Way Forward?

(These words and thoughts are my own. I am not in any clerk position in our Yearly Meeting and do not speak for our Yearly Meeting. As a community, we have not discussed many of these ideas, but I offer them in hope that these words or some like it might be affirmed by the Yearly Meeting as a way forward.)

As Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, we have just completed our 122nd annual sessions. In our discussions and business this week we discerned that we are not in unity around a proposed revision to our Faith and Practice about human sexuality. What might be further said?

We are in unity and we affirm our love for persons who identify as LGBTQ (both in and out of NWYM).

We are in unity and we affirm that all people, including those who identify as LGBTQ, are made in God’s image and can hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, the Light within.

We are in unity and we affirm that sexual intimacy is a gift of God, both for procreation and to build and sustain bonds of mutual love and respect between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship.

Where Friends are in disagreement is in our understanding of God’s direction for how sexual intimacy should be practiced outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Some among us believe the Bible and the historic church clearly teach celibacy for those who are not in a heterosexual marriage. Some among us believe the Spirit’s leading and the Bible allow sexual intimacy to be practiced in a committed marriage, regardless of gender.

We acknowledge the extreme difficulty of a life of celibacy, and affirm that it is possible only through God’s sustaining power.  We acknowledge the difficulty involved when a largely heterosexual group interprets God’s will for those in the sexual minority.

So as we wait for God’s Spirit to bring us to unity, we also wish to humble ourselves before God in confession and repentance.

We confess that in the past and the present, our words and actions have not always matched our professed love for persons who identify as LGBTQ. We repent of this, and we ask forgiveness from those who have been hurt.

We confess that we have not always upheld the value of the person as we have condemned certain sexual behaviors. We repent of this, and we ask forgiveness from those who have been hurt.

We confess that we have not always obeyed Jesus’ command to be like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We have walked on the other side of the road as LGBTQ persons have died of AIDS, been bullied, harassed, abused, murdered, and committed suicide. We repent of this, and we ask forgiveness.

Have mercy, Lord Jesus.

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18 thoughts on “Way Forward?

  1. I applaud your efforts to create something to reflect diversity of thought. However, I question whether a statement that is essentially, “we heterosexuals are definitely okay, but we aren’t so sure about everyone else,” is consistent with loving behavior, or is more in line with the traumatizing and stigmatizing behaviors that are referenced in the latter part of your post (that folks are supposedly repentant for). Celibacy is not the only thing that is hard to endure – the lack of respect for a person’s worth and autonomy, and the sense that people in the church believe you are broken somehow, is something that I would venture is far more difficult to deal with.

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  2. Amy, we are ALL broken, for we all fall short of the Glory of God. As I read your post Pastor, I’m left with the impression that you are on the side of the Gay Movement towards marriage. That is your right to decide how you will choose. Whether you chase after God’s own heart or apologize to others for His words is clearly up to you. Having said that, we ARE called to be loving to everyone as Jesus commanded. I would be greatly saddened if I saw a Brother or Sister in Christ berating someone who was LGBTQ. I pray that as Christians, that we would not only be willing “to cross to the other side of the street”, but that we would be willing to give the shirt off our backs if need be. However, helping out someone, loving them where they’re at, is a far cry from saying that the lifestyle of LGBT is ok with God. To do that, is the opposite of love! To do that is to compromise and thus, part of the great falling away of the Church that we are told will come. To be less honest with you…would NOT be loving toward you.

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  3. Thank you all for comments.

    Amy, I think it is true that some feel even naming the fact that we aren’t sure is not consistent with loving. Nevertheless, that is where our denomination currently is.

    Janice, I would respectfully ask you to carefully re-read my post. I did not at any point write about my own views of gay marriage. In addition, I did not apologize for God’s words. Just the opposite. God’s word in Luke led me to a place of conviction about how we have not always followed the example Christ gave for us in the story of the Good Samaritan. I often wonder if Christians had stepped up and given leadership to providing care for the first sufferers of AIDS, or if we had led the protest against the murder of people like Matthew Shepard, if church’s relationship with the LGBTQ community would be better today even if no one ever discussed a change in our theological position.

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    • I agree Gregg. Wehn I hear of these atrocities it makes me sick. I also am sickened when groups like the Westboro Baptists call themselves Christians and show such hatred. We do need to step up and be Good Samaritans in all cases.

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  4. Gregg, you make the comment that, ‘We acknowledge the difficulty involved when a largely heterosexual group interprets God’s will for those in the sexual minority.’ The problem in my mind comes in when anyone tries to ‘interpret’ God’s will when he is clear on the issue. I agree with Janice’s comments that I would be heartbroken if people were cruel to anyone in the LGBT community. But we are not to ‘interpret’ or change God’s words to suit what we decide that we want to believe to make others happy or to avoid hurting feelings. God is clear on this issue repeatedly:
    Leviticus 18:22 ESV
    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Romans 1:26-28 ESV
    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

    1 Timothy 1:10
    The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

    1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV
    But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

    However, the love we MUST show each other is summed up in the following:
    Romans 13:8-10 ESV
    Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    God, and the Bible, are very clear on BOTH issues. God loves us all. We are ALL sinners. However, we do not have the right to interpret God’s word as we see fit.

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  5. I am a fan of moderation – they say it is good in all things, after all. 🙂

    I believe there is a difference between “broken, but still encouraged to enjoy intimate, committed relationships,” and “broken, and condemned to live in celibacy and isolation.” I question love that begins with a statement of God’s disapproval or even God’s ambiguity – which may very well be the first thing LGBTQ people encounter when searching for information about whether they are welcome within the yearly meeting. Quakers believe that God continues to speak to us, so I also have a query for you to ponder: Do you worship the bible, which tells us about Jesus, or do you worship Jesus, who tells us how to read the bible?

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  6. A loving, Godly reflection. I appreciate all the sincere love and pain and effort both in it and in the comments here. This Conservative Friend from the East is holding all of you in the Light of God’s love.

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  7. We should follow Jesus’ way with the woman at the well, she acknowledged her life as she and Jesus talked. His words to her at the end was “Go and sin no more”. Should those words be spoken to those who acknowledge/desire a homosexual life/realtionshiping?, I think they can be communicated in a loving way..

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  8. I have decided to post all comments. I would say again that the whole point of this post was not to continue discussing the places where we disagree about human sexuality, but rather to focus attention on what we affirm.

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  9. This is an excellent post, Gregg. Thank you for it. You know you’re on the right track when you’re getting grilled by both “sides.” Well done!

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  10. Those who quote (and claim not to be interpreting) scriptures might perhaps study those writings and their original meaning more closely. SInce 1987 there have been evangelical Bible scholars questioning the traditional interpretations and translations of Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. The most recent book summing the questions up is Quaker K. Renato Lings’s /Love Lost in Translation/ q.v.

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