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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Nailing jelly to a tree

Nailing Christians down to accepting homosexuality as part of nature is like trying to nail jelly to a tree – in the case of many of them, anyway.

But there’s no harm in banging away and trying to get the diehard, redneck, conservative types to grow up and stop acting like petulant children over something they don’t like.

And that’s why a call on them to accept gay lifestyles and gay relationships is to be welcomed. The Ekklesia Christian think tank tells us today that merely condemning hate groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church lot from Topeka in Kansas is not enough.

And that, says Ekklesia, has come from four evangelical groups, which have said that “churches need a positive change of heart and mind on homosexuality”. They want Christian acceptance of gay people.

They have called on churches and Christian organisations condemning an American anti-gay hate group to face up to their own discriminatory policies and behaviour – and to embrace conversion.

Accepting Evangelicals, Courage, the Network of Baptists Affirming Lesbian and Gay Christians and the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian & Gay Christians, backed by the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, have issued a joint statement saying that opposition to the Westboro Baptist Church USA’s hate-stance towards gay people does not go far enough.

“The real challenge to evangelicals is to face the need for change themselves,” they say. “This means: engaging more fully and openly with lesbian and gay Christians and accepting them as equal under God; examining the way prejudice against gay people has distorted biblical understanding; prayerfully re-thinking church policies of exclusion and acknowledging the harm they cause; and recognising the growing number of evangelicals who have had a heart-change and now affirm faithful gay relationships.”

Needless to say, Ekklesia is backing the call, keeping the think tank still up there with the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement among my favourite Christian organisations.

If all Christians had the Ekklesia approach, there’d be little need for us to campaign against primitive and bigoted ideas on sexuality.

However, there are so many Christians, Muslims and people of other belief systems who are so entrenched in the idea that the scriptures mean this, and if they mean this they can’t mean that, that change is unlikely to happen fast.

What can you expect from Bible literalists and the like?

But it can happen. One day at a time, and all that.

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