Saturday, June 13, 2015
Dear Canaan English ministries and friends,
I’m delighted to invite you to join us in Worship Hall 3 during tomorrow’s second hour to meet and hear from our special guest, Darren Oei. Darren is Daniel Tsai’s classmate and friend. He is on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at U.C. San Diego. Tomorrow, he will share his testimony and his call to campus ministry. A major part of his ministry is to reach the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered] community for Christ. If you have relatives, friends, classmates, and co-workers who are gay, come and learn about Darren’s experience of sharing the love of Jesus Christ to them.
Why is this important? The LGBT community is not a new group of people, nor are they only found in white populations. But after a quick look at the media in recent years, it is clear that they have gained more attention and presence. Today’s youth and young people are familiar with the LGBT community. Christians who want to share Christ’s love need to be guided by wisdom and understanding.
Currently, Christians approach the LGBT community and their concerns in three general postures:
1. Neither welcoming nor affirming
2. Welcoming and affirming
3. Welcoming, but not affirming
Those who are neither welcoming nor affirming usually don’t distinguish between homosexual orientation and practice. It is considered a sin that is easily repented of, therefore gay people who cannot change their orientation are not welcomed (or forced to keep it a secret). Some Christians (including a very large segment of evangelicals) who hold this posture have been very hateful or fearful – such as Westboro Baptist Church. In my opinion, these groups have damaged the name of Christ by associating Christianity with hatred, fear, and discrimination.
There are also a significant group of Christians who welcome and affirm the LGBT community. For them, the primary mission of the church is to welcome the stranger and love the neighbor. Many do not believe that homosexual orientation or practice is sinful. Some may agree that parts of the bible do not affirm homosexual practice, but believe that the overall thrust of the bible is about love and grace. Today, some Protestant denominations such as Episcopalian, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the United Church of Christ have decided to ordain gay ministers and/or perform same sex marriages. Recently, a number of prominent evangelicals such as Tony Campolo, City Church (San Francisco), and theological ethicist David Gushee (a classmate of mine) have shifted to this position from the third position.
Finally, Roman Catholicism and a very large portion of evangelicalism have adopted the welcoming, but not affirming posture. These Christians publicly welcome the LGBT community to join them, but will not affirm homosexual practice. They will not marry gay couples even though, for the most part, they allow gay members to participate fully in the congregation. This is because they see homosexual orientation and practice as two different things. Therefore, a person who may feel same-sex attraction, but doesn’t act upon those feelings has not violated the bible. The burden to love and welcome LGBT people falls on the church since that community has historically been discriminated against and socially rejected – to a great extent by Christians.
A large number of Asian American evangelical leaders like Ken Fong (who wrote about this in the last issue of Inheritance Magazine), InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and myself adhere to this third position. We want to understand and love our LGBT Christian sisters and brothers so that God’s love can be experienced in a real way.
When Darren meets us tomorrow, I hope you’ll come with a heart open to better understand and love, and to bear a positive witness to LGBT people – within and outside our church.
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: PhD
Pastor of English Ministries