as I said spoke at a conference last year written the book ‘Washed and Waiting’ which I strongly recommend to you. Want to pick out a few words that from throughout the book he uses different words to describe his same sex attraction how he uses different words as he thinks about his same sex attraction. And I'll tell you the words that he uses because are his words not mine. His half Wesley Hill describes his experience. 
He talks about his bent and broken sexuality. He talks about his burden. He talks about his thorn in my flesh. He talks about disordered desires. 
Well what category did those words belong in?. 
They're not sinful words are the words of spiritual sin reality they're their words of suffering or burden or hardship or difficulty and he is a very trivial ill's example to illustrate and let me emphasize is trivial. I'm going to use the example of short sightedness because I'm very short sighted and if I take my glasses off year old it's a lovely blue. Am I going to post some questions I don't know answer them. This illustration is helpful. Did I choose to be short sighted. 
Is short sightedness naturally occurring?. 
Did God intend us originally to be short sighted?. I don't think so. If I understand Scripture rightly do I need to be ashamed of being short sighted. Well of course not and I certainly didn't enjoy being called Four Eyes at school will I'd be short sighted in heaven. If I understand Scripture rightly No I won't. And what category does short sighted us belong and will immediately we can say it doesn't belong in a spiritual sin category it is just the wrong category isn't it. 
It belongs in a suffering suffering is so much suffering but it's a burden hardship category isn't it. I think you get asked the same questions and I think I would want to as a Christian say you need to give the same answers for same sex attraction. So let's ask the questions and I'll answer them again. 
Do you choose to have same sex attraction?. Well of course not. What a silly question!
Is same sex attraction naturally occurring?. Well of course it is.
Did God intend us originally to have same sex attraction?. If I understand Scripture rightly, No, I don't think so. Do you need to be ashamed of having same sex attraction.  Of course not. Why would you. Why should you. When you have same sex attraction in heaven. If I understand Scripture rightly, No. And again you see it doesn't belong in the same spiritual category as is just it's apples and oranges. Totally the wrong category. 
In Genesis chapter 1 it says God saw all that he'd made and it was very good. But in Genesis 3 humanity seems to take a picture of how we all seen every person who born into this world seems and Genesis 3 explains it because of a scene full of illness suffering. Pain brokenness introduced into God's good creation although of course the precise link between our scene and the pain and suffering in the world is not always obvious. I'm not saying it is. I'm not suggesting that shortsightedness and same sex attraction are equally significant issues of course they are not equally significant issues. But what I am suggesting is that same sex attraction and short and a range of other things we can think of are examples of. 
Fallenness in creation. Now this can be of course quite offensive. It can be quite offensive to suggest that someone's six the reality of sexuality for those of us with same sex attraction is an example of fullness in creation. 
Minitel you would have noticed. I've noticed that the Christians who come to liberty for support the Christians men with same sex attraction who come to liberty for support. Do you really have this view. I have a similar view to Wesley Hill. They are quite comfortable with his wife thinking about same sex attraction that it rings true it's affirmed by their own experience and by Scripture. 
Which is that why did I have to be guy. I wish I could have been straight. You know get married have kids everything would be simple. It doesn't make everything simple but I understand the thinking. I understand the thinking. 
You say this to be nothing offensive in observing that they can every one of us including me has things wrong with this if I can use that term things that are examples of fall and that's are things that will not be present when God restores all things. We all struggle with different problems. We all struggle with different scenes. We all struggle with different weaknesses or struggle for example with doubt in God's promises. ROMANS expresses the reality of living in a full and well that's why I had this is a longer rating because for me I ryme insight is the most important passage in the Bible in thinking about same sex attraction even though it isn't mentioned the time. Romans 8 and up to one of two verses verses 22 and 23. We know the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. The time is 23. Not on this side but we ourselves. And who's the we ourselves that is those who have the first fruits of the Spirit. And those who had the spirit. We who are saved who are converted who are regenerated and trusted in Christ and have his sins forgiven here. Names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We who have the Spirit was the next thing he says we write. 
We who have the first word to the spirit. Ron. Inwardly. 
And if you like me outwardly and I we groan why because we are waiting for the adoption to sonship the redemption of our bodies. We are looking forward to the renewal of our minds and bodies. We will be afflicted with anything any more. Anything like short sightedness or same sex attraction or we could think of a range of different things. 
So what category does same sex attraction belong in. Is it sinful. 
Well acting on this same sex attraction in a sexual way is seen. It certainly can lead to sin. But I cannot see for the life of me that same sex attraction is a spiritual reality in and of itself. Let me give you a definition. I've come up with if it's helpful good if it's annoying put it aside but it is the best I could come up with. For me a Christian understanding of same sex attraction is that it's a naturally occurring distortion in our human sexuality which in some way is one of many expressions of fallenness in creation. It's simply one of many ways in which things are not as they were originally meant to be and represents one of many things that will not be present when God renews all things. 
Speaking of which I want to finish by reading from Revelation to 21 we have full not Paul. John speaks of our future. Revelation 21 is wonderful. Then I saw a new heavens and a new earth for the first heavens and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city the New Jerusalem coming down out of the heavens from God prepared as a broad beautifully dressed for her husband. You see there of course the imagery again of the marriage and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying look. God's dwelling place is now among the people and he will dwell with them. That will be these people and God himself will be with them and be they God. He will wipe every tear from the eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pine for the old order of things has passed away than the prior. 
Heavenly father we do thank you in date for that promise that one day the old order of things will have passed away and it will have resurrection mind and bodies free from sin and all suffering and be rejoicing in your presence with all of your redeemed people for ever. We think if a word which is perfect to complete and tells us everything we need to know for life and godliness we pray for those amongst us who are struggling with same sex attraction or who have same sex attracted family and friends. Help us to better understand these issues so that we do not compromise your truth but at the same time we show love and compassion and understanding. Help us to serve one another and I pray particularly for those of us here who are gay and lesbian Christians faithfully persevering. Help them to say that I have a unique gift and vacation to offer us a perspective that we don't share that we are all in fact ministering to one another and our practice in Jesus name Amen. 

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