This CP's response to "A Letter" posted on Scot McKnight's blog

Famiglia, originally uploaded by marcomazzei.

In my previous post, I mentioned a letter that Scot McKnight received from a worship pastor asking for advice about a young gay man in his church who wanted to be a part of the worship team. You can read Scot McKnight’s original post here. Scot had Andrew Marin from The Marin Foundation post a reply to the letter. Then, recently, Scot posted his response to the comments that have been received in those two posts. Please take the time to click on the links and read those posts.

Well, I invited some responses from your all if this situation were happening in children’s ministry, and I did get some very thoughtful (and more civil than on Scot’s blog) responses. Thank you to Dean, Matt and Desiree for sharing your thoughts.

Here are my thoughts:

Like I said in my previous post, dealing with issues like this aren’t as easy as we pretend them to be. Our knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Well, someone like this young man who sees nothing wrong with homosexuality — even if he believes that he is to remain celibate until marriage or civil union — cannot be involved anywhere in children’s ministry. There are other areas for him to be involved.” The problem with following through on this immediate reaction are two-fold.

First of all, if you are thinking that, then every other ministry leader in your church probably will react the same way and act accordingly. This results in this person being herded from one ministry to another and being rejected by multiple people in leadership. I can only imagine what a process like this would do to anyone! This young man has come to the conclusion (after his honest searching and praying) that he has been created with an orientation to be attracted to the same sex. Whether we agree with that or not, that is his reality. What is he supposed to do when, seeking to be involved in his faith community, he is rejected for something he believes he had no choice over?

The other problem with simply saying this young man cannot be involved in children’s ministry at all denies that he has anything to offer God and the faith community in the area of children. We are at risk of putting a broad label on this young man and others in his situation and saying they are of no value to us or the ministries we oversee because they are gay. (And we wonder why Christians are labeled at anit-gay, homophobic, and hateful… but that is another conversation…) We deny that that those who have reconciled their homosexuality with their Christianity (for now) are incapable of growing closer to God in other areas of their lives. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not advocating that homosexuality is within the plans God has for relationships; I’m not. What I am saying, though, is that all of us have areas in our lives that we are “working on.” We need to be sure that we are open to people who are in the process of life transformation even when that life transformation does not happen in the way we would like it to. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to do the transforming and which areas are transformed in what order. It is our job as Christ followers to facilitate that life change and lovingly journey alongside others who are growing. Can that be done with those living a homosexual lifestyle without condoning or affirming the lifestyle? I think so, but you have to be willing to struggle with the tension there… the tension between your belief that they are wrong in being gay and their honest desire to follow Christ.

So, what would I do? Becasue neither I nor my faith community affirm that practicing homosexuality is within the bounds of what God had in plan for relationships, I would not have this young man in a leadership position. This broadly means being a small group leader or a team leader. I would have no problem with this young man being involved in checking in, helping out with tech, building sets, administrative help, and probably some other areas as well. All this is conditional on this young man passing background checks and on a spiritual journey that is heading towards Christ, which is no different for anyone involved in the children’s ministry that I oversee.

With all that being said, if you are a ministry leader faced with a situation like this, you need to involve those in leadership above you (your immediate supervisor, pastor or board… depending on how your church is set up) in the decision process. Ultimately, there should be communitiy guidlelines that this falls under. Hopefully, those guidelines, while holding true to convictions and beliefs, deal with someone like this young man with love, understanding and acceptance of who he is and his desire to follow God without affirming practices you do not agree with.

Now, you may choose to deal with a situation like this in a different way. That is OK. Much of what you do will be determined by your community, statement of beliefs and leadership. The guiding principle I would say is that we should rarely deal with people in a black and white manner. Very few situations are simple circumstances of right vs. wrong. We need to be willing to meet people where they are and struggle through the mess to see where God is in all of it in order to be a part of the Holy Spirit’s work in restoring each of us to the image of God we were created to be.

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6 thoughts on “This CP's response to "A Letter" posted on Scot McKnight's blog

  1. ShahZam says:

    Well put Henry.
    To assume that if someone is a homosexual he is automatically a pedophile is just ignorant if not stupid. In fact, if I am not mistaken, majority of the pedophiles are heterosexual. So, to say, he can't serve with the children ministry because he is gay is too naive.
    My heart goes out to that young man. We all have issues in our lives that we constantly struggle with, yet, for whatever reason, the church has decided to make sexual sins of the most importance.
    If I was in his place, knowing the church I want to serve at does not believe homosexuality is sanctioned by God, rather than making life difficult for everyone, I would just go to a gay church and serve there.

  2. Dean says:

    Two more thoughts:

    1) "The other problem with simply saying this young man cannot be involved in children’s ministry at all denies that he has anything to offer God and the faith community in the area of children."

    -I don't think that is accurate. By not allowing him to serve in CM does not deny that he may have something to offer, it simply means that until he comes around on this issue he cannot offer what he may indeed have. As a parent, if I found out a volunteer was struggling with this issue and was interacting with my children in any capacity, I would be pretty upset.

    2) "We need to be sure that we are open to people who are in the process of life transformation even when that life transformation does not happen in the way we would like it to."

    -Very true! But it appears this particular young man is going backwards in his walk with Christ. If that's is the case, he should not serve in CM. The measure we should be using is forward progression, however slow or fast that may be.

  3. Desiree says:

    I have to agree with Dean. Forgive me if I sound pretentious, but I think it's important to look at what God says in the matter…

    God's Wrath Against Mankind
    18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    Romans 1:18-32

  4. Desiree says:

    Ephesians 5

    1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

    8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
    "Wake up, O sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you."

    15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    Wives and Husbands
    22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[c] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

    I have to say the language is pretty clear, strong, intolerant, or for some uncivil. But I can't deny what it says. If we really love someone, we will lovingly tell them the truth. If we don't, we are partnering with them in their destruction and that is a sin. Yes, let's get them involved in other areas or administrative areas in CM. But I think parents are justified for being upset with them interacting with their children. As a mother, protecting my kids is my most important job and I won't let anyone sway my better judgement to protect an adult over a child.

  5. Henry Zonio says:

    Thanks Dean and Desiree for your comments. I respect where you are coming from. Like I said in my post, all of us will choose to deal with situations like this differently. My prayer, though, is that we all are consistent in how we deal with these and similar situations. We tend to pick our "favourite" sins to highlight and vilify and turn a more compassionate eye to others. Again, we have our reasons for doing so; we just need to be able to admit that.

    For example, the verses that you use Desiree, you are right. They are pretty clear, strong, intolerant and uncivil… towards A LOT of sin that we all deal with includeing greed (selfishness), gossipping, disobedience to God's leading, cussing, disobeying your parents, pride (which pretention falls under 😉 ), and more that we are all guilty of. So, why pick sexual sins as the banner sins to make the biggest deal out of.

    OK, I'm exaggerating a bit to make a point, but not much of an exaggeration. We ALL pick and choose what we emphasize in Scripture. That's not to say that we can interpret whatever we want into Scripture, but there are more things that aren't as cut and dry as we pretend them to be in Scripture.

    All that to say, I don't necessarily believe that you are wrong in your reaction to a situation like that of this young man. I do think, though, that it is possible to react with more grace and still not be compromising belief, not be condoning his actions, and not placing our kids "in danger." You may disagree, and I that is OK. Thankfully, God is big enough to work in lives in spite of us. It is our job to continually evaluate how we point people to Christ and courageously follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, informed by the Word of God, even if we do it in different ways.

  6. […] I then read this post on Scot McKnight’s blog. I also thought back to the posts a while back on Elemental Children’s Ministry about what to do if a gay person wanted to volunteer in children’s ministry here and here. […]

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