There are probably as many ways to approach LGBTQ issues as there are people with opinions. What follows is a summary of the second half of “One family’s story” written by Bishop Paul Wenner Egertson and found in Walter Wink’s book: Homosexuality and the Christian Faith (pages 28-30).
Bishop Paul Wenner Egertson depicts four different approaches to LGBTQ people who may be able to help congregations to find both clarity and perspective, but perhaps also assist it in its own move forward on these issues. It would, of course, be better to read the article in its entirety in Walter Wink’s book but here is an abbreviated version (a translation to Swedish) and half as a paraphrase interspersed with the author’s own opinions.
The first way one can choose to approach the matter is as a moral problem. One chooses to read a handful of scripture verses with a literal interpretation and conclude that GLBT behavior is a sin, that is, a (conscious) choice to rebel against God and God’s will, like prostitution, promiscuous sex or violent acts.
In this case, the only way to deal with the issue as a breaking (conscious dismissal) of a law, that ought to be corrected (reprimanded) and the response we want to witness is remorse /repentance and a complete change/turnaround. But the question must be posed, is homosexuality a choice to rebel; can it really be likened to ‘prostitution’?
A second method is to liken LGBTQ behavior to an illness (or condition) or resulting in certain behaviors that stem from abuse (from an addiction) that can only be treated with complete abstinence, similar to alcoholism. The disease is treated solely in apart from the external behavior: alcohol consumption. If this is the case, a life of celibacy is the solution to the GLBT issue. But can LGBTQ really be likened to alcoholism?
In both cases above we are forced to solve the problem through abstinence (which often leads to clandestine promiscuity), However, can we force someone or something to act against their nature? And more importantly, can one force someone to live out a Charisma, a spiritual gift?
And as long as we treat homosexuality as something sinful, we force homosexuals in our community to live “outside/beyond” that which we would normally suggest to anyone else. Only if we let go of the stigma, sinfulness, can we bless and encourage, tenderness, fidelity, and long-term commitments.
A third option is to liken LGBTQ to a tragedy of nature, where nature has been misconstrued; the effect of the “fall” in the world. Something not planned by God or a part of God’s plan or will, but something that happens regularly in our world nonetheless. An unfortunate phenomenon that we could hardly call good. However, it is a fact that we do everything we can to help disabled people to a valued and decent life. Should we not then, in such cases make special rules for them so they (too) can live as rewarding a life as possible within the limits of their disability?
When someone’s legs are paralyzed we do not draw the conclusion that God does not want them to walk (be mobile), but we solve the problem with prosthetics or wheelchairs. If a couple cannot have children (conceive) do we not conclude that it is God’s will that they shall be childless, but we assist/arrange an adoption.
Should we not in the same manner arrange a parallel structure providing marriage for gay people; to live out a full life to the best of their ability? But the question remains, can GLBT issues really be compared to a disability?
The last possibility is to see LGBTQ persons as a natural variation in creation, one of the wonderful differences that regularly occur in opposition to the norm. In this case, GLBT can be compared to left-handedness. One must remember that left-handed persons have been persecuted, punished and forced to live against their nature throughout history. Man eventually learned that it turns out to resemble issue of GLBT persons; you cannot make left-handed into right- handed persons, it only creates problems. When society relinquished their views on left-handedness one was free to discover the positive rewards assumed by, for example, the sports’ world. But can LGBTQ be likened to left-handedness?
If it can be, can’t we simply include LGBTQ persons in our congregations with joy, and also celebrate these persons as God’s gift to our churches.
The latter two subversives allows us to include LGBT people in a positive way in our corps (church fellowship) and also provide meaningful information, opportunities, pastoral care and above all, we can encourage a sexual morality which is the same as we teach all the other members of the Corps without distinction. That is, we can encourage abstinence outside of marriage, we can teach gentle, loving and committed relationships. And we can help LGBTQ couples to manage their relationships; build them strong and sustainable in a world where promiscuity is otherwise elevated to a virtue.
Lt. Patrik Olterman
Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm