I haven’t stirred anyone up about questions of religion and faith lately. Maybe it’s time. The occasion is a sermon I just listened to online, called “Homosexuality and Churchgoing,” (direct mp3 link here, found on this page) by Dave Schmelzer of the Boston Vineyard. Normally I would have heard it in person, but I was away that Sunday. Dave says that as a pastor at a large, urban church, the most common question he is asked is, What’s your church’s position on gay and lesbian issues? His standard answer is, “We don’t take a position, but we’d love to have a conversation.” And he means it.
In this talk, he takes the unusual approach (for a pastor who I think would characterize himself as evangelical) of saying, Maybe the most important question here isn’t what we think the Bible says specifically about homosexuality (interpretations vary widely), but rather how can we talk to each other about these things, and listen to each others’ stories in a helpful and respectful way. He talks a lot about a “centered set” perspective on faith generally: not the you’re in or you’re out view of what we could call “bounded set” thinking, but rather, What is the common center toward which we are all striving to move? If you’re looking for a church position on GLBT issues, you won’t find him taking one here. But if you’d like to hear a pastor thinking outside the customary evangelical box, you might find it interesting. He also writes on the subject, and here’s one of his posts on centered set thinking.
Dave has an earlier talk online in which, addressing a large group of church leaders, he more specifically looks at what the Bible’s take is on the question of homosexuality. Again, he’s not there to try to lay down prescriptions or doctrines, even among leadership types. Instead, I think he does a creditable job of putting the various views on the subject into perspective, with a bottom line of: Talk to each other. And listen. (Here’s a direct link to the talk, but it’s found on this page under “Are You [meaning, your church] Gay Friendly?”)
Provocative stuff, in a good way.