Click here to listen to the audio recording of this 34-minute message. Or watch the video of the message here on Facebook (the message starts about 23 minutes into the recording). Or download my fairly detailed sermon notes (not a full-text transcript) in MS Word.
Today’s set of compelling readings from Micah 6:8, Psalm 15:1-3, Matthew 5:3-10 and 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, point us to the heart of a God who is concerned for those who are marginalised, vilified and outcast. They also emphasise that our responsibility as Christians is to be merciful, kind, humble, inclusive and generous.
In light of these readings, today’s message addresses the complex and controversial topic of sexuality in the church, particularly homosexuality. This is a topic that has been long ignored and more recent has lead to deep divisions within the the church between those who are against and those who are for (or at least tolerant of) gay relationships. Many gay Christians feel deeply rejected by the church – not just for what they do sexually, but for who they are – for their very being, their humanity, which is experienced to be under attack by Christians and the church.
In today’s message, I endeavour to the following, which I encourage you to watch, listen to or read, using the links provided at the top of today’s blog.
- Some clarification of terminologies, particularly the difference between gender identity (who I see myself as being in terms of gender – traditionally male or female) and sexuality (who I have sexually or romantically attracted to – traditionally heterosexual or homosexual). Both of these terms have become increasingly diverse and nuanced in recent years.
- Developing an understanding of how the Scriptures were authored within particular historical and cultural contexts that differ vastly from contemporary society.
- I address five broad points of discussion in this message:
- The belief of many Christians that heterosexuality is God’s only legitimate sexual orientation. I’ll show that this is not true.
- The belief of many Christians that the Bible does not anywhere say that gay relationships are okay. I’ll show that this is not entirely true.
- The belief of many Christians that the Bible condemns homosexual relationships as an abomination. I’ll show that this is not true.
- The point that among the numerous laws in the Bible, some Christians draw on preconceived cultural beliefs to justify their condemnation of homosexual relationships.
- And the primary of love that is presented in Jesus Christ’s teachings and his example of radical inclusivity.
- Based on the above discussion points, I draw 4 key conclusions:
- In human relationships, God is most interested in the quality of our love.
- God is not interested in the sex or gender of the person we love.
- Marriage is sacred, a divine joining together, and must be protected.
- Marriage (defined as a sacred joining together or union) is not restricted to a man and a woman.
- And in light of this I hope that my parish and your church community would aspire to:
- emulate Jesus’ example of radical inclusivity, diversity and love
- create a church space where people of various sexual orientations feel welcome, accepted and loved
- focus on and champion the quality of love in human relationships.
I do appreciate that the views of Christians on the subject of homosexuality vary widely, and that there are many that will view my understandings and interpretations of the Scriptures as false and heretical. Our views on this subject can be deeply divisive. Nevertheless, I take Jesus’ lived life (how he behaved with people he encountered) and Jesus’ spoken teachings about what is most important to God as the central guides to make sense of the rest of Scripture. He is God incarnate – he is the perfect reflection of who God is. He himself says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). I follow him.