“Regarding LGBTQ, What is Your Position?” “I Don’t Have One”

imagesOne of the best discussions I’ve had in a long time happened on facebook over the weekend. It was a discussion about the ‘dreaded’ issue of Christianity, the church and LGBTQ sexual relations. The discussion started with my statement which was something like:

 

 To the question “what is your position on LGBTQ?” I think the best answer (in these times) is “we have no position” The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?

To which I got good fruitful pushback from all sides. I was “abnegating!” I was doing the equivalent of “standing aside and being silent during the civil rights movement.” “There is no neutral on this!” some said. (If you want to join me on FB you can do that here). From this discussion, I came away with 4 points that need clarifying as to how/why someone would say “we have no position.” To me these four points push us as Christians (no matter what sexual issues we are involved in at this time) towards a new posture towards alternative sexualities that opens doors for mission and God’s Kingdom to break in. Read and then tell me what you think?

 1.) TO DECLARE A “POSITION” (PUBLICLY) FORECLOSES THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION. By taking a non-position in this question, we are not merely feigning neutrality. We are refusing to either single out a particular person’s sexual brokenness as an issue above others, or act like there is no sexual brokenness at all in any of us. In effect, we are rejecting what “taking a position” does. Instead, our position is that we ALL are in some way or another sexually broken and moving toward maturity in Christ and this means that we all submit our brokenness to the healing and reconciling work of Christ in the context of Christian community?” When we take “positions,” we buy into anti-relational conceptualizing distancing dynamics which thwart God’s Kingdom. By refusing to make an aprior judgment against anyone, we are in essence saying the only prejudgment is that we are all sexually broken and we come seeking redemption. And if you are sexually whole and have no need for redemption, you are blessed. But we, who are broken, come relationally as real people in real situations to submit together to what God is doing in and among us. This to me is the opening of space for God’s Kingdom to break in on any issue.

2.) TO DECLARE A POSITION (PUBLICALY) REINFORCES SEXUALITY AS AN IDENTITY MARKER. Taking a position on the LGBTQ issue, cements it as an identity marker, before anyone has even had a chance to discern that. It feeds the political ideological conditions that make possible making sexual orientation an identity. So, evangelicals who make public statements, about their position of not affirming LGBTQ relations, are in effect reinforcing what they deny. They lift LGBTQ as above other sexual issues, and make it the one issue. (I call this turning it into a Master Signifier). Likewise, the progressive Christians do the same when they lift up LGBTQ relations as a banner issue, ignoring all the other sexual issues of our time. They in essence do what evangelicals do. This works against God in Christ doing anything different among us and our sexual lives. In essence, by playing into the elevation of LGBTQ as a “position,” we cement the status quo firmly in place with all its antagonisms. The state of our sexual lives, including any and all sexual pathologies that may exist among us, is now static, unmoveable and firmly in place. We get no where. There is no open space for sexual redemption.  On the other hand, to not take a position, in effect creates space for a whole new conversation, a space for a new dynamic (what I would seek as the Kingdom of God). Sadly, my guess is, neither side wants this.

3.) TAKING A “POSITION” CAN ONLY INFLAME THEREBY SEPARATING US FROM MISSION  Posting one’s “position” (any position) as Christians to outsiders in a culture which does not understand who we are or why we do what we do is ‘communication-suicide.’ It can only be misunderstood as judgment and hate. Instead, we must have a compelling way of life, a richness to our sexual purposes, as displayed in a way of life (the way we marry and have children, and the way we incorporate singles into families) from which to speak to others about God’s redemptive work in sexuality. People in these post Christendom days in the West need to be on the inside to make sense of our thick descriptions of God’s sexual order. This means the church in the West must first cultivate our own sexual faithfulness as a way of life. For instance, Christians do not believe sex is for self-satisfaction or personal-fulfillment. It is for mutual self-giving and ultimate pro-creation. The fact that this does not make sense to the outsider (even in our own churches) means that the church must first live this, and then from this embodied witness, communicate it to people we come into contact with us who ask “what manner of life is this?” Again, we should focus on witness and refuse to take “positions.”

 4.) IN MISSION, I ONLY USE THE WORD ‘PATHOLOGY” TO DESCRIBE MY OWN SEXUAL STUFF.  When I am living and intersecting with real people, or discussing sexual issues, I do not discern sin in other people’s lives when I do not know these people, when I am not in relationship with them and I have not lived “with” them. I should refuse to take such “positions” mainly because a.) I do not even know these people, and b.) they do not even know what I might mean by the word “sin” even if I did know them. Instead, I will only name sexual pathologies of my own life. I will testify of my own story of redemption. This is “witness.” I also will commit to sitting with people in my own Christian community whom I know and love, who share somewhat in the language and story of Christ, and can participate with me in the naming of sexual “pathologies” when we gather to mutually submit to the Spirit in prayer. This is good and important work, the inbreaking of the Kingdom as well. But here we have the language and posture to receive the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in His Kingdom. Other than these situations, I refuse to name other people’s sin. This kind of work comes only after being “with” people.

For all these reasons, when I am asked “What is your position on LGBTQ sexual relations?” I respond by saying “I don’t have one.” What say you?

P.S. This is the kind of contextual theological work we’re going to be doing a lot of at Missio Alliance. Join us in April?

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Posted in Incarnational, LGBTQ Issues, Missio Alliance, Missional
81 comments on ““Regarding LGBTQ, What is Your Position?” “I Don’t Have One”
  1. Greg Arthur says:

    David,

    I think this is beautiful for a couple of reasons. By declaring a position we are allowing others to define the debate for us. They are limiting the question and categorizing us by our answers. This isn’t helpful.

    Secondly, while giving this response may inflame people as much as either other answer (as you have well experienced) it opens up a different dialog than normally occurs. That is also helpful.

    Thanks for the articulation of your conversation.

  2. I’ve actually been trying to come up with this type of thinking on my own. I really appreciate the way you open up a space for dialogue without saying that everyone is right and agrees.

  3. Joel J. says:

    I have a mixed reaction.

    I could see taking a “position of non-position” in terms of politics. Scripture does not clearly address legal rights in a secular government, so that would be an area of individual conscience and public debate. The Church has lost some credibility in that we have not distinguished between spiritual and political issues. Of course, politics is influenced by spirituality, but Scripture would seem to support some political rights of homosexuals, such as hospital visitations and so forth.

    However, in terms of the spiritual issues (e.g., same gender sexuality), it is perfectly acceptable to take a position, but explain that it is very in-depth and maybe a conversation over a cup of coffee would be the best way to talk about it. I don’t think that the LGBTQ would be convinced by no-position, since they certainly have one, and they would be suspicious of someone that does not want to take a position. The movement as a whole wants friends and supporters (and those who are openly so). From their perspective, “no position” is probably a position.

    That being said, I think most people would prefer a “conversational position” more than no position.

  4. Jay Bakker says:

    Seems like a safe answer, unfortunately the only ones it keeps safe is you and those who are opposed to LGBTQ folks. You can dress it up all you like but in the end it’s just a complicated way of keeping your work and self untarnished by the civil rights issue of our time, this seems to be the type of answers I hear from evangelicals who want to keep everyone happy, but in the end no one is… It’s true the cost is high and I understand the temptation to stay “neutral”.

    • davidfitch says:

      Jay Bakker,
      I understand the accusation. Do you then think I wrote this post to “keep everyone happy.” Can you at least acknowledge the implications for mission? I seriously would like to hear from you on the ways the dynamics change once anyone in essence submits to “the positions” as currently laid out. Is there something I missed here? Do you have it written somewhere else? because it seems like you ignored my arguments on the way to making the accusation? Peace bro …

      • Zach Hoag says:

        Jay and Dave – I hope you guys continue this conversation because it cuts to the core of the issue.

        I’ll offer a couple quick reactions from my experience doing missional work in the first state to approve gay marriage by legislative process (VT):

        1) Jay, you are right in that “we don’t have a position” will sound like dishonest evasion to LGBT folks who feel oppressed and threatened by the state and by evangelicals who have largely become agents of the state on the issue of gay marriage/gay rights. In my conversations with gay friends in the context of our church plant, that would have been an impossible response. They want to know: are you for my rights or against them? Do you wish me good or harm?

        For that reason, I think that the representatives/leaders of Christian communities will have to be clear about their posture towards the rights of their gay neighbors. For us, that meant saying clearly that we believe in the full legal equality of our gay neighbors, period. We didn’t produce any white papers or post it on the website in our faith statement either way, but in relationship, that’s what we said.

        2) Dave, I think you are right in saying that the context for any personal repentance or movement toward wholeness in any area of life is relational community and not organizational rules or standards. If the community is gathered around a core that understands sexuality in a traditional way, then the only way there can be openness and inclusion for gay folks is if that does not become an organizational rule (membership, service, etc.).

        Now, that is “dangerous” for the community that has a traditional understanding of sexuality; but there will be an automatic closed door to our gay neighbors if there are rules in place to exclude them from any function. If not – if there really is “no position” – something different may be possible: a situation in which sexuality is not defining but the community, gathered around the Word and submitted to the Spirit in pursuing wholeness together, will simply go where the Spirit goes.

        • davidfitch says:

          Zach.
          I think you’ve advanced this conversation in a helpful, even essential manner. That was helpful and points out something left unsaid in this post(it was a limited blog post)

          I think one of the ways I would feel comfortable doing this is advocating for civil unions with access to rights essential for living in developed economy. I say civil unions because I would like to clarify what Christain mean by marriage. I believe it is not what society as a whole has come to understand as marriage and the church has then followed. ,

          However we do it, I’d like to separate the church’s sacrament from the civil legal ceremony, and in doing so, support gay and lesbian “rights” that sustain them amidst society.

          • Zach Hoag says:

            Yeah, about a year into the church plant, after officiating several weddings where I signed the license, I decided to stop signing marriage licenses. In this way, functionally, our church was saying that marriage is sacramental, and legal rights are a matter of the state. As a pastor I didn’t want to be an agent of the state.

          • Zach Hoag says:

            …And we simply referred folks to a JP for the marriage license.

    • Liz says:

      Like you, Jay, when people don’t want to state their position I view it as trying to find an easy way out or having their cake and eating it too. I was in that place for a short time and yes, it was costly to proclaim my position but I came to a place where I knew my silence perpetuated injustice.

  5. Dan Jr. says:

    David,
    Your speaking my language. I’ve been harping on this “Ideological-Centering” for years. Just because our culture has served up the perimeters for discourse for a certain contending issue, does not mean we have to submit to them. I submit to the culture of the Kingdom of God and its Servant King.

    I’m so convinced that “Ideological-Centering” inevitably pushes Jesus to the periphery and deludes the missional DNA of the church. Every generation gets pulled into rallying around their preferred impassioned issue, letting it become their M.O.

    I’m so convinced we have very little imagination for transformation outside of politics. I did a little post related to “Ideological Centering”> http://danwhitejr.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-rubiks-god-on-missional-edge.html

  6. brad says:

    I like so much of what you’ve written here. And I’m in conceptual agreement that naming our position (especially in a public manner) ends up focusing on sexuality in a way that does not help us. But, in my experience of congregational life, GLTBQ folks want to know what I mean when I say “we are all sexually broken.” They want to know if I’m assuming that their orientation is broken or beautiful.

    David, may I ask: You say (in #4) that you do not discern other peoples’ sins, but rather focus upon bearing witness to the redemption that Jesus is bringing in your life. Is that an absolute posture? Are you saying that the GLTBQ brother/sister who comes is assured that their sexual preferences will not be assumed to be “broken”?

  7. Jimmy says:

    1. Of course Christians feel comfortable about speaking out against certain behaviors: murder, wear, etc. The fact that these words bad conduct might seem to be simplistic and artificial, and thus ‘exclusive’ does not take away from the usefulness of speaking that way.
    2. I fail to see how speaking in terms of pathologies is characteristically Christian. Christians’ self-descriptions will always be mis-understood, particularly when they use words that the world presumes to share, but it doesn’t seem that best reaction in such situations is to adopt whatever faddish descriptors recognized by secular authorities. The New Testament is replete with descriptions of sexual misconduct that defy translation in terms of ‘pathology’, but simply refer to the immorality of certain actions. This is a moral ontology that is significant, and that Christians surrender as they lose the ability to speak prophetically about right and wrong.
    3. Taking a stance on LGBTQ issues is inflammatory primarily because it defies the liberal social dogma: a person’s right to define everything about his or her self based on what feels is right. To call this ‘the civil rights issue of our generation’ is already to define ourselves in terms of a group of people that the kingdom of God has little interest in and who probably find the kingdom of God fundamentally uninteresting. It is also to set the ceiling on social issues far too low. All of which reminds me of Cornel West’s admonition to Obama about swearing on MLK’s Bible – don’t bring in the moral authority of civil rights issues simply to create a wider opportunity for persons to contract to share legal benefits with whomever they wish.
    4. If what you are saying is that we don’t advertise the fact that Christians have trouble following God’s rules of sexual conduct, go ahead and say that loud and clear. Christians have no special authority in the public sphere on this issue, not because their terminology is screwed up, but because we are in denial about the immense sexual travesties ongoing in our congregations (pornography, sex outside of marriage, bad sex within marriage, encouraging people to get married so that they can have sex, encouraging people to get married where they will be sexually vulnerable just because that is ‘socially acceptable’… did I mention pornography?).

    • davidfitch says:

      Jimmy,
      I wasn’t using “pathology” in an attempt to soften a diagnosis. I was using it in another way, to talk about our lacks, deviances, disorders, misdirections etc… i.e. another way to talk about sin. Just to clarify.

  8. Chris says:

    I think once you agree that we all participate in a universal sexual brokenness (Lacan anyone?), the real question is whether you have decided to let go of any order of creation in your back-pocket that believes there is a model (biblical or otherwise) for sexuality. If our sexuality is broken, so is any notion of an ideal sexuality. Whatever we choose is arbitrary and free. This, in function, is a new position that is arguably even more inclusive than just being pro-LGBTQ: it is pro-human, precisely because it is anti-Human. But it is difficult to give up the notion that the Bible is trying to give us a worldview, an Ideal we must live up to.

  9. len says:

    David, very helpful — and hopeful — and for some, too complex. But I think we have to be willing to work through the complexity, a challenge in the Twitter age. One quibble – #3 you write “a richness to our sexual purposes, as displayed in a way of life (the way we marry and have children) from which to speak to others about God’s redemptive work in sexuality.” It would be helpful to add “and the way we incorporate singles into families” to the point on marriage and children. Because sexuality is wider than the marriage experience, and the kingdom is inclusive of more than marriage.

  10. Matt Woodley says:

    David:
    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here, but I noticed that you use the word “broken” or “brokenness” at least six times in reference to our sexuality. I get that we’re all broken (I sure am), but it seems that our culture is deeply divided about what constitutes sexual brokenness. It also seems that you have some ideas about the nature of sexual brokenness versus sexual wholeness. Could you define/unpack that for us?

  11. Jay Bakker says:

    David, Not an accusation, just an opinion from my personal experience, I’ve heard very similar argument like this one before. Sorry if I hurt or upset you, this was my gut reaction to what I read… I share a similar belief with MLK jr. on the issue of neutrality.

    • davidfitch says:

      Jay,
      I’m not hurt or upset … I’m trying to open up space for a conversation and expect to get stuff hurled or whatever. But it would be nice for you to address my actual points? arguments? what I’m actually saying eh?

      We all have our experiences, if we all go only by our personal experiences .. we’re all bigots? including the evangelical right.

      I also would be careful about claiming MLKjr. for your side. It’s not at all clear. I defer to my friends in the black church Chicago, many who study at the seminary here where I teach. Is there any place MLKjr. joined sexual orientation into civil rights? Today, among the black church, his direct followers, many would say “no.” It’s at the very least a divided issue within the black community. That trajectory itself, from women suffrage to black equal rights to gay/lesbian rights, is itself a narrative, a story, a particular point of view (contested). So I’d at least like to have it acknowledged that invoking MLKjr. is not a clear given. If I am wrong, I submit and am ready to repent.

      • Jay Bakker says:

        “claiming MLKjr. for your side”? What side would that be? All I was saying is I agree with MLK jr. on the issue of neutrality.

        • Jay Bakker says:

          On the other hand the more you say the less neutral you sound…

          • davidfitch says:

            Jay … did I say I was “neutral”? I don’t know if I believe that’s what I’m trying to articulate here. I do believe withdrawing from “positions” that are part of an ingrained politics of antagonism for the sake of listening, seeking repenting and believing is possible. When I said “MLKjr for your side” .. I should have said for “your position” …

          • Don Schiewer says:

            I believe Jay’s point on MLK is this quote:
            “Ye shall know the truth,” says Jesus, “and the truth shall set you free.” Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.”

      • Wes says:

        For what it’s worth, Bayard Rustin was MLK’s right-hand man and was a very public gay Quaker. I think King chose his battles, but I think Rustin’s own biography is a testament to a King that doesn’t get discussed to often. Rustin was the key organizer for the march on Washington. He’s actually a really important figure and I would encourage anyone interested in faith, civil rights and LGBTQ issues to read about him.

        I would have to say I agree with Jay. David I respect your thought, but I think holding a non-position is only something that can be held for so long.

        This was a position I held for a number of years, but finally my relationships were such that I felt that integrity called me to make a commitment and pick a place to stand.

  12. Rusty R says:

    If one feels ok about being silent about the victims of injustice and inequality, I question that this is a Christian approach.

    • Liz says:

      That’s my position as a Christian … I can’t remain silent about victims of injustice and inequality because I am a follower of Jesus.

  13. Josiah says:

    I appreciated a great deal the observations you made in this post, especially in 4. Ultimately, I don’t think the Church is ready to develop any kind of unified, working “theology” about this issue because to many members of our faith communities still view this behavior as the sexual equivalent of the Black Plague. In scholarly circles, we can discuss this in a detached fashion, but how many lay people still worry about their children “catching it”? How many of our friends and family members still believe that gay and sexual predator are synonyms? Ultimately, not taking a position becomes a much wiser course of action, because taking a position suggests that we speak for our entire culture (or smaller community context). Unfortunately, many people are not even at the point where a civil discussion is possible, let alone coming up with some sort of consistent stance that “Christians” should take. If there is work to be done, collectively speaking, then we have to evaluate the readiness of our communities to engage in this dialogue in a productive and honest fashion.

    With that said, what you capture in point 4 is essential to this conversation. Any sort of dialogue that hopes to be productive must take place in the context of established relationship. We must educate ourselves on the emotional and relational stress that comes with identifying as LGBT. Until you’ve experienced counseling someone through these processes, it is a difficult issue to truly comprehend. Whether we view this behavior as “valid” or not is very nearly a non-issue when it comes to how we should respond to the individuals in our lives.

  14. Nick says:

    Interesting stuff from the perspective of a straight pastor. How should a LGBTQ pastor in a committed and sexual relationship respond to these questions? Surely their position is assumed and publicly declared to all who are aware of their sexuality. (If not, their position would be one of self-hating?) As a person, then, who has a position, can they productively and equally take part in your conversation about the kingdom? Or would their position distract from what is really important?

  15. Dave, I think you are treading on dangerous territory with this post, because you are basically telling both sides indirectly that they are wrong as opposed to picking a side which only indirectly tells one side that they are wrong. I’m convinced that in almost all debates of this nature people are only able to see two sides, the oppressor and oppressed, the right and the wrong etc. So any attempt to subvert those categories will inevitably throw you under the bus of both sides. This post makes you sound weak to both sides because it could easily come across as you not being able to make up your mind, when both sides have at least agreed on one thing: that their mind is made up!

    There is very little tolerance for someone who genuinely is trying to navigate through this conversation without their mind made up or someone who is publicly ‘not deciding’ because they see it so black and white. It’s only being seen as black and white because we are in the middle of it right now, in 50 years people will speak about it very differently.

    If you look at material of someone like Paulo Freire, it is very similar to your vein. The only way a situation like we are in will ever be resolved is to recognize that both sides need each other, not one side winning over the other. Oppressors are just as broken and in need of restoration as the oppressed. This is also usually the language that is used by the pro-gay supporters (oppressing language).

    I agree with you fully on this post but I think it needs a bit more.

    a) if one was to take this stance I think it’s imperative that they are proactive in the conversation and seeing to bring resolution to both sides if they choose to have a passive answer to the ‘conclusion’

    b) You need to have a ‘conclusion’ of sorts rather than harping on the language of not deciding. So maybe saying ‘i don’t have one’ you have another phrase that you say, not sure what that should be, but one that doesn’t just irritate both sides but one that forces both sides to think about it from a different angle. Maybe you ask a question in return? Maybe you tell a parable? I don’t know what it is, but I can see how an answer if ‘i don’t have one’ could be seen by folks like Jay Bakker as a copout.

    c) I think what both sides need to also come to an understanding of is that the argument of should the LGBTQ community be ‘ordained’ or allowed to teach Sunday school etc is one question entirely different than should the LGBTQ be allowed to get married or have equal rights to straight people. The first one is a question for the church to have conversations just like this and wrestle through, the second one is a conversation that is very likely to be real oppression, human rights and compared to racism, slavery etc – and rightfully so.

    • davidfitch says:

      Nathan,
      Thanks … I think this helps … I thinkI might be pushing for something a little more radical? I at least myself advocating for giving up control ans coming into a place where God’s rule in Christcan break in through mutual submission to the authority of Christ at work in a community. Ideal? maybe … but this ultimately should subvert political ideologies of all kinds, and made space for a new politics (sound like Badiou there for a second). Nonetheless, the kinds of conversations you advocate, and the way you distinguish them, can make places for leading us into the Kingdom in these messy times..

  16. Will you not run into the issue all the more ‘pushing for something more radical?’

    How do you create a space for new politics when most people continue to live and act in the old one? Will you not just indirectly send them the message that you against them?

    I’m not in anyway opposed to what you are saying, I’m completely on board. But here is what worries me, if a blog post like this doesn’t ‘connect’ with someone like Jay Bakker, is there a better way to explain what you are getting at? Should this ‘third way’ approach attempt to explain this to the other two ways that will be more likely to build bridges with them rather than piss them off? It might not be possible, that might be the inevitable result of any third way, but that is what always sits at the back of my mind when entering into this conversation with a third way mindset.

    Wendy Gritter I have always thought has done the hard work to make the third way be appealing to both sides (but also both sides at times hate her).

    • davidfitch says:

      Nathan… My first impulse is just to chalk it up to a.) my lacks in communication skills, and b.) the necessary things we have to go through for God to do new and different things, whatever that might turn out to be (including me being totally wrong). I think that I should just be ok with all this, it’s all part of it. In Zizek’s terms, it’s part of the subversive way (in his terms “cynical” way) …peace

  17. Miguel says:

    This is all well and good, but how would you answer this question from a homosexual:

    “If I continue in my current sexual activity with my same sex partner, am I in sin?”

    • davidfitch says:

      I’d respond “why do you ask?”

      • Miguel says:

        And they’d respond “Because you brought up the term “sexual brokenness,” and I was wondering what that means.”

        By the way what does SEXUAL BROKENNESS mean?

        • davidfitch says:

          Miguel,
          If someone is asking me about sexual brokeness, I presume I must have been talking about my own experience of it, or someone else who has told me about their experience. I would tell them about my own experience, as I understand it, as revealed to me, out of my own interaction and relationship with God through his work in our people as revealed in Christ.
          I feel like you keep trying to force me into addressing issues outside of real persons in real life in real conversation … instead you want to conceptualize it via dominant discourse? But I want to refuse that kind of talk … for all the reasons stated in this post.

  18. Peter says:

    My question is were we created to have a sexually fulfilling life? If we were, then by all means lets get back to scratching at each other’s throats. Both sides of this debate wants to define this sexual ethic for their own gain. To the exclusion of some or the inclusion of all. Either way this divides us as a church. It kills mission. The third way being propositioned here includes everyone without judging their position. Does that read right, David?

    Maybe sex is a high form of idolatry. It is so closely linked to how we define ourselves, yet what purpose does it truly serve aside from procreation? A good feeling? Closeness to others? A spiritual connection with God? Heterosexuals do enough to pervert good sex that they should not be overly pious in their interactions with their LBGTQ neighbors. We all lack in this area enough that for it to become a wedge between us, well, it becomes a wedge between us and God.

  19. Jane says:

    How do you remain without a position when people are refused communion or the ability to worship? This issue is not only political. It has colored my life as a Christian. In one church I was required to subject myself to reparative therapy that was, in the end, harmful to me. How can a fellow Christian maintain no position when people are hurting themselves because of programs run in and by churches?

    What I hear reading this is that if I am being beaten or bullied by someone you will stand on the sidelines not willing to become involved. How should I explain this to the young people who ask me of there is a safe place for them in the church?

    • davidfitch says:

      Jane… I think Zack Hoag addressed your situation well and renounced excluding in the ways you talk about. “Being required” to do anything, any kind of “coercion” is not of Christ … We should stand against all being beaten or bullied.

  20. Simon Nash says:

    I thought your point (2) was the most interesting “TO DECLARE A POSITION (PUBLICALY) REINFORCES SEXUALITY AS AN IDENTITY MARKER”. For most of the past few years that has been closest to the way I have looked at the issue. Just as I don’t have a star sign, nor any sense of nationality, I don’t particularly own any sense of identity arising from sexuality categories, although anyone watching my wife and I for a long period would probably put a tick in their “straight” box, we do not feel that is a self-identifier that means anything to us. My problem with this stance has been twofold. (1) other people, whom I love, do have a strongly felt sense of identity around labels invented in the last 150 years that are connected with sexuality (whatever that is). So my own lack of a label for myself can come across as an erasing of a label which is deeply felt as meanignful to the other, and one which they feel has brought both suffering and beauty into their lives. So is it possible to really say that I don’t have a star sign while I recognise affirm and appreciate the meaningfulness of your Capricornian identity? Somehow it feels slightly denigrating. Point (2) for me is the one articulated by Jak, and most piognantly by Don’s MLK quote. For me to stand outside of sexual identities looking at the late noneteenth century, European, modernist, post-patriarchal roots of sexual identities might be defensible intellectuially, but to stay out of the struggle while people are victimised, discriminated, persecuted by the powers, is not a place where I want to be. To top Don’s quote I’ll refer top the Bard of Barking, Billy Bragg “If you’ve got a blacklist then I want to be on it”. So my current step in this journey is to be publicly open and affirming while privately still not having any concept that the construct of sexual identity is a thing. I suppose if you are practising hospitality then the ontology doesn’t really matter a damn.

    • Liz says:

      Simon,

      Thank you for getting it! I was talking to my husband about David’s post last night and bemoaning that my response didn’t properly communicate my concerns with what he was proposing. We talked about how his approach felt too far removed from the “real life stuff” that lgbtq people are navigating and that people leading ministry often seem to be more invested in their ministry than in the people they are ministering to. I don’t mean to insult David personally – it is not uncommon and it doesn’t make him a bad person in my eyes. Most of us have to have some extraordinary experience in order to really see through the eyes of the “other” although there are some exceptions because I have met those who have that gift … and I do think it is a gift. I don’t know what your situation is but you made me feel like you “get it” when you said” “So my own lack of a label for myself can come across as an erasing of a label which is deeply felt as meaningful to the other, and one which they feel has brought both suffering and beauty into their lives.” and then used the Billy Bragg quote.

      When I read those words I realized that there was an emotional reaction happening inside of me that was mad at David for this proposal because there is a part of me that feels like he doesn’t have a right to propose such a thing when so many that have been victimized and persecuted have no choice but to take a position.

      • Jane says:

        Liz, Your last statement is it EXACTLY: …when so many that have been victimized and persecuted have no choice but to take a position.

        I cannot stand by without a position. There are people who are taking their lives because of the societal pressure to be ashamed of who they are, because they are told that they should die rather than embrace their sexuality. It is not about identity politics; it is about feels of value and worth. We do not live in a vacuum, nor do we live in a society that allows us to be neutral about accepting LGBTQ persons.

        We who are LGBTQ did not ask for a “battle” in the church. We came to community in order to worship. We came to understand God, to follow in the ways of Jesus. In order to be fully in community we chose to be open and vulnerable to the other members. It is frightening out here in the open. I would think that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would not leave me to fend the cold by myself, but would come and give me shelter and warmth. In so doing, you take a stand and say that I am of sacred worth.

        I do not understand why this is hard. What is lost in saying LGBTQ persons are of sacred worth? What is gained by not saying this?

        • Liz says:

          I’m trying to give the benefit of doubt here but it is becoming suspect that there is no attempt to answer how a gay person in a committed same sex relationship would be a part of the community or conversation that David describes here. But perhaps this community or conversation is not all inclusive. I’m not sure if there are any lgbtq people in this present discussion and you, Jane, and I seem to be the only women involved. I’m suspect of systems or communities or conversations that are created by a group of white, straight, guys as they often have a hard time seeing things from the perspective of the “other” due to all the invisible privilege that they are accustomed to.

          • davidfitch says:

            Liz, Jane
            It’s a blog, it’s not perfect, there’s alot out of my control (like who comes here) and alot of internet is self selecting, so if I say anything that is code for not being in a particular ideology, this then is turned off by people in that ideology. It’s the nature of the way internet works. It’s got its limits. So I try my best. I had a long discussion today with some leaders at our church about fostering a place of welcome for the work of the Spirit among LGBTQ peoples. IMO the true work of a shaping space for God to work can really only be done on the ground.

            What I think is either missed or bypassed by you both, is I feel like if I do not support a particular way of understanding LGBTQ, if indeed I want to even withhold judgement because I don’t understand, that is construed as not supporting. Whereas there are other ways to support. And here is where I think your criticism needs to be heard by people like myself. We can block premature, foreclosed judgements on people and make safe a place to get to know one another and be present to God’s work in Christ. This I should make clearer, and be a stronger advocate of (Zach Hoag has articulated this above in the comments) as part of what I am trying to articulate as a church of humble presence amidst our world today.

          • Jane says:

            Liz,
            First, why must an LGBTQ person be in a relationship to be part of the community. I am queer. I am single. Why should I be excluded from a community because I’m single? I think you are referring to sexual morality, and that is another discussion. How I conduct myself sexually should be dealt with in the same way that the church deals with single heterosexuals. (And we may find that we want to look at that, but again that is a different topic.)

            I, too, find it interesting that we are the only obvious women commenting, and as far as anyone has spoken, I am the only queer person. This is classic privilege. One of the reasons that minorities do not engage in such discussions is that so often we are placed on the defensive, with our questions not answered but then peppered with questions, and then harshly critiqued for how we answer. Often, it is not a fair or equitable discussion.

          • Jane says:

            The critique of there only being two women or one queer person is not personal. It is a statement about the patriarchy and heterosexism that exists in our society. The critique is given as a way to think about how one may be participating in such privilege and how one can begin to use that privilege for good.

            I understand what you believe you can accomplish by holding your position. I am saying that such an action is harmful to LGBTQ persons. You say several times you want to create a safe place; I would not feel safe entering a space where someone says that they do not hold a position on my inclusion. I would construe this as the person also holding the space for those who would harm me physically, emotionally, or spiritually. This is not a safe space to me. It is important that such spaces are clear to their welcoming spirit AND what types of behavior is acceptable.

        • Liz says:

          Jane,

          I didn’t mean to say that I thought a queer person who was single could not or should not be a part of the community. When I talked about a queer person in a same sex relationship I was pointing out how that person/couple could not take the “no position” as it would be obvious they had a position and what it was. BUT I never meant to say that a queer person who was single shouldn’t be there or were less because they were single. I hope that clears up any misunderstanding that my comment caused.

  21. Brian Pember says:

    David,
    thanks for a thought provoking post. I am from Australia and the situation regarding same sex relationship and other sexualities is a bit different down here.

    None the less, from within my own circumstance I found your post to echo some of what is in my head and in my heart. I too have tried to maintain a conversational position in regard to the issue at hand. Like some of your commentators I have fallen afoul of both side of the debate, losing friends from both camps. This has been particularly painful to me personally on more than few occasions.

    I have continued to hold this ‘conversational’ position. My reasons are that in my situation the debate has become intractably polarised. There are two distinct camps and each views the other by their worst expressions creating stereotypes that are in no way real and in no way helpful to understanding each other.

    In most states of Australia same sex relationships are afforded full legal rights, pretty much thee same as a defacto couple would have. The sticking point is that many (most?) same sex relationships now feel that they are in some way second rate as they are not able to legally affirm their marriage. So most of our debate is over the legal definition of marriage; currently seen as being between a man and woman, to the exclusion of all others and for life. While this definition stands same sex couple can not be legally married.

    I too have considered surrendering my marriage licence in an effort to restore a bit of marriage as a sacrament; a position I hold. I have chosen not to do that for the sake of mission and for the sake of continuing to be an integral part of my mostly secular community – but continuing to tell a different story to that community through my somewhat subversive participation in it.

    As I read your post there was much that I agreed with. There was also that which I felt physically uncomfortable with; a knot in the stomach sort of thing. I suspect that this is our lot. Being authentic in relationship and being authentic to the Gospel ( by that I am talking about the whole missional/incarnational thing – I am not sure how those words/ideas are used in your neck of the woods) is always going to be uncomfortable for us. We do have a different story to tell that will be foolishness to some and offensive to others yet our desire is to live and tell that story in the hope that others will hear and believe and follow. As I tell that ‘other and subversive story’ I am aware that I am being draw into a battle with two sides diametrically opposed to each other. It has become ugly. yet there are some beautiful people on both sides. For me, I find it hard to take a position on one side or the other for, in doing either, I will be drawn into the ugliness. I will be assumed into the stereotypes. This would compromise the greater story; the greater story that offers liberation to both sides.

    So I stand with you mate, choosing not to declare a ‘position’ that forecloses a far more important position. Maybe I am wrong. I can accept that. It has happened before. But that is where I too chose to stand.

    Brian

    • Liz says:

      Brian, What would you propose for a gay pastor who is married (not legally but ceremonially)? How would that person not take a position? I see your position of not taking a position coming from a place of privilege which makes me uncomfortable with it.

  22. Rob Puttkamer says:

    I find this discussion both fascinating and frustrating. I guess that is part of the purpose. I guess I would want to ask what does scripture say on the issue? I mean, doesn’t it, or shouldn’t it, boil down to that in the life of ALL believers? When I simply read the scriptures, it becomes very apparent that this lifestyle is in fact sin in the eyes of God. When I read scripture, I am also confronted with the radical (even today!) idea of loving your neighbor, who is guaranteed BTW of being a sinner, as yourself. So, to ask a simple question — can’t we as the Church do both? Why can’t we call sin what it is and still love people? When I read the NT, I don’t see an avoidance of sin naming, I see the proclamation of the gospel TO sinners who are being told they are sinners but that God and his love, glory, grace, and mercy are greater than those sins. Why not follow that?

    • Liz says:

      Rob – Without knowing it you are reading scripture through your own lens of what you have been taught and experienced. The truth is that when you study original language and historical context it is not clear that all same sex relationships are sin in the eyes of God. In fact, the word homosexual wasn’t even in scripture until the 1950s. Like you, reading scripture is a primary element in making up my mind about things like this so when I went to scripture and studied it regarding this issue I was surprised that there is no scripture that talks about a loving healthy same sex relationship and therefore I realized that I would be committing an injustice if I condemned all same sex relationships. Being lgbt is not a behavioral problem (sin) and so as much as you may want it to be it isn’t loving to tell a person that your sexual orientation and your relationship is not sin but that their sexual orientation and their relationship is sin.

  23. Richard C says:

    A fascinating post and fascinating comments in response. Many of the comments remind me of criticisms of both Stanley Hauerwas and Greg Boyd who were similarly accused of failing to engage with issues of injustice. They have both replied to such criticisms by stating, with some exasperation, that they have been misunderstood and that the critics have failed to understand what the Anabaptist is actually trying to do. Boyd relied to one critic by saying that they were “trapped in a Constantinian paradigm.” Therefore it may be useful to demonstrate your Anabaptist position by really getting stuck into the praxis of permeability between church and world. LGBTQ issues are broad and include bullying policies in schools, sex education approaches, legal recognition of same-sex relationships at civic level, church membership and leadership as well as the moral position on monogamous same-sex activity. I think the clarity you brought to some issues between Jay Bakker and yourself in the comments above helped this journey and it would be great if the conversation continued to focus on one’s vision for church engagement across all the issues. That way the position of no position makes a little more sense or at least can be engaged with in a way that some of the commentators above, in my opinion, failed to do

    • Rob Puttkamer says:

      Liz — just as I am reading scripture that way, so are you. There is no such thing as reading scripture uninterpreted. It is just my opinion that the simplest reading of biblical passages in this regard, particularly Romans, makes the case that is is sin. I could get into languages and such but that wasn’t the thrust of what I was getting at. I was speaking to the broader issue of taking a position. There are numerous passages in scripture on numerous subjects (Infidelity, divorce, finances, etc etc.) that will not be popular to someone somewhere at some time. I am simply saying that cannot be a reason to not take a position. The gospel, by its very nature, is scandalous and offensive. While a discussion can always be had as to correct interpretations, historical context, and many other things, I think the Church is increasingly running from every scriptural passage that condemns anything or that mention something other than solely the love of God. Take all of the recent discussions on Hell for example. Many people have used the Bible to say (or not say for that matter) anything they so choose on this topic. Does this mean that if someone takes the position of a literal Hell or that the lost go there that they are unloving or purposely twisting scripture to label others? I would argue it does not. These discussions should be had in a respectful, loving manner in a way that glorifies the Lord because that is our only purpose.

      • Liz says:

        But the difference between you and I is that when my son came out I went to scripture to try and use it to prove that same sex relationships were wrong and to dispute his statement that scripture did not say that. All he asked is that I put aside what I thought scripture said, study the original words and the historical context. When I did that I didn’t find what I went looking for or what I thought scripture said or what I had been taught. We can put aside our preconceived ideas but we have to be intentional about it. If you do that there is no question that scripture does NOT clearly state that loving, monogamous same sex relationships are wrong.

  24. Chris says:

    Thought this was pertinent to the conversation: “Every attempt to establish as private property the intelligibility of the sexed individual is a blameworthy rejection of a theologically faithful alternative route to the promised realization of intelligible personal identity: service of others… The possibility of a more just practice of theological discourse on sexuality begins with the allowance that all sexuality is justly accounted sinful by the terms of that justice which alone justifies. Too much contemporary theological sexual ethics is regrettably argument over whose sexed identity is or is not shameful. Blaming others, by shaming them, is a means of disowning one’s own responsibility for sin, is a manner of asserting self a source of illuminating justice, instead of allowing oneself to be illuminated, especially as that responsibility entails assumption of service to those persons and communities who are unjustly burdened with the costs of the common shame of all humanity of original sin. The possibility of faithful service is obscured so long as the desired intelligibility is conceptualized as a possession, as something one can justly grasp individually or through exclusive community. The recognition of sin as a form of disservice to others, as a failure faithfully to serve others, facilitates recognition that the shame of unintelligibility of the fallen self is not redressed through any possession one can secure, but only through more or less just and loving relationships that one can build.” – Geoffrey Rees, The Romance of Innocent Sexuality

  25. Rob Puttkamer says:

    Liz, you are assuming that I have not done likewise. While I am absolutely sure that there are any people out there that abuse scripture to make it say whatever they wish, I do not consider myself one of them. I have studied the original languages for these passages and have come to a different conclusion than you have. If you believe it is simply because I refuse to see the light or set aside my preconceived notions then you are certainly entitled to that. I’m not sure that is a fair assumption, though, simply because I have a differing opinion. All I can do is tell you that is not how I read any text of scripture. And if I fall into that trap, as ALL of us do on occasion, I prayerfully consider it and seek God in my understanding. I am sure you do the same. Again, my post wasn’t about the languages of the NT passages but if that is something you would like to discuss I am always open to discussions like that. I would be happy to hear your interpretations and thought processes in looking at scripture and am always willing to share mine. God Bless!

    • Liz says:

      Rob – Sorry if I misunderstood. Your statement “When I simply read the scriptures, it becomes very apparent that this lifestyle is in fact sin in the eyes of God.” led me to believe that you were “simply” reading scripture without delving in to the original language and historical context. I’m sure you can see how such language led me to that conclusion.

      What specific scripture do you believe “clearly” states that all same sex relationships are sin in the eyes of God?

      • davidfitch says:

        Liz, and Rob,
        I mean no offense here, but is it possible that reading Scripture alone, on an issue, will inevitably (or at least often) render the results we want it to render. And so we can’t solve this issue by merely debating the two (or three) versions of exegesis that … believe me!!!! … most of us on this blog are very very familiar with, including the version you offer Liz and the one you offer Rob. Instead, on these issues of dispute, we must come together under the Lordship of Christ and submit all of what is going on in our lives, and deal with a real issue in our lives, and seek God’s woice. We need to listen to the teachers and pastors and etc around us, and hear where our own agendas have influenced our reading and seek the Spirit in this. We must read together as a participation in the Kingdom. Otherwise it is one’s hardened choice of exegesis versus another’s. This is where much of the church is stuck today. Thanks for the conversation …

        • Liz says:

          David, I think you make a good point and agree that using scripture in a disagreement about this subject is not usually helpful. Unfortunately I still tend to react when someone indicates that scripture clearly states same sex relationships are sinful because I have so often been accused of ignoring scripture regarding this subject which could not be further from the truth for me.

          Thanks for the reminder.

        • Jane says:

          I think you bring a great point about scripture. This is one reason that I truly appreciate the UMC quadrilateral: scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. This is used to really dig through the scripture and be aware of how we apply it to our life and to others.

          Honestly, at this point, I am weary of the scripture argument. This argument continues to cause schisms. It is time to sit and listen to one another. To sit and get to know someone. In order to do this, we will have to make a stand that is clear in its intent. It would be important to say that we do not fully understand and are willing to listen, contemplate, and learn. This is different from having no stand. It is clear in intent and understandable. All parties can be aware of what the environment is.

  26. Nick DS says:

    [With all these other commenters which I haven't reviewed, I hope I'm not just repeating others]

    David as I said in an email on this post to some colleagues: I appreciate the refusal to take a hard doctrinal/dogmatic position or statement largely because it throws out all possibility for balancing the nuance necessary for actually living our convictions.

    I am a bit disappointed though. I started out hopeful that you were only going to begin with “I don’t have one [i.e. a position]” as a way of deconstructing the limiting nature of the question so that you could go on ahead and re-construct a convictional-pastoral way forward.

    I was disappointed that you didn’t go any farther than “I don’t have one” because you and we do indeed have convictions–they simply operate on a different plane than the traditional questions and positions and thus have to be qualified as such.

    You suggest that instead of positions, we focus on “witness,” but what does this look like? My congregation is dealing with real sexual people in real life and it is true that positions are not helpful, but we do need to find a way to be somewhere more than “no position.” We are looking for livable pastoral convictions, perhaps akin to what you mean by “witness.”

    (And we are seeing that while positions can be stated on blogs, church signs, editorials, FB, sound bites, academic papers and books, witness or convictional life cannot be done in these settings. They can only take place in the gathered, committed ecclesia. Yes?)

    Could you reflect more on what you think that sexuality witness looks like and where it takes place? (I’ll also read the comments and see if you or others already have)

  27. Liz says:

    David,

    Thanks for the response above. I feel your frustration. Forgive me for being suspect. I admit that I am gun shy because so many times in the past I’ve been duped into thinking that someone was for full inclusion of lgbtq people and those who support and affirm them only to be shot down when it came to the rubber meeting the road. This is an extremely emotional and personal subject for many of us. For me, I want my gay son and his partner and his future family to have a better place to live and be. My son originally planned to go into full time ministry but after he came out he changed his mind and I am personally glad he did. But, I think it is sad at the same time because he would have been an asset to the church and to Christian community.

    I’m not sure I speak your language or that you speak mine but I sincerely believe that you want to create something better than what we presently have regarding lgbtq people and Christian communities … and even in the world as a whole.

    As I said in an earlier comment…thanks for caring and thanks for trying. It’s not an easy place to go.

    I am glad to be connected with you and will probably continue to show up and push back and encourage and question and get mad and repent and agree and disagree.

    And with that I want to push back a little on your comment about “this being a blog and you having no control over who shows up” … to that I would say that you do have an impact on who shows up, who comments and who comes back by the way you write, what you say, how you engage, how you speak etc. … so don’t underestimate your own power, even on a blog.

  28. Patrick O says:

    With everyone quick to claim Jesus, this is going to sound like a trite comment. But it does seem to me that this reflects a lot of what Jesus did. We say he was on the side of the oppressed and against injustice, but he always defined his responses in his own terms and his own priorities. He very rarely got dragged into the civil rights issues of his own time. He was, in essence, infuriating to the Romans, to the zealots, to the religious leaders because he wouldn’t be baited into giving clear positional answers.

    Meanwhile, by not answer in those terms his goal was to re-frame the whole issue. And that’s what I see at the heart here. It’s about identity. Where is our identity. What is our source of meaning and hope and purpose? There’s nothing in Christianity that suggests sexuality can ever serve that role, for anyone, and so whether it’s the LGBTQ debate or the obsession with marriage seminars/relationship advice we find in Evangelical churches, it’s all off track, insufficient and often puts the discussion away from where Jesus actually was and is.

  29. Rich Cordero says:

    Dave,

    This is a good and welcome word. The Lord is calling us all to sexual redemption. I am convinced that no brokenness is beyond the power of His healing. Dave Smeltzer of the Boston Vineyard also refuses to “take a position.” You are in good company in taking a truly courageous “position” in these inflammatory and confused days. Thank you!

  30. Your entire blog, “?Regarding LGBTQ, What is Your Position?
    ” “I Don’t Have One” | Reclaiming the Mission/ David Fitch”
    was worthy of writing a comment down here in the comment section!
    Merely wished to admit you truly did a very good work. Regards -Dorie

  31. Jane says:

    I am frustrated; not only as a queer person but as a female. Earlier, Liz and I both commented about the amount of privilege we saw on this thread. The reply we received was that this could not be controlled. I agree, in part. Yet, there is the matter that my questions have not been answered nor have I received recognition for what I’ve shared about myself – not an easy thing to do. I wonder if anyone has a thought about this.

    • Zach Hoag says:

      Hi Jane, coming into this late after making a couple comments in the beginning. I am wondering – and this is super sincere, I need help on this – do you think there is any way that a truly safe space can exist for gay folks where there are folks present who don’t think a “gay lifestyle” is ethical or who are undecided, unwilling to take a position, etc.? Further, would such a safe space be possible IF there was a consensus on legal equality and no obstructions to participation/service/leadership for gay people – even among those who had a “traditional” sexual ethic? Really want to hear your perspective on this.

      • Jane says:

        Zach,
        You ask some good questions. I will do my best to answer them.

        First, I think it is important to use the same language. My sexuality is not a lifestyle any more than a heterosexual person’s sexuality is a lifestyle. This may seem nit-picky, but as we talk about this more it is important to address those things that continue to keep discussion stalled. My life style is that I wake up, go to work, see friends and family, go to church, volunteer in my community, and watch too much tv. Next, it is possible to have a safe place of worship where there are people who are not comfortable worshiping with an out LGBTQ person. I do this. When this occurs, it is imperative that the community set a standard of behavior. Harsh and violent behavior and words are not allowed. People are not allowed to speak harmfully to or about me any more than I am allowed to speak harmfully about or to someone who, for example, believes that corporal punishment is okay. We live in community and extend grace to one another. We can stand on common ground for the mission of the church. This is done everyday in many churches and places of work.

        I truly believe that the church needs to separate the legal equality in the larger society and the issues of inclusion that face us. The church, while operating within the society, needs to look to a higher source of deciding right and wrong. The church has the ability to show the larger society how to be in community with all. How does this apply to my thinking on why it is important to take a stand?

        Church leaders set the tone and pace for those in the church. It is possible for a leader to say that they are not sure how they feel about the morality of the LGBTQ person, but they are going to ensure that there is a safe place of worship for those people. Ultimately, isn’t the job of the church to create space for people to create and strengthen their relationship with God? This may mean that there are no sermons on sexual morality that lists out LGTBQ people; instead the sermon would focus on living a life that is of service to God and is found acceptable by God. (We all view this differently.) It may mean that at the times of the year when families are asked to participate in worship, that all families are recognized and asked to participate. It may mean that a pastor fields hard questions about who teaches Sunday School. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

        One of the comments I’ve heard is that there are denominations that are open to LGBTQ people, why can’t I just go to that church? Well, I’m a Methodist in the U.S. I’m a UMC. I want to go to a UMC church. There is not always a Reconciling congregation. I understand that there will be people who disagree with how I view the scripture. I accept that; we are human and that becomes a place of learning how to extend grace. What I’m asking for is a place where I can be who I am and serve both the people and God. This is why I need the pastor to have a position – and I believe there is more than two positions. The UMC motto is Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. Having an open mind and heart is taking a stand.

        Let me know if this answers your questions. If you have more, please let me know.
        Blessings,
        Jane

        • Elizabeth says:

          Well said, Jane.

        • Zach Hoag says:

          Jane, yes, thanks very much. For clarity’s sake, my usage of “lifestyle” was in quotes because that is the way certain folks might describe their position, not because I agree with that terminology. Your words are so encouraging; they give me hope for the church in our time. I find myself an evangelical saying yes and amen. Thanks again.

          • Jane says:

            Zach,
            I too have hope. I have to; without it I would be completely heartbroken. It is why I am so outspoken on this thread. If I choose to not speak up for my place in the church it is quite possible that I would find myself out of the church. I must believe that we can find a place together. We have found ways to incorporate how we think and act on many issues that once separated the members of the church. I have hope this can happen again and again.

            Thank you for engaging. I admit that this has been somewhat discouraging. There are things that have gone unanswered by so many in this conversation, including the author. I am hopeful that at least seeds have been planted and that we can continue this conversation.
            Best,
            Jane

  32. Jane says:

    Zach, I am on a mobile device which makes it hard to write a good comment. I will write a response when I am back on my laptop. Thanks for asking.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    Re: taking positions…isn’t that what religion needs to do to feel in control resulting in rigidity? When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus by the religious leaders who held the position of the law, the 10 Commandments, they had BIG reason to hold to position! They were testing Jesus on His position! The position Jesus took was one of compassion and mercy. Would He have done any differently had the woman been LGBTQ? How do we deal with heterosexual brokenness in the church? He who is without sin…Divorce for example, which is also not the Biblical ideal yet so common in the church. Does the position not always need to be Scripture, applied with compassion, grace, mercy, forgiveness… to the individual? The letter kills but the Spirit gives life! Religious dogma, rules, have been the source of far too much pain as the standards have been applied and caused exclusion. Jesus is all about INclusion (except to religious leaders applying the law. He seemed to hate self righteous pride most of all). Consider Jesus’ genealogy, a gentile prostitute for one. Does not everyone in public church ministry need to be screened, especially when dealing with vulnerable children, no matter what the sexual orientation? Or is it the religious ones, or those of us with unresolved anger, pride, greed, self righteousness, etc., we need to be “protecting” the church from?? Do we then also need positions on those? After all, the church is a body of broken people in need of Jesus, not an organization in need of protection by rules and positions that creates the IN or OUT boundaries. I have been a part of a street church for a number of years and have seen the H.S. do amazing transformations as we humbly walk with each other. The most broken ones among us are sometimes the most powerful witness to the presence of Jesus in our midst. Not so different that the gatherings Jesus hung out in, for which He was criticized by the religious leaders. Maybe we grasp to hold positions in order to justify our need to be right and maintain control, maintaining our judgmental attitudes, and perhaps out of FEAR that we may be doing it wrong. What if we pervert the church? Jesus came exactly because we will NEVER get it right, no matter how many positions we hold. How many positions did the Scribes and Pharisees hold?? So He went outside the temple to meet the people as they were not welcome inside.

    Enough said…a bit of a preach!

    • davidfitch says:

      Elizabeth .. thanks for the great contribution. I referred to that text in relation to this issue last week.
      Jane … sorry to hear you’re frustrated … I’m glad you came on the blog … I’m glad you voiced what you voiced … and all I can say is we’ll keep trying … within the limits of this space.
      DF

  34. Timothy Wright says:

    Hi,

    I am very late to this discussion, and I have a concern when I hear people say that they want to affirm LGBTQ and their rights.

    Zach had this question that LGBTQ have ” They want to know: are you for my rights or against them? Do you wish me good or harm?”

    In all of the discussions that I read I was surprised to see an absence of the rights of children. The right to be raised by their Fathers and Mothers, not just parents.

    I do not believe that anyone outside of heterosexuals should have the right to adopt children. A child is the most vulnerable person in a family. When the state assigns a child to be parented by a single or a married same sex couple, they are placing in a legal construct and not a family as our Father designed them. Two men or two women do not have the inherent ability by their design to create a reality designed and desired by the Father when he created the first family, Adam & Eve.

    I wish people would think about the emotional trauma that some children may be going through being raised by a same sex couple. Please read the work of Mark Regnerus. http://www.markregnerus.com/

    Peace

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  1. [...] Regarding LGBTQ, What is Your Position? “I Don’t Have One”  Four reasons why David Fitch holds this posture.  Follow along the discussion. What are you thoughts? [...]

  2. [...] As another example, I would offer David Fitch’s recent blog post: “Regarding LGBTQ, What is Your Position?” “I Don’t Have One”  (and its followup post).  I don’t want to force the label of Slow Church onto what David [...]

  3. [...] LGBTQ, What is Your Position?” “I Don’t Have One” [link]. Fitch is a pastor at Life on the Vine Community and seminary professor in the Chicagoland area. [...]

  4. [...] and I have fairly formulated thoughts on them at this point, I like what I recently read from David Fitch, an American evangelical leader and seminary professor. He asks the question, ‘Why do you [...]

  5. [...] few weeks ago, I wrote a post suggesting that when someone asks, “what is your position on LGBTQ?” the best answer could be [...]

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David Fitch
Betty R. Lindner Professor of Theology
Northern Seminary
DMin in Missional Leadership
Prodigal Christianity
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