BC’s pastors have been urged to see same sex attracted persons as individuals, worthy of individual respect, not condemnation. A well attended B.C. “Pastors’ Equipping Session” heard a variety of speakers discuss sexuality and marriage issues prior to the start of the 2015 B.C. Conference convention at South Langley MB Church. The session was titled, “Preaching biblically and redemptively.”
Two themes emerged from the afternoon. One concerned a warning against blanket, unloving judgments and instead encouraged understanding and love on sexuality issues. The other reinforced the authority and clarity of Scripture.
One of two pastors who presented “example sermons,” Jeff Bucknam of Northview Community Church, Abbotsford, said among same-sex attracted people there are unrepentant non-believers, unrepentant believers and repentant believers. “We need to show kindness,” he said, citing Matthew 5:43-45.
He said kindness does not mean backing down from the truth, but Christians must be mindful of how “we fail to obey Christ. That fact does not bar us. It qualifies us.”
Panelist Lee Kosa of Delta’s Cedar Park church said we need to give permission to share stories. “Our churches need to be safe places.”
James Toews of Nanaimo’s Neighborhood Church added, “We have to get ready to be yelled at. Because there is a lot of pain.”
Panelist Sandy Schier of Kelowna’s Metro Community said, “It’s about relationship. We are calling out people’s dignity. They are created in the image of God.” Some people do have agendas, she said, but some are struggling.
Bucknam said Paul does not prioritize sexual sin, but many people in church settings elevate this one sin above, gossip, slander, greed and other iniquities that Paul deals with in Romans. He also said it is important for Christians to take captive the arguments of the culture. Citing 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, he said, The ‘strongholds’ are all ideas to imprison us – lies. Christian discipleship requires us to take such ideas captive and put them to flight!” He added, “We already have the resources necessary to answer most of our questions.”
Pastor Tim Klassen of Central Heights, Abbotsford, during his ‘example sermon’, said in all matters of faith and practice, “subject all under the authority of Scripture.” Personal experience cannot be the basis of our opinion, he said, but only the Bible.
Homosexual practice is just one of many ways people will rebel against God, he said. “The issue comes down to a question of authority.” He said, “one isn’t converted from, for example, lesbianism, but is converted from unbelief.”
Klassen said, “We, the church, should welcome all people.”
Schier, during the panel discussion, said Scripture challenges people in ways that the world cannot.
Lee Francois of Surrey’s Crossridge Church said when talking about sexuality, “like any issue, we want to point people back to Jesus.”
Klassen said United States theologian Wesley Hill confessed he was “committed to Christ but tempted to same-sex attraction.” The church needs “humility, humility, humility. And love, love, love.”
—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent
When I was a child growing up in a Mennonite church, my father smoked and the guilt and shame and judgement (perceived or spoken) he felt from the church was a huge factor in how I chose to live my early adult years. As a “out” gay man who has left the Mennonite church, the judgement placed upon the gay community speaks volumes about how we are perceived by the leadership of the church. In the above article , the writer alludes to the fact that all sin is of the same consequence. When the church puts items like gossip, slander, greed, etc. on the agenda of a conference as the topic of discussion, the the gay community may feel like there is a possibility of respect rather than condemnation. Perhaps, there may be less feelings of judgement at that point and more of a desire for the Mennonite gay community to consider participating in the church. The church needs to take responsibility for the suicides, attempted suicides, exodus of the gay community from the established churches if they want to be taken seriously for their “love and acceptance of all”.