A wonderful young couple starts coming to your church…

…and that sounds great. The trouble in many churches would be if such a couple is a same-sex couple. I sort of alluded to this in my last post, but I think it got obscured in the comments section: what do you think your church ought to do (if anything) about this couple’s sexuality? There are a few choices that I have seen or read about:

  1. Outright rejection. Get out of here, you are sinful, God hates fags, yada yada yada.
  2. We’ll cure you! Stop seeing your partner, it’s time for ex-gay therapy (despite the questionable success rates) or at least a stern talking-to from the pastor. (2.5) You can come to church but no gay activity.
  3. Don’t ask, don’t tell. We don’t know anything about you and your, err, roommate. You can come to church any time. As roommates. We can all pretend together!
  4. Aren’t we hip? We have a totally have a gay couple – look this proves that we are relevant and stuff. (Psst, gays, don’t, uh, don’t be too gay, and don’t ask about marriage.)
  5. We’ll bless you. And we don’t mean just what we say after you sneeze.
  6. Marriage?!

I don’t think that (1) is very Christ-like at all. A lot of people think that (2) is viable, but even the most optimistic reports suggest that ex-gay ministries only have a 1/3 success rate (and lots suggest the rate is even lower) and even then, it may just be a way to put people in the closet. You still have 2/3 (at a minimum) of your gay population to deal with. (3) is silly, though I’m sure lots of churches that afraid to take a strong stand either way might like to do this. (4) induces cringes – using your gay congregants as props to show that you aren’t suburban or a bunch of old-fogeys or something. (5) and (6) risk alienating a great many of your congregants and don’t appear compatible with what the bible says. Of course, as poserorprophet suggests, we may be doing shoddy exegesis on this.

I don’t propose to be a theologian, I don’t read Greek or Hebrew or something fancy. The number of church fathers I’ve read could comfortably fit in an elevator. So what do I go on in this scenario? Well, what drives me to dissatisfaction with the standard conservative line on homosexuality is this: When I see a gay couple that is clearly in love, clearly in a stable, supportive relationship it just seems bizarre to go to them and tell them to break it up. Why would I tell them that they ought to find someone of the opposite sex to (pretend to) love instead? Will it make God happy to make my gay brothers and sisters miserable? Would it make God happy if I just pretended that their relationships don’t exist?

This is not a matter of not being able to tell someone that they are called to do right. There are certainly many harmful things that I think ought to be rebuked – but like I said, when I see a happy, healthy couple, I’m left to ask where the harm is. So what do you do when that gay couple sits next to you in the pews?