A British Evangelical minister is calling on Christians to support the gay community, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, instead of promoting a policy of "condemn and exclude."
Rev. Steven Chalke -- a Baptist minister, social activist and United Nations adviser on trafficking -- penned a lengthy editorial for the U.K.'s Christianity magazine. In the piece for part one of the "Bible and Homosexuality" series, Chalke asks for "a new Christian understanding of homosexual relationships," saying that inclusion of the LGBT community should be the main goal going forward.
Chalke says those who believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is "a sin or ‘less than God’s best'" may think he has strayed from scripture, but his new stance is not bred from disregard. Rather, he is "grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously," he said, as the Guardian notes.
From Christianity magazine:
Rather than condemn and exclude, can we dare to create an environment for homosexual people where issues of self-esteem and well-being can be talked about, where the virtues of loyalty, respect, interdependence and faithfulness can be nurtured, and where exclusive and permanent same-sex relationships can be supported? ... Tolerance is not the same as Christ-like love. Christ-like love calls us to go beyond tolerance to want for the other the same respect, freedom and equality one wants for oneself. We should find ways to formally support and encourage those who are in, or wish to enter into, faithful same-sex partnerships, as well as in their wider role as members of Christ’s body.
Chalke is not the only religious leader who realizes the need for change.
Pastor Tony Campolo, who has advocated on behalf of progressive reform in the Evangelical community, responded to Chalke's editorial saying that the church cannot continue its alienation.
"Whether or not we change our positions on accepting same-sex relationships or even gay marriage, we Evangelicals have to face the reality that the time has come for many of us to change our attitudes towards gay people, and show something of the love and grace of God in the name of His Son Jesus," Campolo said, according to Christian Today.
In a recent exposé, BuzzFeed reporter Anna North described how the young Evangelicals of today are tired of sexual politics.
"The culture war stuff just does not appeal to younger generations," Ken Wilson, a Michigan pastor, told BuzzFeed. "They're not interested in a spirituality that helps them become culture warriors. They want to repair the culture."
A New York City pastor agreed, saying that the top priorities for Evangelical youth are "poverty, social justice, and the environment -- not sexual politics."