Let us not confuse inclusiveness with permissiveness. After having a chat with our accessibility champion at Church I was left concerned that we are so desperate to ensure we are welcoming to all in our churches that we are forgetting our requirement as laid down in scripture to speak the truth. Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body.
Now I am not saying as soon as someone walks through the door of our churches we confront them with their sin, of course not. But what I am saying is that if we market ourselves as LGBT “friendly” or “inclusive” churches we have to be clear as to what we mean by that.
My interpretation is that anyone who walks through the doors will be made welcome, not judged, included in all teaching and encouraged along their journey of discovery. Through that process there will come times where sin will be discussed, where God’s design for men and women will be discussed and when we will talk about God’s grace, love and forgiveness. These are the times that we as an inclusive church will then speak in love and truth. Yes, all are welcome here, but we are not going to “lie” to make people feel good about themselves when actually, telling the truth and supporting them in their discovery of God’s purpose for their lives is going to make them feel so much better about themselves in the long run. Our role as the church family is to show God’s love and his call to obedience, allowing the Holy Spirit time to act in people’s lives.
Our accessibility champion’s interpretation was that we have to be welcoming as with mine, but that my emphasis on gospel truth made us un-welcoming. I don’t believe that many members of the LGBT community want to be patronised in that way. Yes, the movement may be outspoken, running from the truth of God’s word yet individuals seeking solace in church want to know more, they want to explore and they can only do that if we are prepared to speak in truth.
The emphasis, as always, is with how we speak truth and that has to be in a loving, non-judgmental way founded on prayer and supported by Christians who have solid roots in the faith and in God’s word.