First of all, I have to tell you that I am very reluctant to ponder anything on this topic because it seems to be quite the hot button topic, and as of late many harsh things have been said from various perspectives. I offer you this pondering as simply an objective observer and I will do my very best to present both sides of the conversation. My approach to this pondering has, and always will be with grace and love…okay, here goes:
Recently on social media, The Salvation Army in Metro Chicago (in conjunction with CFOT) posted photos of Salvationists serving refreshments to people while they participated in the gay pride parade in the Wrigleyville/Boystown area of Chicago.
What began 15 years ago as a means to offer kindness and grace to pride participants, has in some ways become quite a polarizing topic. The location of the College for Officers Training in Chicago is directly in a predominantly gay and alternative lifestyle community. Thus, this is the neighborhood Cadets and members of the CFOT staff do evangelism within. Sadly though, on social media conversation threads, individuals have criticized and questioned the motives of those who distributed the water and cookies. Some have asked, “Does serving these items mean that The Salvation Army is now condoning or accepting these alternative lifestyles?” While others who are on the other end of the ideological range are simply flabbergasted by harsh comments and the overall sense of harsh criticism.
Questions to Ponder…
Does this type of event, which offers water and cookies, condone alternative lifestyles or is this simply an act of kindness and grace? Is this, as some have angrily inferred, just another way for progressives to push this agenda of acceptance, or are we in need of more of these intentional, public acts of kindness to ALL people from ALL walks of life?
The Murky Waters…
The current position of The Salvation Army on the topic of Same-sex attraction and/or marriage is fairly common, but in a number of places in the Army the views on LGBT seems to be a murky water of ambiguity and inconsistency.
We must be very careful not to become finger pointers and look down our noses like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. They (the Pharisees) even witnessed Jesus’ disciples picking grain on Sabbath and about lost their ever-lovin’ minds. The key, before any kind of discerning thought of judgement should be to soberly consider the state of our own hearts first.
Secondly, I think we as a Church (or Movement) can be so quick to criticize without first trying to understand and ask the important questions. We are far too quick to jump to conclusions and slow to consider what we might do in our own communities to provide such acts of kindness to the whosoever.
Lastly, how do we convey the grace of God to those we meet? Are we to throw our bibles at people who do not live as we do by quoting scripture AT them? Or do we show compassion, hope and grace to anyone who is willing to receive it? Is there an intersecting line here that cannot be crossed? Where does compassion and acts of kindness end and acceptance of lifestyle begin? Is there a place when we might become stronger together instead of divided (division is perhaps what Satan would love to see in our Army)? If so, how do we get to this point of unity within our courageous acts of compassion?
Conversely, how do we approach family?
By this I mean – I know Officers in The Salvation Army who have children who are either gay or in an alternative lifestyle. How do we approach family in this context? We (as people) can be so quick to assume that this subject is black and white, but it is much more complicated than that! How we convey compassion and grace has to be wisely consider for fear of alienating our families and loved ones.
I know that this topic is a rather complicated and sensitive one, and can cause polarizing opinions and often brings out the worst in people, but please do not use this pondering as fodder for your case. Our army is much broader than any one person’s view, opinion or agenda. But here’s my take – Let’s err on the side of grace and compassion and leave the judgement to the One who will eventually judge us all. Let’s support one another’s ministries including ministries into alternative lifestyle neighborhoods. Let’s offer support to officers and staff who strive to live out the “without discrimination” from our mission statement. Let us strive to live out holiness in how we love and serve in our neighborhoods and mission fields. From this place, the Lord can and will impart His wisdom and guidance.
-Something more for our Army to ponder today.