I had expected it to be at least a while before us Christians started causing controversy again, after the Rob Bell/ Love Wins debate took over our lives in March. But now that we have become bored with that it seems we have now found someone else to vilify.
In this case it is Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, who has created a storm by refusing to include an advertisement on their website from Believe Out Loud, encouraging Churches to be open to Gay and Lesbian people.
This has caused quite a stir to many who don’t understand how an organisation like Sojourners can not include an ad that promotes inclusiveness in Church, while the board of Sojourners are afraid it will distract from other issues in which they are focused on.
But who is right?
And who is wrong?
Or are both sides equally right and wrong?
From the point of view of Sojourners they are probably in their right to refuse to show the ad. Sojourners has never really been about these types of issues. These discussions aren’t ones I would have expected to find on their website and so I’m not really sure why some people are so upset. Would it be odd if a charity promoting the safety and care of animals refused to show the advert? Not really. So should Sojourners be any different?
Saying that, would it have really hurt them to show the advert? Even if this issue isn’t one that they directly are working on, it is hard to not see how it would fit in, in a general sense with the organisations ethos. Despite what people may think, Jim Wallis can be conservative on certain issues and in the past he has shown this to be the case regarding Gay and Lesbian discussions in the Church. So we shouldn’t be that surprised that they made their decision. But this isn’t really a discussion about whether it is right or wrong to be gay. It is about whether people who are, should we made to feel welcome and loved in the Church.
I think it was a mistake however not to show the advert. I think the advert was very moving and I wish that more Church leaders would act like the Pastor at the end of the ad. Sadly I don’t think this is generally true of reality. I think no matter what you believe about being homosexual, God’s love is for everyone. This is the message I feel the ad was promoting and it is one that Christians everywhere should exhibit.
Which also as it happens includes the ones criticising Jim Wallis. Some of the comments have been very negative and harsh and when Christians who support a campaign that is trying to encourage inclusiveness and then fail to offer the same to someone whom they disagree with, it’s kind of hypocritical.
But then again this has always been our problem. Our problem is having civil discussion with each other. A discussion where we can strongly disagree with someone but not end up hating them.
It would be a shame if some of Sojourners detractors would stop supporting the great work that they are doing just because of their stance on one issue.
Just as it is for Sojourners not to show an ad that is refreshing and showing a sign of Church that we should all be aiming for.
So what is the solution? What has been your experience with this issue in your Church? Do you think we are afraid of something deeper? What are your thoughts on opening church to everyone?