Posted August 30, But with 40 per cent of same sex couples in Australia identifying as Christian, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are likely to be a significant, if covert, presence in conservative Christian churches.
And how do pastors care for LGBT people in their congregations, and include them in the life of the church? Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity, which emphasises a personal experience of faith, together with ecstatic phenomena such as speaking in tongues and divine healing, is a fast-growing global phenomenon. While there are many different denominations, Australia's largest Pentecostal-Charismatic denomination, the Australian Christian Churches, boasts overfollowers in over 1, member churches.
Some of the largest in the country are so-called "mega-churches", such as Hillsong Church in Sydney 20, attendees and Paradise Community Church in Adelaide 6, "Pentecostal beliefs on homosexuality in japan." For most of the Pentecostal-Charismatic pastors I spoke to, a conservative approach to interpreting the Bible led them to be "welcoming, but not affirming" of LGBT people in their congregations. This means that LGBT people are welcome to attend, but their sexuality cannot be "affirmed" by allowing them to volunteer or minister.
As one pastor I interviewed said:. At the moment our position is that if you're going to volunteer here that we would hold to a fairly orthodox position of scripture So yeah, we do have a line, and that line is drawn at volunteering. Several pastors permitted LGBT people who committed to remaining celibate to volunteer for leadership roles within the church, such as leading bible studies or small groups, or even preaching.
As one put it:. I couldn't even take up the offering. I was simply looking to be actively involved and become a member of the church Pentecostal beliefs on homosexuality in japan I was gay, that was sufficient for [them] to turn around and say no.
And by then, I thought, 'That's just not right'. Volunteering is not only symbolic of acceptance and inclusion by the church community, it's also a pathway to ministry and leadership.
Pentecostal beliefs on homosexuality in japan In fact, several of the pastors I spoke to began as volunteers. Therefore, this barrier to volunteering prevents LGBT Christians from moving into more senior roles in Pentecostal-Charismatic churches, where they could promote a more inclusive position.
The injustice of this position was keenly felt by both LGBT people and some of the pastors themselves. One pastor articulated this:. Being part of a Christian community Pentecostal beliefs on homosexuality in japan The body, everyone's got a part and a role to play. But all of a sudden, 'Oh, but now you say you're gay, you can't do that any more'. So people's natural response is, 'Well, I don't feel like I've changed.
I'm the same person. Some LGBT Christians who come out in non-affirming churches make the wrenching decision to leave their congregations. One pastor described what happened when a leader at their church who "grew up at church, went to Christian college" took a same-sex partner:.
Then she had to step down So she's left, and rightly so. It's so sad, because for her, it's her space of belonging. All her formation happened there. Recent research strongly suggests that LGBT people who continue to identify as Christian experience heightened "homonegativity" — negative and shame-filled feelings about their sexuality — compared to non-religious, or Pentecostal beliefs on homosexuality in japan formerly Christian, LGBT people.
LGBT Christians in Pentecostal-Charismatic churches may still be confronted with services entirely geared to heteronormativity, with few concessions to the LGBT members, who are silenced in their midst. There really is no self respect in staying inside a community that holds up a banner saying 'welcome home', while simultaneously rejecting your very presence by silence.
The silence was like thunder to me. Many had seen "Pentecostal beliefs on homosexuality in japan" people have undeniable spiritual experiences. To Pentecostal-Charismatic pastors, these spiritual experiences can only have their source in God's Holy Spirit, and they are what qualify a person for ministry, rather than ordination.
This leaves pastors of LGBT people with theological questions. Do these spiritual experiences qualify LGBT people for volunteering and ministry in the church? Or are they disqualified by their sexuality?
This theological tension led several pastors to express the view that the current exclusive positions of many Pentecostal-Charismatic churches are untenable and unjust.
One pastor summed up the "welcoming but not affirming" position in this way:. It's almost like with one hand you're shaking them by the hand, and with the other hand you're slapping them in the face. Anyone that's under 30 doesn't have an issue with [LGBT], and so we're going to see a generational shift… It might take 10 or 20 years, but I think there's definitely a progression in that way.
In looking for a way towards a more inclusive future, Pentecostal-Charismatic leaders could perhaps look to their own history. When the movement began in the early s, it was years ahead of its time in its inclusivity, celebrating the ministry of African Americans and women long before many of the established churches. One former pastor pointed this out:. Modern Pentecostalism by and large has lost its way a little bit I don't think they value the margins anymore.
I think there's been a dramatic shift, and I find that quite sad. Although it seems change is likely to come, it appears that in relation to LGBT inclusion — unlike their early ethnic and gender inclusiveness — Pentecostal-Charismatic churches will bring up the rearguard of cultural and social progress, rather than taking a leading position.
Originally published in The Conversation. More stories from Australian Capital Territory.
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