Why You Shouldn't Have a Position on LGBTQs.
Taking a public stance on homosexuality does more missional harm than good.

One of the best discussions I've had in a long time happened on Facebook over the weekend. It was a discussion about the 'dreaded' issue of Christianity, the church, and LGBTQ sexual relations. The discussion started with my statement which was something like:

To the question, "What is your position on LGBTQ?" I think the best answer (in these times) is "we have no position" The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?

To which I got good fruitful pushback from all sides. I was "abnegating!" I was doing the equivalent of "standing aside and being silent during the civil rights movement." "There is no neutral on this!" some said. From this discussion, I came away with four points that need clarifying as to how/why someone would say "I have no position." These four points push us as Christians (no matter what sexual issues we are involved in at this time) toward a new posture regarding alternative sexualities that opens doors for mission and God's Kingdom to break in.

1) TO DECLARE A "POSITION" (PUBLICLY) FORECLOSES THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION.

By taking a non-position to this question, we are not feigning neutrality. We are refusing to either single out a particular person's sexual brokenness as an issue above others, or act like there is no sexual brokenness at all in any of us. Instead, our position is that we are ALL in some way or another sexually broken and moving toward maturity in Christ, and this means that we all submit our brokenness to the healing and reconciling work of Christ in the context of Christian community?

When we take "positions," we buy into anti-relational dynamics which thwart God's Kingdom We see people as categories rather than individuals. Conceptualizing distances us from the people Christ loves. By refusing to make an aprior judgment against anyone, we are in essence saying the only prejudgment is that we are all sexually broken and we come seeking redemption. And if you are sexually whole and have no need for redemption, you are blessed. But we who are broken come as real people in real situations to submit together to what God is doing in and among us. This to me is the opening of space for God's Kingdom to break in on any issue.

2) TO DECLARE A POSITION (PUBLICLY) REINFORCES SEXUALITY AS AN IDENTITY MARKER.

Taking a position on the LGBTQ issue feeds the political conditions that have made sexual orientation a person's primary identity. So, evangelicals who make public statements about their position of not affirming LGBTQ relations, are in effect reinforcing what they deny. They lift LGBTQ above other sexual issues, and make it the one issue. Likewise, the progressive Christians do the same when they lift up LGBTQ relations as a banner issue, ignoring all the other sexual issues of our time. This works against God in Christ doing anything different among us and our sexual lives. In essence, by playing into the elevation of LGBTQ as a "position," we cement the status quo firmly in place with all its antagonisms. The state of our sexual lives, including any and all sexual pathologies that may exist among us, are now firmly in place. We get nowhere. There is no open space for sexual redemption. On the other hand, to not take a position, in effect creates space for a whole new conversation, a space for a new dynamic (what I would seek as the Kingdom of God). Sadly, my guess is, neither side wants this.

February 08, 2013

Displaying 1–10 of 41 comments

David Fitch

February 24, 2013  1:26pm

Timothy, It has occurred to me that there are LGBTQ members in our congregation. And yes, dude, seriously, there are although I don't know if they would agree with your speaking for them on the issue or your understanding of how they would understand "taking a position." DF

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sheerahkahn

February 24, 2013  11:30am

"These people have, in effect, a "position." I think they would be proud if the church they attended were to take a positive public position on LGBTQ issues... and they would know to get the heck out if it didn't.(And hopefully find a compassionate, loving community of worship.)" timothy, I want you to see how I see this...and I'm going to use my particular sin as an example so you get the full feel of my perspective. I am an arrogant asshat...I'm way to proud of my knowledge, and what my experience in life would allow; And in fact those who know me would say I would probably do more for my likeability if I would just shut up. I have a whole host of contemptible sins, but predominantly, love is a still a freaking mystery to me...and thus one of the hardest things for me to understand. Sure, I can monkey the appearance of love, but to actually understand the feeliness and goodness of love? Not a clue. So, given that, I want you to reread what you wrote...but with me as the main character of it... Mr. Fitch, you are speaking as a privileged member of your community. Has it occurred to you that there *might* bearrogant asshatsalready in your own church? And that they, as Christians, have opinions as to their relationship (the relationships of people like them) with God and with the Christian Church? These people have, in effect, a "position." I think they would be proud if the church they attended were to take a positive public position ontheir prideful arrogance... and they would know to get the heck out if it didn't. (And hopefully find a compassionate, loving community of worship.) What you are saying, in effect is that G-d should come to us on our terms, not us to G-d on his terms.

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timothy

February 22, 2013  12:07am

Mr. Fitch, you are speaking as a privileged member of your community. Has it occurred to you that there *might* be LGBTQ people already in your own church? And that they, as Christians, have opinions as to their relationship (the relationships of people like them) with God and with the Christian Church? These people have, in effect, a "position." I think they would be proud if the church they attended were to take a positive public position on LGBTQ issues... and they would know to get the heck out if it didn't. (And hopefully find a compassionate, loving community of worship.)

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Oliver Harrison

February 21, 2013  4:24am

Interesting article. A few thoughts in response: It seems to me that point 1 and 3 are (functionally) the same. Also, it seems a shame to speak only of "brokenness" and to describe one's sexual "pathology" - not exactly the joyful, celebratory language of the Songs of Solomon. As lots of others have said, taking no position is taking a position. That is a politician's answer. You can evade or fudge or employ a million other tactics but people will see through them. The position of taking no position is *close* - but only in the sense of a poor imitation - to the kind of brilliant, eirenic and (frankly) divine wisdom that Jesus showed ("Whose head is on the coin?" or "The one without sin may cast the first stone"). Jesus threw the issue (and/or new issues) back at the questioner. 2/10 for effort

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Jim Van Yperen

February 20, 2013  8:34am

Perhaps a better response might be, "Why do you ask?" Jesus frequently answered questions with questions in order to get to the heart of the real question. A person asking for a position is usually not looking for dialogue but a box to place you in, which is Dr. Fitch's point, and a good one. Rather, engage the motive of the question and engage the response. One could hold a long,meaningful and redemptive conversation simply by engaging the question, not denying one has a position but that the position is meaningless outside of the relationship.

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Michael McGrath

February 19, 2013  10:20pm

Lonnie, I was very blessed with your testimony and the eloquence that the Lord gave you in sharing it. What a wonderful reminder of how our Lord can fill the heart, soul and mind with his presence, wisdom and knowledge. It's all a matter of submission and He will work out the details like He did on the Cross. Thanks again. msm

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sheerahkahn

February 19, 2013  9:53pm

"...and unless your position agrees with mine (or my tribe) then your position is not Jesus' position." This form of argumentation was over-played in the 80's and early 90's by the Televangelists turn Conservative Christian Republicans who used the theorem of "I'm for Jesus, therefore criticizing me is criticizing Jesus." This false equivalency form of argumentation divided the church, and the country...something I'm sure you're not wanting to repeat on the micro level. The unassailable argument is "This is what the bible says, this is what we should do, why aren't we doing x, y, z." e.g. Jesus and the adulteress. Everyone loves themselves that story, but what everyone loves to also do is conveniently cut the end of the story off at "Neither do I condemn you." Purposely editing the part that follows, "go, and sin no more." Which for those of us who are still in the "LALALALAICAN'THEARYOU!" mode he is stating very clearly, "Go and do not commit adultery." So, following the logic of that story, we can put ANY sin in that passage, and still hear the words of the Lord, "Neither do I condemn you, go and do not commit that [fill-in-your-favorite-sin]."

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Dave in Raleigh

February 19, 2013  7:12pm

I think I understand the comment thread so far. Despite Mr. Fitch's claim, everyone has a position, and unless your position agrees with mine (or my tribe) then your position is not Jesus' position. As a result, please exit the dialogue and don't come back to it until you agree with me/mine/ours.

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David

February 19, 2013  4:29pm

To the question, "What is your position on sex with children" I think the best answer (in these times) is "we have no position" The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?" To the question, "What is your position on sex with animals or bestiality" I think the best answer (in these times) is "we have no position" The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?" To the question, "What is your position on sex with corpses" I think the best answer (in these times) is "we have no position" The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?" To the question, "What is your position on forced sex with others" I think the best answer (in these times) is "we have no position" The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?" To the question, "What is your position on this article" I think the best answer (in these times) is "we have no position" The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?"

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Kimberley

February 19, 2013  4:22pm

Thank you and bless you Lonnie for sharing. I now have hope for all of the gay people I know and love. All have add some form of childhood abuse. I so appreciate what you've shared. I feel has though I can pray differently for them.

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