Is it possible to “be Missional” among the gay/lesbian communities without a clear affirmative stance towards GLBT relations? Said another way – Is it possible to participate in “God’s Mission” in today’s world while making a clear statement that would not affirm GBLT sexual relations as normative for the Kingdom of God? Many would flat out say “no.” For many, to be missional/emerging is to not only accept but affirm gay and lesbian sexual relations as normative. Any other position is judgmental, positivistic (even primitivistic) towards Scripture and sets us apart and over against the gay and lesbian communities among whom we seek to minister God’s grace.
Although I may agree with some of this, I find myself still at odds with many of the underlying assumptions that drive these conclusions. I’m asking for a rethinking of this question for Mission.
I have been unhappy with the evangelical proto-type response to the gay/lesbian communities in United States. There has been a “sick enjoyment” present in pointing to the sin of GLBT sexual relations on behalf of evangelicals. It’s a defensive and protective reaction. Many times, subtly, the gay/lesbian is used as an object to justify our sense of moral status which so often proves duplicitous. It is like pointing to the sin of the gay/lesbian sexualities enables us to cover up our own deep complicity with the same sexual malformation in ourselves. I tried to say all of this here in this post over here.
On the other hand, I find the approach of the post-Emergent Coalescence (pEC) unsatisfying. It most often proposes a loving acceptance, an affirmation and further conversation (this is an quick stereotype of the dominant stream). Although there are positive elements here, after years of engagement, prayer, reflection, this approach remains insufficient for me to the missional task.
This leads me to put forth what I see as a third option to the above two options (as I have admittedly stereotyped them). Over against position 1.) which “welcomes but does not affirm” (common among the Neo Reformed missionals), and position no. 2 which “welcomes and affirms”(an admittedly simplistic summary of many in the pEC) I propose a 3rd position, the position of “welcomes and transforms.” This position is driven by two key theological drivers to the Missional logic: the incarnation and its model of cultural engagement and the Kingdom of God (in ways different from the Niebuhrian “transformational logic” that seems common among the streams of Emergent. In the three posts to follow, in the coming weeks, I would like to address the three themes within this whole series of posts (see here) following this Missional Logic. The three themes are a.)sanctification, b.)the way the community works, and c.) the way we interpret Scripture. I’ll talk about
a.) The Place of Desire in the Kingdom, and the Incarnation’s Affirmation of the Body
b.) The Way Witness Works Through Incarnational Redemptive Community
c.) The Redemptive Hermeutic that Guides a Missional reading of Scripture
I’m going to offer a post for each one of these starting this week. This series of posts concludes a series of posts that began here (and continued here and here and probably should include this post here as necessary background). The three posts to follow all deal with this last and probably most controversial of all the issues regarding GLBT relations.
But first, before I dive into this controversial water, what do you think? Can One Be Missional and Not Be Affirming of GLBT defining peoples? Can you be an Emerging Christian in N America and NOT Be Affirming of GLBT Relationships? Is there something inherent to the Emerging and/or Missional movement which requires affirmation of GLBT as the basis for life among these communities? that requires making no defining statements at all on these issues? Have I disqualified myself from being Missional and/or being “Emerging” by posting on this issue in this way?
Following the lead of “T” in the comments, I am now changing the name of this position from “Welcomes and Transforms” to “Welcomes and Mutually Transforms.” This gets at what I’m after in way Community works redemptively in all transformation. It also gets at the difference between the kind of “transformed” implied by Niebuhr versus Yoder …More to come on this in the posts to follow … Thanks “T” …