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CWH: Making the church safe for sinners
> politics, unscrupulous business people, a woman who works at the nearby
> Indian casino, a man who abuses his wife, along with gripers, gossips,
> active alcoholics, and so on. Welcoming these people sincerely in the name
> of Christ without approving of the behavior is not very hard to do at all.
> Could we learn something from this?
Good question, Steve. How welcome do they feel? Do you stand in the
pulpit and preach against working at the casino? Do you preach saying
"There are active alcoholics among us, and while they are welcome to be
here, we want all the world to know that we do not approve of them"? Do
you go to the legislature of your church and pass resolutions about how
inappropriate it would be to ordain those who work at the casino or those
who are active alcoholics?
I don't know much about righteous folks, because I have rarely met any. I
know a lot about sinners, being one myself. The real test of how welcome
sinners feel is not how much you invite them, but by how much they invite
you. Jesus was consistently invited to the homes of tax collectors and
other sinners. That's why the self-righteous found him such anathema.
It's impossible to believe that they invited him into their homes so
that he could insult them, or keep harping on how bad they were.
The real test of whether lesbigays will feel welcome is no different.
You'll find that we recognize love and we recognize its counterfeit fairly
well, given the chance to go behind the rhetoric and observe straights'
behavior. Rarely do we require people to give us their Good House Keeping
Seal of Approval. I would not do that myself. We come before God not
trusting in our own righteousness but in God's manifold and great mercies.
The message of lesbigay Christians is not "Gay is good," but instead "God
Nor do we come to church saying, "Welcome us." God already has, not on
our merits, but on God's. If we don't come, you may miss out on
witnessing an important measure of God's grace, as would the early Church
had not our Samritan ancestors been there.
Joy to you!
Episcopal House of Deputies
Founder of Integrity, the lesibgay ministry of the Episcopal Church