Friday, November 3, 2017

A letter to my Congregation by Ken Wilson

I've read many books that describes the tension of being gay and Christian, such as Ed Shaw's Same Sex Attraction and the Church, Nate Collins' All but Invisible, Christopher and Angela Yuan's by Out of a Far Country, and Deborah Barr's All Things New, but this was the first book from the perspective of a pastor.

Ken Wilson is a straight pastor who started wrestling with the question of whether to include LGBTQ+ folk into his church after maintaining a traditional view (that they should be excluded from membership) for the longest time.

He dislikes the way that the culture war has framed the issue, namely that people are either liberal or conservative, affirming or non-affirming. He maintains that there is a third way - that one can be accepting of gay Christians even if they disagreed with their decisions. He says that that's the way of Christ - love and acceptance.

So it seems somewhat schizophrenic when he analyses the clobber verses and found them wanting. It seems then that he is saying that the Bible does not condemn homosexual relationships. Further on in the book, he says that he would be fine conducting a gay marriage as a pastor. The more conservative among us would maintain that he is bowing to cultural pressure, but this book carefully details his struggle with the entire issue, and his was definitely not a snap-decision but involved a long, drawn-out process that involved lots of Bible reading, prayer and discernment.

What I found interesting about this book was that the author emphasizes how hard it is to live life as a pastor dealing with such issues. Like whether to baptise an "openly gay" person. He says that the people who casually throw barbs online or in real life don't usually face these people and deny them communion for example. So it seems to me that a large part of his change in position came about because of his interaction with LGBTQ folk. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it isn't Bible exegesis either.

A final point I'd like to make is that this book leans heavily evangelical in that the author liberally mentions how he is "led by the Spirit" in several situations and I guess that was a factor in his "conversion" as well. Interesting, but it might be alien to those from more cerebral traditions, such as the Presbyterians.

Well, it's not a bad read but not the most informative. I'd recommend Nate Collins' All but Invisible for a more detailed exposition on the topic. But it does show us how tough a pastor's job can be.

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