I love and care about people – from all walks of life; people with various beliefs, ethics, perspectives and lifestyles. I care that humanity and some within the Christian church can be so quick to alienate and ostracise others who are different than them; those who live differently, think differently, speak differently.
I also live by my own convictions, and hold to traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage. I do believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. The writings of the apostle Paul in scripture on the subject of homosexuality are also clear, as I have mentioned in previous public statements.
Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles. Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid. I recognise this one statement alone is upsetting to people on both sides of this discussion, which points to the complexity of the issue for churches all over the world.
I love and accept people on a personal level and if I lived next to a gay couple I would treat them with the same embrace I would any other neighbour because – surprise, surprise – not all my neighbours think like me. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness. I may totally disagree with you on what will bring people true happiness, and I will always teach and preach according to my personal convictions and the teachings of scripture, but I cannot make other people’s choices for them – and quite frankly, I don’t want to. That’s not my job. Even God created humanity with a free will.
The western world is seemingly moving quickly toward gay marriage being universally legalised, so how does that affect us as a church, and how does it affect the various individual members of Hillsong Church? I believe we can quite comfortably continue to function within that environment, presuming we are not forced through legislation to compromise our own convictions. Gay marriage is already legalised in many places where Hillsong Church exists, and we are functioning well and without impediment.
Everyone is welcome at Hillsong church except for known predators, those who are disruptive, or those who have adversarial agendas.
So if you are gay, are you welcome at Hillsong Church? Of course! You are welcome to attend, worship with us, and participate as a congregation member with the assurance that you are personally included and accepted within our community. But (this is where it gets vexing), can you take an active leadership role? No.
This won’t make everyone happy and to some, this stance may even be seen as hypocritical. We are a gay welcoming church but we are not a church that affirms a gay lifestyle.
I began this conversation with, “I love and care about people – from all walks of life; people with various beliefs, ethics, perspectives and lifestyles. I care that humanity and some within the Christian church can be so quick to alienate and ostracise others who are different than them; those who live differently, think differently, speak differently.” Bobbie and I were in an elevator today with a Saudi Arabian woman dressed in Muslim attire. We had a conversation in those few moments and her face lit up with the biggest, warmest smile. As she left we said to each other, ‘what a lovely lady’. Does that mean I now endorse her religion? No it doesn’t, but if she was my neighbour I would definitely invite her over for a cup of tea, or be there for her if she was in need.
I care about people and yes, I do have gay friends. Jesus had many friends that angered the religious and brought him condemnation from many. He endorsed a humble sinner and condemned a self-righteous Pharisee. He would be the same if His time on earth as a man was in our generation, confronted with the social issues we face and are forced to address today.
If God had wanted to condemn the world He would have sent a condemner. But He didn’t, He wanted to save the world so He sent a Saviour. John 3:17.
Brian Houston is the Global Senior Minister of Hillsong Church. Article courtesy www.brianchouston.com
Image courtsey Wikipedia Commons