Over at the Gospel Coalition, Corey Widmer has a post that reads like it could have appeared here at Spiritual Friendship. There are at least two points he makes that are especially relevant to our discussions here.
The first has to do with the church as an alternative plausibility structure:
I believe one of the most serious callings of the church in our age is to create new, countercultural plausibility structures that make the demands of the gospel plausible, practical, and attractive. If a gay friend is going to embrace a life of chastity for Jesus Christ, she must be able to look into the future and see not only the loss and pain but also the possibility that a real fulfilling life can be lived. If we don’t work at this task, if we don’t create the kinds of communities in which the countercultural lifestyle we’re advocating is supported and upheld, we’ll continue to see people choose plausibility structures that make more sense and have greater support from the culture.
Similar sentiments have been voiced by our own Matt Jones in his discussion of the plausibility of the church as community for LGBT people:
This imaginative failure is also a moral failure, with churches leaving their gay members with little to no ability to actually live – or god forbid thrive – within the rich tradition of church teaching.
While I have commented previously on what makes the church a safe place for same-sex attracted people, I think Widmer goes beyond this to discuss churches that are not just safe, but indeed communities that encourage and cultivate flourishing for LGBT people.
Finally, Widmer’s conclusion regarding the connection between ethics and ecclesiology is worth noting:
I realize what I’m proposing here leaves many unanswered questions. The church’s social arrangements aren’t the only factor that will enable us to live faithful sexual lives, for even the best Christian community will utterly fail without the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit at the center. I’m simply trying to make the case that we cannot espouse the historically Christian view of sexuality without also embracing a radical view of community that makes the biblical ethic viable, practical, and plausible. Self-denying sexuality needs robust ecclesiology. To do one without the other is to continue to inflict pain on the LGBTQ friends we’re inviting to follow Jesus.
Check out the whole article if you have a chance.
Kyle Keating received his M.Div. at Covenant Theological Seminary and teaches theology and history at a small Christian school in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his wonderful wife Christy. He can be followed on Twitter: @KyleAKeating.