A CAREFUL VIEW OF SCRIPTURE with Regard to LGBT Questions
General Superintendents Pastoral Perspectives on Homosexuality
What are included here are selected parts of the General Superintendent’s paper: Pastoral Perspectives on Homosexuality.
It should be noted that this (Pastoral Perspective) paper does not have the same authority as the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. As such it offers pastoral guidelines... not official policy. Note also that I am not in full agreement with some of the phrasings and statements in this document. There is a good spirit to the document and there are vital truths in the document but it is an internal church document and thus lacks some of the communication principles I am seeking to provide for this website. I do believe that this website and my work with gay and lesbian people fulfills the main intent of the document which is to come alongside gay and lesbian people and walk with them in their unique (and often misunderstood) spiritual journey.
So what follows is a summary which highlights some of its main points. At the bottom of the page I include a link to the entire paper.
Pastoral Perspectives (summary)
Be clear about what the bible says and does not say about homosexuality
The bible says nothing about homosexuality as we understand the term today
The bibles does not address sexual orientation
The bible does address same-sex sex (my word)
Do not say more than the bible says
On sexual orientation...
Sexual Orientation is not a willful choice
Sexual Orientation is morally neutral... amoral
Note from me (Dave): The view of the paper is consistent with Wesleyan Holiness Theology. We do not believe that people sin in thought, word, and deed daily. Rather, as Wesleyans, we believe sin to be a willful violation of a known law of God. We do not view thoughts, emotions, feelings and attractions as being sinful. Rather we view them as amoral, morally neutral (see this page). Same sex attractions fall in this category. Bottom line: It is not a sin to be gay.
God does call human beings, gay and straight, to live sexually moral lives. For those who are gay, this, from a Side B perspective, would mean celibacy.
Now some may ask: What about lust? Wouldn’t that be evil thoughts? This is a valid question. But the question really is: When do sinless thoughts, feelings and desires become sinless temptation? And when do those sinless temptations move into being sinful lust? There is a line there to cross but one does not cross it by simply having feelings or thoughts or desires. So for those gay or straight... we do not have to live in fear of having feelings. Emotions are a barometer of the soul. They tell us what is going on inside of us.
Pastoral perspectives (continued)
The person who is homosexually oriented does not need a church that condemns their orientation, but rather a church that calls for a response that is in keeping with the character of God. The church should not be a place of ridicule and condemnation, but a place of love, of grace, and of redemption. As pastors, we must walk the fine line between blanket condemnation of homosexuality and accepting/condoning homosexual behavior 1 ...
• Love Unconditionally
• Be available to come alongside in the complexity of the journey
• Resist the ever-present temptation to make this a simple matter. Navigating homosexuality is seldom a simple journey.
Our refusing to come alongside in the complexity of the journey too often results in two wrong responses....
• The first is to naively believe that homosexuality is a simple matter to be fixed by one serious trip to the altar. Such naivety on our part makes homosexuality a problem that we do not have to think about or talk about. When this attitude is taken, the church will end up offering simplistic remedies that compound the frustration experienced by those who struggle with homosexuality.
• The second wrong response is to simply cave in to the belief that homosexuality is irreversible 2 , homosexual behavior 1 is natural, “just who I am”, and thereby we offer no hope at all. This response surrenders to pro-homosexual rationales that are called biblical, but are far from it
Neither of these is an adequate response. Instead our response to homosexuals must mirror the complex journey-alongside character of Jesus. At times those closest to Him did not understand. He went out of his way to find and associate with the rejected, the outcast. He was a friend of sinners (including us). He ate with them, accepted them, loved them and shared with them the good news of the gospel. He invited them to share in His life, offering good news to captives, recovery and freedom to the oppressed, and proclaiming to them the blessing of the Lord. As recipients of God’s grace us, grace to the homosexual is our availability to come alongside in the complexity of the journey. God, grant us grace for the journey.
Provide a Grace Community of Hospitality and Formation.
The homosexual needs the community of grace available through your church. It is within this grace community that the homosexual participates in the grace of hospitality and character formation.
One of our greatest failures as the church is to think that a person can live a celibate life as a homosexual without the benefit of Christian community. We are created for human intimacy. We need human touch, conversation, inclusion, belonging, and care. To counsel a person in the office or at the altar is not the end of their struggle. It is a battle waged in the trenches of daily life. The homosexual has real needs. They are asking, “Who do I talk to? Eat with? Play with? Share holidays with? Celebrate birthdays with? Who hugs me? Listens to me when I am sad? Calls me? Thinks to include me? Where do I live?”
If the homosexual community offers a better welcome than the people of God, a struggling person will seek help from that community.
If we, as the church, immediately condemn our homosexual brothers and sisters without taking the time to get to know them and to share God’s love with them, we may turn them off from the church and from God for good.
Homosexuals need the church, and they matter to us because they matter to God.
If the church wants to get serious about helping the homosexual seeking to be a Christlike disciple, we must think in terms of consistent, rich hospitality. Christian singles will purchase large houses and become havens of belonging and character formation for men and women living in God-honoring community. Families will permanently open their homes to a new member of the family. Churches will develop support groups and provide mature mentors. The reoriented or celibate single homosexual will be invited to full participation in the life and ministry of the church, leading ministries, serving on boards, and singing in choirs. We cannot expect a person to “go deal with this and come back when you have it settled.” One of our best means of grace is the hospitality and character formation in the fellowship of the church. God grant our church grace to be such a community. ---
The website address for their entire paper is found here. A second paper that offers further clarification can be found here. The paper in several languages can be found here. (Be aware that some of the language of this document may not sit well with some of you.)