As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
Is it possible for two people who hold different views on an issue to sit beside each other in church and be in unity?
Yes—this is another article about same-sex attraction. And the question you are now asking is, “Is this guy for or against same-sex relationships and marriages?”
Probably “for or against” isn’t the best terminology, but if you asked me if I think the Bible is in favor of same-sex marriage, I would say I don’t believe the Bible allows for it.
Now you either like me or think I’m wrong. Either way, I hope you will keep reading. And here is why: because I am hopeful that as followers of Christ we can find a way forward. Even if we disagree about whether the Christian Reformed Church in North America should be a Side A or a Side B denomination.
What is Side A or Side B?
Side A churches allow same-sex marriage/committed monogamous relationships.
Side B churches do not allow same sex marriage/committed monogamous relationships.
Various denominations and churches have read and studied and discussed whether or not the Bible allows for same-sex marriage. There are other articles that explore the relevant texts, and generally those on opposing sides of the church aisle load their guns with ammunition and fire away. It is not my goal to shoot anyone today.
Maybe I’m an idealist and listened to John Lennon one too many times, but what I would like for all of us to consider is whether we can still be unified as followers of Christ even if we disagree on this issue.
So I will dream for a moment and lay out two guidelines I think might help us achieve that reality.
- Humility. As I stated earlier, I believe the Bible does not allow same-sex marriage. I also recognize there are things I thought in the past that I have since realized I was wrong about. There were positions I held and arguments I made that today I would not speak about in the same way. I am only one person, and I desire to be a humble person. I believe that means I can hold a view but I should hold it with humility that says, “This is what I believe and understand. I might be wrong.”
- Respect. What I believe is more important than my biblical exegesis and cultural understanding is that the Bible instructs us to ‘treat one another as you would want to be treated” (Luke 6:31). When I think about that in this context, I believe it helps give the right scale to the issue. Because we live in an over-sexualized culture, we have inflated this issue to be a defining mark of a person. A person is not defined by their sexuality. This is but one small piece of who God made the person to be. One small part of their character, giftedness, and God-given abilities. By inflating this issue, we state that because this person has a different belief about sexuality than I do, we must close the door to that person. Is it possible that from a position of humility and respect we might be able to say, “I understand we hold a different understanding of this issue, but my love for God and my love for his people is greater than this one issue. Now, together, let’s find a way forward.”
What does this mean practically? Can I worship beside a gay couple even when I disagree with them? Can I take communion and pass the tray to a lesbian couple? If they honestly believe they are living within God’s design, do I have the right to say, “No you’re not” and refuse to break bread with them?
In the past we’ve made decisions that put boundaries on the grace of God. “If you are living common law, then you are outside of God’s boundaries.” “Have you married someone who is divorced? Then you cannot be a member.” Does it make us better followers of Jesus if we put limits on his grace and in judgment apply our understanding of truth into someone else’s life?
John tells us that Jesus came and lived among us full of grace and truth (1:14). I have looked into the eyes of 80-year-olds who still carry the pain and hurt of judgments that were made on them 30-40 years earlier when someone else’s truth was applied and grace was left outside the door of the church.
Can we, as followers of Christ, hold what we believe to be true and yet extend abundant grace to those with whom we disagree?