Pastors’ Corner: When and How to Welcome the Same-Sex Couple or Trans Person at Your Church

Pastors’ Corner: When and How to Welcome the Same-Sex Couple or Trans Person at Your Church By TOM GILSON for The Stream

How “God is Love” squares with the standards He Himself sets for His Church

The fight has just ratcheted up again, and here’s a good first clue into how the left is going to fight it. “All are welcome – no exceptions.” An entire denomination paraded that message on church banners and web pages, not long ago. Between the lines it read, “We’re better Christians than all those fake churches that keep gays out.” A gay friend of mine says any church that doesn’t accept gays has unchristian theology: We’ve forgotten that God is love.

Is it true? How do we treat the same-sex couple, the trans person, the Q, whatever “Q” means? Do we welcome everyone? If so, how, and to what extent? If not, how do we square that with the love of God? Maybe your church has thought through all this. If not, be prepared for an explosion. It’s coming. Because it isn’t just some churches saying we should accept gays. It’s practically our whole culture.

I’ll say this much for “gay Christian” theology: They’re right to say it depends on our view of God. If the rest of it were right — if God’s love were the one important thing to know about Him — then their conclusion might be right, too, and we should freely invite homosexuals and homosexuality into our churches. Except it isn’t right. In fact there’s another error in that conclusion, one you might not even have noticed. It’s the word “our,” as in, “our churches.”

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Whose Church Is It?

If it’s your church, go right ahead. Feel free to do what you want with it. If on the other hand it’s Jesus’ church, then He’s in charge, and we’d better let Him decide what goes and doesn’t go. I don’t mean it’s wrong to talk about “our church,” any more than it’s wrong for a child to talk about “our family.” Just remember you’re talking about membership, not ownership. It’s Jesus’ church. He is the host, and we are the invited guests — all of us.

So if you invite a person to your church, you’re actually asking him to come along with you as a fellow guest in the Lord’s house. It’s His, so He gets to set the rules, including who He invites and who He welcomes in. Pastors and other leaders need to know and administer His standards on His behalf, as He has delegated them that responsibility. Still, it is His rules that they administer.

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