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

 

  • Sven Ljungholm

    From Lt. Peter Baronowsky
    responding to an article by Mackan Andersson, The SA, Sweden. Andersson’s
    article was not translated nor posted in the FSAOF blog. None-the-less Peter’s
    response can be read, followed and easily understood simply because it ties in
    very closely with the articles and viewpoints expressed by Lt. Patrik Olterman,
    whose series on GLBT issues was recently featured and which drew a large number
    of visitors.

    ————————————-

     

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Homosexuality
    and the Bible

     

    I
    wrote some time ago a comment on Mackan Andersson’s post about the Salvation
    Army and the GLBT issues. My comments have been translated into English by Sven
    Ljungholm and published as separate comments to Patrick Olterman’s blog series
    on the same topic at http://www.fsaof.blogspot.com.

     

    Mackan
    subsequently shared a comment relative to my comment. First of all, thank you
    Mackan for the nature of the tone you use in your comment. I’m don’t feel at all
    spoiled by being treated respectfully recognizing that my comments are not politically
    correct.

     

    Here
    are some brief comments addressed to Mackan. Last time we discussed this issue,
    you and I, was over an ice cream on a hot summer morning in Almedalsveckan (Christian
    conference – Almedals Week) quite a few years ago.

     

    We
    are clearly agreed that a reasonable starting point for biblical interpretation
    is to read as it is written. I would perhaps say that number two is the
    question whether the Bible offers up an unambiguous message or if it appears to
    point in different directions. When the Bible offers up different messages on
    the same subject one ought to be a bit more careful in maintaining one’s absolute
    certainty about what the Bible really means. For example, the question of whether
    a woman ought to speak or not speak in church. Here is the case of a message
    pointing in different directions. In the New Testament we meet female
    prophetesses (who are presumably offering up their messages in the church by
    speaking), while we face restrictions concerning woman’s right to speak.

     

    But
    when it comes to homosexuality, the Bible offers up an unambiguous message in
    the few passages in which the subject is addressed: Homosexual acts are wrong.

     

    You
    also mentioned that there are (in fact) so few Bible passages that speak about
    homosexuality and therefore ‘it’ is incidental (peripheral). Patrik goes even
    further and shows how many times greed is mentioned and that therefore we ought
    not worry about homosexuality as it is mentioned (in comparison) so very few
    times.

     

    If
    frequency were the cornerstone of our preaching virtually all sermons would be about
    Jesus’ return. There is nothing that is spoken of as much in the New Testament
    as about Jesus’ return. But I rarely hear a sermon preached about Jesus’
    return. However, I have heard a thing or two about greed from the pulpit. But I
    do not think I’ve heard anyone preach against homosexuality.

     

    To
    my best knowledge there is no lobby group that argues that greed is virtuous.
    There is no association or fellowship of greedy Christians who want to protect
    their right to be greedy. If such an organization should be created, you can
    probably expect a few motions in the debate arguing against the notion that
    greed is good.

     

    Last
    and in conclusion Mackan, you sign off your arguments referencing your family
    where there are different sexual orientations. I have great empathy for the
    dilemma this creates for you, but biblical interpretation can hardly be steered
    or directed by whom we know or to who we are related.

     

    With
    all due respect to you, Mackan, although I strongly dispute your position on
    the issue.

     

    Peter
    Baronowsky

    • http://theopoetics.olterman.se olterman

      I know Sven posted this comment, and I know Peters response is to Mackan Andersson, and i know that there is little or no chance that Peter will see this. 

      Nevertheless I need to state:
      A) I do not think the Bible is unambiguous about homosexuality, the texts Peter refer to may address what we know as homosexuality OR may be talking about heterosexual men engaging in homosexual practices.

      B) Jesus return is FAR FROM the most common topic of the bible old or new testament. The Kingdom of God may be and that is not the same. However I would say that almost every sermon should be about the kingdom of god as this is number one on Jesus’ agenda.

      C) There are many lobby organisations that preach greed as virtue, it is of course disguised with the word blessing or prosperity.

      D) The last point while fantastic in theory, that our situation and family relations should not interfere with our reading of scripture or our theology, it is simply not true. Our context will always influence our reading and our theology. 
      Furthermore, I think that god changes how and what he speaks to us according to our situation and relation to him. In that sense theology is and must be relational. 
      Peter, your theology is for example extremely influenced by your army experience and by your upbringing in a modern society. There are many theological views you hold that would be foreign to the ancient mind (or the post-modern for that matter). We always read from our context because as humans we are not able to transcend our context. 

  • karina

    Thank you for your posts about this issue. I think they are great and for me it was like taking a fresh breath of air. I think this is a issue which many people think about, but not all people are ready to speak about. Too many people are stuck with their literal translation of the Bible and what is says about homosexuality. I have been thinking about it for some time now.
    There was something in me that was thinking why do we speak about homosexuality as being the worst thing ever, but do not speak so much about lies. Is it really ok for Christian to lie, but you can’t be a Christian if you’ re gay? I have been very conservative and maybe too judgmental to people who are different than me, by judging people according to my standards and my thinking. But then is it really worth to spend energy on condemning where I could spend  energy on helping people to find God and embrace His love. God has called us to love and show grace to all people.
    I don’t know anyone who is gay, lesbian, etc but my prayer to God is that  when I meet one of them I would really embrace them with grace, not with judgment, that I would show them the love of God and help them to grow closer to God.
    Once again, Thank you Patrik for saying your opinion on this.

    God bless,
    Karina

    • http://profiles.google.com/selmoscow Sven Ljungholm

      I’m adding your response to the FSAOF blog. Well said, Karina!

    • http://theopoetics.olterman.se olterman

      Thank you Karina! I look forward to our further conversations about this and many other things!

  • Steve Yoder

    Well done, Brother Patrik!  Cheering you on from Chicago.  I’m your brother in Christ, fellow Salvationist, and colleague officer…(brother in Christ first and foremost!)

    A friend forwarded your bloglink via Johnny Laird’s…and I’m very glad!  Just finished reading the 12 sessions, and I’m with you – all the way.  (Thanks for the translation, Sven…and for encouraging Patrik to allow this!)

    This whole business of “love the sinner and hate the sin” has bothered me for ages.  Too many words!  We need to stop at the first word:  “Love.”  I sure don’t want to dabble in “hate” – whether against a person or a thing!  Had too much hate in my heart before Christ.  And defining someone as “sinner” makes them sound like a target or animal to be hunted!  I just want to LOVE people without having to put any label on them other than their own and life experience – seeing them through the eyes of Christ as much as possible!  You helped me tighten my focus and my purpose, Patrik.

    There are few pains in the world greater than the pain of loneliness:  I
    pray we’ll never be guilty of causing more!  Much better to love,
    include, unite……Have been recalling how often Jesus got slammed for hanging out with all the wrong people!  That’s REAL Army; we’re called to tend the flock of the least and lowest and lost and lonely.  We just have to finally decide who we want to get hate mail from – the pharisees and money people or the people we’re called by God to serve/love!

    Enjoying powerful fellowship/learning links with Andrew Marin and his team – and much the better for it.  Keep the faith… keep strong… you are NOT alone, Patrik!  God bless you brother…

    Steve

    p.s. Apologies for a rambling response; hope something of my heart has shone through…for good.

    • http://theopoetics.olterman.se olterman

      Thank you Steve, I really appreciate the shout out!

    • http://www.facebook.com/johnnylaird Johnny Laird

      Nice to see some input from Steve Yoder – top man!

  • Pilgrim Soldier

    Excellent series Patrik! Hopefully, it will spark real discussion on the issue within The Salvation Army, but I suspect it will remain – as ever – a polarised debate!

  • Larry Sampson

    Patrick I have read most of your blogs on here and am fascinated by your writing. I am a former SA Officer from the USA South. I have also visited your beautiful city of Malmo about six years ago. Please know that you have my prayers in support of your choice to be vocal on such a controversial issue.

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