Both problems, I think, must be considered from the point of view of our relation to God. If it is God who wants us to make such a statement, of course we must risk our peace and that of those entrusted to us. Matth. 5,10-12; Luke 14,26-35; Luke 12,51-52. 1 Cor. 6,7. So the real question is, do we make such a statement for the sake of God, or do we make it to appease those who want to use the church for their own personal crusades?
Col. 3,23: Whatever you do, do it with your heart and for God. Is our heart in it? Is it God's spirit moving us to take sides, or is it something we reluctantly do since it is forced upon us? The first is heaven, even when it means personal troubles; the second is disaster, even when it seems to put the problem to rest.
The Church is not accountable to anyone except Christ. `Do not fear opposition,' says Jesus, `I prepared you for this.' Matth. 10,28; 1 Cor. 11,18-19. `Do not fear, I will be with you.' Jer. 1,8.
We must ask ourselves, would Jesus, the head of our congregation, would He sign the petition? How can we know? Well, there are enough stories about him how he responded to people's requests. Luk. 12,13-15; Luk. 13,1-5; Luk. 11, 45-46; No appeasement, but confronting those who ask with themselves, that they become more humble and put God's concerns first. Matth. 22,15-22 and John 8,1-11 teach how, without compromising, to silence those playing power games. Jesus responded with tender care to those who wanted to be healed, but with a firm challenge to those who wanted to use him.
The failure of a few who haven't learnt to forgive those
who had hurt their feelings should not cause the church
to make hasty moves. It is better to help these individuals cope
with their feelings by helping them to make God their first love;
this alleviates their need to cling to the straw of having an
identity as being gay, and gives them a new and unshakeable security
in the unity with Christ. Our call is to show the way from the slavery
of either sexual orientation to the freedom of the children of
Christ. Gal. 3,26-28. We must show our love by caring for them,
not for their political interest.
Arnold Neumaier (Arnold.Neumaier@univie.ac.at)