A CAREFUL VIEW OF SCRIPTURE with Regard to LGBT Questions
Heresy ... what do I mean when I say that....
I encounter a wide variety of beliefs and understandings regarding Christ and salvation. You will typically never hear me refer to these beliefs as heresy. The Christian Church typically uses the word heresy (or heretical) to refer to certain specific groups that do not believe in the doctrine of the trinity ... and/ or establish a different authority that is higher than scripture .... either a book or a body of individuals. My definition however is narrower than that and closely follows the intention of the the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians. For Paul ... a false or different gospel was one that added other conditions to salvation other than faith in Christ. In Paul's situation this involved adding dietary customs, celebrating certain days months seasons or years, and/or circumcision. Paul's message was that to make any of these a requirement for salvation created a false gospel which took away from salvation by faith alone, by grace alone, by Christ alone. One could practice these things and still be Christian but it was wrong to require these things to be a Christian. I believe that the Spirit of Christ accepts people who respond to His unction even if their understanding of Jesus and salvation is minimal by most conservative standards. I don't have a problem with the Spirit's work in this. What I do have a problem with is the add-ons that people make that do not have a biblical basis. The add-ons I have seen for lgbt folks are:
Whether someone is pursuing orientation change or not .... (specifically when continuous pursuit of orientation change is made to be a requirement for salvation or holiness.
How an individual describes themselves ... gay .... straight ... bisexual and so forth. (specifically when "same sex attracted" or "struggling" are the only accepted descriptors in order to be saved or to be holy)
How an individual internally processes their attractions or orientation. (specifically when a constant rejection of all same sex desires is required for salvation or holiness)
There are therapies in which gay identity is discouraged (SITF for example) ... but this is not the same as requiring any of the three points above for salvation.
Per my personal beliefs in Church of the Nazarene doctrine I do not believe there is a litmus test for how one must think and feel to be right with God. Our holiness doctrine is not based on perfect feelings, perfect thoughts,perfect interpretation, or perfect temperament. Instead our holiness doctrine is based on a heart committed to serving Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and an ongoing willingness to follow Christ where ever He leads. How a person internally puts their thoughts and feelings together is not something we have been given absolute direction on. Instead we are expected to not be led by our feelings but to be led by the Spirit of God.... not rejecting or suppressing feelings but making choices based on our spiritual knowledge and God's direction. This IMHO reflects an emotionally healthy perspective. It might be compared to a form of therapy called acceptance commitment therapy in which we accept our feelings but commit to what we believe is right in this or any other circumstance. This is but one example in which Nazarene theology makes room for psychology in the life of the believer.
Note: I do not have the skills to explore all the dimensions of this kind of psychological approach. I only offer it here as one example. See the APA site for more information or talk to a certified psychologist.
Problems that occur when this type of teaching is used...
When the above mentioned add-ons are used the outcome is often shame for the individual who cannot live up to these expectations ... a failure to be able to fully grasp the grace of God ... and a rejection of self. This can lead to depression and/ or disillusionment with the Christian faith and/or a despising of one's life. This website shows you some of these stories. Some of these folks still have faith in Christ though their moral views have typically changed. Having been led astray into a shaming ideology by their church or pastor or some other Christian leader they are more likely to question all church teaching. Others have left the faith ... there is no way of knowing how many. This needs to stop. Jesus does not have kind words for those who cause his little ones who believe in Him to stumble.
Denominational Disclaimer The thoughts, ideologies, interpretations, and beliefs expressed on this website are my own.
I believe that what I have written on this website is within the boundaries of the theology and beliefs of my denomination. However, homosexuality is a very complex topic with varied viewpoints. Since this is the case, it should be understood that the views expressed by myself and other Christians on this website and in our blog and / or forums (if we have them) may not necessarily reflect the official position of my / their respective denominations. Additionally, when / if I reference various web resources it should not be assumed to be an endorsement of the entirety of that resource.