Resolutely passionate

 

By Jayne Ozanne

Accepting Evangelicals

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So what will your New Year’s Resolution be? Will you even bother I wonder? Why even think about it when you know you’ll just give them up after a few weeks and settle back down into old habits, which are as familiar as the time-worn Christmas carols you’ve just been singing for the umpteenth time?

Except this year it could just possibly be different.

This year you could chose to do something that will change the very heart of how the gospel is heard and received in our time. You could determine to alter just one tiny little thing that might have a snowball effect, and so create a chain reaction that will – like dominos – knock everything over.

And no, I’m not trying to persuade you to change your mind about a sincere belief that you hold.

I’m talking about something quite different. Very different.

I’m talking about how we chose to see the world – the metaphorical glasses we put on each morning. Of course, many may well already be wearing them – in which case perhaps a little clean might be in order?

It’s just I’ve noticed a worrying trend recently, something that seems to becoming a norm – particularly amongst Anglicans. Maybe I should have more faith, and trust that God is in control – even if we can’t always see him at work. After all, the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn isn’t it?

You see we Brits seem to have a habit, perhaps honed by our politicians, of steering clear of difficult issues that we don’t know the answer to. If you don’t believe me, think of our attitude to immigration, to Syria and to the problems in the NHS. We close our eyes and wish that they would all just “go away”. Disappear. Vanish. For out of sight is out of mind, and quite frankly we’ve too much else on our plate. So we slide the issues silently to one side into the “will someone else please deal with this pile”. It’s like that news story we’d rather not listen to, so we flick the remote and watch another channel instead.

But the problem is that left untouched and in the dark these issues just continue to fester, the sores get deeper until the whole body begins to suffer. They will never “just go away” – indeed they will grow and eventually become life threatening. Like that annoying knocking sound in a car engine, it will become worse and worse until there’s suddenly a loud bang, where the whole vehicle is brought to a shuddering halt.

So, just to be completely clear what I’m talking about – we LGBT Christians are not going away. We’re here to stay. We’re part of the Body of Christ too – just like you. We’ve had enough pain. Enough rejection. Enough judgement. Enough of being slandered as “pedophiles and perverts”. We are your sons and daughters, your neighbours and your friends. We are decent, honourable human beings who just want to be able to live normal lives like you do – we want the joy of being loved, of being chosen, of being desired and adored.

So please don’t “switch channels”! Don’t turn off and pretend that we are someone else’s problem – because we’re not. We all belong to one Body of Christ – as we all share in one baptism, one faith and one hope.

So please, I implore you, make one simple and small New Year’s resolution – decide not to avoid this critical issue. Don’t leave it for others to sort out. If you’re unsure about where you stand – talk to people you trust and discuss it together. Better still – talk to some gay Christians, or contact any of the LGBT Christian groups.

You see, I passionately believe that the greatest evils at work in our Church today are the Twins of Fear – the Fear of the Unknown, and the Fear of Change. It is these fears that keep people locked in their prisons of ignorance and prejudice, where they buy into slanderous stereotypes that demean and dishonor parts of the body, their own body, that they are unfamiliar with. As we know, the only thing that will cast out these fears is the passionate self-sacrificing love that comes from above, which like an antiseptic balm will treat our festering wounds and allow peace once again to reign in our hearts.

So then, what will your New Year’s Resolution be? Might it be to stop side-stepping the difficult questions? Will it be to engage in a debate you have hitherto avoided? Are there hidden fears that you know you need to address? Do you need to clean your glasses so that any smudges are wiped away?

Whatever the issue, can I suggest there is one resolution that is so small and simple, yet has the power to transform us all – ask the Lord of the Passion to give you his Passion for that which you fear the most!

For godly passion transforms us all.

 

19 Responses to "Resolutely passionate"

  1. A Vicar in the UK   07/01/2016 at 12:27

    The last line is deeply tragic ironic, given J.O. is promoting behaviour which God has said in his word is immoral. Even more tragic and ironic is that CEN continues to give a platform to this campaigner, which has left CEN without a distinctive conservative voice against the liberal agenda of Church Times. No-one CEN has become just a pamphlet. Evangelicals have abandoned it.

    • Bella   07/01/2016 at 13:31

      Yet she is open, honest, hurting, and you? You hide as ‘a vicar’. Your argument is much like the speck and the plank, don’t you think?

    • Fr Edward Rennard   07/01/2016 at 18:59

      Twaddle. Open your eyes and see what it truly means to be Evangelical. We’ll done, CEN. I never dreamt you’d be prepared to print another view

  2. S Edwards   07/01/2016 at 12:43

    I think the poster ‘A Vicar in the UK’ has either not read the article or ironically proved its necessity.

  3. Andy   07/01/2016 at 13:37

    Tragic indeed that a vicar, whose calling is surely not to pre judge someone who has said nothing about anything to do with sexual activity. Surely a calling to encourage faith and to study and expound the context of original scripture rather than just rely on the many and comparatively recent incorrect suppositions of interpretation that have been keenly disseminated without full diligence. Please have the humility to accept that many non-LGBT, conservative evangelicals actually hold the view alongside Jayne, that it might be you yourself that has been misled and should re-search and re-evaluate your stance. We have not abandoned scripture. We have studied and struggled and come to realise that our own pride was not only giving an incorrect view of God and His love, it was sadly turning many true believers and seekers away from the very church that God created for them to be a part of – a group of imperfect sinners, passionately seeking to love better and be more like Jesus, with his help.

  4. Kim James   07/01/2016 at 15:05

    I wish people, who should know better, would stop putting words in God’s mouth and would start obeying Christ’s actual commandment to love. God has not said that being gay is immoral. Only in the parts of the OT that permit slavery and death by stoning etc etc which few would consider Godly behaviour today is there apparent condemnation depending on your translation. Judge the tree by its fruit, lovingly accepting or dried up and hateful. I know on which side I see Christ.

  5. Andrew C   07/01/2016 at 15:07

    Thank you for this – a timely challenge to open eyes to the harm being done to the very faith that we love and wish to see others come to share with us and our reputation in wider society. It is deeply damaging that the Church of God has become associated with negative and harmful attitudes to the LGBTI community and with the desire to criminalise and marginalise fellow human beings – something that some evangelical organisations have promoted overseas and defended here.Despite all the protestations of shared ‘brokenness’ and ‘loving the sinner but not the sin’ we simply come across as mean spirited, prejudiced and rather unpleasant. We need to face up to what others see of us and what that means. Fear is deeply damaging and the Church is riddled with it on matters of sexuality. It infects our Bishops who cannot speak their true thoughts for fear of what others think, it damages our churches because the lack of honesty about lives and the people we worship alongside divides us and denies our unity in Christ and it hurts individual Christians, especially the young, who learn to despise their very selves rather than to rejoice in the wonder of the life that God has given us. Time to open our hearts and minds, to talk and listen, truly listen to what the Spirit is so clearly saying to us, as God has always done – through the marginalised, the despised and the excluded.

  6. James   08/01/2016 at 08:01

    Jayne Ozanne has consistently pushed for same sex behaviour and a change in the teaching and practice in the church. It is not arrogant to promote the biblical traditional line. What is arrogant is to overturn 2000 years of teaching.

  7. Stephen   08/01/2016 at 10:10

    How sad to read the confusion in the article and some of the comments. Jayne states: “We all belong to one Body of Christ – as we all share in one baptism, one faith and one hope.” The problem is that Paul writes:

    “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men” (1 Corinthians 6:9 NIV).

    And God says in Revelation: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 NIV)

    The great concern is that Jayne and those who want same-sex sexual relationships are not members of the body of Christ (because actually we do not share one faith, baptism or hope), and will, very sadly “just go away” at God’s judgement. If that’s true then love does not imply acceptance but the call to repentance and faith surely, for their eternity hangs on it.

    • Pete Jermey   09/01/2016 at 09:21

      Surely there is a difference between *actual* sexual immorality and believing that not all gay relationships are sexually immoral. One is a behaviour, the other a belief.

      I want to stress that not all gay people are sexually active. The continued desire amongst some conservatives to associate gay people with (sexually immoral) sex demonstrates the need for discussion. You may have a fixed clear understanding of what scripture has to say about sexual immorality, but do you have any understanding of gay people in the real world? From your post I would guess not.

      This is why Jaynne Ozannes article is encouraging everyone to know what they think and understand why they know what they think.

      Sexual immorality is a sin, but so is condemning someone because you’ve wrongly assumed them to be sexually immoral.

      • Stephen   10/01/2016 at 23:03

        Of course all those with same-sex sexual attraction are not sexually active, in fact there are many Christians who experience same-sex attraction and choose not to be sexually active to be obedient to God (see for example the livingout.org.uk).

        However, Jayne has (a) been open about being in a same-sex relationship and (b) is arguing that church should change it’s position on same-sex sexual relationships to accepting them. So I don’t think I’m assuming her position.

        If these are both contrary to Scripture and contrary to being in the kingdom of God, as the verses I quote above suggest then it would seem justifiable to be concerned about someone don’t you think? You will note I don’t condemn Jayne, I express great concern.

        I’m not sure why you think I have no understanding of gay people in the real world. That’s quite an offensive assumption and quite condemning, but perhaps it’s OK to do be condemning that way round.

  8. Ronnie   08/01/2016 at 14:04

    Andy, I am most puzzled by your claim that one can be “conservative evangelical” and hold to an accepting position in same-sex relationships. Surely, “conservative” means “to preserve unchanged something from the past.” Evangelical means “Gospel-Focused” and is defined by the Reformers, like Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer who called themselves “evangelicals.” Surely, we all understand that the acceptance of same-sex relationships requires a radical change in what evangelical orthodoxy has believed for 500 years. In no way can accepting same sex relationships be called a “conservative” position. If those accepting same-sex relationships are “conservative evangelicals” then the “Vicar In the UK” is not; but if “Vicar in the UK” is a conservative evangelical, then those accepting same-sex relationships are not conservative evangelicals. By all means, advocate same-sex relationships, but let’s be honest and not use words to mean what we might want them to mean.

    • Geoff M.   09/01/2016 at 09:14

      Affirming the marital values of fidelity, permanence, and exclusivity is by definition “conservative”. It always strikes me as oddly topsy-turvy when some make it out that gays and lesbians who wish to live by the Church’s discipline are “liberal”, while those who insist on abstinence for those not so gifted – which in practice means a series of trysts followed by disingenuous “repentance” – are somehow “conserving” anything of the Church’s teaching.

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  10. Terence   08/01/2016 at 23:01

    An important and useful contribution. There’s just one problem: how can Christians of good will speak to “LGBT Christians” if we ourselves do not identify ourselves? Far too many people simply assume that they don’t know any LGBT people – at least, not in their own congregations. Just as others need to listen to us with an open mind, it’s even more essential that wherever we can, we must be courageously out and open, as far as our circumstances allow, speaking the truth about our lives, loves – and our faith.

  11. kim james   09/01/2016 at 08:45

    Not quite sure where I mentioned “sex” there but thanks for bringing it up. You really do seem rather obsessed by it. Surely ALL sex is immoral outside of marriage? Not quite sure where homosexual “love” is condemned but would be grateful of a link to that. In the absence of such, however, I prefer to follow Christ’s example and live a loving life. Perhaps you could give me chapter and verse to the Almighty’s definition of marriage and where it differs from marriage in other ungodly cultures. Perhaps you would be better off reading your bible than beating people round the head with it. And perhaps you should meditate on the meaning of love. Oh, and please stop obsessing unhealthily about sex.

  12. Kate Phizackerley   10/01/2016 at 03:47

    I think you should re-read the article because I see nothing in it which is contrary to Scripture even if one cleaves to Leviticus. Jayne merely asks that the Church accepts LGBT Christians as brothers and sisters, just as for example it accepts rich Christians although Jesus in 19:24 says, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” and, in many CofE congregations, every member is rich when considered in world terms.

    The church should teach boldly on issues such as sexuality, lustfulness, greed and wealth but it should embrace all those who earnestly profess Christ without judging them.

  13. Graham Holmes   10/01/2016 at 16:35

    If we call ourselves Evangelical, then I would assume that we want to take the Bible seriously. Surely that means reading and understanding it’s contents in context, textually, linguistically, historically and in many other ways that evangelical scholars have discerned over the last century. So why do we preach and teach using this God-given scholarship in every topic under the sun – except this one?

  14. The Reverend Canon Susan Russell   10/01/2016 at 22:08

    Unless, of course, the root of conservative — to conserve — is applied to the values of love, justice and compassion incarnated by Jesus and not restricted to conserving the clay vessels of dogmas and doctrines developed by the church.

    Loving, honoring and cherishing one beloved human partner-in-life in marriage is arguably a profoundly conservative — indeed, counter-cultural act. An act of living out values that transcend the gender of the couple.

    Brilliant piece, Jayne! Happy New Year!