Combining caution and compassion: A pastoral perspective on sexualityBy Harvey Yoder
Should Christian congregations and institutions affirm and support gays and lesbians in intimate relationships?
This simple question, affecting the lives of real people among us we should all love and care about, is threatening to tear us apart.
But the issue isn’t simple. Rather than it dividing us into just two opposing camps, I note at least seven different positions people are taking:
Condemn and ostracize all lesbians and gays; keep them “in the closet.”
Advocate acceptance of gays and lesbians but expect them to undergo a change of orientation (“healing”), with heterosexual marriage or a life of celibacy as their only options.
Openly welcome and accept all believers into membership without making sexual orientation a barrier, but support sexual relationships for only one man and one woman in marriage.
Support the above approach as the church’s official position, but make pastoral exceptions for faithful same-sex relationships where no other option seems viable (similar to Paul’s “better to marry than to burn with passion” counsel, an approach many churches have applied to divorced persons seeking to remarry).
Celebrate and affirm all monogamous and faithful relationship equally — heterosexual or homosexual.
Encourage monogamous relationships, but make questions of exclusivity and fidelity matters of personal conscience.
Leave all questions about sexual behaviors up to the individual.
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