A Statement of Conscience from Affirming NoCo Churches
The exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people from some spiritual/church communities continues to damage GLBTQ people. It damages the fabric of our community. It harms the essential personhood with which we have been endowed by our Creator. We are joining our voices because silence in the face of continued lies corrodes our faith and hurts the Body of Christ.
It grieves us that several local churches are bringing in a group (The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender) to offer workshops in Windsor with a damaging message: saying that while LGBTQ orientation may not be a sin, it is necessary for LGBTQ folks to remain celebate in order to be deemed acceptable by God and the Church. They contend that only by denying a basic and integral part of their humanity can LGBTQ people be fully welcomed into the fellowship of some Christian churches. While an improvement on those views that condemn the very existence of LGBTQ orientation, we believe that this is a serious theological and pastoral error.
In contrast, our congregations believe human sexuality is a sacred gift from God, that all people are created in God’s image, and that we all have a right to love and to be loved. We are committed to be open, welcoming and affirming to ALL persons, regardless of their age, race, ability, sexual orientation or gender identity. We continue to welcome ALL persons into the full life of our various churches and communities. We believe that sex between mutually consenting adults is not something that is reserved for straight people, and that a sexual relationship between same-gender consenting adults is not inherently sinful. All humans are gifted with the capacity for intimate relationship, and having a non-heterosexual orientation does not in itself prevent one from sexual expression of that intimacy.
What is sinful is society’s inability to encourage a healthy way for sexually active adults to live out their sexuality. Indeed, the call to abstinence for all those who do not fit a heterosexual model has led to the repression of healthy sexual relationships, acts of self-harm and even suicide. By continuing to promote unhealthy views on human sexuality, these Christians are culpable for the unhealthy practices and violence that result from repression, oppression and fear. To force gay people into heterosexual marriages or enforce celibacy on people not so gifted does violence to them, their families, the church and wider community.
Some of the congregations sponsoring this event are part of a denomination that refused to ordain African-Americans until the 1960s. We are certain they regret that stance today, and we sense that someday they will regret their current prejudices and the harm they inflict upon LGBTQ persons who are seeking spiritual sustenance and connection. We rejoice at the number of churches, including many of our own, that have repented from harmful, exclusionary attitudes and policies and now affirm LGBTQ persons and their relationships.
In Matthew chapter 22 Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment. His response was:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” We believe that the Biblical Scriptures currently being used to exclude, diminish and harm our LGBTQ siblings have been willfully misinterpreted in order to continue to promote systems of injustice and violence; and that these false interpretations are not congruent with Jesus’s clear message of neighborly love and inclusion. We hold, with much current scholarship, that these purportedly anti-gay texts address abuses of sexuality (rape, prostitution, idolatry, etc.) rather than the consensual adult relationships we espouse. We therefore reject all theology that promotes systemic evil, dualistic ideology, oppression and repression, exclusion and violence; these are not and can not be from Jesus Christ!