Today’s church, the Body of Christ, is at a crossroads. Some denominations are trying to wear an accommodating mask under the guise of phrases like “hate the sin but love the sinner,” but upon closer examination, we see that these words have a less-than-Christlike tone. How can love be a sin? The “sin” here is love, a love that people have no choice about. My hope and prayer is for the church to fully embrace all LGBTQI people. This will have a dramatic impact for many, but most especially for our youth, who do not need to be shamed, “healed” or merely tolerated but fully embraced and loved just as they are, beautifully created in God’s image.
How should the church show Christ’s love to all? What does that love look like for my gay brothers and sisters in Christ? How do we create a safe and inclusive faith community where all God’s children can come together to worship? Today’s church needs to address these questions.
Regrettably, Tyler received a clear message from our faith community, whether it was in youth group, Sunday school, the infrequent short sentences that were spoken on rare occasions in the sermon, or maybe even the silence — the shameful, silent disapproval and judgment of how God created him to be different. But Tyler got the message loud and clear, and clearly that is not a message of love for a young person sitting in the pews next to you.
Faith communities must stop being the bully, exerting their power and influence over their members with such harmful doctrines. The church must stop teaching that homosexuality is a sin. Causing people to feel broken and separated from God because of how God has created them has devastating effects on our youth, as well as on their parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. Faith communities must stop interfering with legislation that would allow all people to share in equal rights, benefits and protections. By not recognizing the love of our gay brothers and sisters in Christ, we tell them that their love is not valid or valued. This causes our gay youth to also think that their love and possibly even they themselves are “less than” and not equal to their straight peers. This is wrong. This message of disapproval is so very harmful. Please do not let another child hear this untruth!
How can we forgive church members who have made poor decisions?
By Marian English
From the October 2013 issue of The Christian Science Journal
This Q&A originally appeared in the Church Alive section of christianscience.com.
How can we really forgive when we feel that fellow church members have made poor decisions for our church or treated us poorly?
When Christ Jesus was asked if we should forgive seven times, his answer was decisive. “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22, Eugene Peterson, The Message). But when the baggage of hurt seems as heavy as cement, how do we forgive?
An incident years ago gave me a crash course in forgiveness. Two fellow church members had taken opposing sides on an issue concerning the church. Their disagreement escalated into criticism. It hurt, and I tried to forgive, for I loved them both, but the feud raged on and church decisions were being influenced by it. To add to the burden, a loved relative was seriously ill.
One night I awoke in despair. So with the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and other writings by Mary Baker Eddy, I found a quiet room alone, where I could pray. The first glimmer of hope came in a passage recommending that we fix our attention on what Christian Science teaches instead of what others are doing, and trust God to take care of the rest (see No and Yes, p. 7). A basic point in Christian Science is the healing power of the Christly law to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I had already learned that forgiveness based on personal friendship is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t heal. The hurt just keeps popping up in unguarded moments like an annoying tune stuck in your head. Forgiveness that rests on divine Love, Principle, instead of personality, changes things. In a moment of head-bowed, tear-filled humility, I remembered the example of Jesus on the cross, who meekly appealed to his Father to forgive those who had put him there. The healing that followed changed the world.
Suddenly God’s great love became so real to me that I could feel its warmth. The mental turmoil vanished, and I was free. The next morning, to my great joy, my relative was well and acknowledged that Christian Science had healed her. That same day the feud no longer impressed me, and it soon faded away altogether. I knew other church members were praying, too, and decisions gently became based on united prayer instead of divided opinions.
When we feel hurt or disappointed, we can remember that divine Love guides, but our thought must move. It’s hard to steer a parked car. Every effort to replace unsettling thoughts with spiritual love lifts us nearer the healing altitude of that beloved prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Then we feel the powerful peace of loving our brother, just as God loves us.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, US