Posted by: Chris Hoskins | May 6, 2009

Wheres the Grace?

I’ve been wrestling with blogging about this for a while, I want to avoid bringing any more negative attention to this issue, but its been in the papers, radio and bbc website now, so most folks will probrably have heard something about it.
I’m talking about Queens Cross Parish Church and theirMinister Elect: Scott Rennie.
Scott is openly Gay and living with his partner, and was honest enough to be upfront with Queens Cross before starting his post. This led to a group of Ministers dissenting and challeging the call.
But I don’t want to go into the issue of sexuality, I want to talk about peoples attitudes when they address the issue of sexuality.
Whenever the issue of sexuality is discussed, Grace and Love always seem to be the first things to be forgotten. It is so easy to judge people for their stance on it(and I’m aware thats also what I’m doing here!).
I have to admit, I struggle with the issue. Not because I am Gay, but because of the people I know (on both sides of the issue), my belief in what the Bible is and how that informs my life and beliefs. Yes, the Bible has passages that call homosexuality a Sin, I can’t ignore those. But what I also cannot ignore what the Bible teaches about treating people with Love, with Grace, with Dignity. I cannot inore the example Jesus set in accepting people and loving them no matter what (and I take this into account in all situations, not just when encountering someones sexuality!). I try to live my life accepting people for who they are and trying to love them like Jesus would. I know I don’t always(if ever) attain this, but I have to try.
I genuinely face this issue with confusion, or is it fear? I find it hard to make a decision to condone or condemn practicing homosexuals in ministry. I don’t know if this is because I am confused about what I believe that God teaches us through the Bible about it, or if it is fear of potentially losing friends over the issue. I hope it is confusion, I hate the idea of fear controlling any part of my life, and theres still that part of me who doesn’t want to hurt people through my beliefs.

So thats me, where i come from, don’t judge me too harshly on what I’ve just said!

What about some of the stuff going on in Scotland just now? This is where I will probrably come across as extremely judgemental!
I don’t see a lot of love and Grace in the more publicised comments about this issue. I find it ironic that the media seems to be criticising the Church for how judgemental it is. Whenever this issue, or any other negative publicity for the Church pops up in the media, so many people (often with no Church connection!) jump on the bandwagon and use it as an excuse to dump on the Church. I hate that. Where are these people(media and naysayers) when the Church is doing incredible work? And then theres the people in the Church. The people who feed the negativaty by being horrible about and to each other. Something I’ve noticed coming from both sides of this argument. People woh support Scotts call spreading rumors about the ministers opposing it and people unconnected with the opposing ministers starting a petition ‘in their name’. I am so glad that not everyone is like this, there are people, from either ‘camp’, that are calling for this to be dealt with graciously and lovingly. These are the people I agree with and have respect for.

I still don’t know what to think, I expect this is something I’ll struggle with for my whole life. So for me, I guess the only way forward is to keep struggling onwards and just trying to love everyone as i think Jesus would.

In the meantime, here are some other blogs where you might get some good insight on the issue:
Bridging the Gap
Measured Words
A blogging backlash
Not in my name

Peace Out (I hope)

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Responses

  1. The picture at the top of your blog is a stark reminder of what happens when grace and love are laid aside.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts so openly and honestly. I posted more thoughts today, similar to yours. I’m convinced that throwing verses of scripture at each other isn’t going to help. What might help is asking How would Jesus behave?. Starting there seems much more productive to me.

  2. Chris, your post is just where so many people are at. You know where I stand on this issue but that doesnt mean I don’t get confused by scripture and what it appears to say and what it quite clearly says nothing about. But starting with Christ and what he would do is as good a place as any to begin. And somehow I really don’t think he would sign that petition.
    Love, grace, hope – those are the teachings I want emulate because that is what oozes out from the gospels.

  3. All through His life, Jesus lived and upheld the Law and the Prophets, including the parts which clearly make demands on our sexuality.

    So what would Jesus say to Rev Rennie? “Go, and sin no more”

  4. Thanks for your comments guys, always good to hear what others are thinking.
    Lets hpe that any and all other conversations about this issue continue to be dealt with graciously and lovingly!

  5. Absolutely, Chris. We can be resolute without browbeating!

  6. Chris,

    It was quite refreshing to read what you’ve said. This issue is close to my heart as you probably know, and one thing about what you wrote in your blog strikes me.

    You said: I find it hard to make a decision to condone or condemn practicing homosexuals in ministry.

    Don’t panic, I’m not about to launch an assault.

    What this highlights for me is that God has a plan for these people, and I suppose the mystery of God is that he allows people to fulfill those plans, even if His people find it difficult to deal with or support.

    I speak from experience here and I’m all too aware that, as much as I’ve struggled with sexuality in my own life, it doesn’t seem to have hindered my progress in faith or in ministering to the young people I’ve had contact with.

    Some people will say that the Lord loves us despite our failings. Some may even argue that He loves us because of them.

    It’s my thought that he loves us. No conditions. He loves us. No despites, He loves us.

    So support people through their sin. Everyone has it. It attacks ministers, youth workers, elders, sunday school teachers, anyone in the employ of the Church and the Lord has a sin and a secret they live with. Some, like this Minister, don’t keep it secret, which to me is a brave thing. Life would be far easier for this man if he wasn’t so honest with his parishioners. But he was honest, because, I imagine, the teachings he has received in his christian life could only bring him to such a conclusion.

    This man has been called by Jesus to spread the word of God. Jesus picks sinners all the time. Even Peter, his best friend, denied Him. If Jesus has picked him, I suggest we go with it.

    I’m not a Bible scholar, nor a minister, nor an expert. I’m not a therapist, I just see what I see.

  7. Indeed, Mr. Durning, Jesus ‘picks’ sinners but that doesn’t mean that he pats them on the back and says it ok – it’s seriously not ok! It serioulsy wasn’t ok that Peter denied Jesus. It serioulsy wasn’t ok that the woman in John 8 committed adultery, for example. Whilst he does not condemn, as Utar Efson notes above, Jesus commands us to go and sin no more.

    I mean, without quoting Bible passages willy nilly, when did Christianity get so nice and mild and cheap? John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus, states that the axe is already at the root of the tree (Luke 3:9). And what would Jesus do (terrible question by the way)? He states that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). Not particularly meek and certainly not mild!

    I’m all for grace and love but, seriously, when did they become so limp and cheap? We can be gracious and loving without having to be so damned ‘nice’!

    Whatever your stance on homosexuality, when we talk about grace we’d better make darn sure that it’s not the [21st century] cheap version: the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church disciplne and communion without confession. Or, put differently, grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

    Surely every reading of the Scriptures concludes that cheap grace is anathema to Jesus Christ?

  8. Cheers Jonnie!
    I would agree with you that I don’t want to see the Church cheapen Grace and what Jesus did for us and means for us.
    But when I talk about seeing a lack of Grace by the vocal minorities on either side of this issue, I’m talking about the flame wars and the blatant attempts to discredit people on either side. By a gracious and loving treatment of this issue I would look for an open and honest conversation about it. At the moment all I see is some people, on both sides of the issue, treating those who disagree with them without respect or a willingness to listen. Not the approach that was originally hoped for by those protesting from Aberdeen.
    Hope I didn’t pick you up wrong, and apologies if my piece wasn’t too clear!

  9. Jonathan – thank you for so eloquently stating what many of us struggle to say.

    And I would only add this – that my love for Jesus and all He did on the cross to save me is greater than any other relationship. When I stomp my foot on the ground and refuse to give up my sin, it is as if I am hitting Him again with my fist or pounding another nail into His hand. It is my deep love for Jesus that brings repentance and His grace that opens His arms in forgiveness.

    This homosexual minister situation is occuring in churches all over and we have a weapon more powerful than any petition – prayer. Let us pray that God will open eyes and hearts to His word.

  10. You’ve spoken the thoughts and challenges of soooo many people. Thank you for posting this and for your honesty. 🙂

  11. Thanks for your responses Johnathan and Mikie.

    I love what you said and it’s given me a lot to think about, mostly that I should read my Bible far more than I do, and for that I thank you in my most earnest tones.

    I think the discussion you were looking for might be starting here Chris, well done for starting it mate. I hope this blog can eventually expand to become a more positive force in the debate.

  12. Thanks for your encouragement guys on this post folks, I was quite nervous about posting it and its great to have people affirm where I’m coming from with it. Thanks to you all for your honesty and frankness too, I hope we can continue this conversation in this tone.
    Craig, thanks especially for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable with what you shared, its a priviledge to be trusted with your experiences.

  13. I’ve always trusted that my experiences would prove fruitful in some way or another, and making myself vulnerable seems to be the most effective way to do that.

    I remember very well being a fifteen year old struggling with his sexuality, struggling for 5 years all told. I also remember asking the Lord in the 5th year what would come of my experiences. I was brought to look at a lot of things I had learned through God about what I was like, what I could become and where He would eventually lead me. The answer became obvious when I realised that I had always wanted a wife, my own children, and a close relationship with God.

    There’s where I accepted that something had to change, and that I could leave the struggle and confusion behind me. I had genuine peace about the future of my sexuality, and it was a peace you can only really get from understanding what God was trying to say to me.

    Perhaps this should be our prayer for this minister. A prayer that will lead him to realisation, to a peace where he can fully understand where the Lord wants him to be in every aspect of his life.I would also ask for this prayer for my self.

  14. […] Chris Hoskins asks ‘Where’s the Grace?‘. […]


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