Church Clarity

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52 Responses

  1. CostcoCal says:

    I’m with you!

    And I am being called outdated these days…

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    As we discussed yesterday, are we now going to stand at the doors of the church with our checklist in hand? Are you gay? Are you straight? Ever committed adultery? Any pre-marital sex? Honest in filling out your taxes this year? How about last year? I’m sure we can come up with an extensive list…

    Even the term “affirming” is loaded… In the entire range of human sexuality, are we affirming every possible variant?

    By the way, difficult to be pastoral with a gun pointed at your head…

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would find it interesting if it were written by anyone else but Merritt. Now I don’t want to trigger anyone over over assigned gender, but he has turned into the male version of Rachel Held Evans.
    What is the definition of affirming and non affirming?

  4. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, I have no problem with sinners in church – my church is filled to capacity with them. However, when confronted with their sin, We do have some expectation of confession so we can confer the absolution.
    We welcome sinners, but we refuse to be sin affirming.

  5. Michael says:

    None of us confront everyone personally.
    As Duane noted, we’d be guarding the door all day…

  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    No one spoke of confronting everyone personally – and even being a non affirming church does not speak to individual confrontation.
    I don’t know how your church works but mine is non affirming. We do not take surveys or census data in the church. The non affirmation would come in the law portions of the sermon.

    I do not know how an affirming church handles the law portion of the sermon.
    I called my pastor and he has not been notified that he needs to make a declaration about same sex unions.

  7. CostcoCal says:

    Ideally, I believe we in the church ought to be just as fervent about those who have been divorced and remarried as we are to those married to someone of the same sex. Yet we let the former off the hook and the latter are vilified. We are having our cake and eating it, too. Because if we “busted” folks in the church concerning divorce and re-marriage….our churches would be non-existent.

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Costco, because one gets a break and the other doesn’t has no bearing. I will bet in the proper setting that all divorced couples would confess their divorce as sin and that very few if any same sex partners would confess their relationship as sin.

  9. This is pretty much a pressure tactic on their part. It is about shaming people and drawing lines. It is also a way to frame the issue on their terms and so beg the question. The best thing to do is to either refuse to play their game or to mock it with satire.

    In the long run I think this tactic will backfire. (50-100 years) Here is why. First, demographics are against them. While the general population shrinks this includes the Alphabet Soup numbers. They do not exactly produce Brady Bunches.

    Second, the mainlines are dying off and will be extinct or near extinction level within the next 25 years or so. They will probably hover around 1 mill to 500k as the Unitarians do, since they are essentially Unitarians in different dress.

    Third, church discipline and membership will likely be the defining issue in this century for this and other reasons. These tactics help orthodox groups minimize differences and band together. And their doing so is predicated on a historical and real identity that has persisted through time. They can easily capitalize on the sentiment of loyalty and faithfulness. And of course this plays right into the concept of tradition.

    Eventually those evangelical bodies that go the way of all flesh will decline just as the mainlines do or merely maintain a ghetto niche. This is for the simple reason that ppl can believe what they do and do what they do without giving them cash or time. When you mirror the culture, there is little reason to participate. People already have everything you are selling.

    In sum, we have outlasted empires. We will outlast this too.

  10. Michael says:

    Perry…very well said.

  11. Jean says:

    #9,

    Key statement: “When you mirror the culture, there is little reason to participate. People already have everything you are selling.”

  12. Owen says:

    Duane #2,

    “In the entire range of human sexuality, are we affirming every possible variant?”

    Not meaning at all to pick apart your question, I know what you meant.

    I have a problem with the “entire range of human sexuality” – because IMV God didn’t create a range of sexuality. And I get into a lot of trouble for my view.

    I realize that, these days, mine is indeed a very narrow view.

    “This only have I found:
    God created mankind upright,
    but they have gone in search of many schemes.” (Eccl. 7:29)

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    #12 Owen

    I understand what you are saying. That being said, I think there are a range of issues regarding sexuality – some from nature (physical, chromosome abnormalities, etc.) and some from nurture. That, however, is not limited to human sexuality. It is also true of mental health – nature and nurture once again – and indeed emotional well-being. My principal objection is to us being “pushed” to “affirm” an entire range of behaviors, some of which are not even defined.

    In terms of sexuality, or mental health, or emotional well-being… in the beginning it was not so, but we live in a fallen world and I’m not really very keen on “affirming” that fallen state. Nor do I want to say that one fallen state is acceptable while another is not.

  14. Owen says:

    Duane,
    Thanks for your explanation, very helpful. And I’ve had (currently still do) have experience with the range of mental health issues, so I can see applying the same principle in other areas. Thanks for furthering my education.

    Your closing statement in #13 helps a lot.

    And I’m in agreement with not being pushed to affirm the behaviours.

  15. Captain Kevin says:

    In the words of one of my 7th grade students, “This game sucks; I’m not playing.”

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think Captain Kevin has it right – it’s an intra evangelical sports – why does anyone play? My take is that no one is playing except folks like Jonathan Merritt, Clarity Church can do what it wants, but if I were a betting man (well I guess I am for as much time as I spend at the casino) I would say that 99% of all churches will not receive this survey / request. Of those who do, I will guess that 99% will delete the email.
    That 1% of the !% who reply — well, we probably already know where they stand.

    So why does Merritt make this a thing — among all the other non things that he makes a thing?

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    They don’t ask or send a survey… This is how they “score” churches –
    https://www.churchclarity.org/score-definitions

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Thanks Duane – I will check back when they have scoured the websites of all 400,000 churches 🙂

    Now it wouldn’t hurt if churches were pressured to put on their web sites their true teaching about the efficacy of baptism and the Lord’s Supper so we know if we are going to a Christian Church or not… JK —kinda 😉

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well I must confess that I made a grand error. I thought this was some narrow, conservative evangelical group working to pressure churches to advocate that they were non affirming. It turns out it is just the opposite – it is a LBGTQXYZ group trying to force churches to be “queer friendly” – sorry, their words.

  20. Xenia says:

    These sorts of groups and people are always the first to yell “You are being judgmental!” to anyone who has an opinion contrary to theirs. Yet they are the ones who are scoring everyone else. If that’s not judgmental, I don’t know what is.

  21. John 20:29 says:

    AMEN, Michael in capital letters amen to very word
    “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” Eph. 6:13 NKJV
    For us this seems to truly be an evil day…
    Question is, what does it mean “having done all?”

  22. Nick says:

    The problem with the terms “affirming” and “non-affirming” is in the inherent connotation: “affirming” is a positive term and “non-affirming” is a negative term, so the use of these words in the first place is biased.

    If they were truly objective, they would use different terminology, e.g. to describe churches as holding to the historical interpretation of Scripture on matters of gender, identity, sexuality and marriage, which Christians have held continuously for 2000 years.

  23. Owen says:

    Nick,

    I was thinking the same thing. If they’re going to be fair and objective, how about “Christian view” and “world view”.

    Oh, and then we read that they are assuming that most churches are intentionally not telling which view they hold, but enforcing the “non-affirming” view once you’re in the door. They actually used the term “bait and switch”…..

    And they call US judgemental….

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    When someone is convinced that they are right and you are wrong… they don’t think it is judgmental. Unfortunately, we can all be be tarred with that brush…

  25. John 20:29 says:

    Judgemental… the old conundrum… what is discernment in the Christian walk and when are we on danger of being judged for being judgemental? sigh

  26. Jean says:

    “When someone is convinced that they are right and you are wrong… they don’t think it is judgmental.”

    In my own conversations, I try to stay subordinate to the Word of God. So, it’s not about whether or not I’m right or you’re wrong, it’s whether or not God is right or wrong. Also, I do not judge, God is the judge. Thus, if they hate me, from my perspective, it is not me but my Lord they hate.

    Before someone responds back that “they” also submit to the Word of God but come to a different conclusion about what it says, I will say, “let’s have a Bible study on the issue.” They play a weak hand.

  27. bob1 says:

    That’s gotta be one of the stupidest websites Ive seen in a long time…and I’ve been on the ‘Net for quite a long time!

  28. Steve says:

    Obviously those that are “affirming” are reading the bible quite differently than those that are “non-affirming”. I want to give both groups the benefit of the doubt that they have very specific reason why they interpret the bible the way they do but I am not that generous in actually believing this. Maybe I’m a simpleton but I haven’t read anything convincing from the “affirming” group of where they get their biblical interpretation and understanding from. It doesn’t seem to be coming from the Bible but rather from somewhere completely outside. Affirming homosexuality and the LGBTQ agenda seems to be quite foreign to the Bible in my opinion. Do they believe this is extra biblical revelation or what? I really am confused about this.

  29. bob1 says:

    “It doesn’t seem to be coming from the Bible but rather from somewhere completely outside”

    Well, the “sins” listed below look pretty straightforward…talk about “church clarity.” These look pretty darn clear. Don’t worry, Church Clarity has an agenda…pretty transparent.

    Gluttony — affirming and nonaffirming

    Gossip — affirming, Nonaffirming

    Haughtiness Affirming, NonAffirming

    Liars — affirming, Nonaffirming

    Greed — Affirming, Nonaffirming

    Heartlessness — Affirming, Nonaffirming

    (see Rom. 1:18-21 for the rest)

  30. Steve says:

    Well Gluttony will be the next one to affirm in many churches. After all we don’t want to appear that we are discriminating against fat folks.

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    #28 Steve

    “Do they believe this is extra biblical revelation or what? I really am confused about this.”

    No, but there is a view (erroneous in my view) that culture rather than scripture, tradition or reason should shape our faith and practice. Unfortunately, churches, both on the liberal and conservative sides, have partaken of the same cup. The culture warriors of the right are little different from the culture warriors of the left. Scripture is distorted to support their point of view, tradition and church history is ignored and argument in the form of simplistic slogans replaces reason.

  32. Jim says:

    Gay Christians do not believe that their homosexuality is a sin. Let’s not pretend that an openly gay couple would be welcomed in your average evangelical church in the same way that a gluttonous heterosexual couple would be.

    I think the site referenced could save a lot of people some grief.

  33. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I don’t think they’re doing anything but creating a target list.

    The reality is that gay folks know that certain churches are already “affirming”…the UMC, the Episcopal Church, etc.

    One phone call could glean that information for other churches.

    The one thing nobody talks about is that these “gay affirming” churches are empty…sometimes when you are “inclusive” you end up “excluding”…

  34. Jim says:

    My bad, I guess we should just judge their motives.

  35. Michael says:

    Time will tell, but I think the motives are pretty transparent.
    In any case, I refuse to play the binary choice game with them…

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Again the conversation heads in the wrong direction. At Mr church all are welcome – we want everyone to come hear the condemnation of their sin and the absolution that comes through the gospel.
    At the same time we staunchly oppose affirming any sin.

  37. Jim says:

    MLD,

    This is not not a gotcha question-I honestly have no idea. Can an openly gay couple participate in the full life of your church, including the sacraments? Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I think that’s what clarify is looking for.

  38. Michael says:

    The conversation goes in the wrong direction when you play their game.

    Everyone is welcome at our church,but we won’t bless their sin.

    I’m so tired of this stuff I could scream…we (the church) has better things to do than revisit this every fifteen minutes.

    If you’re gay and want to go to church, go to church.
    Look for the rainbow on the church sign…

    If you just want to change the doctrine and practice of my church, get lost.

    I cleaned that up a lot…

  39. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I’m not gay and I know which churches and denominations will accept gays into the full life of the church and which won’t.

    So do they.

    The ones in question can be settled with a phone call.

    This is another attempt to impose by force what they think is proper and right.

    I’ve pretty much stayed out of this mess for years, but I’m done with it now.

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jim, the answer would be no as you would need to be a member to fully participate. To be a member there is a process.
    The big thing is confession of sin – not to be confused with the cessation of sin. Under the right circumstances the glutton, the adulterer, the tax cheat etc will confess their sin and receive the absolution… and may still continue in the sin – to be forgiven the 70×7 thing.
    The gay couple will not do this so they self exclude.

  41. John 20:29 says:

    maybe we are doing church wrong… still…
    i think of the verse that tells us that if one of us is overtaken in a sin, that person is to be confronted personally… there has to be a way to identify “us” in order to do that…. and, as Jim noted #32, there has to be a recognition that one’s behavior is on the sin list… some sins are pretty nebulous, gossip is one, envy is another, but gluttony and homosexuality are pretty clear or so it seems to me… still, it isn’t easy….
    am i correct in understanding that today, if your church is open to all on Sunday morning you may get a visit from a lawyer if you preach against certain sins… things the Book labels sin?
    yet we need to have a venue where it is y’all come and hear the plan of God for your life – the good and the bad – evangelism? where to do that? on the street corner? the good old fashioned ‘merican tent meetings? solely one on one? Paul went wherever he could find a crowd and a platform…
    you have me thinking again… uggh, i can’t figure this one out in a “sane” acceptable to modern life way…

  42. Jim says:

    Michael, I don’t know which churches and denominations will accept gays into the full life of the church and which won’t, and I’ve been Christian for 35 years. I’m not sure it’s fair to expect everyone to see thing though our “been a believer forever” grid. God is always saving someone new, and looking back, we seem to stay “new” for a long time.

    Maybe the site publishers are radical activists, and you’re correct. I have no idea.

    Thanks MLD.

  43. Michael says:

    Jim,

    The site publishers are gay activists.
    Radical is subjective. 🙂

  44. Jim says:

    Michael, while being “gay friendly”, I consider most gay activists radical. I have gay friends who agree. i don’t know anything about the site publishers, but if we are both just smell testing the site, I just see it in a different way.

  45. Jim says:

    I’ll throw in the alt right, blm, and antifa. maybe I got old when I wasn’t looking.

  46. Steve says:

    MLD you bring up a good point about the gay couple not confessing their sin. I agree, but I’m curious though what exactly it would look like for a gay couple that have been together for decades and are advancing in years and sex is just not the most important ingredient any more. Are they to just give up the sex or are they also to divorce, separate and no longer ever to be friends again? I’m wondering how the church is to navigate these complex issues?

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, good thoughts. First let me say as I did earlier, I do not want to confuse confession of sin with the cessation of sin.
    As we approach the 500th anniversary of Luther posting the 95 theses I would like to point out what he listed as #1 (I think we can all agree that the number one item on a list should be considered very important to the theme if not totally important.
    “1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” ( Matthew 4:17 ), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

    As with all of our sin, where does repentance fit in? Is the homosexual any different?

    You ask ‘how the church is to navigate these complex issues?’ – Can we agree that if there is no confession, repentance and the ensuing absolution, that there is nothing to navigate? I do not have the answer, but I would assume that in a pastoral / counseling role (of which I am neither) that once the confession has been accomplished, that the pastor, the church leaders can then say – “well now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk.” – and I would think that once the ‘offending party’ (suggest a better term for me) has gone that far in the process, they do can say “let’s talk.”

  48. Anon says:

    Are people here seriously suggesting that if a gay individual came to one of your cohservative churches, that they’d have to have a discussion with the pastor about their gayness, before they could do anything at that church?

    First off, how would you know for sure that someone is gay? u can’t!_ Should they have to wear an indentifying badge?

    I didn’t think so.

    The whole thing is completely hypothetical, anyway.

  49. John 20:29 says:

    Anon, i think you may have missed something in this discussion/hypothetical… you are correct that anyone dealing privately with any personal sin is not required to reveal to the church (or the pastor) their struggle or dilemma or whatever label it is wearing at the time…
    all of us should enter a church as learners … if we don’t like what we learn we can choose to leave, but we should not enter a church as “reformers”… at least most of us should not 🙂

    what has been under discussion is a gay couple (married or not) coming into the church and wanting to be accepted as a legitimate – in the eyes of God – pairing…
    should they present themselves as roomies and best friends there is no discussion – but there are several hypotheticals, such as the aging couple sans libido, or whatever, but still wanting to be recognized as a married couple… it seems to me that some sins are cut and dried and others take a little thought – does grace apply or does condemnation of the condition – what is honest before God? … one thing is certain – IMV – enabling sin is displeasing to God

  50. Anon says:

    Just to be fair, shouldn’t a prospective church member at first also be grilled about their sins, like whether they’ve committed adultery (against the 10 Commandments), the bitter feud they had with their parents (Honor your Mom and Dad), and the greedy businessman (don’t lust after your neighbor’s goods)? Besides, there’s still debate about gayness. I don’t see it in the 10 Commandments! If all sins are equally grievous, then you’ve opened a whole nother can of worms — look at all the things forbidden as sin by Paul in the NT!

  51. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Anon, you missed the big point that I made a couple of times. All people are welcome at my church except those who do not sin.
    As I pointed out, confession, repentance and receiving the absolution is the Christian life. I also pointed out that under the right circumstances all sinners, fat people, gossips, tax cheats and Houston Astros’ fans will confess their sins. I doubt many if any same sex couples will.

    If you come from a non membership church then you have no idea the conversations that go on in the membership classes or in sessions with the pastor and leadership team.

  52. Steve says:

    — look at all the things forbidden as sin by Paul in the NT!

    _______________________________________________________________________
    Anon, the way I look at it is this way. According to Paul EVERYTHING is permitted but not everything is BENEFICIAL. This was said in the context of sexual immorality. Homosexuality whether its permitted or not is clearly not beneficial to the individual or the church which seems abundantly clear from Romans 1 which Paul wrote. Maybe I am the weaker brother here but my conscience simply won’t allow me to worship in a church were homosexuality is celebrated and same sex marriages are recognized.

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