I recently interacted with a blog post regarding Jennifer Knapp's coming out. As I should have expected, it did not go well. I write the following to clarify my thinking and will likely write more after this to deal with the comments to that original post.
In his Knapp post, the author wrote of Elton John’s ex-partner's suicide saying, "Was there a church community that respected him as he was without condemnation or the pressure to change?"
First, the majority of my issue has nothing to do with homosexuality. This is more about the role of the believer, the community of faith, and how we interact with those dealing with temptation and sin. As I think about my first point of contention, we could just as easily be speaking of someone wrestling with pornography, stealing, lying, etc... I will deal separately with the issue of homosexuality but here I'd like to focus on the misdirection (intentional or not) often employed by those seeking to defend homosexuals. I find their approach to be less loving and less life-giving than the alternatives they confront.
The quote mixes respect and condemnation with pressure to change. Since we are God's image bearers, we honor God when we honor others because this reflects His image. And vice-versa, because others are made in His image, we honor God when we honor them. Disrespect and condemnation should never flow from us ... but what is pressure to change? It depends on what pressure means. Clearly I cannot and should not pretend to be the Holy Spirit to someone else. At the same time we are called to instruct, exhort, and confront. We are to be instruments of change toward good works in the lives of others.
And what does respected him as he was mean? Does it really mean respect or is that code for approve? Often it is the latter.
To be part of someone's life to resist temptation is absolutely what we do. To be part of someone's life for the confession of sin and repentance is absolutely what we do. To be part of the subsequent healing and forgiveness process is absolutely what we do. To claim to not is to deny a significant aspect of what we the Church are. And to imply that doing so violates respect and brings condemnation is to twist the very heart of Scripture.
So as I read this I see reaction to the ugly side of historic church life. But rather than returning to the life-giving practices of what God intended for the Church, many are suggesting something far less and in doing so, they are becoming false-teachers.