Summit Church Sparks Stance on LGBTQ People

In 2011, several lesbian and gay friends asked me to help them clarify the LGBTQ policies of Summit Church, Summit Church SparksSparks, Nevada. They were not hearing anything directly from the pulpit about faith and sexual orientation and it seemed they were welcome, but they just wanted to know for sure what the policies were. Leadership can often be quite cagey when it comes to this conversation. You will hear “Everyone is welcome. We are all sinners on a journey. We love our gay and lesbian neighbors.” But, what does that really mean?

In response, I booked an appointment with Pastor Steve Bond and we chatted for over an hour. I was able to get clarity. Yes, gays were welcome, yet severely restricted as to how they could serve in community. I relayed the information to my friends, and they all left Summit Church.

Fourteen months later, Summit Church invited ex-gay speaker Kent Paris to tackle the topic for them. My goodness, what a dishonest charlatan he was! I wrote about that extensively in 2013. When I stood to comment on his suggestions and tactics, I was aggressively escorted from the sanctuary by five men.

Six years have passed. I was alerted recently that the leadership of Summit would once again be addressing the issue with a sermon entitled “Is Jesus Pro-LGBTQ?. I listened. There is nothing surprising in the sermon. It is the coming-to-be-typical love-the-sinner-not-the-sin all-are-welcome-here sermon.

I listen to this ilk of sermon frequently. They are generally spoken in kind and gentle tones. The pastor usually admits that he is the greatest of all sinners whose only desire is to seek both truth and love. And then, slipped in amongst the love talk is a statement assuring the congregation that the Bible is indeed clear about what God/Jesus think about homosexuality. It is sin. No worse than any other sin we are told again, but it is sin. The go-to passage is typically I Corinthians 6: 9-10.

If you follow my work at all, you will know that I know a lot about the historical context of this verse and how it has changed over time. You will also know the verse is not addressing those who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

I have substantial posts, videos, and a book supporting this assertion. I encourage people to be curious and go beyond what the Pastor Bryans in churches may tell you they are sure that God/Jesus are clear about.

Lives really do depend on biblical accuracy. The Pastor Bryans are driving LGBTQ people and their families from churches with their sloppy theology on this topic.

If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, Summit Church is not a safe place for you. It is not a place where you can grow in Christ while living authentically into who you are. You will be expected to remain single. You can be gay, but not “act on it.”

If you are a family member of someone who is LGBTQ, please educate yourselves before you impose lazy, sloppy theology on the life of another. Theology that may drive them into isolation and depression, and away from God.

These videos are a good starting point. I present the passages used to condemn same-sex relationships into historical contexts.

Summit Church does some wonderful community outreach, I just wish they would engage the intersection of faith and orientation and gender identity with a higher level academic, relational, biblical, and historical integrity.

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Here is the letter I sent to the executive team at Summit Church:

Pastor Bryan,

I listened to your sermon “Is Jesus Pro-LGBTQ? today. You are likely aware of who I am and the work I do. 
 
In listening to pastoral sermons about sexual orientation and gender identity at the intersection of faith, I continually find two standouts quite disappointing as pastors/speakers convey what they believe Scripture may be saying to us today about a particular passage. They are:
 
     *  the avoidance or lack of engaging passages in accurate historical context, and 
 
      * the fairly juvenile manner with which one reads “English words on the page” without understanding the Greek (or Hebrew words in other cases) words as they were used at the time the words were written, and then, going further, and understanding the translation of those words over time.
 
In your sermon, when you label same-sex behavior in I Corinthians as one of the addressed sins and attaching that to meaning any same-sex relationship, you have fallen into the sloppy, non-academic treatment of the Scripture I stated as concerning above. 
 
A far closer reading and understanding of those addressed (those who do/are arsenokoitai and malakoi, the Greek words you read from the ESV translation as “men who have sex with men”) today may be rendered as those who use and abuse sex, or those who use and abuse others in sex. They are amongst those listed who will not enter the Kingdom. People of any orientation can be guilty of this. My goodness, husbands and wives can be guilty of this.
 
As to sex within or outside of marriage, we are fully aware that LGBTQ people can indeed be married. The church does not dictate marriage legally. Clergy is only allowed to marry people with permission of the state. You can get “married before God” and still not be married legally, or for that matter, even in church contexts without permission of the state. The church did not even get involved in the marriage process until the 12th century. 
 
If you would ever want to have a conversation in detail the passages referring to same-sex interaction in the Bible, and about I Corinthians 6:9-11 in particular, I am available. I am doing original work on the translation note where the word “homosexual” was introduced into the Bible in the RSV in 1946. I have now gone through the translation notes on the RSV, TLB, NASB and the NIV. I am researching the original translation notes. The work is fascinating. 
 
The ESV translation, which you quoted in your sermon, has taken the most extreme liberties by digressing WIDELY from the original meaning and context of arsenokoitai and malakoi. 
 
Again, should you ever be willing to gain a more expansive, informed, academic and historical view, I would meet with you. 
 
Why do I care? Because, even in what you perceive to be kind, loving and truthful, you are hurting people and families. Your understanding of I Corinthians 6: 9-11 is inaccurate. By not engaging the text historically and with linguistic integrity, you are driving people from the Kingdom. That, I very much care about. 
 
You spoke of the scandalous love of Jesus (aren’t we ALL grateful for that?!). You hoped your community at The Summit would replicate that. You said as we each matter to God just as we are, each person matters to “this church” just as they are. 
 
Do members of your staff and elder’s board appropriately love their LGBTQ family member as scandalously and idyllically as you describe? How do you imagine members of your community may hear your message, incorporate it into their understanding, and hence treat their LGBTQ family members/friends?  With the scandalous love of Christ and a welcoming attitude? 
 
You may hope so, but no. 
 
The impact of your words falls precisely within the framework of the work I do. I know the outcome. 
 
You may never choose to take me up on my offer to give you informed insights, but I do hope both your pastoral heart and intellectual curiosity cause you to seek the truth and love you speak of holding in tension. 
 
Consider investing time in learning HERE and HERE
For the sake of the Kingdom, and for the sake of His people, particularly those at the margins, I am
Kathy Baldock
Canyonwalker Connections

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Curious about LIVING STONES POSITION ON LGBTQ PEOPLE? Read HERE

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If you are LGBTQ or family of LGBTQ, or supportive, join me at my church home in Northern Nevada, The Rock Church in Sparks. We do great community outreach too!


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