The Sanctuary is an “affirming” church. The affirming church movement began a few decades ago, but it has only recently started to spread like wildfire, as more and more congregations and denominations come to understand that God’s love and acceptance of us is so much more widespread than traditionalists would like to believe. We were established from our beginning as an affirming congregation. It is one of our primary distinctives, and is an important part of our character as a ministry.
Now, when we say that we’re an affirming church, please understand. We’re not just talking about the fact that we’re gay-affirming, although that’s definitely an important part of it. Being affirming is bigger than only affirming people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Sadly, the Christian Church has a long history of finding someone to marginalize and consider less than, whether it had to do with their sex, their race, their socioeconomic status, or yes, their sexual orientation or gender identity. To be a truly affirming church isn’t just to affirm one aspect of a person’s identity, while rejecting those who don’t fit within that paradigm. That is to say, The Sanctuary is not a “gay church.” We have gay members, absolutely! But we also have straight members. We have Black members and White members. We have young members and… not quite so young members. The point is, we affirm everyone, and do not seek to only serve one segment of the population. When we say, “Whosoever will, let him come,” we actually mean it.
When we talk about things that are considered sinful or otherwise displeasing to God, not a single one of those things is a matter of who a person is. It’s always about what a person does. Lying, murdering, hating… These are all things that a person does, not who a person is. For example, one isn’t an idolater apart from their worship of idols. One isn’t a thief apart from their stealing. If you examine Scripture, you’ll find that everything identified as being sinful is associated with a person’s behavior. So, how is it that we allowed bad theology to creep in and identify one’s sexual orientation to be sinful–not something that a person does, but simply who they are… who they’re attracted to? And yet, that’s exactly what we’ve allowed to happen; and it has to stop! A person doesn’t do gay. They are gay. A person doesn’t do Black, or do Asian. They simply are. A person doesn’t do female or male. Our mission as an affirming church is to embrace everyone’s be-ing–to ensure that they always know that they are welcome at the Lord’s table, regardless of who may have led them to believe otherwise.
Regarding homosexuality, specifically, the purpose of this article isn’t to do an in-depth study on what the Bible says about it (for that, read the articles on my Affirming Theology website). Instead, I just want to emphatically state that it is not only contrary to the mission and character of the Church, but to who God is as a Person to believe and teach that God hates, rejects, disapproves of, or is disappointed in anyone because of who they are, or the innate attractions that they experience. If you’re LGBT (or even straight), know that that’s a part of who you are. Embrace and celebrate that, and know that there are a growing number of affirming churches who join you in that celebration.
Consider The Sanctuary one of them!
Pastor Romell Parks-Weekly