The resolution was passed this week in Orlando with the support of a number of representatives within the denomination, including Midway Hills Christian Church in Dallas, Texas; Foothills Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas; Bethany Christian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina and St. Andrew Christian Church in Berkeley, California. The GLAD (Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples) Alliance was also a part of the move.
“[B]e it resolved that the General Assembly meeting in Orlando, Florida, July 13-17, 2013, calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to recognize itself as striving to become a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children though differing in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective,” the resolution states.
“Be it further resolved that the General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” it continues. “[A]nd that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation.”
In a video created by the denomination, spokespersons further paralleled the affirmation of homosexuality to the “radical hospitality extended by Jesus at the Lord’s table.”
“Both theologically conservative disciples, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender disciples report feeling left out in our church,” outlines an unnamed representative. “The intention of this resolution is not to accept and welcome one group at the detriment of the other. It is to say that as disciples, we strive to extend Christian hospitality to all children of God.”
She states, however, that no particular church within the denomination is required to change its policies if it disagrees.
And there are likely those who will choose to distance themselves from the resolution. For years, the denomination has been split on whether or not to embrace homosexuality as an accepted behavior.
“To love sinners and influence them to repentance, that’s Jesus’ example of love,” said Floyd Legler of Indiana over a decade ago during a debate surrounding the matter. “We believe homosexual behavior is a sin. We do not want a leader who refutes orthodox Christian doctrine and the primacy of the Bible as a Christian’s guide.”
Apologist Matt Slick of Carm–who is not affiliated with the denomination–outlined a similar viewpoint in an article about homosexuality posted on his website. He stated that telling others that homosexuality is in opposition to God’s creation order is not hateful.
“[B]elieve it or not, we Christians aren’t judging them. We are informing them,” he said. “God has declared that homosexuality is a sin. It isn’t our preferences we’re declaring. It is God’s.”
“The only hope for the homosexual, and all people who break God’s laws, is to realize that God is holy and He will rightfully judge all who have sinned against Him by breaking His law,” Slick continued. “If He did not do this, then He would be approving of wrong doing. … Like any sinner, the homosexual needs to repent, receive Christ by faith, and be saved from God’s righteous judgment by trusting in Christ and the judgment that fell upon Him on the cross.”