In this month’s newsletter I wrote on the Israel Folau situation (see the quote below).
On Monday night (July 15) The Project ran a feature on this issue in which Tom Tilley visited three churches to reflect on different responses. One of the pastors interviewed repeatedly confused the issues and said (under questioning) that being same sex attracted in itself is a sin. This was incredibly frustrating to watch and was extremely unhelpful. Not surprisingly the interviewer was also shocked at the pastor’s response.
At St Hilary’s we welcome people of any sexuality or gender. It is not a sin to be same sex attracted. It is extremely unfortunate that the pastor concerned couldn’t communicate the most basic of distinctions.
When people become believers they need to think through the implications of how they live, whether they are same sex attracted or not. To suggest it is a sin in itself to be same sex attracted means that we are not offering hope but despair.
‘One of the very unfortunate downsides of the Israel Folau situation is the fact that the only message being communicated is that God has a big problem with people who are same sex attracted. I know the list of sins on the infamous tweet included other areas and I know there are big issues related to free speech and religious freedom.
Most people in our community already have a perception that God hates gays and sadly this has been powerfully reinforced, if not amplified. I don’t doubt the sincerity of Israel’s intent but I think most would accept that there were other ways to convey his point of view without being so blatant.
Does God love all people, regardless of race, age, sexuality or gender? Yes
Are we struggling to communicate that? Yes
Do people have to change their lifestyles in order to respond to Christ? No
Do people have to change their lifestyles in response to committing their lives to Christ? Yes
Would people who are same sex attracted, whether people of faith or not, be welcome at our church? I trust and pray so.
Should Christians be able to state their beliefs? Yes, but with subtlety and grace. We are called to be both salt and light!
Bishop Stephen Hale