Christianity has evolved with culture often, writes guest columnist John Locatelli. Expect the same as Christian churches adapt to society’s widening embrace of the LGBT community.
THE recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court making gay marriage a reality in all 50 states is very disturbing to many churchgoers. However, Christians have a long history of being open to changing their beliefs when those earlier beliefs collide with better understandings that come with time. A church is not the building, the rules it writes down nor even the Bible, but rather the members in it and how they treat themselves and others.
In our smug position of knowledge and enlightenment in the early 21st century, it is hard to appreciate the drastic changes that have already taken place — changes that took time and careful consideration.
Most Christian leaders before the late 17th century regarded slavery as consistent with Christian theology. Today, nearly all Christians are united in the condemnation of modern slavery as wrong and contrary to God’s will.
Before the 18th century, most Christians, and most people, believed that the Earth was only thousands of years old. By the 20th century, most Christians accepted the fact that the Earth is billions of years old.
Most Christians once believed that wives should not speak in church, own property nor vote. They believed that husbands should make all the decisions and that wives should submit to them.
These Christian beliefs, which seem unthinkable now, all have strong and unimpeachable basis in the scriptures. All the convoluted attempts at reinterpreting the Bible cannot change that. However, when personal experiences combined with increasing knowledge contradicts Biblical teaching, something has to give.
As Christians, we can tap into the wisdom of God through the Holy Spirit, who can help the new knowledge we gain make us better Christians. It is knowledge that is revealing truths about the creation of God. Jesus teaches us that blessed are those who hunger and search for the truth. If I hunger and search for the truth from the ever increasing knowledge of God’s creation, am I wrong in doing so?
Current disagreements on the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the church and how the church deals with those disagreements will have profound effects on the lives of most everyone — sometimes with destructive effects. So we had better get it right.
God has revealed through our ever-increasing knowledge that being LGBT is not a choice but a born trait. We know that it is futile and damaging to try to change LGBT orientation through any type of therapy. These truths about God’s creation have been revealed to us by the good use of the brains God gave us. Again, something has to give as both the Old and New testaments make it very clear that homosexuality is an abomination.
LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts. I can’t even imagine the loneliness and alienation that these children feel and the suffering they go through when they feel that the only alternative is to end the precious life God gave them. I cannot look at young transgender children — seeing how happy they are living as the sex they know they are — and then believe that they are some terrible mistake that God condemns to a lifetime of pain and suffering.
It is a travesty that Christians are among the people that these children cannot turn to for spiritual guidance and complete acceptance.
LGBT children are born to parents of all beliefs, economic situations and races. Now, and in the future, children, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles — people of every possible relation — will surely be born to members of every church and will want to participate along with their friends and relatives. Will Christians drive wedges between those parents and children, aunts and nieces, and friends? I don’t believe the good members of any church want that for their future — a future where members have to choose between their families and their church families. If I did, I would not take the time to write this column.
It is very clear that the writers of the Bible were very much a part of their cultures when the various chapters were written. They could not completely supersede the ignorance and cruelty that prevailed when they lived, not even with the guidance of God. As for me, I do not want the misguided cultural norms of past generations to stop me from growing in Jesus. I trust God’s love and the Holy Spirit to guide me through.
Something has to give.