While scriptureand reasonare guides on the faith journey an additional critical test is the question: How does this build the Kingdom/Empire/Reign of God? The Kingdom of God is, in essence, the world organized according to the will of God. It is the most potent imagery presented by Jesus on God’s wishes for the ordering of the world and church. When it comes to the sinfulness of homosexuality and more importantly how straight Christians relate to the non-heterosexual Christians it seems the Kingdom of God takes a back seat. In a Kingdom where the status-quo is turned upside down and the oppressed liberated, how does exclusion fit in?
In all New Testament teachings the Kingdom of God is an inclusive place; one where the only requirement is complete and simple trust in God. Nowhere is this demonstrated better than in Mark 10:13-16 “And they would bring little children to him so he could lay hands on them, but the disciples scolded them. Then Jesus grew indignant when he saw this and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; don’t try to stop them. After all, God’s empire belongs to people like these. Let me tell you, whoever doesn’t welcome the empire of God the way a child would, will never set foot in <his empire>.’ After he put his arms around them, he blesses them, laying his hands on them.” (SV) Children are not always the best example but for this discsussion they are perfect.
Fear of something different is not genetic, acceptance is. Young children on a playground do not naturally separate into racial/gender/orientation groups. The idea of “we don’t play with those people” is taught by parents and society. Instead of reacting in fear to differences, children are attracted. Someone different is a new experience, an opportunity to learn and make a new friend. Perhaps as children people once knew what Jesus died to teach, there is no difference amongst us; we are all children of God.
The revelation of God and people’s self/collective understandings are not static, trapped in old traditions. Traditional interpretations can be valuable but they should serve as guides rather than blinders. Jesus teaches of a bold new understanding in how individuals and societies should live out their lives and exist. In this new understanding, old ways of thinking no longer apply. Christians must engage with each other, regardless of orientation, as children; without bias or preconceptions. Paul wrote in Galatians of all labels in societies, the law, or any institutions no longer mattering because we are all Christian. The Gospels are also clear. All who seek God honestly and in the spirit of Christ are citizens in the Empire of God. The Gospels are also clear that there are no second class citizens. All of creation and tradition must bow down to the truth of the Gospel ministry: there are but two commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.’ This commandment is first and foremost. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Everything in the Law and the Prophets hangs on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:37b-40 (SV)
Here are a group of churchesin Akron and other parts of Ohio who are affirming.