Had a nice discussion with a friend yesterday, with the focus on the coming split in the Anglican Communion. We are both Episcopalians, or, should I say, were. I consider myself a Baptist, if someone presses me for a denomination. She is still carried on the rolls of her long-time church, but rarely attends.
The split in the Communion, for those who have missed it, is in reaction to the Episcopal Church’s acceptance, nay, welcoming, of openly gay, non-celibate priests and at least one bishop. There is also a tendency of some to use the Episcopal pulpit as a place to support the flavor of the month political cause. These causes are invariably liberal-to-leftist, and are offensive coming from a place that should preach Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, and Christ risen. Period.
All this said, I also have to say that I still admire the depth of intellectual and spiritual resources that the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church, can muster. Sometimes I think that many Episcopalians have the same problem that I often have: paralysis by analysis. We think about some things too much; perhaps we should take lessons from those who merely believe and worship.
Getting back to my friend, in our discussion, she asked me if I would welcome an openly homosexual person into our church. My answer: of course. Jesus does, indeed, love us all. Even though we all sin. Welcoming a sinner into a church must be the norm. Churches, all of them, are not museums for the saints. They are hospitals for us sinners.
This said, welcoming a sinner into church does not mean we should welcome his or her sin. Not at all. Our task is to get the sinner into the church, and let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting. Homosexual acts are sins. Homosexuals are not sinners, until they act.
Sounds like a no-win situation, doesn’t it? How can we ask someone whose genetic makeup* condemns them to have sexual attraction to the same sex? The same way we expect those who have a high sex drive and who covet their neighbor’s wife to not act on those desires. The same way we expect a kleptomaniac, who may also have been hard-wired to steal, to not do so.
And so the pattern repeats endlessly, since the Fall: we all sin; we all need redemption. We go to the Lord in prayer, and in group assembly in His name to seek that forgiveness that He can grant. All He expects in return is that we repent and sin no more.
*For the sake of argument here, I grant that homosexuality is likely caused by our DNA. Arguments that a man would do what homosexuals do, absent a genetic drive, are not at all convincing.