The GLAD Alliance asks, “How has being part of an Open & Affirming congregation expanded your understanding of welcome at God’s table?”
My reflections include the following observations:
- I have always believed that our relationship to God is defined by our spiritual formation and not by our sexual orientation. To make sexual orientation a test of fellowship in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) or to restrict or limit leadership within our respective congregations by excluding Gay/Lesbian participation is to introduce a form of idolatry which betrays the spirit of Christ.
- To regard heterosexuals as saints and homosexuals as sinners is to misrepresent scripture and betray our common humanity, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) “there is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) So why not acknowledge that we are more alike than we are different when it comes to sin? The Christian Faith is about the grace and forgiveness of God available to each of us, no exception! We are alike in one other way – sexual orientation is a gift from God, not a sin! It’s the way God made us.
- While I have always been Open & Affirming in principle in my regard for every human being as a child of God (John 1:12) and a person for whom Christ died (Romans 5:8), belonging to a congregation that is Open & Affirming has expanded my understanding and appreciation of many whose sexual orientation has exposed them to rejection, discrimination, oppression, and persecution. First Christian Church, Lynchburg, VA has provided valuable opportunities to enter this suffering, form durable friendships, share a common spiritual journey, discover the depth of Christian understanding and commitment of many within the Gay/Lesbian community, and to benefit personally from the excellent leadership our gay/lesbian members have provided. It has helped me to become more intentional as an advocate for justice and peace for diverse populations subjected to discrimination. It has helped me embrace the truth that we are more alike than we are different in our embrace by a God who shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11)
- The real test of our spiritual maturity is our love of God and our ability to form durable, lasting, committed relationships to one another as a spiritual family devoted to Jesus Christ and to each other’s spiritual formation and development, as disciples of our Lord, WITHOUT EXCEPTION!