Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Christian Response to Homosexuality

How should the Church respond and minister to those identifying as homosexuals? It's one of the most difficult questions of our day--and it's the issue (along with Scriptural authority) which has split the Anglican world in two.

Parties on both sides have been asked by worldwide leaders to be part of a Listening Process to help answer this all-important question.

One of the most amazing contributions to the Listening Process was just posted this week on the traditional Anglican website Stand Firm. It is a paper by Mario Bergner, who once lived the gay lifestyle before leaving it for a period of celibacy and a seminary education. He became an Anglican priest, a leader of a healing ministry called Redeemed Lives, then a husband, and then a father of 5 children. His testimony, his education, and his experience--helping many to leave sinful patterns and lead redeemed lives--uniquely qualify him to speak powerfully into this critical question.

The readers at Stand Firm have been so impressed with his paper, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone in church leadership who has not thought through this issue. Here is a sample:

As the Church we are to teach and practice a moral and pastoral theology that actually believes living in abstinence, holy celibacy or change leading to heterosexual marriage are viable options for Christians struggling with same-sex attractions. Our message about homosexuality needs to state it is but one of the many sins Jesus died to redeem us from and that in the majority of cases same-sex attractions can be changed. As the Church we are to evangelistically preach the Good News leading to regeneration through baptism and deeper conversion to Jesus Christ. As the Church we are to equip pastoral leaders to minister sexual redemption and healing in Christ to all people, not only to those with same-sex attractions.

On a personal note: I know Mario well. Twelve years ago, I was his administrative assistant for six months, also serving on his board until last year, when he relocated his ministry and his family to MA. Besides the education, the experience and the compassion that come through in his paper, Father Mario is also a man of great integrity and honesty--the real deal! He and his family are dearly loved and sorely missed by our church.

Working with him, I have seen firsthand how lives with sexual confusion and brokenness (around many issues, not just homosexuality) can be transformed by the power of Christ and by the willingness of church leaders like Mario to call them into wholeness and to pray into the wounds that caused such confusion in the first place. It's a beautiful, amazing ministry, believe me. And one that I--a perfectly straight woman--have personally benefitted from.

For more resources from Father Bergner, including his conference schedule and DVD courses suitable for church use, see his website, Redeemed Lives.

Fr. Mario Bergner's Contribution to The Listening Process, Part One
Part Two
Part Three

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