Archive for February 2012

On deep theological waters

This week I have been thinking  a lot about being liberal or conservative (it seems that these two are only viable options in the Swedish discourse right now).

When I wrote my articles about LGBTQ , one of the comments I received was that I had a “liberal theology”.

The more I think about this, the more I realize that the way the word is used today in the Swedish Christian community is: Liberal equals not conservative, or at worst non biblicist.

If this is the proper definition then I am guilty as charged, that is. I am not and never will be a biblicist (again). If liberal theology is the only alternative to biblicism, then I am a liberal through and through.

Fortunately, it’s not so black and white. Indeed, there are many other ways to relate to the Bible.

I agree (with liberal theologians) that we must learn biblical criticism and exegesis, we must understand the historical context and where / how the text has come to be, if we are to extract the gold from the biblical text, and if we are to have a theological conversation that allows for depth, while still respecting the text.

But that’s not enough, a liberal hermeneutic not enough to build a Christian community in a secular post-modern society. Liberal theology (in the most extreme cases) robs the Bible of its deep mystery and the revelation of the holy spirit. Liberal Theology, many times result in a secular biblical stance that is not congruent with a living Christian faith.

Post Liberalism, narrative theology, progressive christianity

So what do you do when you are no longer a biblicist but find that liberal theology falls flat?

Well, you could enter the world of post-liberalism (it means exactly what it sounds like, after liberalism and is a reaction to liberal theology). Post-liberalism is based on narrative theology, ie. “the Church’s use of the Bible should focus on a narrative presentation of the faith as regulative for the development of a coherent systematic theology.” (Wikipedia)

The post-liberal or narrative theology stands in stark contrast to the liberal and modernist individualism and interpret the biblical text not only in historical context but in a broader perspective that takes into account the culture, spoken tradition and contemporary culture. Instead of staring themselves blind at the historical context as they read Bible stories as an imaginative act where the story is reborn and reinterpreted (from its historical context, with great respect for the contemporary culture and tradition) into our own context and in in our own contemporary Christian community and tradition. Theologian Walter Brueggemann calls this “imaginative remembering” who says that:

“The traditioning process of retelling does not intend to linger over old happening, but intends to Recreate a rooted, lively world of meaning That is marked by bothering coherence and surprise in Which the listening generation, time after time, can situate ITS own life” (Brueggemann – An Introduction to the Old Testament, 2003 pts 8)

This post-liberal theology is the basis for much of the thinking of the emergent church. But there it has been discovered that it is not enough to employ a new hermeneutic (a new way to read and understand the Bible), but you need a new practical theology (how we live out our theology and how we shape our modern tradition and liturgy of this post-liberal hermeneutic. When you begin to ask these questions it may be that you take the next step in progressive theology .

Progressive theology is what happens when the Christian church listen to the voices of liberation theology, feminist theology and the secular critique of the traditional church. Another way to see it is to say, progressive theology, or progressive church is what you get when you let Jesus love-priority be central in the Christian community. With Jesus’ love priority, I mean:

“” Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? “He answered,” Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. ‘”(Matthew 22:36-40 SWED2K)

This coupled with the realization that we must be shepherds not devourers of the Earth. Creating a love-centered, eco-conscious Christianity can (all be it very simplified) be called progressive Christianity.

Wikipedia defines the following items as the characteristics of progressive Christianity.

  • A spiritual vitality and expressiveness, including participatory, arts-infused, and lively worship as well as a variety of spiritual rituals and practices such as meditation
  • Intellectual integrity including a willingness to question
  • An affirmation of human diversity
  • An affirmation of the Christian faith with a simultaneous sincere respect for other faiths
  • Strong ecological concerns and commitments

The lure of theopoetics

In all these theological waters, there are many currents, uncharted depths and an incredible openness to diversity.

One flow of theology that I feel a strong attraction to isteopoetics.

Wikipedia has the following definition of teopoetics:

Theopoetics is an interdisciplinary field of study That combines elements of poetic analysis, process theology, narrative theology, and postmodern philosophy.Theopoetics … Suggests That deprecated of trying to developement a “scientific” theory of God, as Systematic Theology Attempts, theologians Should deprecated try to find God through poetic articulations of Their lived (“embodied”) experiences. It Asks theologians to accept reality as a Legitimate source of divine revelation and Suggests That bothering the divine and the real are mysterious – that is, irreducible to literalist dogmas or scientific proofs.

This teopoetic lure is calling from the forgotten depths and reminds us of the mystery. The mystery, the secret that can only be experienced, that ever dances an alluring wild dance at the limits of our consciousness. A mystery that contains both the Cataphatic and Apophatic tradition, a mystery that is both 100% man and 100% percent God, a mystery in which we are co-creators with the divine and where we lose ourselves in Christ and become one with God without us becoming god.

Polarization and pirate theology

The problem remains, as soon as you begin to question the biblicist fundamentals, you become a Pariah thrown out of the Swedish Theological mainstream, branded a liberal.

There is no theological argument that can win these biblicists over and I do not think it’s something we should aim for. Who am I to argue that my interpretation is better than yours? No, we need to create small pirate islands. where we live out a different reality, a different world view, a different hermeneutic, a different kind of Christianity in the middle of the biblicist mainstream.

We become pirate theologians (with all the positive, or romanticized aspect of that image, and perhaps unfortunately, sometimes some of the negative). But our purpose is not confrontation, or to somehow take over the establishment. No, our purpose is to gather in these wild, lawless islands and live out a rag-tag but true, lawless but loving, tradition-breaking, but not without tradition, or simply a radically different Christianity that does not actively threaten the normal Christian daily life in any other way than that it exist.

All are welcome

What’s great with the lawlessness of the pirate island is that it is diverse, colorful and totally unmanageable. Everyone fit in, everyone is welcome. Conservative biblicists and liberal secularists, theopoets and systematic theologians, stay at home dads and graduate students, hobby theologians and professional theophiles, philosophers and scientists, hetero and homo, atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, however queer you are, you are welcome … As long as we all respect the lawlessness of the pirate island and the diversity and intrinsic value of each other, then we call can let the theological conversation flow in this noisy environment with wide doors, high ceilings and low thresholds.

Meanwhile in another part of the Salvation Army

The conversation is still going on. Johnny Laird (who kindly posted a blogpost about my article series on LGBTQ) reminded me of this excellent video segment from Just Salvos featuring an interview with Jay Bakker:

I think the most important part of this video clip is the realigning of the LGBTQ issue from a sin issue to a social justice issue. The Salvation army needs to stand with the oppressed and marginalised and not work against human rights (as has been the case at times in the LGBTQ debate).

 

LGBTQ part 12 – coming out

Sitting here pondering and reflecting on some of the discussions that have come out of LGBT posts here on the blog. The first thing that strikes me is that there are so few persons leaving comments in relation to the high number of visitors.

I think that fear may be a large factor, both for those who disagree (who fear being labeled as bigoted fundamentalists) and those who agree (who are afraid of getting into trouble in their own congregations).

For a Christian, it can be difficult enough to “come out” and be LGBT-affirming. I recall that not so long ago I was with a number of my colleague officers present, seated there and I with a pounding heart and sweaty palms. Filled with anxiety I wondered what would happen when I began sharing with them my views on the LGBT issue. There were several persons present who tried to mediate; “what Patrik really means is that one must love the sinner and hate the sin …” Oh how easy it would be to just remain quiet and slide back down in that abyss, but no, that’s not what I mean.

What also strikes me is that it’s so difficult to have a discussion without getting bogged down in judgmental, polarized arguments. Even if on the positive affirmative side, how does one maintain an open-minded, unbiased posture toward people with pronounced biases.

But I realize once again how important this conversation is and that it is in the public light, “Only in the open, you have an opportunity. Locks you if you suffocate and wither you. In the open air, you should walk with the Lord. My power is made perfect in your weakness then. “

I believe that we must love all people regardless of their actions (whether we categorize the action as a sin or not) and that we must be allowed to affirm, and even rejoice that LGBT persons are in fellowship, and realize that they are God’s gift to us. Some were curious, others stunned, and a few glared judgmentally and commented harshly. I can and I do understand fear. It is not easy to “come out.”

But I realize once again how important this discussion is and that it take place in a public forum:

“In the arena of candidness (in the open) you have opportunity.
Lock yourself away and you will suffocate and wither.
Step out into freedom and walk with the Lord.
(for) My power is made perfect in your weakness.”

If we dare not (or aren’t allowed) to “come out” and discuss these difficult to handle issues in transparency and honesty, how are we ever going to find, understand, (and) love one another! So I continue blogging, Continue asking questions and highlight issues from as many perspectives as possible; maybe it attracts one more out of the closet where we can have the conversation, in the open.

Psalm 90 – Surely in the light

“Surely in the arena of candidness you have opportunity.
Lock yourself away and you will suffocate and wither.
Step out into freedom and walk with the Lord.
(for) My power is made perfect in your weakness.”
Live in a world converted to reality,
Turned toward God’s future, urged onward by His faithfulness.
You’ll never face darkness alone.
Only in the light will your possibilities be kindled.

Text: Britt G Hallqvist 1972 – J Kirkegaard 1971
Music: O Widestrand 1974, 19

Lt. Patrik Olterman
Commanding officer
TSA Malmo, Sweden

TRANSLATION: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

 

LGBTQ part 11 – Continued conversation

Following many words and much wrestling with the scriptures, doctrines, and my own faith, I have come to find, that no matter how I read the biblical text, I can never escape from my commission to love the Lord with all my soul, with all my heart and with all my strength. And to love my neighbor as myself.  Unless Jesus came into the world to condemn it but rather to save it, then it’s not my role to judge the world, or any other person.
When I then delve down into the depths of the Bible, I understand that I do not have much ground under my feet to speak soundly either for or against GLBT (issues). The only thing that I can deduce with all possible clarity is that I am called to love all people regardless of gender, sexuality, nationality, social status and political opinion. Yes, I am even to love my enemies and pray that God will bless them.
How then shall I be able to move forward to, in a sensible and dignified manner, continue to discuss these issues? Can I do other than to tolerate (simply allow) GLBT persons to be who they are and to actually love them? How can I learn more (in order) to live near to and in Christian fellowship with these my fellow human beings and siblings –  joined by faith?
RFSL & EKHO
For my part, I am now a card-carrying member of RFSL and have been part of the startup team of EKHO, the Province of  Scania. EKHO is a special interest organization that works to create a safe place where LGBT people can have freedom and encouragement in their Christian faith.
Here in Malmö EKHO will host an open cafe for conversation and fellowship once a month with the first meeting taking place on January 26 Please contact us if you want to join with us.
Ekho works therefore to:
·      Provide a living and liberating community for GLBT persons
·      an environment that provides care and social security
·      liberation and justice for GLBT persons in Christian churches and denominations
·      to actively carry out and in collaboration with others, further awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans support available through members’ active work in their own church
·      ensure that every individual be able to feel the strength of being a whole person, created in God’s image
·      that every individual must be able to accept, respect and rejoice in their ability to fall in love with someone of the same sex and feel that it is a gift from God, reflecting God’s love
·      to respond to ignorance and fear of GLBT issues with the insight of GLBT persons.
addendums
RFSL—The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights is a non-profit organization that works with and for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT). It is non-partisan and not affiliated with any religious organization. 

RFSL was founded in 1950 and is one of the world’s oldest LGBT organizations. It currently has approximately 4,000 members.)
EKHO – The Swedish Ecumenical Group for LGBTQ Christians
We believe that LGBT and Christianity are fully compatible; you can be Christian and have a same-sex relationship.
Click here for more information
Worship and EventsWe organise discussions and social events once a month)
Here is an excerpt from the Ekho folder:
EKHO has since the early 80’s been a driving force to make Sweden an open country where Christian GLBT persons can live and work in their churches and communities.
Ekho seeks to move forward socially by providing enlightening work through various hosted programs, services, information activities, camps, youth work, telephone and personal counseling.
FROM THE UK SITE
Anti-discrimination

Discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited in the areas of employment, and provision of goods and services.
In Gibraltar discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation is prohibited only in employment.
Legal gender recognition of trans people

The United Kingdom has administrative procedures to obtain legal gender recognition compulsory genital surgery, however with compulsory divorce.
Partnership recognition

In the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) same-sex couples are able to enter into a registered partnership. It also provides registered cohabiting same-sex couples with a set of limited rights. 
The UK civil partnership law does not apply to Gibraltar and Guernsey.
Parenting rights

Same-sex couples are eligible to jointly apply for a child adoption and each other’s biological children. 
Medically assisted insemination is available to lesbian couples.
The UK legislation on these issues does not apply to Gibratar, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey.
Criminal law on hate speech/ crime

Sexual orientation and gender identity (only in Scotland) are included in the law on hate and violence, and are recognised as aggravating factor. The UK legislation on law on hate and violence does not apply to Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey.
Freedom of assembly/Pride events
Pride events have taken place with authorisation.
Criminal law on age of consent

The age of consent is equal for all sexual acts.
Asylum
Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

LGBTQ part 10 – Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Andrew Marin – Love as an Orientation – Elevating the conversation with the gay community. (Paperback – Amazon UKKindle International)

Jay Bakker – Fall to grace – A Revolution of God, Self & Society (Hardcover – Amazon UKKindle international)

Walter Wink – Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of conscience for the churches  (Paperback – Amzon UKKindle International)

Jesper Svartvik – Bibeltolkningens bakgator – Synen på judar, slavar och homosexuella i historia och nutid. Swedish (Adlibris)

Bibliografi

Caputo, John D.
2007 What would Jesus deconstruct – The good news of post-modernism to the church.
Baker Academic: Grand Rapids

Childress, James & Macquarrie, John (Eds.)
1967 A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics.
SCM: London

Manning, Brennan
2008 A Ragamuffin gospel  (Kindle edition)
Multnomah Books: Colorado Springs

Marin, Andrew
2009 Love as an Orientation – Elevating the conversation with the gay community.
IVP:Downers Grove

Svartvik, Jesper
2006 Bibeltolkningens bakgator – Synen på judar, slavar och homosexuella i historia och nutid.
Verbum: Stockholm

Wink, Walter
1999 Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of conscience for the churches  (Kindle Edition) Fortress Press: Mineapolis

LGBTQ part 9 – The Salvation Army

The problem persists in the Salvation Army, of today. In which way can we include LGBT persons in our fellowship without creating groupings; an A team and a B team? How can the Corps offer (church) membership in the Salvation Army in a positive manner that allows GLBT persons to feel valued, appreciated and loved by both the corps fellowship (soldiers/adherents) and also by the God to Whom the fellowship is showing (leading) the way.

Somewhere in this discussion one must remember that the Salvation Army has traditionally been the spokesperson for the marginalized. GLBT persons with Christian beliefs are often ‘doubly marginalized’. They are both excluded from the Christian community because of their sexual orientation, but often also excluded from the LGBTQ community due their grounding in the Christian faith.
In the Salvation Army soldiership is in itself problematic; we apply vague/weak and double morality standards concerning the various ‘offenses’ that exclude one from soldiership status. It appears that as it concern this there are several different options from which to choose.
Firstly, we can say that the soldiership is open to all regardless of lifestyle and it is up to each one who enters in to soldiership will to their best ability seek to interpret God’s will and live a pure and holy life. This solution makes it possible for LGBTQ persons to become soldiers and makes civilians membership (adherents) quite unnecessary. This solution (interpretation/ reading) on the other hand, allows for alcoholics, smokers, gamblers, people who abuse pornography, to become soldiers as well. Then it falls on the local pastor (an officer with the gift of pastoring or BOS – Board of Spiritual Care) to guide each one, in good faith, to a whole life (integrity) before God.
Secondly, we insist that the soldiership is a lifestyle choice, (as it’s defined and appears today) one not compatible with LGBTQ persons who choose to live out their sexuality. If one chooses this path one must also ensure that soldiership is also observed in all other respects. Adherent membership is offered today (as an alternative) to others seeking a corps community membership. (But then one should probably review the wording of the description of Adherency, see below)
Thirdly, one can select to remove the soldiership status and instead simply have a membership status where holiness is not a requirement but rather (a fellowship) wherein faith in Jesus is what unites us and binds us together. In common with the first solution this places responsibility on the local pastor who will engage with each member working out what this means individually in every person’s life.
With regard to Adherency membership, (Existing civilian membership) this is already problematic. The (Swedish) leaflet explaing Adherence membership reads; “Civilian membership is full membership in the Salvation Army as a Christian community.” It further states; “Being a member means you are offered corps’ ceremonies (are freely available) such as baby blessings/dedications, confirmations, weddings and funerals.” This means that a LGBTQ person as a civilian member is promised the offer of both a marriage ceremony and baby dedication.
Of course one can argue that according to the SA a marriage not a marriage unless it is between a man and a woman but do we not then do exactly what the SA was accused of in the TV show Cold Facts: come with empty words; everyone is treated equally. This especially given the fact that the marriage ceremony is not instituted explicitly in the Bible but is rather, a tradition we have added to the Bible through methodical exegesis and our normal hetero interpretation of the scriptures
In addition, marriage is enshrined as one of our inalienable human rights in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml # A16)
Without any exaggeration it can be said that the Salvation Army is facing a huge assignment regardless of the route one choose to take in the future relative to LGBTQ issues. If we as a denomination want to take a more positive inclusive approach it requires repentance and thorough, in-depth, strategic Bible teaching at all levels.
If we choose to go in the other direction it requires ransacking, repentance and a culling of the current soldiers and officers in order to resolve what we in our Orders and Regulations say that we stand for.

What is clear is that we as a denomination have to initiate a debate and bring this discussion to all levels, both in public and within the corps walls, both on the local level and the cabinet (SA leadership council).

If we as the Salvation Army want to be both open to embrace the oppressed and continue to be a holiness movement, we must engage in lengthy and giving discussions about how we should live in and manage the tension between these concepts.
Lt. Patrik Olterman
Malmo, Sweden
Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

LGBTQ part 8 – Four possible approaches

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.

SIN?

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’?

ILLNESS?

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.

DISABILITY?

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?

NATURAL VARIATION?

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

Malmo, Sweden

Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

 

LGBTQ part 7 – Pastoral care

The LGBTQ issue has always created friction between the way we understand and interpret the Bible’s view of holiness and how we as pastors are to preserve order, caring for and counselling LGBTQ people. The greatest dichotomy is perhaps between whether we are called to “liberate” LGBTQ people or to have a conversation with LGBTQ people, where we recognize their reality and grapple with how to understand and apply the Bible’s message in their daily lives and struggles.

Here one must distinguish carefully between those struggling with their sexuality (I don’t know what I am) and those who wrestle with how to deal with their sexuality (I don’t know how to live with whom I am when reality looks like this). With the first group one could present heterosexuality as one of many ways out, or the only way out (depending on what perspective on LGBTQ you have (see next post four different ways of dealing with LGBTQ issue)). The problem with this approach is that we have no sure way to distinguish between these groups, and it can probably be said that almost all of the latter group first belonged to the former group. And even if we were able to distinguish who is actually a gay person who is not with any certainty, we must concede that all approaches to pastoral care become much more complicated if we can not present one sexual ethics across the board. Furthermore, we must also acknowledge and consider the third group of people, those who do not wrestle with their sexuality but are completely comfortable with being GLBTQ people and live a normal life enjoying their sexuality. Do we have no gospel (good news) to them? Did Jesus not bring any good news for them?

What we need is a way to talk about loyalty, love, commitment, affection and sex without having to distinguish between LGBTQ people and heterosexual people.

In the Evangelical churches are currently forcing LGBTQ people to a promiscuous life by stigmatising LGBTQ sexuality, branding it as sinful (Svartvik, 2006:307, Wink et al. 1999: 92). It is quite easy to hide the occasional short relationship in a congregation, however, it is almost impossible to keep a commited, loving relationship secret if one is to be an active member of a congregation (Wink et al. 1999: 92). Therefore, it is from a pastoral perspective better to affirm and support LGBTQ people in their relationships and thus be able to guide these people to faithfulness, love and tenderness, instead of condemning and thereby indirectly force these people to choose between the church community or a loving committed relationship.

If one permits oneself to be persuaded by the scientific studies that are available one must  quickly realise that LGBTQ is nota a lifestyle choice a person makes, to the contrary many LGBTQ people would choose to be Heterosexual if they had the opportunity. Then you also have to realise that it is close to spiritual abuse to force someone to live against their nature. It is physical and spiritual abuse to force a sexual being to a lifetime of celibacy. Not to mention that celibacy is a spiritual gift that no pastor or church community has any right or opportunity to hand out to anyone, only God’s Spirit can hand out gifts of the Spirit (Wink et al. 1999: 86).

If one is to welcome LGBTQ people into the church, there must be a well-developed strategy for how to meet these people’s pastoral needs without abusing them as human beings and sexual creatures.

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