Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stand Firm to post Mario Bergner’s contribution to the Listening Process in three parts

Part One of Mario Bergner’s contribution to the Listening Process has already been posted at Stand Firm and the other two parts will be posted later this week. Here's an excerpt from Part One:

Therefore the Church should treat same-sex attractions with the same grace it treats all passions and desires that emanate from the sinful nature. Namely, through sensitive pastoral care that provides a safe place where men and women with same-sex attractions can yield their passions and desires to the waters of baptism, the grace of guilt free living through justification in Jesus Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in progressive sanctification.

But in today’s Anglican/Episcopal churches, the topic of homosexuality is so polarizing that few parishes are willing to offer pastoral care to persons who desire to yield their same-sex attractions to the grace of Jesus Christ. I am grateful, however, for those parishes that have consistently done so, such as The Falls Church in Virginia, St. Luke’s Church in Akron, Ohio, Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois and a handful of others. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of conservative Anglican/Episcopal churches as well as Church of England parishes have fallen into quietism in addressing same-sex attractions from a pastoral care perspective offering transformation. This has, for decades, left a vacuum in applying the Good News of Jesus Christ to people with unwanted same-sex attractions as well as to those who self-identify as gay or lesbian.

Anglicans/Episcopalians who identify as Liberal or Progressive filled that vacuum with the Gospel of Inclusion, which opened wide the doors of their parishes to people who self-identify as gay or lesbian. For many men and women with same-sex attractions, the only places that welcomed them were such churches. Although I did attend one such parish when I lived in New York City in the early 1980’s, I found their interpretation of the Gospel to be lacking in objectivity. Rather than preaching what was actually written in the Biblical texts, everything was viewed through a social justice lens that equated the rights of gays and lesbians with the struggles of African Americans and women. It was like attending a civil rights meeting cloaked in liturgy and Christian words.

At the same time, these liberal and progressive Anglicans / Episcopalians announced to society that within their walls there was a safe place for people who self identified as gay or lesbian. But for people like myself, who came to understand their same-sex attractions as unwanted passions and desires, the quietism of conservative, evangelical, catholic and charismatic parishes was a deafening silence that seemed to say, “There is no place for you here.” Had it not been for the intervention of Jesus Christ, who personally visited me on my sick bed in 1983 (see my book Setting Love In Order for this account) I would have never believed that the Church had any answers for me. He called me to help Him deliver men and women from a life of being identified by their same-sex attractions.

[boldface mine]
Read it all.

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