By Their Fruit You Will Know Them.
In his anual presidential address to Synod John McIntyre, Bishop of Gippsland, Australia spoke about those with sam sex attraction within the church. I thought I’d share a few exerpts that I find particularly helpful. A full article can be found on Changing Attitude’s website.
It is a simple Biblical truth that has caused me to move to a new place in my understanding of the place of same-sex attracted people in the life of the church. That truth is revealed in the words of Jesus, who says in the Sermon on the Mount, “a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” and “by their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7.18,20). I have come to know and acknowledge that the fruit of their works makes clear that God has been and is at work in and through gay and lesbian people, who for years have been a part of our church, in both lay and ordained ministries.
You might well ask why it took me so long to acknowledge this simple truth. I think it was the correctness of religious law that blinded me to this truth, a truth that is known only in the experience of grace.[…]
It is a salutary experience to be reminded that at one and the same time no-one is worthy and all are worthy for ministry[…]
Only in light of reflection on God’s Word did I finally come to understand. Despite what I or others may believe is their worthiness, the fruit of the works of many gay and lesbian people has brought God’s blessing to me and to many other people, both in and beyond the church. That is the measure of their worthiness to minister in the name of Jesus Christ in the life of the church, and in the community in the name of the church. That indicates their place in the life of God’s people.[…]
For too long we have asked same-sex attracted people to wait outside the church, or at most in its wings, while we decide the basis on which they can be a part of the church’s life. The thought seems to have been that when we have decided (and we certainly don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to do this) we will invite gay and lesbian people into the church on our terms; that is, if they still want to be a part of us. I do not believe this is a particularly godly way in which to go.[…]
Whatever we believe about same sex attraction and active relationships we can surely see that the fruit of many LGBT Christians is good. That they show something of God to those around them and to the world. “By their fruit you will know them”. The Church should not stand in the way of LGBT people being able to be ministers, to ignore their fruit and take away the possibility of them fulfilling God’s calling on their lives. I remember reading an article by someone taking about Jeffery John, after the allegations that he was blocked from becoming Bishop because of his sexuality. The person writing who knew Jeffery, whilst struggling to reconcile Jeffery’s sexuality with Christian ministry, came to this conclusion and that the fruit of Jeffery John was nothing but Godly, whatever his sexuality. And surely this is what matters.