Ordaining gays and lesbians?
As a former Disciple and now bi-vocational minister serving an a cappella Church of Christ, I was very satisfied with the article, “Where does the church stand on the ordination of gay folks?” (Jan/Feb). During my time with the Disciples, I always felt as though there was strong, top-down pressure on local churches to accept certain policies and theological viewpoints without much serious opportunity to respond. Although this article clearly took the side of being “open and affirming,” I was glad to see more conservative views respected and discussed.
With regard to the point about Paul not having a concept of homosexuality in a context of equality, I understand but have to disagree. Paul’s arguments did not seem to hinge on questions of equality or human rights, but rather on created order and the image of God.
Thank you for a good article on the topic of homosexuality in ministry and church life.
While Rick Grace is correct (Jan/Feb) in his comments on what Paul says in Romans about homosexual behavior — the concept of homosexual orientation was unknown to the biblical writers — like all those who reject ordaining gays and lesbians, he takes Paul’s comments out of context.
Paul makes it clear in Romans (1:5, 13) that he is writing to Gentiles; Romans 1:24–31 is a vice list written to demonstrate that this long list of bad behavior is visited upon Gentiles because “though they knew God, they did not honor him as God” (1:20). Many other sins are on Paul’s list — covetousness, malice, gossip, rebelliousness against parents, to name only a few.
What Grace conveniently omits is Paul’s conclusion: “Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another, you condemn yourself” (2:1).
Not only is homosexual behavior no more sinful than self-righteousness on the part of those who judge homosexuals, all of us live on, and only on, God’s grace.
I am a new subscriber, a former journalist, and a follower of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I applaud your desire to provide a somewhat objective platform for religious discussion, but I think we need to face the fact that being a Christian is not an objective decision. Jesus told us that following him would cause the world to hate us, turn our family against us, and bring persecution from those not in our faith.
Based on this perception of our position in the world, I must take issue with much of Allen Harris’ piece (Jan/Feb) supporting and encouraging the ordination of openly gay and lesbian leaders.
Harris is an example of what we have all tried at one time or another. When I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit at different times of my life in relation to my lifestyle, I have always been able to find a verse to interpret and justify my behavior. Always, however, I have been unable to make my interpretation stick in comparison to the entire body of God’s word.
Harris compares his opinion of the calling of gay persons into ministry with God’s call of the weak and shunned to lead God’s people in much of the Bible. He relates to Moses, who stuttered; Esther, a foreigner; Jeremiah, who was very young; Matthew, aligned with the Romans; Paul, who was unmarried.
None of these afflictions or designations or social conditions is condemned as a sin in the word of God.
God also used David, a murderer and adulterer; Moses, a murderer, and so on — but all of these people were repentant. None of them were God’s servants in the midst of their unrepentant sin or, if they attempted such, were corrected by God.
I have no problem with the ordination of gay or lesbian Christians repentant of their sin. The problem comes in placing them in the position of representing the Body of Christ in the midst of non-repentance for the sin Jesus died for on the cross. I also would not agree with the ordination of Christians who harbor non-repentant hate, lust, greed, or pride in their hearts.
Harris also claims that we cannot take the Bible literally. I am appalled that he can say that and claim to be a proclaimer of God’s word.
How, then, do we decide what part of the Bible is literal? Was there literally a virgin birth? A sinless life of Christ? A resurrection of our Lord and Savior? Is our salvation truly a free gift from a merciful God? Those are the questions Harris’ assumption would raise.
His statement is a direct challenge to the basic tenets of our Christian faith and, outside of his openly gay lifestyle, should be more than enough to have him removed from the pulpit.
God says that His word is His word and that we shall not change it. Jesus also said that he did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill it. As I understand the God we serve, you believe it all or none. God said that He was the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I appreciated the well-written and balanced Jan/Feb issue of DisciplesWorld. I read with particular interest Rick Grace’s article detailing his opinion of what the Bible says in regard to homosexuality, in which he stated that there is “no doubt” that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality, and that arguments that the sin was a violation of hospitality “do not stand up to either textual analysis or historical validation.”
While Grace goes to great lengths to cite this story as evidence of his belief that the Bible condemns gay people, he leaves out the only definitive text on this story, which is found in the book of Ezekiel, where the prophet states, “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom; she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy” (Eze 16:49).
It appears that those who argue a literalist, black-and-white approach to such a difficult and nuanced issue are just as guilty of reading their biases and prejudices into the text as anyone else. Just because there is a long history of others misreading this text does not make it an acceptable practice.
As a proud member of a Disciples congregation, I am troubled that we have not yet allowed openly gay and lesbian members to become ordained. If we truly want to honor the teachings and example of Christ, there really isn’t an issue. Jesus would be first in line to cast a vote for allowing all who wish to preach his message to be so allowed.
God put us here to give and receive love. Not allowing members of our church to use their spiritual gifts would be a real shame. I pray that our church will do the right thing.
I would no more ordain a practicing gay or lesbian person than I would a practicing child molester, drunk, thief, or adulterer. Why would you ordain someone who is not going to inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9–11)? Does God not give up people who practice dishonorable passions (Rom 1:26–27)? Are not teachers to be judged more strictly (Jam 3:1)?
Has something changed since Leviticus 18:22? Does Christ teach us to love sin? I thought we were supposed to love the sinner, but not the sin.
How is legitimizing a sexual perversion that’s an abomination to God a form of love?
I think the church should ordain openly gay men and lesbians.
It is our shame and embarrassment that we see our seminary graduates sent to other regions to be ordained.
A tribute to Mr. Sam
The Christian Church has lost a poet and a treasure in Samuel F. Pugh, who passed away peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 23, 2007, at the age of 103 (Jan/Feb).
In 1996, I began a search for his writings. I had read his poems in early issues of World Call and they left a lasting impression on me. Robert Friedly (then editor of The Disciple) gave me information about how to contact him.
As a result, I received a large envelope from Sam with about a dozen of his poems. I read them all and wept a little.
As a result of that first contact, I called him and asked to meet him in person. My husband and daughter accompanied me on two visits to see Sam at Robin Run (Retirement Village in Indianapolis). He took us to see the daycare center, Robin’s Nest, where he loved the children and read to them on a regular basis.
Our lives were enriched for having known Sam Pugh. There will never be another like him.