What I like best about being part of an Open & Affirming congregation is that it’s a place where the argument is over. We talked the matter through. We shared experiences. We studied scripture. We came to consensus and those few folks who could not join that consensus went on their way. The bell was rung, and I can’t imagine un-ringing it.
We hope we are not self-righteous, or ungracious, or violating the wholeness of the Church. But we have come to a consensus about an essential element of Christian community—that no one can be excluded because of how they were made. And behind that ecclesiological consensus is an anthropological one—that sexuality, in all its variety, is inherent and part of the order of God’s creation. People do not, in any meaningful way, choose their sexual orientations. No one should expect people to “repent” their sexual orientation any more than their left or right handedness. We are agreed on that.
Of course, many Christians reject that anthropological consensus and therefore the ecclesiological one as well. They believe sexual orientation is a choice and that the wrong choice should stigmatize, isolate and bring condemnation. They believe non-heterosexual people should be second class members of Christ’s Church, at best.
We believe they are wrong. We will be part of the ongoing struggle for justice and inclusion, but in our local context we no longer need to fight about it. By study of scripture and prayer, through the examination of our own lives and experiences, by conversation and consensus and in fear and trembling we have resolved the question and moved on. It is a great relief and it frees us for faithful ministry.