March 30, 2017

This is taken from the larger work published here:  God’s Love Expressed and Experienced

“An important premise of Wesleyan Theology is that we have faith in God that is not driven by fear, but rather by trusting in the power of God’s sanctifying work. This faith provides space in the individual’s life as well as in the church for God to do His work. According to the Pew Study of 2013, 51% of persons who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are actively involved in religion.2 The opportunity to care for such persons and trust in God rather than fear, judge or exclude such fellow seekers is our God-given opportunity. The deep longing of every person’s heart is to be accepted and loved. This longing is not only a longing for God’s love but for the love of family and church just as we are. When the church singles out particular groups of people from full inclusion in the community of faith, the church refuses the prevenient grace of God. To experience the saving and sanctifying grace of God, every person needs to know that he or she is loved by God, by God’s family and hopefully by their own parents.3 Each person also needs to experience the support of a community that is willing to listen to the pressures and tensions of his or her inner self, or soul. Though not all pastors and congregations may understand particular pressures and tensions in the inner life of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person, the church provides the space and opportunity for such persons to discuss their desires, thoughts, and feelings with their community of faith. The conversations may occur in private counsel or public discourse with respectful and compassionate dialogue providing the opportunity for the Spirit of Truth to work in all involved. So again, when we approach such conversations with fear rather than faith, we limit the opportunities of God to work both in the church and in the larger community. Thus, this paper proposes that the church is called to be a community of faith and courage in its care for persons who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The church practices faith in the Holy Spirit by trusting the Spirit to lead with wisdom and truth in this arena as in every other arena of human experience. The church practices courage by being a people who are not afraid to love, care, and embrace those who have been mistreated and marginalized as well as to receive valuable insights as the church lives out its mission as a redemptive community.”