In the lead up to the next Grace Collective event, motion 28 has been on my mind from time to time. I’ve had a few conversations with people about it, and it seems like there is quite a range of reactions from different Churches to this decision. Some people have been left happy, some unhappy, and some seem not really to care all that much. It has been a decent compromise for some, while many have found much discomfort. All of this has had me thinking about my own thoughts on the discussion.
I’ve been thinking back to my early high school years and how I was a passionate young conservative lad. I was certain that I was right and had no doubt that MY way was THE way. Then over the next couple of years, I found myself questioning and losing my confidence in my belief. This in turn, led me to an interesting moment in year 12, where I found myself thirsting for informed answers on the discussion. One of my English assignments was a research assignment and I took this as an opportunity to research the topic of same-sex relationships in Church leadership. Through this process, I stumbled across a website which provided two reports from two different gay ministers. One believed that as a man attracted to other men, he was called to singleness, while the other believed that he was free to enter a committed Christ-centered relationship. These two reports were grounded heavily in what scripture says and it ultimately left me feeling confused and unsure of what I believed in. However, this was a large turning point for me. While these two ministers had highly contradicting views on the discussion, they had managed to maintain a strong bond of friendship. It opened my eyes to see that I had been tackling this discussion in the wrong way. I realised that a desire to prove others wrong, was not at all a part of this discussion.
This discussion is about valuing and genuinely considering different perspectives of Jesus-followers within our community. I realised that this controversial topic is an opportunity to see life through the perspective of someone else. Colossians 3:13-14, says “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” It’s easy to live in community and to love people around you who fully encourage you and hold the same views that you hold. The true picture of radical love, is loving even when we fundamentally disagree. Loving even when they hurt us. Loving especially when we don’t want to. That is the love that we, as Jesus-followers are called to share with each other. It’s back to the basics of following Jesus. The second greatest commandment to love each other as we love ourselves. All this other discussion stuff needs to come later, once we acknowledge and remain in love for each other.
Now I don’t know what God’s true intentions were for same-sex attraction, and I don’t know if I ever will know, but I do know that God intended for us to push through the hard stuff, while leaning into our community, not distancing ourselves from it. I refuse to let one controversial discussion dictate the love I have for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe in the God who is the definition of perfect, self-sacrificing, community. I believe that the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, can and will value love and community above all, and out of that love, we will learn to live with one other and the many diverse perspectives, gifts, and talents we bring to our Church whanau.
God bless and in the wise words of Al Green, “let’s stay together.”
About the Author:
Ethan is on staff at North West Anglican, in Massey. He’s on the core team of the Grace Collective, and a youth leader in his church. He studies at Auckland uni, majoring in Business, and is a gifted communicator, leader, and musician. He oversees the Grace Collective’s music, and plays in the band Oath to Azrael.